Eackles' decision to transfer unsurprising
"It’s in mine and my family’s best interests for me to head back down south and (be) closer to home," Eackles said.
Eackles relished his reserve role as a freshman, playing in all but one game and even gained national attention in the Grizzlies' NCAA tournament loss to Pittsburgh. He scored 17 points in 23 minutes, keying what looked to be at the time, a possible Oakland rally.
(I'll never forget when, in a flurry, Eackles lofted a finger-roll in transition near the arc, while drawing contact from a Pitt guard. The bank fell, but Eackles was called for the charge.)
Eackles averaged 6.1 points per game last year in 15.9 minutes. He was getting even more minutes prior to his injury in January.
Eackles' season began under a bad sign, as he missed the team bus at West Virginia to open the season, leaving the starting role that night open for guard Travis Bader. The Freshman played 35 minutes, scoring 15 points. Bader started 21 games this year, compared to Eackles' three.
(Reggie Hamilton also missed the bus that day, but went on to have a much different season.)
It's also likely Eackles factored in the logjam at guard into his decision to leave. Besides Bader, freshman guard Ryan Bass saw critical minutes and transfer Laval Lucas-Perry become eligible next season. Larry Wright is the only graduating guard. That leaves a four-guard rotation, excluding freshmen (Dante Williams and Matt Poches), who might have a chance to play.
"He leaves with two straight championships and his time here was very productive for Ledrick and Oakland," coach Greg Kampe said. "I do understand why he is leaving and wish him nothing but the best. I will always cheer for Ledrick Eackles.”
There's probably going to be many of us who do the same.