All of a sudden, Washington, D.C. has turned into a Mecca for some of Central New York’s top basketball talents.
It’s a bit ironic, given Syracuse University’s long-time rivalry with Georgetown. But it’s the school just across town – George Washington University - that has managed to snag two standouts – one in the middle of his college career, the other still a year away from it.
Tyler Cavanaugh is the veteran, the Jamesville-DeWitt graduate transferring from Wake Forest University after two seasons of solid contributions to a struggling Demon Deacons side. Jordan Roland is the newcomer, announcing last Monday night through Twitter that he was going to GW, too, in 2015 after he graduates from Westhill.
They arrive there in vastly different circumstances. After leading J-D to a pair of state Class A titles and three state final four appearances, Cavanaugh took his talents south, to Wake Forest, lured there by strong academics and a rapport with the Demon Deacons’ head coach, Jeff Bziedlik.
Cavanaugh, a 6-foot-9 forward, saw modest minutes as a freshman, but in 2013-14 took on a much larger role. Starting 22 of 33 games, he averaged 8.8 points and 3.8 rebounds per game, converting 31 percent of his 3-point attempts, with his season high of 20 points (plus six rebounds) coming in a win over no. 4-ranked Duke late in the season.
Despite that, and despite a 17-16 final record (the team’s first winning season in four years), Wake Forest could not escape from the bottom reaches of the Atlantic Coast Conference, which SU joined last season and fired Bziedlik, replacing him with Tulsa coach Danny Manning, the star of Kansas’s 1988 NCAA championship team.
After announcing his intent to transfer, Cavanaugh visited schools like Dayton and Butler, both of them, like GW, in the Atlantic 10. But the Colonials got the nod, having just won 24 games and returned to the NCAA Tournament under coach Mike Lonergan a season ago, falling to Memphis in the Round of 64.