Basketball, Sports

3 men’s basketball players transfer from program

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.”


  1. John Battaglino

    I’m always disappointed when a BU student transfers to another institution, but I understand – sometimes it just doesn’t work out here. Hopefully, there was a lot of thought that went into the decisions for Mo, Malik and James, and they are happy and successful in their next endeavor.

    For me, the real takeaway from this story is the leadership, class and caring of our men’s basketball coach, Joe Jones. Clearly, he has a refreshing perspective about college athletes:

    “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.”

    Coach Jones didn’t say anything about wins or losses. In fact, he wasn’t talking about basketball at all. He was talking about these young men as college students. During the Madness that surrounds college basketball at this time of year, I hope more coaches re-evaluate their priorities and care more about their players’ college experience than on their team’s win/loss record. The BU basketball program proves that the two goals are not mutually exclusive.

    I will miss seeing Mo, Malik and James on Comm Ave., but I’m looking forward to watching Terrier men’s basketball continue to thrive throughout Coach Jones’ tenure.

    Kudos Coach and Go Terriers!!

  2. It is really disappointing to see Mo Watson Jr. leaving BU. He is a terrific player, added a great deal of excitement and is exactly the kind of player needed to increase fan interest in the program. Basketball-wise, I think he could have accomplished what he wanted for himself at BU, and often the grass looks greener elsewhere. He will be lucky to find another coach as caring as Joe Jones obviously is for his players. But if he ends up at a signature basketball program, he does have the talent, if not the size, to thrive.
    I hope this finally opens the eyes of the BU Athletic Department that they need to do much more to market the basketball team. The use of social media has been good, but they need an actual plan and the willingness to spend some money on marketing. They have already made a good start by playing Patriot League games at Agganis, and being willing guarantee the costs of hosting an NIT game. A couple of attractive nonleague games that are really well marketed could help the program get to the next step.
    Good luck to Malik Thomas and James Kennedy, as well. Playing at another school for a season after graduation is an option more and more players across the country are taking advantage of to get a new experience.
    While the loss of Watson is a big hit to the team, I have faith that Joe Jones has handled things correctly and will make the adjustments necessary with the returning players and newcomers to keep the program moving forward.

  3. Coach Joe Jones has certainly taken the positive approach on this and he is to be commended. Still, it’s tough to lose players of this caliber. Hopefully, the new players and transfers ( yes we get them too, a trade off I guess) will make for a good team next year

    Joe and his staff as well as the athletic dept needs to concentrate not only in preparing the team but perhaps just as important in marketing his program to an apathetic BU community.

    I believe both can be done successfully. A marketing plan needs to be put in place soon, however.

  4. Unfortunately, what was a regular occurrence during the Dennis Wolfe era continues today albeit for very different reasons. And this trend will continue in the future. Playing in front of a handful of fans in a cavernous and empty arena against mediocre low major opponents must be unfulfilling. That feeling probably expands when an individual who is a little unsure of their abilities coming out of high school tastes success both as a member of a team and individually at the college level.
    As far as Joe Jones is concerned, if he has a modicum of success next year with the decimated squad he is left with and then more success the following year, he will be gone too, off to a major conference team for an exponentially higher salary (as he should if he cares about his family and his future which I’m sure he does). Its depressing as a fan of BU basketball.
    I have religiously followed the team since the early 80s save for a period from 1989 to 1997 when I didn’t have time to do anything but eat, sleep and work. I have an unbelievable amount of pride that I went to Boston University and my pride is separate and apart from athletic success. Sure I would love to have the team see major success but my pride is not tied to that. While hockey is a nice sport, a huge amount of school pride (and alum money) for other alumni at any university comes from success in basketball and football whether our administration likes it or not. If the team could either a) make it to sweet sixteen even once or b) move to a higher profile conference, you’d see an increase in pride … and money. Sadly, however, it appears that will never happen at BU.