Instead of confirming suspicions that he asked for a release from Rhode Island in May in order to sign with a more high-profile program, Arizona State incoming freshman Kyle Cain offered a different explanation for his departure.
The 6-foot-7 forward told the Arizona Republic this week that he was "happy at Rhode Island" but decided not to enroll because he suspected that coach Jim Baron wouldn't keep his job much longer.
Coach (Baron) saw he wasn't probably going to be the coach for four years. And I had committed with his son, Billy Baron. But his son ended up de-committing and going to the University of Virginia, so that showed me Coach Baron wasn't going to be there. If he's going to let his son go, then something's got to be up. I called him and just talked to him and I asked if I could get out of my letter of intent, and they let me out.
Cain didn't specify exactly why he thinks Baron's job is in jeopardy, but it's probably safe to assume he heard some of the backlash following Rhode Island's late-season collapse last spring. Already under fire for his teams missing the NCAA tournament after finishing with a whimper in previous seasons, Baron took even more heat in March after the Rams started out 19-3 before dropping seven of 11 games to fall off the bubble again.
Billy Baron did renege on his original choice of Rhode Island to sign with Virginia in March, but both the son and the father insist that had nothing to do with Jim's job security. On the contrary, Billy said his decision was simply because he couldn't turn down the chance to play in the ACC.
"I love Rhode Island," the younger Baron told the Providence Journal in March. "I've been here since I was 10. I've seen every game. I love the guys on the team. It's been my dream to play for them. But I realize this is a great overall opportunity."
Regardless of the rationale for Cain's decision, he feels as though he has landed in a good spot. Arizona State coach Herb Sendek recruited him harder than fellow suitors West Virginia, Kentucky and Illinois because the Sun Devils were in dire need of front court depth.
Out of all the head coaches I was being recruiting by, you could tell he wanted me really bad. Other schools, they wanted me, but they just wanted me. Coach Sendek not only wanted me, he said he needed me. That was real big.
Cain landed at a winning program with a coach on solid footing. Arizona State got the versatile forward it needed. It's a shame for Rhode Island, but everyone else in this situation came out a winner.