Originally posted on Fox Sports Midwest  |  Last updated 5/23/13
ST. LOUIS If you haven't heard by now, Frank Haith landed another one. The Mizzou basketball coach's freshest addition to his collection of transfers is former Baylor guard Deuce Bello, a four-star high school recruit who logged two subpar seasons in Waco (2.8 points and 10.6 minutes per game) before looking for more playing time elsewhere. The news is just the most recent example of Haith's heavy presence in the frenzied competition for college transfers. It's the biggest gamble in college basketball, but one too valuable to sit out on especially when an estimated 40 percent of college players will transfer in their first two years. "It's part of the business right now," Haith told FOX Sports Midwest in an April 18 interview. "It's no different than what John Calipari is doing at Kentucky. But we are doing it on the back end. You know what I mean? He is getting guys that are one-and-done high school All-Americans. ... But our kids are going to get degrees. They're here at the end of their stages." The timing of the talk was fitting. Earlier that week, Haith had missed out on former Seton Hall guard Aaron Cosby, who had reportedly whittled down his transfer choices to Illinois and Mizzou before deciding to play for the Illini. Now, a month and some change later, Bello has picked Mizzou. "With transferring kids, you have to do your homework," Haith said. "Get guys that fit you. I think we've done a good job of that." So far, he has. Last season, Haith relied on a wave of transfers to bridge the gap between the senior-laden team (Kim English, Marcus Denmon and Ricardo Ratliffe) he inherited from former Mizzou coach Mike Anderson and the depleted roster that followed. The Tigers hit the court with Keion Bell (Pepperdine), Jabari Brown (Oregon), Alex Oriakhi (Connecticut) and Earnest Ross (Auburn). The result, despite complications caused by poor team chemistry, was a 23-11 season and an NCAA Tournament appearance. "I don't think we will see that anymore," Haith said of having that many transfers on one team. "But there is always a chance we will plug a transfer in here or there." Due to NCAA transfer rules, Bello will sit out the upcoming season. Still, the Tigers will have new, non-freshman faces on the court. While Brown (redshirt junior) and Ross (redshirt senior) will return as old-timers, former Tulsa guard Jordan Clarkson is fresh off his season of waiting and ready for his redshirt junior debut. "When people hear transfer, they think negative," Haith said. "The kids were bad or something. That's not the case. Every kid leaves for different reasons, whether it be playing time, wanting to be close to home, or wanting to play at a higher level. It's not always negative." The best example at Missouri has been Brown. After playing just two games as a freshman at Oregon, the former five-star high school recruit walked away. He was called a flake, untrustworthy, unreliable. "He leaves after two games and everybody is depicting him as this selfish kid and all these things, which he was not," Haith said. "If you got to the core of it, you saw that he was a kid who was victimized, being a high-level guy with people telling him what he should do. He just went ahead and did it, as opposed to what he felt in his heart was right." Had Brown flopped or bailed Haith would have been burned. Instead, Brown averaged 32.7 minutes for Haith's team last season, along with 13.7 points, 3.4 rebounds and 1.4 assists. He also has a 3.0 GPA, according to the coach. The pressure will now be on the new batch of transfers Clarkson, then Bello, then whoever else comes along to keep Haith and his Tigers on the winning side of the college basketball's risky transfer game. "The success of it, it shows," Haith said a month before Bello picked Mizzou. "That's the only way you're going to be able to continue to do it. Those guys that you take, they've got to be successful." Follow Ben Frederickson on Twitter (@Ben_Fred) and contact him at frederickson.ben@gmail.com.
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