Tulane’s Stark, Pinckney, Hearlihy to transfer

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Sophomore guard Jonathan Stark finishes at the rim in the 87-43 exhibition victory against Loyola New Orleans Wednesday. Stark finished with 4 points and 2 steals.

Jonathan Harvey, Online Sports Editor Mackenna Barker

Sophomore guard Jonathan Stark announced on Twitter Wednesday that he will transfer from the basketball program. Stark’s announcement makes him the fifth Wave player who will transfer or drop from the program for next season.

“It’s been a great 2 years for me at Tulane!” Stark tweeted. “I want to thank [basketball head] Coach [Ed] Conroy, the staff, the fans, and the University for the great experience, but I will be taking my talents elsewhere next year.” 

Stark had been a key player in Conroy’s lineup since his arrival at Tulane. The young guard recorded 14.5 points and 4.2 assists per game in his freshman year and was named to the Conference-USA All Freshman Team. In his sophomore year, he scored 10.6 points per game and posted 4.4 assists per game, ranking him No. 3 for assists in the American Athletic Conference. 

Stark’s departure leaves a sizable hole in the Wave’s offense for the 2015-16 season. Stark was a cog in the guard trio of himself, junior Louis Dabney, and senior Jay Hook. With Stark transferring and Hook graduating, Tulane will lose a combined 21.8 points per game, which is more than one-third of the Wave’s scoring output. 

“My main reason [for transferring], I would say, is I don’t think I was being played to my full potential or having my ability being fully used,” Stark said. “I just felt that with the coaching staff, I didn’t agree with some of the things we did and even though it was helpful to me I don’t think I was going to reach my full potential.”

Stark’s announcement punctuated a week of transition in the Tulane basketball program, as Conroy confirmed last weekend that sophomore forward Josh Hearlihy and freshman guard Keith Pinckney intend to transfer.

“I appreciate everything Tulane has done for me, but I have officially been granted my release from the university and will be transferring,” Pinckney tweeted.

Pinckney played in 18 games and averaged just nine minutes per game. Pinckney was the Wave’s top recruit last season, as he averaged 16.9 points, 4.2 assists, 3.6 rebounds and 2.5 steals per game and was rated by ESPN and Hoopseen as the top point guard in the state of Georgia. 

Hearlihy, a 21-year-old sophomore hardly saw the floor until the latter half of his second season. In 22 games during the 2014-15 campaign, Hearlihy averaged 8.5 minutes per game, scored 1.5 points on 33 percent shooting from the field and 28.6 percent from deep, snagging 1.5 rebounds per game.

He scored his season high of five points three times this season and served as lengthy wing defender for Conroy to call off the bench.

Hearlihy’s road to Division 1 Basketball has taken many turns. As a top recruit from California in 2012, he signed with Utah but his scholarship was pulled by head coach Larry Krystkowiak.

Hearlihy then decided to attend Northfield Mount Hermon, a prep school where he averaged 11 points and 6 rebounds per game and helped lead the school to the Prep National Championship.  

Hearlihy came into the program as one Conroy’s top recruits coming into the 2013-14 season. The Wave, however, has been crowded at the wing position, with Conroy heavily favoring sophomores Payton Henson and Cameron Reynolds while consistently playing three guards at a time, leaving few minutes for Hearlihy.

“Hearlihy can help us throw different looks at opponents,” Conroy said Oct. 24 about Hearlihy’s role for the 2014-15 season. “He has improved.” 

Tulane will also lose graduating seniors guard Jay Hook and forward Tre Drye, along with Pinckney and Stark. The exodus of players leaves the roster wide open for the Wave’s incoming recruits. Tulane secured its fifth recruit for the 2019 class Wednesday morning when Von Julien publicly committed to the Wave.

Julien will be joining Blake Paul, Kain Harris, Taron Oliver and Kipper Nichols next year, as well as LSU transfer Malik Morgan as part of the Green Wave.