In 2010, fresh off a season in which he averaged 15.1 points per game and earned Sun Belt Conference freshman of the year honors, guard Brandon Reed bolted from Arkansas State in favor of higher-profile Georgia Tech.
Three years later, however, Reed is pulling the unusual move of retracing his steps.
Reed will transfer back to Arkansas State this fall for his final year of eligibility after losing his starting job at Georgia Tech midway through last season. He is on pace to complete a sociology degree at Georgia Tech this summer and would be eligible immediately at Arkansas State next season.
"We are excited about Brandon rejoining our program and enrolling in our master’s degree program,” said Arkansas State coach John Brady said in a statement released by the school. "He brings leadership, experience, and an ability to score the basketball. His family and I have visited in depth about this move and we all believe it will benefit all involved."
Though a player transferring twice in his college career has become more common since the NCAA began granting graduates immediate eligibility, it's still unusual for someone to return for a second stint where he originally began.
Ole Miss big man Murphy Holloway spent the 2010-11 season at South Carolina before returning to the Rebels. Sunday Adebayo returned to Arkansas for the 1997-98 season after initially being declared ineligible to play for the Razorbacks and spending a year at Memphis instead. And Spencer Gloger transferred from Princeton to UCLA and back to Princeton in the early 2000s, though he realized he wanted to return to the Ivy League school before ever suiting up for a game with the Bruins.
What makes Reed's situation even more unusual is the acrimonious nature of his original departure from Arkansas State. Clearly fed up with losing a promising freshman who he offered a scholarship when many of his peers passed, Brady initially didn't want to grant a release to Reed and later lashed out at him publicly for not showing more loyalty.
"Arkansas State gave [Reed] an opportunity to play at a high level and put him in a system that allowed him to showcase his talent and prove himself as a player in his first year of Division I basketball," Brady said in 2010. "We gave him a scholarship when other schools that saw him did not. It is a situation that really disappoints me, upsets me, is not right and does not sit well with me."
Of course Brady's statement was not well-received at the time since it holds players to a different standard than coaches.
Just like you wouldn't expect a Sun Belt coach to turn down an offer from an ACC program, you can't expect a Sun Belt player to do the same. On the other hand, just like a Sun Belt coach sometimes isn't a good fit in the ACC, Reed eventually saw his role diminish because younger guards whom second-year Georgia Tech coach Brian Gregory recruited eventually overtook him in the rotation.
Reed averaged 6.4 points per game in 21.2 minutes per game in two seasons at Georgia Tech. Against all odds, he's heading back where he started, and he'll likely put up much bigger numbers than that.