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By Allen Moff | Staff Writer
Three members of the Kent State men's basketball team who were eligible to return next season will not be back.
Guards K.K. Simmons, Devin Carter and Tyler Scott will transfer after the 2013-14 academic year ends, according to Golden Flashes head coach Rob Senderoff, who announced the moves on Tuesday.
"At the end of the year, our staff meets with every player individually. After meeting with K.K. Simmons, Devin Carter and Tyler Scott, a mutual decision was made that they would transfer out at the end of the year," said Senderoff. "We appreciate their contributions to the basketball program during their time at Kent State and support these decisions. Our staff will do everything that it can to help them move on to another university, and will continue supporting them academically through the rest of the school year. I personally wish all of them future success."
While Carter and Scott played sparingly, Simmons had some big games off the bench for Kent State. After sitting out the 2012-13 season as a transfer from UNC Wilmington, the 6-foot-3 redshirt sophomore guard made an impact early on in his first season as an active member of the Flashes. Simmons averaged 7.4 points through eight games after scoring a combined 30 points on 7-of-7 shooting from 3-point range in back-to-back wins over Niagara and Youngstown State in late November.
But Simmons did not reach double figures in the next 18 games, and wound up averaging 4.4 points in 29 contests, while shooting 41.2 percent from 3 (21-of-51).
"There are guys that average 15 points per game that leave programs," said Senderoff. "It just didn't work out for both of us."
Carter, a 6-4 sophomore, transferred to KSU from Lake Land College in Illinois. He was expected to make an impact in his first season with the Flashes, but played in just 13 games, averaging 1.9 points per outing on 28.6 percent shooting from the field.
"We brought him in to play a lot, and it didn't work out unfortunately," said Senderoff.
Scott, a 6-5 redshirt freshman guard from Pittsburgh, played in just five games and scored one point.
"Tyler is really athletic. Hopefully he can find a place where he can play, but he was never able to get into the rotation here," said Senderoff.
Kent State now has two scholarships available. The Flashes signed Gary Akbar, Raasean Davis and Rosel Hurley during the early signing period last November, while transfers Jimmy Hall and Blake Vedder will become eligible next year after sitting out the 2013-14 season.
Akbar, a 6-5 swingman who averaged 8.3 points and 4.9 rebounds at San Jacinto College in Texas last season, will have two years of eligibility remaining with Kent State. Davis is a 6-8, 235-pound forward who starred at Paulding County High School in Georgia last year, while Hurley is a 6-6 wing who played a major role on a Shaker Heights squad that advanced to the Division I regional semifinals last winter.
Hall is a 6-7 forward who transferred from Hofstra, where he averaged 12.7 points and 9.4 rebounds in seven games as a freshman in 2012-13. He has three years of eligibility left, and is expected to play a major role on next year's KSU squad.
Vedder, a 7-4, 235-pound center from West Geauga High School, transferred from Indiana (Pa.) and has one year of eligibility remaining.
Senderoff is now seeking immediate help on the perimeter.
"We have four perimeter players on our entire roster, so we need to bring in a perimeter player with experience who can help us next year without question," he said. "We can't make a mistake with the perimeter player we bring in. He has to be able to play significant minutes for us next year and contribute in a big way from the moment he gets here."
Senderoff said that player could be a high school recruit or a transfer.
"I'm looking for the best player I can get," he said. "I don't care if it's a one-year kid or a four-year kid. We need the best perimeter player that we can find."
Senderoff is not sure how he will use the other scholarship.
"It's up in the air," he said.
The Flashes will look to return to the MAC elite next season after slipping to 16-16 in 2013-14, following back-to-back 21-win seasons in Senderoff's first two years at the helm.
The Flashes have been focused on improving themselves physically during the off-season and are making strides, according to Senderoff.
"We have 10 guys every day in workouts, and we've been lifting in the mornings three days a week," he said. "It's a four-week program that we have and guys are doing very well, working hard with a great attitude. I think we're getting better."
KNEE ISSUES FOR THOMAS
Sophomore guard Kellon Thomas managed to play every game last season, despite undergoing major knee surgery in April of 2013, after he suffered a non-contact injury during an individual drill at the M.A.C. Center Annex. However, the knee is still causing some problems, according to Senderoff.
"Kellon's knee is still bothering him a little bit, and we're not exactly sure why," said Senderoff. "He's had an MRI and there's nothing structurally wrong, but he's still feeling some pain in his knee. He's going to go see the doctor (Tuesday). He's been working out, he looks great, but he's just going through a little discomfort."
Thomas was arguably the Flashes' most-improved player last season, averaging 6.5 points, two rebounds and two assists, despite playing through the knee pain.
"He had a major surgery, was out six months, didn't practice until the first day of (preseason) practice," said Senderoff. "It bothered him every day all year. He gutted through it."
Facebook: Allen Moff, Record-Courier
Something is not right with our current basketball program. You just don't lose three players because of a mutual decision.