Throughout the season, CBS Sports’ Jon Rothstein will tweet out “We Sleep in May.” He might as well move that to June with the way the transfer portal is working.
Over 1,500 players have entered the portal through the first month of the offseason, and teams have been completely wiped out. But as the portal taketh, it giveth. Some of the best players in mid-major basketball are transfers and that trend should only continue.
Through the first of the offseason, here are who I think are the ten winners and losers of the transfer portal.
The Lancers can make the Big Dance for the first time in school history this season and are taking no risks. To pair with Taran Armstrong, an assist superstar, Rick Croy picked up New Hampshire’s Blondeau Tchoukuiegno, who had 111 helpers last season. Up front, they bring in Joe Quintana who started every game for Loyola Marymount last season and averaged 13.1 points per game. Cal Baptist has a real chance to win the WAC.
Drew Valentine made it an emphasis after their NCAA Tournament loss to dabble into the portal, and man, did he do just that! It started with Butler’s Bryce Golden, who started 87 games for the Bulldogs. They also added big scorers in Philip Alston (California University of Pennsylvania), Sheldon Edwards (Valparaiso) and Jeameril Wilson (Lehigh), all of whom averaged double-digit points last season. There is no doubt in my mind that the Ramblers will compete for the A-10 title in their first season in the league.
North Carolina A&T
Will Jones is getting some high-quality players for the move to the CAA. It starts at the JUCO level, where he landed two national champions in Love Bettis and Kam Woods. Bettis shot nearly 40% from 3 last season as Woods dropped buckets during his freshman season at Troy (10.3 PPG) and in high school (3,871 career points to be exact). Add in Arizona State transfer Will Felton and one of the top shot blockers in the country in UC Irvine’s Austin Johnson, the Aggies could be an immediate contender in its new league.
It is well known that you need effective big men to have success in the WCC, and Shantay Legans picked up two of those in 2019 WAC Freshman of the Year Wyatt Lowell (Utah Valley/BYU) and defensive stalwart Joey St. Pierre (Milwaukee). Add in Maine’s Vukasin Masic to a young squad who got hot at the end of last season, and the Pilots could be flirting with a finish in the top half of the WCC.
David Patrick has been hitting on all cylinders in his return to head coaching. He quickly got into the portal and landed fellow Oceanic big men in Hunter Marks (Hartford), Akol Mawein (Oklahoma) and Callum McRae (UC Riverside). Patrick added another Australian in the backcourt in Isaiah Lee (UC Irvine) to pair with Oregon State transfer Gianni Hunt. The Hornets should finish much better than they have in the past.
Not many players who enter their names in the portal will return to their old school, but Mason Archambault and Kruz Perrott-Hunt did just that. True portal additions include Summit League Freshman of the Year Paul Bruns (North Dakota) and Romanian big man Mihai Carcoana (Toledo). With Noah Freidel and Baylor Scheierman leaving South Dakota State, the Coyotes could be the new top team in the Mount Rushmore state.
Andy Kennedy might be the best transfer portal coach in all mid-major basketball. He started by adding the Brewer brothers from ETSU, one who shoots and the other who picks up boards. Alongside them are two SEC transfers in Eric Gaines Jr. (nine PPG at LSU) and Javian Davis (from Mississippi State and Alabama who shot 59.4% FG% in 2020-21). The Blazers bring back a lot from an NCAA Tournament team, and if Jelly Walker returns, they could be in the Top 25 heading into the season.
Kevin Kruger added four players via the portal, all of whom were leaders at their old schools. Led by Oklahoma transfer EJ Harkless (10 PPG), the Rebels paired him with defensive big man Eli Parquet (Colorado). In the backcourt, Jackie Johnson (Duquesne) comes in after a strong freshman season and will be paired with Luis Rodriguez who started 23 games last season at Ole Miss. The Mountain West is here to stay.
Some of Los Angeles’ top recruits from a few years ago have landed in Laramie, Wyo. Assistant coach Marc Rodgers went back home and dominated his city, picking up Max Agbonkpolo (USC), Ethan Anderson (USC), and Jake Kyman (UCLA). They will add to a Cowboys team that returns Graham Ike and earned an at-large bid in the 2022 NCAA Tournament.
Jerrod Calhoun added a talented quartet that makes the Penguins an immediate contender in the Horizon League. Malek Green comes from Canisius after winning the MAAC’s Sixth Man of the Year award in 2020-21. Bryce McBride averaged nearly 12 points per game at Eastern Michigan. Brandon Rush averaged 14.2 points per game at Fairleigh Dickinson, and Adrian Nelson produced at another Horizon League school in Northern Kentucky. Watch out for the mighty Penguins!
Whenever you lose one of the best players in your program’s history, you’re in a tough spot. Walking double-double Norchad Omier did just that after winning Sun Belt Player of the Year last season. Along with him, Arkansas transfer Desi Sills is gone after averaging 12.6 PPG in his sole season in Jonesboro.
It’s a norm for teams to lose most of their roster after a coaching change but nearly everyone left for Missouri. The Vikings will come into the new season with a completely new look after winning back-to-back Horizon League regular-season titles.
Another year, more losses for the Duquesne roster. Stud freshmen Primo Spears and Jackie Johnson left along with five other players. Keith Dambrot is starting to pick up some nice pieces though in Dae Dae Grant (Miami (OH)) and Tevin Brewer (FIU).
After one season of allowing graduate transfers to play, the Ivy League is no longer allowing that to happen. Injury or not, you must leave after four seasons.
The Eagles lost about 60% of their starting lineup and scoring to the transfer portal, including stud big man Johni Broome. Morehead finished 23-11 last season and made its second consecutive OVC title game.
Nevada also lost about 60% of their starting lineup and scoring including their great backcourt of Desmond Cambridge Jr. and Grant Sherfield.
New Mexico State
NMSU is another school that saw a coaching change and said goodbye to some talented players. Their two-headed monster of Teddy Allen (19.6 PPG) and Sir’Jabari Rice (11.9 PPG) are both gone from a team who won an NCAA Tournament game.
The Bonnies lost all five starters to the portal from a preseason top-25 team in 2021-22. All five of them played 30+ minutes per game.
The Miners lost 10 players to the portal, including Souley Boum, who averaged 19.9 points per game. Joe Golding’s squad finished 20-14 in his first season.
William & Mary
To add insult to a 5-27 season, the Tribe lost seven players including the 2020-21 CAA Freshman of the Year in Connor Kochera.