Sometimes the grass is greener elsewhere, sometimes not so much.
Four key former Cal players who transferred in recent seasons have met with mixed results since departing. But if the primary goal was to play in the NCAA tournament, two of them already have done it and a third is projected to get there this season.
Here’s an update on how Matt Bradley, Justice Sueing, Darius McNeill and Connor Vanover have fared at new basketball homes. Plus, we provide some good news regarding one-time Golden Bears guard Juhwan Harris-Dyson.
*** And we’ve updated the story with word about Charlie Moore, who fans may remember scoring 38 points for Cal in his second college game way back on Nov. 16, 2016. Moore is now at Miami — his fourth school in six seasons — and playing quite well for the red-hot Hurricanes.
— MATT BRADLEY, San Diego State senior guard
At SDSU: Bradley is the leading scorer at 15.8 points per game on an Aztecs’ team that is 10-3 overall, 2-0 in the Mountain West Conference but had its past two games postponed due to a COVID-19 pause.
He is coming off his most productive game, a 26-point performance in SDSU’s 79-49 rout of previously undefeated Colorado State on Jan. 8. “Matt Bradley was sensational,” coach Brian Dutcher said. Bradley was named MWC Player of the Week after SDSU posted its largest margin of victory over a Top-25 team in program history.
Bradley is shooting a career-low 32 percent on 3’s but was 4 for 6 against CSU. He has four games of at least 22 points and is six points shy of reaching 1,500 for his career.
NCAA prospects: The Aztecs are projected as a No. 8 tournament seed by ESPN bracketologist Joe Lunardi.
At Cal: Bradley played three seasons for the Bears, averaging 10.8, 17.5 and 18.0 points, and twice was an All-Pac-12 second-team selection for teams that were a combined 31-61.
— JUSTICE SUEING, Ohio State senior forward
At Ohio State: Sueing had a successful debut season with the Buckeyes a year ago, but injuries have nagged him. He was slowed late last season by a groin injury and has played just two games this year because of an abdominal issue that coach Chris Holtman called “significant.” Named a tam captain in the fall, Sueing was expected to return to action at some point this season, but it hasn’t happened yet.
“I’m not gonna minimize the importance of Justice or Justice’s health to this team,” Holtmann said in November. “We certainly anticipated a healthy Justice to start the season, and I think planned around all of what he could give us. He’s unique, because there’s not another Justice-type player on our roster that has the ability at his size to play downhill and guard multiple positions.”
Sueing started all 31 games last season, contributing 10.7 points and 5.5 rebounds. He shot a career-best 49 percent from the field. He scored double digits 17 times and had a Ohio State best of 22 points against Illinois in the Big Ten tournament. But the groin injury slowed him in the NCAA tournament as he scored just seven points in a first-round loss to Oral Roberts.
NCAA prospects: The Buckeyes, 11-4 overall and 5-2 in the Big Ten, are projected by Lunardi as a No. 5 seed in the tournament.
At Cal: Sueing averaged 13.8 points and 5.4 rebounds as a freshman, 14.3 and 6.0 as a sophomore. He scored double digits 46 times in 63 games, had 11 games of at least 20 points and twice scored 27.
— DARIUS McNEILL, Texas-San Antonio senior guard
At UTSA: The season has been a struggle for McNeill, who came to the Conference USA team after one season at SMU. He is averaging 4.9 points and shooting just 20 percent (4 for 20) on 3-pointers, which is his speciality. Over the past nine games, he has made just one of 12 attempts from deep. The Roadrunners are 7-11, 0-5 in C-USA.
NCAA prospects: Not gonna happen barring an unexpected sprint through the Conference USA tournament.
At SMU: McNeill averaged 7.3 points and shot a career-best 39 percent from the 3-point arc a year ago, playing mostly off the bench. He scored a season-high 17 points in his return to his home state after sitting out the 2019-20 season as a transfer.
At Cal: McNeill started 58 of 63 games in his two seasons at Berkeley, averaging 11.3 points as a freshman, 11.0 a year later. He played an average of 33 minutes for the Bears, far more than he has had since. Among 35 double-digit scoring games, he fired in 30 points against Cal State Fullerton as a freshman.
