The Northern Kentucky University men’s basketball team has eight new players on the roster this year, and five of those players started their college careers elsewhere.
The five transfer athletes who hope to make an impact will be led by three that have come to NKU from Division I programs.
Senior center David Palmer is one player that journeyed through several programs before landing at NKU.
“I originally attended Seton Hall University in the Big East,” Palmer said. “Then I transferred to the University of Iowa.”
Palmer is one of the three Division I transfers along with junior forward Yan Moukoury from the University of Houston and junior forward Chris Knight from Bowling Green State University.
The other two transfers are junior guard Mike Hester from Union College and junior center Brandon Callahan from Marian University. The five transfer athletes have a chance to contribute this season, with hopes to repeat the recent success of the NKU men’s basketball program within the Great Lakes Valley Conference.
The team won the GLVC Championship last season and hopes to repeat the accomplishment. Palmer is hopeful for more than just a conference championship, however.
“I hope we are in strong contention for a national championship,” he said.
Palmer’s hope actually helped lure another one of the Division I transfers to NKU. Knight attributes his transferring to Palmer — telling him that the team would be a contender at the national Division II level.
“I decided at the end of summer,” Knight said. “David Palmer told me we had a good chance to win a D-II title.”
Palmer attended the University of Iowa, a Division I school in the Big Ten conference. The enrollment at Iowa for this academic year is around 30,000, significantly larger than NKU’s enrollment of about 15,000.
Average attendance for an Iowa basketball home game last season was 12,000. Again, larger than the crowds that NKU teams bring to the Bank of Kentucky Center.
He says the school size is much more comparable to NKU than Iowa.
“NKU compares almost exactly to Seton Hall,” he said, “but is a lot smaller than Iowa was.”
Knight also attended a school slightly larger in Bowling Green State University — with an enrollment of more than 20,000 the school still has a significant edge in size on NKU.
“Bowling Green was a college town,” Knight said. “NKU is in its own small area.”
Despite the recent success and the opportunity to sustain it, the appeal of NKU to transfer athletes does not lie solely with the idea of basketball championships.
For example, despite the size differences between the players’ former schools and current school, the athletic facilities are no comparison.
“Part of the appeal of NKU was the brand new facility,” Palmer said about the two- year-old Bank of Kentucky Center. “It is state of the art.”
Other things Knight and Palmer mentioned that make NKU appealing were the tradition of the program, a great coaching staff, and very intense effort despite the smaller level of competition. All of these things come together and make NKU a very reasonable destination for a student athlete.
Knight’s explanation was simple when it came to describing NKU in general, leaving little to be said of the total package.
“It’s a great place,” he said.
And all of the other transfer athletes agreed on that.
Story by Kyle Biggs