Former Triton High School standout Clay Yeo is transferring from Valparaiso University to Bethel College after one season. Photo courtesy of Valparaiso University
Former Triton High School standout Clay Yeo is transferring from Valparaiso University to Bethel College after one season. Photo courtesy of Valparaiso University
BOURBON — The trend of Times-Union All-Area Players of the Year transferring colleges has continued with Clay Yeo moving from Valparaiso University to Bethel College.
Three-time Times-Union All-Area POY selection Nic Moore, of Warsaw Community High School, began the recent move between colleges, opting to follow coach Tim Jankovich from Illinois State to Southern Methodist following his freshman season in 2012.
Then, 2012 Whitko High School graduate Logan Irwin decided to transfer from Stetson University to Grace College during his freshman campaign.
And now, 2013 Times-Union POY Yeo is following Irwin’s lead from an NCAA Division I school to an NAIA Division II institution.
While playing at a Division I school like Valparaiso had always been a dream of his, Yeo says his priorities changed at the end of his freshman year.
“I got to experience college basketball at the highest level,” he said in a phone interview Sunday night. “We were a mid-major, Division I school, but when I just looked at it, and put all the accolades aside, and just said, ‘If I just want to go somewhere that is going to be the best college experience, where do I want to go?’ It just wasn’t Valpo. And it’s nothing against the coaching staff or any of the people there, because it’s a great university and they have great people. It just wasn’t for me.”
In his one season at Valpo, the Crusaders finished 18-16, with Yeo averaging 4.1 points, 1.4 rebounds and 1.0 assists in 12.9 minutes per game. He played in 28 games, starting one.
The highlight of Yeo’s season came in Valparaiso’s 63-30 home win over Oakland on Feb. 9, as he hit the game-winning trey, his fourth of the game, with 7.4 seconds remaining. But the highlights were hard to come by as injuries kept sidelining him.
“I struggled with injuries, and I think that’s what set me back the most from getting more playing time,” he said.
“I hurt my hamstring, had some problem with my ankle – just anything you can think about,” he added. “I was sick for a while. It was definitely a rough season.”
Having to watch is teammates play without him was a new feeling for Yeo, who finished his career at Triton with 1,992 points, the best ever in Marshall County.
However, in college the four-year starter at Triton had a new role.
“I was just able to see the game a different way,” he said. “In high school – not trying to sound cocky – but I was the guy people looked to. When I went to college, it wasn’t like that. I was sitting on the bench. That put things in a better perspective, as far as what the guys on the bench did for us in high school. Just how important they are to a team.”
Following a season of highs and lows at Valpo, Yeo began to re-evaluate things and felt a move closer to home, which would feature some familiar faces, was for him.
Along with being a slightly closer ride for his family and friends, Yeo will now be playing for Bethel College head coach Mike Lightfoot, and his son, assistant coach Ryne Lightfoot – two guys he’s become extremely familiar with over the years.
“I wanted to be closer to my support system,” he said. “The Lightfoots also had a large role in my decision, because I’ve known them my entire life. I’ve also just known a lot of people at Bethel for a really long time, having gone to camps there as a little kid.”
And after deciding life at Valpo wasn’t for him anymore, where he wanted to transfer to didn’t take much thought.
“I wasn’t really looking to go anywhere else Division I,” he said. “I had wanted to go Division I, and Valparaiso was the school I wanted to go to. So, there was no other Division I school I wanted to go to.”
Despite losing a recruit he had signed prior to his senior season at Triton, Valparaiso head coach Bryce Drew seemed to understand Yeo’s move.
“Our university and program have invested a lot into Clay, and we are proud that he has became a better man, a better student and a better basketball player from his time at Valpo,” Drew said in a press release. “He has expressed a strong desire to be closer to his family and high school friends, so we are releasing him from his scholarship at Valpo to enroll at Bethel College.”
Because he’s not transferring between NCAA Division I teams, Yeo will be eligible to play immediately this upcoming season.