The transfer portal has made headlines in college basketball since the end of last season, with over 1,700 Division I men’s players going that route.
It used to be that players transferred to seek more playing time or because their coach left. Now, with the NCAA passing the one-time transfer rule and also giving a free year to players following COVID-19, it has led to chaos. Big-time scorers think they can push for a shot at the NCAA tournament or improve their NBA stock by making a move.
The big argument by many who favor freedom among transfers is that coaches, when they move on to a new school, don’t have to sit out a season. I understand players feel that coaches can leave, so they should be free agents too. I agree — a player whose coach leaves or is fired should absolutely be eligible without sitting out a year.
Beyond that, there are times where transferring is legit — just like there are times in marriage where a divorce is the proper decision. However, what we are seeing now with the transfer portal is an epidemic that is going to chase coaches out of the game. There is zero stability. How do you have continuity in the sport? What about coaches getting to develop players? Some schools have lost six, seven eight players, and it’s a dangerous message to send to young people that you can quit and just run when things get tough. Not all transfers are doing that, but some are.
Coaches will react by bringing some transfers in, adding diaper dandies, but it takes time to regroup. Coaches have tried recruiting players from the transfer portal, going for veterans in many cases over diaper dandies, meaning fewer opportunities for high school players. Mid-majors are suffering big-time — as soon as a player becomes a star, big-time programs have messages out that he should move on.
I have stated that the college game needs a czar to deal with these issues. A guy like Roy Williams would be one solid candidate for a game that needs a leader, a fabulous czar to represent college coaches. The Hall of Famer Williams would be a great choice to work with the NCAA.
Whether that leader emerges or not, nobody can convince me that over 1,700 players in the transfer portal is good for the game.
In spite of my feelings about the rule, there is no doubt that the transfer portal will have a major impact for several notable college basketball teams next season.
The Texas Longhorns added Timmy Allen, an two-time All-Pac 12 guard from Utah; 6-9 Dylan Disu from Vanderbilt, who averaged 15 points and 9.2 rebounds; forward Christian Bishop from Creighton, who averaged 11 points; point guard Devin Askew from Kentucky (6.5 PPG); guard Avery Benson, who played for Beard at Texas Tech, and finally 6-9 forward Tre Mitchell from Massachusetts, a first team All-Atlantic-10 selection as a sophomore and likely a future draft pick. Marcus Carr, who averaged 19.4 PPG and 4.9 APG at Minnesota last season, is also considering Texas. The Longhorns have loaded up via the transfer portal under Chris Beard.
Kentucky signed several veterans, including 6-9 sophomore center Oscar Tshiebwe from West Virginia, an All-Big 12 freshman in 2020. John Calipari added pure shooters like 6-5 Kellan Grady of Davidson and junior guard CJ Fredrick of Iowa, as well as an All-SEC second team junior point guard in Sahvir Wheeler of Georgia.
Oregon’s Dana Altman, who has had previous success with transfers, brought in three more potential starters in 6-7 junior forward Quincy Guerrier of Syracuse (13.7 points and 8.4 rebounds), junior guard De’Vion Harmon (12.9 points at Oklahoma) and fifth-year guard Jacob Young from Rutgers.
Remy Martin, a fifth-year guard using the extra year of eligibility, was at one time considered the plum of this massive transfer portal and landed at Kansas. He was a three-time All-Pac-12 selection who averaged 19.1 points his last two seasons at Arizona State. Martin made a surprise entry into the portal in May and should provide immediate help to the Jayhawks’ perennial Big 12 power. KU was desperate for backcourt help after Marcus Garrett and Ochai Agbaji entered the NBA draft (Agbaji later pulled out and returned to Lawrence), and promising sophomore Bryce Thompson transferred to Big 12 rival Oklahoma State. Kansas also brought in junior guard Joseph Yesufu, who averaged just under 13 points for Drake, an NCAA tournament at-large entry in 2021 out of the Missouri Valley.
Walker Kessler, a 6-10 sophomore from North Carolina, who was destined to be the Tar Heels’ next great player, left for Auburn, which is closer to his suburban Atlanta home. The Tigers also added K.D. Johnson, a 6-1 guard from Georgia, who averaged 13.5 points as a freshman, and Wendell Green Jr. from Eastern Kentucky, who averaged 15.7 points as a freshman.
The Tar Heels lost Kessler, but added two key players up front in Brady Manek of Oklahoma and Dawson Garcia of Marquette. Manek averaged 10.8 PPG last season, down from 14.4 PPG in 2020. Garcia, who made the Big East All-Freshman team, averaged 13 PPG and 6.6 RPG while shooting 48 percent from the field. He had 24 points and 11 rebounds, hitting nine-of-13 field goals (69.2 percent) in an upset of the Tar Heels in February. Manek and Garcia join Armando Bacot, who withdrew from the NBA Draft, to form a solid front court for first-year head coach Hubert Davis
Maryland became a potential Top 10 team with the additions of 6-11 junior Qudus Wahab, who was supposed to be Georgetown’s next great big man, and fifth-year graduate transfer guard Fatts Russell of Rhode Island, an All-Atlantic-10 player.
Alabama, a Sweet 16 team, added high scoring junior forward Noah Gurley of Furman and 6-4 sophomore and former McDonald’s All America guard Nimari Burnett. Eric Musselman, previously a master builder at Nevada, started three transfers including forward Justin Smith from Indiana to Arkansas’ Elite Eight team last year. The Hogs added talented 5-8 graduate transfer point guard Chris Lykes from Miami, swingman Stanley Umude from South Dakota and senior guard Au’diese Toney, who averaged over 14 points for Pittsburgh.
Ben Howland had success at Mississippi State, adding 6-9 graduate transfer Garrison Brooks, a double-figure scorer from North Carolina; sophomore forward D.J. Jeffries of Memphis and Rocket Watts, a junior point guard from Michigan State.
Florida added several newcomers, led by junior forward CJ Felder of Boston College and fifth-year guard Brandon McKissic, who averaged 17.2 points for UMKC. He will help the Gators, who lost guard Noah Locke to Louisville.
Porter Moser, who became the new coach at Oklahoma after Lon Kruger retired, didn’t even have enough players to fill out a starting lineup but quickly rebuilt with several veterans, led by forward Tanner Groves of Eastern Washington, who averaged 17.2 points. Across the state, Oklahoma State added Moussa Cisse from Memphis in addition to the aforementioned Thompson from Kansas.
Kevin Obanor, who starred for 2021 NCAA tournament Cinderella Oral Roberts, opted for college after initially testing the NBA waters, and landed with a Texas Tech team that also added Davion Warren (21.2 PPG at Hampton), Bryson Williams (15.1 PPG at UTEP), Adonis Arms (10.5 PPG at Winthrop) and Sardaar Calhoun (5.3 PPG at Florida State).
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