PALO ALTO — Reid Travis’ decision to graduate from Stanford and transfer to Kentucky immediately changed the focus of the 2018-19 college basketball season.
The 6-8 power forward averaged 19.5 points and 8.7 rebounds last year and would have been the Pac-12 Preseason Player of the Year if he returned to the Cardinal. Instead, he’ll be part of a Wildcats’ squad that will be the deepest that John Calipari has had since Kentucky went 38-1 during the 14-15 campaign.
Beyond the buzz surrounding one of the college basketball’s most fabled programs, Stanford marches on with no hard feelings.
“I wasn’t blindsided by Reid Travis,” Stanford head coach Jerod Haase said Wednesday morning in Palo Alto. “After the season we sat down and he told me that he wanted to be a first-round pick and he wanted to go through the NBA Draft process. So we knew that him not being here was a possibility.”
The Stanford brand is one of the strongest in college athletics, but Travis’ decision reiterates that no program is incapable of losing a player as a grad transfer.
“There’s only been four players who have transferred as undergraduates in the history of Stanford basketball, but what happened could create a whole new dynamic,” Haase added. “We feel that redshirting guys could benefit the program long term, but now there’s proof that someone who has a Stanford degree could still opt to go elsewhere. You think that you’re immune to that stuff when you’re at a place like Stanford, but we learned that we’re not. It’s virtually impossible to get transfers in here and because of the academic standards, spring recruiting is minimal. Losing a player at that time of year is almost like being penalized a scholarship because of an NCAA violation.”
All though, is not lost for the Cardinal.
Haase returns a strong sophomore trio of Daejon Davis, KZ Okpala, and Oscar da Silva who all should have a chance to be all-conference players next season and adds a potential starter and Top 50 recruit in 6-5 freshman Cormac Ryan. 6-6 freshman Bryce Wills was also a four-star recruit and figures to be a key rotation player.
The guy to watch though is Davis.
After averaging 10.7 points, 4.4 rebounds, and 4.8 assists while shooting 40.3 percent from three-point range last season as a freshman, the 6-3 guard figures to potentially be the Pac-12’s best guard in 18-19 along with Washington’s Jaylen Nowell, Colorado’s McKinley Wright, and potentially UCLA’s Jaylen Hands and Arizona State’s Remy Martin.
“He has to develop as a leader,” Haase said of Davis. “Everyone knows that he’s a spectacular player, but the world needs to see that he’s a spectacular leader. That’s very important for us.”
So is picking up equity prior to Pac-12 play against a vicious non-conference schedule that includes road games at both Kansas and North Carolina along with three tilts at the Battle 4 Atlantis in the Bahamas.
That alone would give Stanford a chance to build an NCAA Tournament resume after a season where the Pac-12 didn’t have a single team advance past the Round of 64.
“The vision for our program hasn’t changed,” Haase said. “We’re going to play fast and we want to be long, versatile, and skilled. That’s where we’re headed.”
Jon Rothstein has been a college basketball insider for CBS Sports since 2010 and is the lead college basketball columnist for the FRS Sports Network. He is also the host of the College Hoops Today Podcast via Compass Media Networks, which is available via iTunes. Rothstein is also a regular in-studio correspondent for both WFAN and CBS Sports Radio. He currently lives in Manhattan.
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