— CONNOR VANOVER, Arkansas junior center
At Arkansas: An intriguing player, listed at 7-foot-3 but possibly taller, Vanover started 27 times a year ago at his home-state school, averaging 6.5 points and 3.5 rebounds with 51 blocked shots in 16 minutes per game. He played four scoreless minutes in the Razorbacks’ NCAA opening win over Colgate then saw no further tournament action as the team advanced to the Elite 8. The Hogs finished with an impressive 25-7 record.
Vancouver has started 10 games this season but his role has diminished. He’s now playing just 8.5 minutes per outing, contributing 4.5 points and 2.4 blocks. He scored 35 points in the Razorbacks’ first three games this season but has averaged just 2.4 points since then.
NCAA prospects: The Razorbacks, 12-5 overall but 2-3 in the Southeastern Conference, currently are labeled one of the first four teams out of the NCAA bracket by ESPN’s Lunardi.
At Cal: Vanover assembled a promising rookie season in 2018-19, posting 7.5 points and 3.0 rebounds with 35 blocked shots. He found a groove late in the season, starting the final nine games, during which he averaged 11.7 points, 5.0 rebounds and 2.4 blocks. In his second-to-last game for the Bears, a win over Stanford, Vanover had 24 points and six blocked shots.
— CHARLIE MOORE, Miami sixth-year senior guard
At Miami: Two weeks shy of 24, Moore is averaging 12.2 points and 3.9 assists for the 14-4 Hurricanes, who have won 10 of their past 11 games and lead the ACC with a 6-1 record. He has started every game and is shooting 40 percent from the 3-point arc. Moore has assembled six games of at least 18 points, including a season-high 25 in a win over Syracuse. He had 18 points and seven assists each in Miami’s victories at No. 2 Duke and over Wake Forest. In 135 college games, Moore has totaled 1,468 points and 497 assists.
NCAA prospects: Pretty good. The Hurricanes are currently projected as a No. 10 seed by ESPN bracketologist Joe Lunardi.
Other stops: Between his one season at Cal and his arrival in Miami in the fall, Moore played the 2018-19 season at Kansas (after sitting out a year as a transfer). He had an 18-point game against South Dakota but started just once and averaged 2.9 points. Moore played 23 minutes in two NCAA tournament games with the Jayhawks but scored just two points on 1-for-7 shooting. He then transferred to DePaul, where he played two seasons, averaging 15.5 points and 6.1 assists in 2019-20 and 14.4 points and 4.2 rebounds a year ago. He had 16 games of at least 20 points for the Blue Demons and dished out a career-high 13 assists against Central Michigan two seasons ago. He left after coach Dave Leitao was fired last year.
At Cal: Moore came to Cal from Chicago for the 2016-17 season, where he played under Cuonzo Martin and alongside the likes of Ivan Rabb and Jabari Bird. Moore got everyone’s attention by scoring 38 points against UC Irvine and he averaged 17.6 over his first 10 college games. He was less effective the rest of the season and was scoreless in the Bears’ first-round NIT loss to Cal State Bakersfield. Both he and Martin departed Cal after the season.
— JUHWAN HARRIS-DYSON, Herford, German pro guard
At Herford: Harris-Dyson entered the transfer portal after the 2019-20 college season, didn’t land with any other college program but now is playing for Herford, a lower-division professional team in Germany. And it’s going very well for the 6-foot-5 guard.
Harris-Dyson is averaging 17.0 points, 8.1 rebounds and 3.1 steals for a 14-2 team. He had 26 points, 17 rebounds and seven steals in a 105-85 win over Hamm back in October.
At Cal: Harris-Dyson, who arrived at Cal in the same recruiting class as Sueing and McNeill, always showed elite athletic ability for the Bears. But he could not shoot from the perimeter (0 for 25 career on 3’s) and struggled to stay healthy his final season. He played 73 games for the Bears, averaging 4.7 points and 17 minutes. Harris-Dyson scored a career-best 15 points against Santa Clara as a sophomore.
Cover photo of Matt Bradley by Rick Osentoski, USA Today
Follow Jeff Faraudo of Cal Sports Report on Twitter: @jefffaraudo