Over 1,100 players are currently in the transfer portal for men’s basketball and that number is only expected to grow. Most people are not privy to portal access, but thanks to social media we have a pretty good idea of who is currently shopping themselves around.
There are, um, a lot.
The merits of the transfer portal have been up for debate in the past. On one hand, it allows players the freedom to find a better fit. It also gives players the flexibility to seek their options if the man that recruited them moves on to a different job. On the other hand, the explosion in the use of the portal suggests that some players may be leaving at the first sign of adversity. Whether you agree or not, we have to realize that the portal is here to stay and will drastically impact the roster of almost every program in the country going forward. Some programs such as Indiana and Minnesota will essentially have to construct an entire roster from the portal.
Last offseason, Michigan utilized the transfer portal by bringing in Mike Smith (Columbia) and Chaundee Brown (Wake Forest). However, the Wolverines also lost Colin Castleton (Florida), David DeJulius (Cincinnati), and Cole Bajema (Washington). Juwan Howard’s involvement in the portal is yet to be determined this year, as many roster decisions have yet to be made. This includes seniors that could decide to opt into another season. We also do not know the NBA decisions of Franz Wagner and Hunter Dickinson. The season did just end a few days ago after all. One would have to assume that Michigan will at least poke their head in the portal to see what’s available/
Almost every team in the Big Ten is going to be hit by attrition. Brendan Quinn of The Athletic has been keeping a close eye on who’s in the transfer portal from the conference:
Get excited. Here's your (corrected) updated look at Big Ten players in the Transfer Portal (so far). pic.twitter.com/YUYo0IuGEo— Brendan Quinn (@BFQuinn) April 2, 2021
That is an incredibly long list from arguably the best conference in the country this year. Adam Miller leaving Illinois is a stunning decision, as it looked like he was about to be handed the keys to the Fighting Illini offense. Losing Dosunmu, Cockburn and Miller will undoubtedly drop Illinois back to the middle of the pack in the Big Ten next year. Mike Woodson will have to rebuild an entire roster at Indiana if he’s unable to convince some players to change their minds and stay. Similarly, Minnesota’s Ben Johnson may have a tough time out the gates as both Marcus Carr and Gabe Kalscheur have decided to enter the portal.
Myles Johnson and Jacob Young entering the portal was also surprising, as Rutgers is coming off their most successful season in recent memory. Steve Pikiell appears to have something brewing in Piscataway so it is interesting to see key contributors enter the portal. Nate Reuvers of Wisconsin is also choosing to use his extra year of eligibility outside of Madison. Despite not having the best season this year, he was still a third-team All-Big Ten contributor in 2019-2020. Just a few years ago, it would have been unfathomable to see a multi-year starter transfer out without a coaching change.
Notable names outside the Big Ten enter the portal include Walker Kessler (North Carolina), Justin Powell (Auburn), Fatts Russell (Rhode Island), Nimari Burnett (Texas Tech), and Kadary Richmond (Syracuse). You may remember that Michigan was heavily involved in the recruitment of both Kessler and Burnett last year, though both seem doubtful to come to Ann Arbor now. You could easily create a contending roster using solely players currently in the transfer portal.
The college hoops landscape will forever be changed if the transfer portal continues to be used in this way. The offseason will not be just for player development and welcoming incoming freshmen. Programs will be able to completely rebuild their roster if they so choose. Whether you believe this to be a good thing or a bad thing, it will certainly add more pressure on coaches’ ability to scout and recruit players who fit their system.
Buckle up, folks. The transfer portal is just getting started.