Some nights, when former Gopher Colton Iverson gets home after spending an entire game sitting on the Colorado State bench watching the game he loves, he feels a twinge of regret.
“I’ve looked back on my decisions,” said Iverson, who had only missed one basketball game since fourth grade before sitting out this season. “I keep thinking about it every once in a while, after a basketball game you’re just sitting at home going, ‘Man I wish I was playing right now.’ But in the long run … I’m happy with my decision.”
After all, one of the major reasons Iverson – like a startling handful of others in recent years – transferred was to give himself the chance to play more. To do that, of course, he has to sit out this season per transfer rules. But to Iverson, the possibility to maximize his senior year – you only get four years in college and that’s it, he pointed out – to the fullest was most important.
Iverson had started at center alongside Ralph Sampson III at the beginning of his freshman year in 2008-09. But when it seemed like the two wouldn’t play well together, Sampson was the one that won the job as starting five-man. That left less room for Iverson, whose impact flatlined. He averaged 5.4 points as a freshman, 5.0 as a sophomore and 5.4 as a junior.
“I just felt I had more to offer to a program,” he said. “I don’t regret going to Minnesota at all; I learned a lot and we had a lot of great moments, winning in Puerto Rico last year and our great run in the Big Ten tournament (in 2010). Those are moments I’ll never forget. … But I mean, I started more games as a freshman than I did as a junior and I just felt like I wasn’t really progressing.”
So Iverson left on the heels of Devoe Joseph, who had departed Minnesota during the 2010-11 season. He transferred to Colorado State, where the coaching staff – previously at North Dakota State -- had recruited him in high school. The Rams were in desperate need for a center after dealing with a slew of injuries at the position. There, in his last season, he could have a new start.
Asked whether he believed there was a common denominator between he and the other players – Joseph, Paul Carter, Royce White, Justin Cobbs – that have left in recent years, Iverson said he thought there might be similar reasons, but wouldn't elaborate the details.
Iverson said he always had a lot of respect for Gophers coach Tubby Smith and learned a lot under his coaching guidance. He said the defensive-minded system could have had an effect on some offensive-minded players, but that defense was always his personal strength.
“I think we all just felt it was right to transfer,” he said. “I was just looking for a new beginning. And for me, individually – I can’t speak for everyone else – I felt like I had more to offer to a program.”
So does he ever think about what it COULD be like if he hadn’t left – and no one else had either? Of course, sometimes.
“We all stay in touch and we joke around about it a little bit here and there but I mean, everything happens for a reason and it seem to be working out for the best for everyone so far.”