A quick glance at the Missouri State men’s basketball team roster will show the varied background of the team. Nine of the 15 players attended another college or university before coming to Missouri State.
Seven of those players have come to the team since Dana Ford took over as head coach in March of 2018.
Some big contributors to the Bears 2018-19 campaign, including fifth-year senior guard Josh Webster from Texas Tech, were transfer players.
The same thing appears to be the case in the upcoming season. Senior forward Tulio Da Silva, who was named first-team Missouri Valley All-Conference last season, is also a transfer player who continues to play a big role.
The amount of transfer players on the roster is something Ford said is a part of how he and his staff have decided to build the team.
“(Transfer players) is definitely a pipeline for us,” Ford said. “We like to recruit high school seniors within a 300-mile radius, we like to recruit Division I transfers and then junior college.
“We don’t want to pigeon-hole ourselves into one way to do something. We want to (recruit) in as many ways as is NCAA compliant. If we were to pigeon-hole ourselves, we’d miss out on a good player.”
One thing Ford said he likes about transfers, especially upperclassmen, is the experience they bring.
“They understand how it supposed to go,” Ford said. “They bring that experience, that know-how, some stability and even confidence for the younger guys. They bring a lot of value to the program.”
Transfer players also allow the team to fill needs quickly that would take awhile to fill through the traditional process of recruiting high school seniors.
Senior forward Lamont West, who transferred from West Virginia last spring, will help the Bears’ defense, according to Ford.
“He can really defend the post at this level,” Ford said of West. “We have the ability now to switch some things that we have not had the ability to in the past. He’s going to have to learn how to defend smaller players, but his versatility defensively is going to help us a lot.”
Some transfers are not allowed to play in their first year at a new school. The NCAA requires a majority of Division I transfers to sit out one year, which counts as a redshirt year. The player can still practice with the team, however, they are not allowed to compete in games.
The sit-out year can help develop skills the coaching staff may not have been aware of. This has been the case with redshirt junior guard Tyrik Dixon, who sat out last season after transferring from Middle Tennessee.
“He’s definitely surprised us with his ability to score the ball,” Ford said of Dixon’s performance in practice. “We knew he was a good point guard, floor general, leader-and-assist man, but he’s put the ball in the basket. For us, in late shot-clock situations that’s going to come in handy.”
In the Bears 76-59 exhibition game victory against Washington University on Oct. 30, both Dixon and West started. Dixon played 27 minutes, West played 18.
The Bears first regular season game is on Nov. 5 against Little Rock at home.