Instead of starting for a Final Four contender this winter, Kansas State transfer Dominique Sutton apparently will don the jersey of a lower-level Division I program that won just seven games last season.
Coach LeVelle Moton confirmed a FoxSports.com report that Sutton will transfer to North Carolina Central, which is in its third year of reclassification as a Division I program and just joined the MEAC on July 1. Kansas State announced last month that the 6-foot-5 senior-to-be intended to transfer to a school closer to his girlfriend and their two young daughters in North Carolina.
"I was ecstatic when Dominique contacted us to express his interest in transferring to North Carolina Central University," Moton said in a statement. "We are excited to have a student-athlete of his caliber as a part of our men's basketball program."
It's extremely admirable that Sutton would put family ahead of his Final Four dreams, but it's also a bit of a surprise that he didn't land at a more high-profile program. The Durham native averaged 7.2 points and 5.8 rebounds as a junior last season, helping Kansas State reach the Elite Eight with his size, length and ability to lock down opposing wing scorers.
Sutton had initially mentioned looking into the possibility of playing for schools like Wake Forest or NC State, but he told the Raleigh News & Observer two weeks ago that the process of finding a new program hadn't been easy.
"A lot of bigger schools want me to sit out, but I want to go to a place where I can play right away," Sutton said.
He'd need to petition the NCAA for a hardship waver to earn the right to play next season at North Carolina Central. Otherwise Sutton will have to sit out a year before becoming eligible for the 2011-12 season.
Regardless, one year of Sutton is a coup for a North Carolina Central program that was already competitive against MEAC-level programs a year ago but struggled with a road-heavy schedule featuring numerous higher-profile opponents. Goodman also reported that North Carolina Central has also landed Oklahoma transfer Ray Willis, a former top 100 recruit who played sparingly in two seasons with the Sooners.
Sutton was a solid starter in the Big 12 and Willis was a role player, but both could be stars in the MEAC.