Transfers, hirings and firings … oh, my. With so many coaches bouncing around, not to mention 1,600-plus portalers, we have never seen a college basketball offseason like this. Since the transfer portal opened March 18, we have seen a plethora of entries, including Minnesota’s Elijah Hawkins, Kentucky’s Ugonna Onyenso, Oakland’s Trey Townsend, Texas Tech’s Pop Isaacs and Stetson’s Jalen Blackmon.



Ranking the best players in the NCAA men’s basketball transfer portal: Duke adds Gillis

But the best is yet to come.

The portal closes May 1, as the NCAA shortened the process from 60 to 45 days. Several teams, including Auburn, Texas Tech, St. Johns, Alabama and Cal, need a dynamic point guard and a starting big man, and high-value players of each position group plan to enter or have already done so. Tennessee center Jonas Aidoo, Wisconsin guard Chucky Hepburn, Saint Mary’s guard Aidan Mahaney and SMU guard Zhuric Phelps are among the potential key players who entered the portal over the past two weeks. Some are All-America caliber players and made their respective all-conference teams.

Handlers and athletes are narrowing their choices down ahead of time and aren’t going through the motions of being courted on several visits, as was the norm a few years ago. Former Belmont guard Ja’Kobi Gillespie entered the portal on March 19 and found a new home at Maryland eight days later. Former Colorado center Eddie Lampkin took about six days before pledging to Syracuse. Former Virginia Tech center Lynn Kidd entered the portal March 25 and committed to Miami three days later.

Some teams like Houston only had one or two scholarships going into the offseason; after signing former Oklahoma guard Milos Uzan, the Cougars are now done portaling assuming no one decides to transfer out.

The ebbs and flows of Portalpalooza can be volatile. Some teams, like Drexel, didn’t lose a single player to the madness a year ago, while others like Louisville or Arizona State can’t seem to keep any of their guys from leaving.

A year ago, more than 1,800 men’s basketball players entered their names, and this offseason could see an even bigger number with the NCAA formally allowing for multi-time transfers. Meaning, if you picked a bad fit (again), you can just hop back in the portal and find another suitor.

“I don’t see how you stop it, especially if they commit before August or before school starts in the fall,” said an ACC assistant coach, who was granted anonymity in exchange for his candor. “How can you rule all those multi-transfers ineligible? I don’t think it’s possible, so that’s why you’re seeing so many kids hop in the portal for the second or third time.”

As for some of the top guys already in the portal, these are the schools they’re hearing from:

• One of the country’s most underrated guards, former Minnesota’s Hawkins is hearing from Kentucky, Creighton, Texas Tech, Villanova, Pittsburgh and Florida State.

• Utah State transfer and reigning Mountain West player of the year Great Osobor has planned four visits, Kentucky (April 29-May 1), Louisville (May 1-3), Texas Tech (May 4-6) and Washington (May 7-9).

• Sources briefed on the discussions told The Athletic that former Oregon State guard Jordan Pope has heard from Miami, Florida, Baylor, Texas, Texas A&M, Kansas, Michigan, North Carolina and Arizona. He has already visited Texas (April 16-17) and Texas A&M (April 19). Expect the Pac-12’s fifth-leading scorer to make a decision soon. He will pick between rivals the Longhorns and the Aggies. How’s that for a throwback?

• Former Illinois State forward Myles Foster is receiving interest from Iowa, Xavier, Arizona State, San Diego State, DePaul, Florida and many others.

Early portal winners

UCLA: The Bruins have added four players: two-time transfer guard Skyy Clark (Illinois, Louisville), Pac-12 rival forward Tyler Bilodeau (Oregon State), across-the-street rival (USC) forward Kobe Johnson and former Oklahoma State forward Eric Dailey Jr.

Kansas: After his depleted Jayhawks team lost 89-68 to Gonzaga in the second round, coach Bill Self said, “For the last month I’ve been thinking about next season, to be honest.” And it’s obvious. Since the season ended, the Jayhawks have added Lawrence, Kansas, native Zeke Mayo (South Dakota State); former Florida guard Riley Kugel; and Wisconsin wing AJ Storr. A potential starting lineup of DaJuan Harris Jr., Mayo, Storr, KJ Adams and Hunter Dickinson is arguably the best starting five in the country.

Indiana: After a disappointing 19-14 season, Mike Woodson is putting together quite the roster in Bloomington. The Hoosiers have added Pac-12 All-Freshman team selection Myles Rice (Washington State); one of the best bigs in the country in Oumar Ballo from Arizona; and a dynamic scoring guard in Kanaan Carlyle.

Like Kansas, the Hoosiers arguably have one of the best starting fives in the country, with returnees Mackenzie Mgbako and Malik Reneau rounding out the unit.

Louisville: Cardinals fans needed a win — actually, maybe a few — and new coach Pat Kelsey has brought over two of his players from Charleston in Reyne Smith and James Scott. Louisville also added Sun Belt Player of the Year Terrence Edwards Jr., who averaged 17.2 points per game at James Madison; two scoring guards in Pac-12 Sixth Man of the Year Koren Johnson (Washington) and J’Vonne Hadley (Colorado); and BYU center Aly Khalifa. Louisville has also hosted former four-star recruit and Washington transfer Wesley Yates and is the favorite to sign him.

Memphis: The Tigers had an up-and-down season in 2023-24. At one point, they were ranked in the Top 10 but failed to make the NCAA Tournament and passed on an NIT invitation. So far, they have picked up four transfers, starting with one of the nation’s best scorers, former Tulsa guard PJ Haggerty (21.2 ppg), as well as former Illinois forward Dain Dainja, guard Colby Rogers — who averaged 16.4 points per game at Wichita State — and two-time transfer guard Tyrese Hunter (Iowa State, Texas).

Michigan: Rising star coach Dusty May has put together an elite coaching staff that is quickly making the Wolverines one of the more intriguing teams going into the 2024-25 season. So far, they’ve added five transfers starting with big man in the middle Danny Wolf (Yale), followed by breakout candidate Roddy Gayle Jr. (Ohio State). Next, they added a pair of point guards in Rubin Jones (North Texas) and Tre Donaldson (Auburn). Lastly, they added one of my favorite and most intriguing prospects in the country for next season, Sam Walters from Alabama. The Wolverines aren’t done, either.

USC: New coach Eric Musselman has signed eight players (seven transfers and one top-50 recruit). The Trojans have hit the ground running, as all seven transfers averaged 11.6 points per game or more: Northern Colorado forward Saint Thomas (19.7 ppg), Bryce Pope (San Diego), Clark Slajchert (Penn), Josh Cohen (UMass), Rashaun Agee (Bowling Green), Matt Knowling (Yale) and my favorite addition of the group, Chibuzo Ago a mismatch nightmare from Boise State.

(Photo of Michigan coach Dusty May: Junfu Han / USA Today) 


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