McConnell leaving Duquesne to 'play at a higher level'
Talley, Herrera to transfer, too
Published: Tuesday, March 20, 2012
Updated: Thursday, March 22, 2012 00:03
Men’s basketball starting point guard T.J. McConnell has decided to transfer from Duquesne, leading a wave of Duquesne players to leave the team, including Mike Talley and Danny Herrera.
McConnell, arguably the team’s biggest star and face of Duquesne’s basketball program, did not make an announcement personally, but his father Tim McConnell confirmed with The Duke that his son will leave Duquesne after this semester and seek to “play at a higher level.”
“He absolutely fought with himself over this decision. He loves the University, he loves the program, and he loves coach Everhart,” Tim McConnell said. “He wants to take his game to a higher level, and he’s pursuing schools where he’ll have a better chance to do that.”
McConnell is the second A-10 Rookie of the Year under Everhart to transfer. The other was Robert Mitchell, who transferred when he was a sophomore in 2007 to Seton Hall.
Everhart could not be immediately reached for comment.
Tim McConnell said T.J. agreed to a stipulation on his release from Duquesne’s team that he will not transfer to local schools Pitt or Robert Morris, or to any Atlantic 10 school, since those teams are scheduled to play the Dukes every year.
McConnell will be redshirted next year, then will have two remaining years of eligibility to play starting in the 2013-2014 season.
Duquesne Associate Athletic Director Dave Saba said the athletic department was made aware in the past week of McConnell's, Talley’s and Herrera’s decisions to transfer.
“Right now, all we can confirm is that they’ve asked for a release to transfer,” Saba said.
The sophomore point guard was named A-10 Rookie of the Year last season. He scored an average of 11.4 per game, led the team in assists and was third in the nation for steals, with 2.8 steals per game, earning him a spot on the Atlantic 10 All-Defensive team. During his freshman season, McConnell recorded 2.8 steals per game and finished the season ranked in the top eight all-time in assist-to-turnover ratio as a freshman, with 2.5 assists per giveaway.
Everhart recruited McConnell early in his high school career, and the point guard committed to Duquesne when he was a sophomore at Chartiers Valley. ESPN gave McConnell a rating of 89 out of 100 as a high school recruit.
McConnell averaged 34.4 points per game as a senior at Chartiers, the second-highest average in the WPIAL’s previous 25 years, as well as 9.1 assists and 8.2 rebounds. He scored a WPIAL record 1,026 points that season. He ranks fifth all-time in WPIAL scoring with 2,406 points.
Chartiers never lost a home game during McConnell’s four-year high school career, earning a 99-14 overall record. The Colts won the WPIAL championship with McConnell as their captain in 2010 and lost to Philadelphia Neumann-Goretti in the Class 3A state championship game.
Talley announced his decision on Twitter Tuesday at 3:58 p.m., tweeting, “No more Duq bball for me. Best of luck to the rest of my teammates.” Herrera followed shortly after at 5:50, tweeting “My duq bball days are over.”
Talley, a speedy guard who came in with McConnell’s class, averaged 6.9 points per game as a freshman, hitting 41.8 percent of his shots, including 38.9 percent of his 3-point attempts. He scored 7.5 per game as a sophomore but his 3-point shooting percentage dropped to 23.5.
Six-foot-4 guard Herrera saw limited playing time as a freshman, but seemed destined to split time with Jerry Jones to fill the vacant spot of graduating senior B.J. Monteiro as swingman next season.
The three players teamed together last summer to win the Pittsburgh Basketball Club Pro-Am summer league championship.
Of this season’s top five scorers, guard Sean Johnson (13.5 ppg) will be the only player returning for the Dukes this fall.
According to SBNation.com rumors about the players leaving began when Everhart continued to recruit for the 2012 season despite Duquesne’s having no open scholarships. Tuesday’s signing of guard Bryan Harris increased the 2012 recruiting class to four players, and with only two players, Monteiro and point guard Eric Evans, graduating, the Dukes would still have one too many players, even after Talley’s departure.
Addie Smith contributed reporting to this story.