|Posted on December 6, 2016 at 4:00 PM|
Sandy Cohen is coming home.
The 6’6” Marquette transfer, who starred at nearby Seymour High School, has chosen to continue his college basketball career at Green Bay according to Mark Miller of Wisconsin Basketball Yearbook. He chose the Phoenix over conference rival Oakland.
Cohen burst onto the scene prior to his senior year of high school, going from a relative unknown to a consensus 4-star prospect and top 100 national recruit across all the major recruiting services (#73 247 Sports, #83 ESPN, #88 Scout, #97 Rivals,). He was recruited by then-Green Bay head coach Brian Wardle at the time but ultimately chose Marquette over big time offers from Virginia, Purdue, Iowa, Creighton, and Minnesota among others.
He appeared in 31 games for Marquette as a true freshman and even started 7 games. He scored 3.8 points and grabbed 1.6 rebounds in 15.0 minutes per game.
His role significantly expanded at the beginning of his sophomore season, starting 15 straight games from November 23rd to January 16th last season. He lost his starting spot and his numbers tailed off once Big East Conference play got going, but he still finished the season scoring 5.9 points and grabbing 3.2 rebounds per game in 23.2 minutes of action.
This season he appeared in just 3 games for Marquette, going scoreless in 19 total minutes of action. He asked for and was granted a release from his scholarship on November 20th.
The decision to transfer came down to playing time, Cohen told John Hand of the Marquette Wire.
“The biggest part was just I wasn’t in a place where I could reach my full potential as a basketball player and hopefully take that next step in my game,” Cohen told the Wire. “My dream and my goal has always been to play at the highest level. I just felt here at Marquette I wasn’t in the right situation for that to happen. I love everybody at Marquette, coaches and everything. I just had to make the best decision for me.”
“Being a junior and not being able to play much is not really what I envisioned and not really what I thought would happen. It pretty much comes down to playing time.”
So the question now becomes how long will Cohen be playing at Green Bay? A mid-season transfer creates several eligibility issues. For the most part, there seems to be a couple options the junior can take.
One option is to sit out the minimum one year due to NCAA transfer rules and be eligible to play in mid-December 2017 as a senior. The second semester of the 2017/2018 season would use his final eligibility in this scenario, meaning his college career would be over following the 2017/2018 season. According Scott Venci of the Green Bay Press-Gazette, Cohen is not considering this option.
Another option would be for Cohen to sit the out upcoming second semester due to NCAA transfer rules as well as redshirting for all of the 2017/2018 season, making him eligible for a full season in 2018/2019 as a redshirt senior.
A third option could be for Cohen to apply to the NCAA for a waiver if he decides to play right away when he becomes eligible next December. This would in essence mean he “redshirted” his junior season in 2016/2017, making him a “redshirt” junior for the 2nd semester of the 2017/2018 and gaining a full 5th season if the waiver is successful.
Valparaiso’s star point guard Keith Carter applied for an NCAA waiver to gain back a season of eligibility after playing only 39 minutes total in 3 games as a freshman at Saint Louis due to a sprained foot. He suffered the injury in the second game of his freshman season, missing the next seven games before returning to play 21 minutes in a game against Eastern Illinois.
The NCAA rejected Carter’s waiver appeal for 5th season prior to this season, meaning his college career was over. Cohen could play the 2nd semester of next season but there is no guarantee that the NCAA will approve a waiver for a 5th season of eligibility.
Regardless of how much time Cohen has in a Green Bay jersey, his impact will certainly be felt as soon as he becomes eligible. At 6’6” with explosive athleticism – Cohen won Marquette’s annual “Marquette Madness” dunk contest this year – he is a perfect fit for head coach Linc Darner’s up-tempo system. His size allows him versatility to play as a third guard or slide to the power forward spot on both ends of the floor.
He also showed an ability to occasionally hit an outside shot at Marquette, making 34.5% (49/142) of his three point attempts during his career in Milwaukee.
With six seniors graduating after this season, the Phoenix will need impact players next season. A sophomore Trevor Anderson, senior Khalil Small, as well as a solid incoming group of newcomers including Trevian Bell and JUCO star Paul Turner presents a tantalizing spectrum of playmakers with Cohen involved. It will be up to the player and the coaching staff on how to approach the eligibility situation.
It will be fascinating to see how it all plays out. Even if it just for a semester, Green Bay is gaining a motivated consensus top 100 recruit with something to prove.
“I mean, when you only have one year of college basketball, you have to be motivated and you have to have goals and do everything in your power to achieve those goals,” Cohen told the Marquette Wire. “That is why I am so excited, because I know I only have one year left and I have to put my all into it if I want this to work out.”