College Basketball Catch-Up: The madness of the transfer portal

What is up with the transfer portal, and where will some of the top players in the transfer portal go?

Hunter Dickinson is holding the basketball while being defended by an Illinois player. Dickinson is wearing a blue uniform and the Illinois player is wearing a white uniform with orange lettering.

“College Basketball Catch-Up” is a column by Terence Holton discussing the latest men’s college basketball headlines.

As of April 1, there were over 1,100 players in the NCAA transfer portal. Over the past few years, the transfer portal has become extremely popular, especially if a player wants minutes immediately. The portal has some ups and downs, so let’s explore them.

I have two very different opinions about the transfer portal. The first is that I love how players spread talent far and wide across the board. In my opinion, this past year of college basketball was one of the best and most competitive we have seen in years. This is partially because many players transferred to different programs — for example, third-year sophomore forward Norchad Omier of Miami.

Omier played two seasons at Arkansas State before transferring to Miami. Omier was a crucial part of the Hurricanes’ run to the Final Four this year, averaging 13 points and 10 rebounds. This is one reason I am a fan of the transfer portal, as it gives players who were under-scouted in high school a second chance to show out nationally. While Omier won’t get drafted this year, it is very likely that by the end of his NCAA eligibility, he will find himself on an NBA team, as he is a very athletic and talented player.

Another reason I like the transfer portal is that it allows players to play at a lower level, hone their skills, and possibly transfer back to a Power 6 school — for example, now-LSU sophomore guard Jalen Cook. Cook originally played for the Tigers straight out of high school but, after a lackluster freshman year, transferred to Tulane.

This past season, Cook averaged 19.9 points and 4.9 assists per game. Cook entered the transfer portal this offseason and recently signed back with LSU. The transfer portal is just a great use of second chances in college basketball.

Some people believe that the transfer portal is ruining college sports as it commercializes college sports. However, I don’t see that to be the case. As I stated earlier, it gives second chances to players who either need to go down a level of competition to up their game or a chance to prove themselves at a higher level of play when they weren’t scouted heavily in high school.

Of course, there are drawbacks, but overall the recent popularity of the transfer portal has been a smashing success. This was one of the most fun college basketball seasons we have had in years, and I think it is because the distribution of talent is so spread out.

Speaking of talent being spread out, here are some of my top transfers still available and looking for a team to take to the next level.

The outright best: Junior center Hunter Dickinson, transferring from Michigan

After three extremely good seasons for Michigan, Dickinson decided to transfer and is by far the best player in the portal. Dickinson averaged 18.5 points and nine rebounds per game. He will undoubtedly be a contender for national player of the year, and whichever team lands him will land an instant impact player. On3 sports currently has him favored to go to Kansas, with Maryland in the mix as well. All I know is Kansas would be scary with him, as the Jayhawks with a dominant center is always a tough matchup.

Best mid-major: Senior guard Max Abmas, transferring from Oral Roberts

Abmas has been one of the best scorers in college basketball since he started at Oral Roberts and has averaged 20+ points per game the last three seasons. Whoever lands him gets an immediate go-to-scorer and leader. Abmas has scheduled a visit with Kansas State, and I think he should go there as he would perfectly replace the departing Markquis Nowell. However, 247 Sports recently Crystal Balled him to Texas, where he would also fit in nicely.

Huge upside: Sophomore guard Ryan Nembhard is transferring from Creighton

This transfer was a surprise since Nembhard had just led Creighton to the Elite Eight. However, it seems players transfer at the drop of a pin nowadays. Nembhard was a leader at Creighton as only a sophomore and averaged 12.1 points and 4.8 assists. He will bring veteran leadership and, in my book, will be a preseason candidate for the Bob Cousy Award next season. Sadly, On3 sports predicts he will go to Arizona next year, so I suppose I will have to root against him if that comes true, but Nembhard will surely impact whichever team lands him.

“College Basketball Catch-Up” runs every Monday.