Jason Conley is neither a high school senior nor a junior college prospect. In fact, until recently, he played for Virginia Military Institute, and played pretty well, becoming the first freshman to lead the NCAA in scoring, averaging 29.3 points last season.
But Conley, a 6-foot-5 guard, made himself a free agent last month, apparently growing tired of playing the Appalachian States and Georgia Southerns of the world.
Conley decided this week to transfer to Missouri (and become eligible next January) after attending the Tigers’ 88-58 win over Valparaiso Monday, in what was termed an unofficial recruiting visit. Conley reportedly also contacted Maryland and St. John’s after getting his official release from VMI.
Conley averaged 22.2 points this season for the Keydets, but hadn’t played since suffering a foot injury Dec. 29. VMI is 0-3 -- including a 91-84 loss to Georgia Southern Saturday -- since Conley departed.
It’s all good for giddy Missouri fans, who took over Internet chat rooms and penciled in the Tigers for next season’s Final Four.
“With a flat-out scoring threat like him at guard, the traffic under the basket [for the post players] should be thin enough to bring a gleam to their eyes!” gushed bigfootnampa.
“With this kid in the fold, we would be an incredibly deep team next year,” added ChazMo.
Conley, nicknamed “Coop” for his resemblance to Mark Curry, star of the 1990s sitcom “Hangin’ With Mr. Cooper,” set VMI records last season for points, steals and three-point baskets in a season.
He also tied the school’s single-game record with 42 points against Western Carolina, a mark set by Ron Carter in 1978.
Carter, incidentally, was the Lakers’ first selection in the 1978 draft. He played in only 46 games for the Lakers, averaging 3.1 points.
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*--* Jason Conley, who announced last week he intends to transfer from Virginia Military Institute to Missouri, led the nation in scoring last season -- making him the first Division I freshman to accomplish the feat. The five leading freshman scorers (by average) in a season: Player School Season Avg Chris Jackson Louisiana State 1988-89 30.2 Alphonso Ford Mississippi Valley 1989-90 29.9 James “Fly” Williams Austin Peay 1972-73 29.4 Jason Conley VMI 2001-02 29.3 Harry Kelly Texas Southern 1979-80 29.0