The Blue Zone will be running a summer series bringing you the latest on some of Duke basketball’s former stars. To cap off the series, The Blue Zone will take a look at those players who transferred away from Duke.
Not every player who comes through Durham stays at Duke. Some players forego seasons at the college level to make the jump to the NBA, but others decide to move to another school to pursue new opportunities. Taylor King, Elliot Williams and Michael Gbinije are three more players who made such a choice and departed from Duke.
King came to campus as a freshman for the 2007-2008 season, but was immediately in the doghouse. The 6-foot-6 forward failed a drug test within his first few weeks on the team. King's problem with marijuana wouldn't end with that first failed test, though it wouldn't hinder the remainder of his Duke career. As a freshman King averaged 9.7 minutes per game, scoring 5.5 points and grabbing 2.0 rebounds per game. However, after his first season King decided to transfer, realizing he'd be playing behind Kyle Singler for the remainder of his Blue Devil career if he stuck around.
A number of teams recruited King after leaving Duke, including UCLA, USC and Gonzaga, though King decided to stay on the east coast and attend Villanova. After a promising start to his Wildcat career, King fell into trouble again. He routinely broke curfew and was once again using marijuana. King averaged 7.4 points and 5.3 rebounds per game, but he was suspended at the end of the season for failing another drug test. When the coach asked him to go to a rehab center, King declined and walked away from the team.
King finished his college ball with the Concordia University Irvine Eagles, leading the team in scoring and rebounding. After Concordia, King made the jump to professional basketball. With no bites in the NBA or NBDL, King played ball in Canada. He played one season with two different teams, but then moved on to play in Asia. Last season King played with Kinmen Kaoliang Liquor in Taiwan, averaging 24.0 points and 13.9 rebounds per game.
Williams' story is far different from that of King's. In fact, Williams' story is different from almost every other transfer's story. The 6-foot-4 guard was a key contributor to Duke's team during the 2008-2009 season. Williams even cracked Mike Krzyzewski's starting rotation by the end of the year, starting 12 games. For the entirety of the season, Williams averaged 4.2 points and 2.3 rebounds per game in 16.6 minutes.
After his freshman season Williams decided he needed to transfer. The issue for Williams was not his playing time or future playing time, but rather his family. Williams transfered to Memphis to be closer to home where his mother was sick. Williams received a waiver from the NCAA to play immediately due to his specific circumstances.
Williams' lone season at Memphis was highly productive. The guard averaged 17.9 points, 4.0 rebounds and 3.8 assists per game while vastly improving his shooting from both beyond the arc and the free throw line. His big season paid off, as he wound up going in the first round of the 2010 NBA Draft, where he was selected with the 22nd overall pick.
Williams has been unable to stay healthy as an NBA player. He did not play a single game as a rookie due to surgeries on both knees. Williams played just 24 games in 2011-12 and averaged 3.7 points per game, but missed the final two months of the season with a shoulder injury. Last season Williams again did not log a single minute, suffering an Achilles tendon injury that cost him his entire season. Williams is currently a free agent and hasn't drawn much interest due to his checkered injury past.
Gbinije is Duke's most recent transfer, leaving after the 2011-12 season. Gbinije came to Duke as part of a packed recruiting class, including current New Orleans Pelicans guard Austin Rivers, point guard Quinn Cook, forward Alex Murphy and center Marshall Plumlee. While Rivers and Cook played significant minutes and Murphy and Plumlee redshirted, Gbinije was in no-man's land. Gbinije played 19 games, averaging just 5.8 minutes and 1.7 points per game.
Gbinije announced his intent to transfer following his freshman season, seeing that he would have no clear path to playing time. The 6-foot-7 wing player agreed to continue his collegiate career at Syracuse, sitting out last season as the Orange made a run to the Final Four. Now, Gbinije is ready to play with Syracuse as the Orange make the move from the Big East to the ACC.
This season, Gbinije is expected to play a big role with Syracuse due to his versatility. A small forward at Duke and a shooting guard through high school, Gbinije spent his redshirt season learning another position. Needing a practice body against Michael-Carter Williams, Gbinije worked out as a point guard all season. While he won't be playing significant minutes as the lead guard, head coach Jim Boeheim thinks he could play eight-to-10 minutes per game at that spot. Gbinije will play a significant role with the Orange this year, and should draw a lot of attention when he faces off against his former team this season. The first meeting between the two will be February 1 at the Carrier Dome in Syracuse and will be on ESPN's College GameDay.
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