Haim: Reese transferring is not a surprise, as ‘days were numbered’ at Canisius

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Isaiah Reese’s days at Canisius “were numbered”, according to Sports Editor Marshall Haim, after he entered the NBA Draft last April. (Tom Wolf / Canisius College)

By Marshall Haim

Sports Editor

It has nearly been a full year since Isaiah Reese entered his name into the NBA Draft pool, testing the waters of professional basketball.

Once he declared for the draft last April, my impression was that Reese’s days at Canisius were numbered.

That number ultimately struck zero last Wednesday when it was announced that the star guard had withdrawn from Canisius altogether in hopes of pursuing a professional basketball career. The official release came via a statement around 5:45 p.m. last week.

“Former Canisius guard Isaiah Reese informed the College on Wednesday that he has chosen to withdraw from school and seek representation to pursue a career in professional basketball,” the announcement read.

It doesn’t shock me that Reese withdrew from school in an attempt to begin his professional basketball career.

Even though his decision may not bode well among Canisius fans, it’s clearly his best option.

What transpired between him and head coach Reggie Witherspoon — which led to Reese’s indefinite suspension Feb. 1 — was not going to be repaired overnight.

That’s the telling tale of Reese’s departure.

Hypothetically, let’s say Reese never got suspended.

Would he withdraw from Canisius? Doubtful.

Since the suspension did occur, it’s inevitable that whatever happened between Reese and Witherspoon is clearly unrepairable and is best for Reese to move on.

If the suspension never occurred, I still think Reese would have entered his name in the NBA Draft again. He would earn a couple of tryouts with NBA teams like last year, learn what he needs to correct and fix for the upcoming year, and return for his senior campaign.

Instead, Reese leaves a program with tons of uncertainty right now to seek a place to play professionally, a goal he’s had his eyes set upon for a while.

All the credit to him.

On Twitter, Reese posted a graphic with a caption, “Thankful for the game I Love,” with the “praying hands” emoji.

“After careful consideration and reflection, I have decided to declare for the NBA Draft. I am grateful for my time and growth at Canisius College and I appreciate the opportunity to play the game I love,” Reese wrote. “I look forward to this new journey and I am ready to take my game to the next level.”

The graphic, that included the 55-word message, featured a black-and-white photo of himself and his signature.

Honestly, it was a classy way of officially closing out his career with Canisius, especially with how everything transpired over the past month and a half.

Although not having Reese in the lineup next year will most likely hurt the team as a whole next year, not having him for the final 12 games of this year was practically addition by subtraction.

Canisius shot the ball almost two full percentage points higher from the field and nearly three and nine points higher from 3-point range and the free throw line, respectively.

With Reese in the lineup, the team’s assist-to-turnover ratio was 1.03, without him that figure increased to 1.34. Their assist-per-game total went up from 14.3 to 15.1 and the number of turnovers decreased by almost three (to 11.3 from 13.9).

Only two areas the Griffs were worse in were areas Reese excelled in: Rebounds and steals. Canisius lost an average of 3.6 rebounds and 1.3 steals in his absence.

In the initial 20 games with the junior guard, Canisius was 8-12 — granted that involved three non-conference games and one MAAC contest against opponents that played in this year’s NCAA Tournament (Florida State, Villanova, Buffalo and Iona).

The final 12 games of the year without Reese the team was 7-5. They won five of their first seven games without the Miami product.

Now the ultimate question is: Who steps up in Reese’s place next year?

It’s not going to be Takal Molson, as of right now, as Jeff Goodman of Stadium reported last Saturday morning that Molson is transferring.

The school has not released anything publicly about this.

Molson tweeted on Monday afternoon about the situation.

“A lot of people has been asking me about my current situation,” Molson started, “so I’ll address it by saying I am exploring my options this summer on the transfer portal to see what’s the best situation for me and my career.”

I’m guessing Molson is gone too, which leads to tons of uncertainty about the program.

They don’t have any commitments for next year.

None.

That’s worrisome.

If Molson does follow in Reese’s footsteps, this program would be in the hands of point guard Malik Johnson.

His responses in the press conferences after their victory and loss in the MAAC Tournament earlier this month exemplified his leadership qualities, and that he is ready to take this Canisius team under his wing.

The next five months or so are going to be quite interesting, to say the least.

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