Phil Martelli has been instrumental in helping Juwan Howard build his version of the Michigan Wolverines men’s basketball program. Now, he is a part of a group that is adjusting to a rapidly-changing landscape in college basketball.
The transfer portal has exploded in popularity over the last few years, but the COVID season and relaxed eligibility rules have put a record number of names on the move. Michigan has not been affected by it this offseason yet, but it is always worth keeping an eye on.
The Michigan assistant coach joined The Michigan Insider’s podcast to discuss what comes next for the Wolverines with the transfer portal looming over the sport.
Well, first and foremost, whatever anybody wants to think about free agency or not, basically what has happened is they’ve taken an ax and they’ve chopped off the bottom of the tree, and there’s no longer building a program. You’re literally building a team every year. What we are going to rely on is the culture and the personal relationship with each guy. To sit and talk with every guy, and to express to them, ‘how does this fit for you?’ There’s nothing magical. But because one of the foundations of this program is communication, that’s not going to change. We’re not gonna hide from a conversation. The young guys coming in, they’re part of it. And I don’t really have an answer other than each individual is going to be treated as an individual, and an honest conversation will take place.
I cannot understand why the NCAA moved forward with this free agency, knowing already that teams are going to be in flux with who was coming back and who wasn’t coming back. I just think it was a mistake. I really do. And I’ve been staring at one (transfer story) for the last 36 hours. A young man is transferring from Colorado to Tulsa. Guess what? Last year he transferred from Tulsa to Colorado. Seriously. ‘I bought a house last year. It’s really a nice house, but man I missed my old one. I’m going back.’ Well, that’s not the real world. I saw a quote yesterday from a parent saying, ‘well, you know what, he’s not dissatisfied at his school. He just wants to find out what his value is and what he’s worth.’ So, it just doesn’t make any sense. And here’s another little thing, Juwan Howard and Michigan are hotter than hot. So we could have spent as much time answering transfer questions as we did preparing for UCLA. That’s how prevalent it has become. I don’t know where we’re going, and I am saying in the sport. I don’t know where we’re going, but I do know that for our program here, it’ll all be based on individual communication and the continuing of relationship building.
Martelli says that Michigan will lean on culture and fit in building the roster in whatever shape that takes, which certainly paid dividends this year with the additions of Mike Smith and Chaundee Brown. One would think that the Wolverines have a more stable roster situation than most in the country, but there is clearly a lot to sort out before they take the floor again.
Michigan’s 13 scholarships for next season are currently accounted for, but seniors from this year’s team could opt to return. They would not count against the scholarship limit for the season, but any transfers would.
The dust is still settling on the year for Michigan, so expect to see some more clarity in the coming weeks as to what happens next.