The usage of the transfer portal has grown bigger and bigger with each offseason as players transfer schools for a third, fourth, or in the case of 2021-22 WAC Player of the Year Teddy Allen, a fifth time.
With the deadline for players to enter their names into the portal passing on May 1, only ten programs were able to avoid the hit of losing a scholarship player to a transfer, a feat that’s even more infrequent in today’s hectic transfer portal world.
Specifically, Duke, Miami, Kansas, Gonzaga, St. John’s, Rutgers, LIU Brooklyn, Army, Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, and Grambling were the only Division I programs to retain all underclassmen from last season.
Looking at the top of that list it makes sense, a program like Duke who regardless of losing Coach K feels comfortable where they are and even with a coaching change isn’t going to fall off greatly or lose a lot of players. Similar things can be said for the other teams at the top of that grouping including Miami, Kansas, and Gonzaga. Programs that know how to build great rosters with prospects tailored each to exactly how they want to play and ultimately keep them together and on the court.
St. John’s and Rutgers land somewhere in the middle because they feel the most unique of this grouping as high-major programs who have found some recent success with Rutgers making NCAA Tournament appearances the past two seasons while St. John’s qualified last in 2019.
Both will be losing some important senior pieces this offseason and added some prospects of their own by recruiting and using the portal but are seen as young teams looking to develop a consistently competitive program. With more than 1,400 players passing through the transfer portal at some point this offseason, for St. John’s and Rutgers to have kept all their young pieces seemed a long shot but crucial to any future success by giving something to build around for seasons to come.
The last category within this grouping is the mid-majors between teams like LIU Brooklyn, Army, Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, and Grambling State who all found varying levels of success last season but outside of Army, are in rebuild mode with seniors who could be on the way out.
LIU Brooklyn look likely to lose seniors Ty Flowers and Eral Penn to pro careers while Isaac Kante reportedly has an extra year of eligibility and could return but remains undecided which accounts for the Sharks’ three leading scorers. However, they also added UIC transfer Maurice Commander who avered 10.5 PPG last season and even signed Brad Calipari as a Special Assistant to Head Coach Derek Kellogg.
After sneaking into the NCAA Tournament but falling in the first round to Texas Southern, Texas A&M-Corpus Christi is set to lose three senior starters from last year’s team but has already added one of the top former DII stars in three-point sniper Ross Williams. Grambling State didn’t achieve a tournament bid but managed a .500 record in conference play and will also potentially be losing multiple seniors including leading scorer Cam Christon and starters Danya Kingsby and Prince Moss without yet making any transfer additions.
Rounding it out is Army and like everybody else, they will most likely be losing some seniors including starters Josh Caldwell and Aaron Duhart, with several young prospects already on the Black Knights roster who are ready to step in. But Army are the expectation within this group and annually in both college basketball and football are among the schools with the lowest transfer rates for student-athletes.
The nature of the transfer portal has made the process of moving schools as simple as possible and for that reason we’re seeing more transfers than ever before. These ten programs are outliers in the current landscape of college basketball and should be commended for their work to keep young players intact.
But it just goes to show not only how different each program’s situation is ranging from steady success to constant rebuilding, but also the hard work that needs to be put in by these coaches to recruit players to their school but then also to recruit them season after season to stick around.