Jordan’s transfer raises questions

It’s never fun to see a player transfer out of the program, so let’s start with the good news. If there was a player to see transfer out of the program, Justin Jordan is far from the worst one to leave. If there was a position to lose a player to transfer, there’s not a better position to lose a player from than guard.

Justin Jordan brought value to the program. This post isn’t about knocking Jordan, who is a good player and a hard worker who will benefit whichever program he chooses to transfer to at the semester break. We hope he does well, just as we did when the Panthers lost guys like Lonnie Boga and Ja’Rob McCallum to transfer. Hell, Lonnie won a national title with D-II Drury, and I cheered loudly watching that game on TV.

Our focus, of course, is always on our program here in Milwaukee. And the transfer of Justin Jordan, while unexpected, isn’t the worst thing in the world.

Through the first four games of the season, he had definitely pinned himself in the rotation for the time being. Jordan had averaged 15.8 minutes per game, which was pretty consistent – his most minutes were against Denver (19), his fewest the next day against Lipscomb (12).

That was most definitely going to change in the coming weeks, with JayQuan McCloud becoming eligible within the next month – either by the NCAA approving his appeal to play, or by finishing his full transfer year at the conclusion of the fall semester. McCloud will immediately play at least 25 minutes per game, and Jordan was going to be the player who would sacrifice the most there, since both of them are combo guards and other players bring better value on the court.

I am 100% certain that McCloud’s impending eligibility was a major contributing factor for Jordan in his decision to transfer. When McCloud comes back, Jordan would be at best the sixth guard in the rotation – Akeem Springs, Jordan Johnson, McCloud, Austin Arians and Cody Wichmann all chew up minutes on the wing or at the point, limiting Jordan’s chances. Add in the fact that J.R. Lyle seems to still be consistent and not mistake-prone, and Jordan could have been the seventh man in this year’s backcourt. Only Lyle is a senior, so Jordan was looking at not breaking through until his own senior season. Rumors abound that Lyle will regain that fourth year of eligibility and be on the team next season, so it’s possible his minutes could have been as little as five per game through the end of his junior season.

Never in our history has the loss of a rotational guard to mid-season transfer posed this little impact. That’s not a knock on Jordan as much as it’s a testament to our team’s depth at the position. If Jordan were a post player, this would have been huge. He’s not, so Milwaukee can weather the storm and come out solid.

Should we not see McCloud until mid-December, expect Lyle and Wichmann to split all of Jordan’s minutes. Both players are capable of 20+ minutes with ease, so we shouldn’t miss Jordan much in the mean time. Neither player plays too loose with the ball, so turnovers may even get cut down – Jordan had seven turnovers to just two assists this season, whereas the other two have combined for six assists and three turnovers. Wichmann has a shot that Jordan may never have achieved at Milwaukee, and Lyle is an effective, exciting playmaker who helps us run the transition game.

Jordan did back up Johnson at point, so Milwaukee will have to go back to Lyle and occasionally Springs handling the ball, but once McCloud is on the court, he will take over ball-handling duties when Johnson needs a breather.

The main problem this year is depth. One less man means we can afford to lose one less man than we did yesterday. If he wasn’t a good fit in the locker room, I consider his departure a net plus for both the program and Justin Jordan.

Long term, this means that Milwaukee has to find a point guard for 2017-18. So we have some time. You never want to see a player transfer, but it’s easy to see that Jordan’s departure is best for all parties. My only hope is that he had done it over the summer so we could have added another scholarship player for this season.

Oh well. It happens. Next man up. We’ve got banners to hang.

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