Xavier Pollard on Tuesday became the latest player to sever ties with the University of Maine men’s basketball program.
The UMaine athletics department issued a brief statement saying it had granted the junior point guard his release, which clears him to transfer.
Pollard, the Black Bears’ leading scorer this season at 14.7 points per game, is the latest on a growing list of prominent players who have departed coach Ted Woodward’s program in the last 13 months.
“After meeting with Xavier today, we agreed it would be in his best interest to look at transferring at this time,” Woodward said in the news release. “We wish him the best of luck in his future academic and athletic endeavors.”
Woodward declined to comment further on the matter. Pollard, contacted through UMaine athletic media relations, also did not want to comment on his decision.
Contrary to a report Tuesday evening on WABI-TV, a UMaine spokesman said junior Kilian Cato has not signed a professional contract and is still with the program.
Pollard, an All-America East third-team selection during 2013-2014, is the second prominent UMaine player to seek transfer in the last two weeks. On March 27, UMaine revealed that sophomore guard Dimitry Akanda-Coronel asked for and received his release.
First-year athletics director Karlton Creech explained that UMaine will seek to help its student-athletes advance their careers, even if it is at another school.
“We’ve got a student-athlete like Xavier who’s had some pretty good success on the court for us, has shown some good potential,” Creech said. “Now he wants to test himself to see if he can put himself in a position to play at a higher-level Division I school.”
Creech said other than talking to Woodward about Pollard, they have not had any discussions about the future of the program, nor has Creech spoken to UMaine President Paul Ferguson in regard to men’s basketball.
The Black Bears are coming off a 6-22 season (.214 winning percentage) that included a 4-12 America East record. The six wins are the fewest for a UMaine men’s team since 1956-57.
The departure of Pollard and Akanda-Coronel brings to five the number of starters who have left the program in the last year.
Last spring, all-conference forward Alasdair Fraser and all-league guard Justin Edwards, along with junior college transfer Jon Mesghna, a shooting guard, all departed.
Pollard, a 6-foot-3 guard from The Bronx, N.Y., was among only three upperclass contributors for the Black Bears last winter. He led the team in scoring and minutes played (32 mpg), and ranked second in rebounding (4.4 rpg), assists (3.8 apg), steals (1.8 spg) and turnovers (3.1 tpg).
Pollard appeared in 24 of UMaine’s 29 games and made 20 starts this season. He was suspended for one game in December 2013 for an unspecified violation of team policy and also incurred a similar one-game sanction in December 2012.
Pollard and Akanda-Coronel, who made 21 starts in 26 games this season, accounted for 30 percent of the team’s scoring along with 31 percent of its assists, 30 percent of steals and 19 percent of total rebounds.
“They are two student-athletes who want to see if there’s a different, better opportunity for them,” Creech said.
Check back to bangordailynews.com for updates