INDIANAPOLIS – When Baylor and Houston meet here on Saturday in the national semifinal of the NCAA men’s tournament, more transfers will begin (six) than the players who signed when they finished high school (four).
The No. 1-seeded Bears start two transfers, and the No. 2-seeded Cougars start four. Earlier this season, Baylor used a starting rotation that featured a third transfer.
The connections between these two teams are a reality that is talked about a lot. They live 180 miles from each other in the same state, for example. Baylor’s athletic director was most recently Houston’s athletic director and hired current Houston coach Kelvin Sampson. The two coaching bodies even share bloodlines: The son of UH assistant coach Alvin Brooks is an assistant at Baylor.
But there is another connection: transfers.
Teams routinely use 10 transfers, depending heavily on players who, in some cases, just arrived on the program last spring after spending their early years elsewhere. Their best players, the ones who helped push them to the Final Four, weren’t from the prep level or junior college, they came from the transfer portal.
In fact, transfers represent 52% of Baylor’s playing time and 54% of his points this year. Houston transfers have scored 61% of the team’s points and represent 121 of the team’s 155 total starts.
“That’s the way it is today,” Sampson said. “Thirty years ago, people who didn’t know what they didn’t know refused transfers. They thought something was wrong with them. Yet it shows you how little they knew.
“Now if you are not taking transfers, you are behind.”
Or, at least, you are not in the Final Four.
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The teams meeting in the other semifinal, Gonzaga and UCLA, don’t use as many transfers as Houston and Baylor, but they rely heavily on a select few. For example, the Bruins’ leading scorer, Johnny Juzang, is a transfer from Kentucky. The Zag’s leader in assists, Andrew Nembhard, and his seventh man, Aaron Cook, are traded.
But they have nothing on the Bears and the Cougars. Three of Baylor’s top five scorers are transfers: MaCio Teague, Davion Mitchell and Adam Flagler. And two of Houston’s top three: Quentin Grimes and DeJon Jarreau.
Between teams, the 10 regularly used transfers came to South Texas from as far away as UMass (Jarreau) and as close as Auburn (Mitchell). And they came, some of them, for very different reasons. Three of them left their old school after a coach change. One, Grimes, lost his spot on the Kansas roster when he entered the NBA draft and then returned to school.
Justin Gorham, Houston’s rebounding leader, only signed with his original school, Towson, to stay close to home to care for his sick father. His father passed away and he decided to move on. Reggie Chaney, who leads the Cougars in two-point shooting by 65%, left Arkansas after his production fell, and many other players, such as Baylor’s Teague, sought a brighter stage, leaving the UNC- middle center. Asheville.
In fact, of the 10 transfers, only three left power conference schools.
“The world has changed,” says Alabama athletic director Greg Byrne, whose sophomore coach Nate Oats brought in four transfers (two from Division I schools, two from JUCO) that contributed to Sweet’s career. Tide 16. “The transfer market has changed our approach. You have to pay attention to the transfer of graduates and other guys transferring. “
Of course, there is an inherent risk. Sometimes a player transfers for a reason that can generate red flags. Was he a poor teammate? Did your off-court behavior lead to the decision?
Like normal high school and college player recruiting, due diligence is a must. Coaches aren’t being as responsible as they should be, says Arkansas coach Eric Musselman, who himself brought in seven transfers in his two years at Fayetteville to help the Hogs’ Elite Eight run this year.
“In our last [staff] At the meeting a year ago, I told our attendees that the transfers were going to be over-recruited and that there would be a million mistakes, ”says Musselman. “Now, the high school market is not contracting as much. That is why we have four first-year signers [three starters]. We sit back and watch mistake after mistake in the transfer market. “
Sampson and Baylor coach Scott Drew are apparently not in the group Musselman is referring to. They brought in some of the best mid-to-upper level players. Cameron Tyson, now in Houston, broke Idaho’s scoring record in his rookie year. Before coming to Waco, Flager was Big South’s freshman of the year, and Teague led UNC-Asheville in scoring.
They all jumped ship for a bigger stage.
“I think it all comes down to one thing, and that’s knowing your team and knowing their culture – who will fit in and represent your show the way you want it to be represented, if you bring in people who join in on that,” Drew said. . “No matter which way you look to bring someone, do they find what you are really looking for?”
The transfer market is completely saturated, more than ever. More than 1,100 DI men’s basketball players are on the transfer portal, according to a 247Sports database that tracks the portal’s movement. Considering that each of DI’s 340 teams has 15 scholarship slots, a quarter of them are on the transfer portal. It seems that players are jumping by the dozen every day.
Some hope to build on their latest success. For example, on Thursday, Abilene forward Christian Joe Pleasant, who threw the game-winning free throws to beat Texas in the NCAA tournament last week, entered the portal, according to ESPN.
In the SEC, at least half the teams in the league have three or more players in the portal and Ole Miss has a whopping six.
“Welcome to 2021!” says an athletic director at a power conference school.
The trend is only expected to increase. The NCAA anticipates passing new legislation on April 15 that gives athletes the right to transfer without penalty at least once in their career. abandoning a 60 year rule which has forced soccer and basketball players out of their freshman year at a new school.
What does it mean? Even more transfers. For those like Baylor and Houston, shows that work the transfer market with the best of them, maybe that means more Final Fours.
“It’s going to be the way it is and those who complain about the way it’s trending are going to be left behind,” says ESPN analyst Jay Bilas. “They will have to cope. We will not return to have everyone sit down for a year.
“It’s going to be like the NBA,” he continues. “You are not only looking for new players, but you are also looking for players in the league that you want to recruit. There will be more player movement.
“It’s easy to say, ‘This isn’t what it used to be!’ Well, that’s the way it is. “
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.