Even in a year when the offseason transfer list is several sheets of paper long, few departures have been more surprising than BYU's announcement on Thursday that point guard Michael Loyd Jr. is leaving the program.
The reason Loyd is transferring is even more bizarre.
According to a Salt Lake Tribune report, Loyd is not leaving the school because of academic woes, playing time issues or an honor code violation. Instead, the Tribune reports that the redshirt sophomore and the BYU coaches mutually decided that he was simply no longer a good match for the program.
Loyd wasn't forced out, but he was given some ultimatums in regards to behavior, dress and appearance that he apparently decided he just couldn't abide by.
Let's put it this way: showing up on national television with a mohawk haircut for BYU's NCAA Tournament games, or playing against Utah with a tongue piercing, probably didn't help his cause.
If a potential breakout star truly left BYU's winning program because others around him were uncomfortable with his tongue piercing and his haircut, that does not speak highly for the level of tolerance or openmindedness at the school. Loyd averaged 24.6 minutes per game in BYU's final seven games last season and scored 26 points in a first-round NCAA tournament victory over Florida, but now the lightning-quick redshirt sophomore will sit out next year and have only one season of eligibility remaining at his new school
"Michael and I have met several times and we have mutually decided he will continue his education and basketball career in another program," BYU coach Dave Rose said in a release from the school. "He has been a significant part of our success the last three seasons and we are grateful for his many contributions. As a staff we wish him the best and will do all we can to help Michael find a great situation."
The news of Loyd's departure comes as a shock not only to fans but also to some of those close to him. One source who speaks regularly to Loyd was so surprised he said he was going to call him to find out what happened as soon as we got off the phone, while Loyd's former high school coach admitted he too was waylaid by the news.
"I'm very surprised because he has to sit no matter where he goes next season and he loses a year," former Las Vegas Palo Verde High School coach Paul Aznarez said. "It doesn't seem to make a lot of sense. If you do go somewhere else, there's a real risk involved. Your game and your style has to fit in immediately wherever you go. I'm at a loss."
Loyd played sparingly early in conference play as as sophomore, but in his final seven games of the season he scored in double figures four times and played excellent on-ball defense. His absence will hinder BYU's chances of competing for the Mountain West crown next season, especially with guard Tyler Haws leaving on a mission and star Jimmer Fredette still flirting with the possibility of remaining in the NBA draft.