With seniors Dom Morris, Travis Robinson and D.J. Irving already leaving the program due to graduation, the Boston University men’s basketball team was dealt another huge blow Wednesday morning as sophomore point guard Maurice Watson Jr., junior forward Malik Thomas and junior forward James Kennedy all announced their plans to transfer to other schools.
The BU athletic department confirmed the news Wednesday afternoon.
“Our entire staff would like to thank James Kennedy, Malik Thomas and Mo Watson Jr. for their contributions to our program,” said BU coach Joe Jones in a statement. “We appreciate their hard work and wish them the best in their future endeavors.”
Jones told The Daily Free Press that he wants all three players to be happy and thrive, regardless of wherever they choose to go.
“I love those guys and I want to see them be successful,” Jones said. “We’re sad to see them go, but we want those guys to be happy and successful. That’s really what this is all about, it’s a college experience. We want them to have a great experience wherever they are.”
Watson was arguably the team’s most dominant player throughout the 2013-14 campaign. The point guard led the team in points (13.3), assists (7.1) and steals (2.1) per game. His assist mark was good for best in the Patriot League and third in the entire NCAA. Watson’s 17-assist performance in the Patriot League quarterfinal matchup against the U.S. Military Academy was a Patriot League record.
For his efforts, Watson was named a First Team All-Patriot League selection by the conference and also received a nod to the All-District Team from the National Association of Basketball Coaches and the United States Basketball Writers Association.
“I want to thank the BU coaching staff for giving me the opportunity to play college basketball at a top 10 academic institution,” Waston tweeted. “I also want to thank the BU community for embracing me these past two years. However, I have decided to explore other options for my JR & SR seasons. I want to play on a bigger stage.”
Watson also tweeted that he intends to finish this semester at BU.
Thomas was a key role player on this season’s Patriot League regular season champion squad. He came off the bench to average 5.8 points, 4.0 rebounds and 1.2 assists. Jan. 29, he posted a career-high 18 points against Army (15-16).
Because Thomas is a redshirt junior, he will be getting his degree at BU at the end of the semester, BU athletics confirmed. As a graduate student next year, the Harlem, N.Y., native will be immediately eligible to play at whatever institution he chooses to attend, unlike Watson and Kennedy, who will have to sit out for a season due to NCAA rules.
While he was injured throughout the 2013-14 season, Kennedy averaged 6.3 minutes per game during his first two seasons at BU and scored four points twice in the 2011-12 season.
With the news, sophomore guard John Papale and sophomore forward Nate Dieudonne will be the two remaining players with starting experience on next year’s BU squad.
Jones said he remains confident in his players and thinks that it will give players on next year’s team a chance to take more of a leadership role.
“I love the guys we have in the program,” Jones said. “We have a couple of guys that sat out last year and were able to watch and practice every day. We have a great recruiting class coming in. We also have some other guys on the horizon that we’re recruiting right now.
“I feel good about what we have and where we’re going and I think our guys do too. It’s a great opportunity for some guys to take some major roles on our team in terms of leadership and I think they’re excited about it . . . I think this can be something that can turn out to be a positive thing in the future.”