Once in a while when a player opts to transfer, it can be difficult to determine how big a loss his departure is for the program he's leaving.
For Villanova, Mislav Brzoja is exactly that type of player.
Check out his stats from his freshman season last year, and it would be easy to assume Villanova won't miss Brzoja much after his announcement Thursday that he is leaving the program. The Croatia native wasn't even on the floor long enough for Villanova fans to learn to pronounce his name correctly, logging just 41 minutes all season and scoring only two total points.
Check out his production in the Fiba U-19 World Championships in June, however, and it becomes harder to dismiss Brzoja's departure as addition by subtraction. Brzoja averaged the second most points on a Croatia team that reached the quarterfinals, delivering 12.7 points and 6.6 rebounds per game and erupting for 22 and 9 against Spain in group play.
Had Brzoja stayed at Villanova, the question he would have faced would have been if his production could have translated in Jay Wright's four-out, one-in system. It's possible the sweet-shooting Brzoja could have matured as a sophomore and made the necessary adjustments, but Wright's comment in the release announcing the transfer suggests that playing time might have been scarce again.
"Mislav is a great teammate and outstanding student who was a big part of our team's success last year," Wright said. "He is interested in pursuing a more prominent role with another program and we support his decision. We want what's best for Mislav."
The challenge now for Brzoja will be to find a program with both available playing time and a system that will allow him to thrive.
It's clear Brzoja can be an impact shooter at the U-19 level internationally. Now it's up to him to prove he can do it in college too.