Dylan Rigdon, a shooting guard who scored a career-high 31 points in a game in January only to be benched by the end of last basketball season, plans to transfer from UC Irvine and has been granted his release, the school announced Thursday.
Rigdon, chosen to the Big West Conference all-freshman team two seasons ago, started 19 of Irvine's 30 games last season as a sophomore. As his scoring output diminished during the season, he was eventually benched by Coach Bill Mulligan, who retired at the end of the season.
"(Rigdon) told me he just needed a change," said Gary McKnight, who coached Rigdon at Mater Dei High School. "He said he really likes the new coach, but he felt like he needed a change. He'd like a chance if possible to play in the Pac-10."
Rod Baker, who was named coach in April, said he talked with Rigdon, but that Rigdon didn't waver in his decision.
"Everyone tells me it's a big loss," Baker said. "He's a proven outside shooter."
Baker has only seen Irvine's players on film because the NCAA does not allow coaches to watch their players during the off-season. "I can only go by the numbers," he said.
Attempts to reach Rigdon for comment Thursday were unsuccessful.
Rigdon also considered transferring after his freshman season when the Anteaters finished with the worst record in school history, 5-23. But the three-point specialist returned for a second season, in which the Anteaters finished with an 11-19 record.
Despite his shooting slump during the second half of last season, he would have been the leading returning scorer for Irvine after averaging 11.7 points a game. He scored in double figures 16 times. Irvine's leading scorers were seniors Jeff Herdman and Ricky Butler.
Rigdon was second on the team to point guard Gerald McDonald in assists with 95.
If he transfers, Rigdon will be eligible to play at another school beginning with the 1992-93 season after sitting out next year, and will have two years of eligibility remaining.