Transfer portal bound to have an effect on basketball recruiting

Here comes the fallout from the college transfer portal, headed straight toward basketball recruits.

A few months back we wrote about the adverse impact the portal was having on high school football recruits. Top players are being squeezed out of scholarship offers by college coaches needing to win now, so they grab experienced transfers instead of prep kids who need time to develop.

That same strategy is bound to have a similar impact on high school basketball players.

Just look at this season’s Final Four teams. National title favorite UConn added a starting guard in Cam Spencer, the team’s second-leading scorer, from Rutgers.

Alabama lost four starters from last season, including Brandon Miller, the No. 2 overall pick in last year’s NBA draft. The Crimson Tide brought in four transfers, including 6-foot-11 Grant Nelson, who scored 24 points in a Sweet Sixteen win over top-seeded North Carolina, from North Dakota State.

NC State’s leading scorer is D.J. Horne, who previously played at Illinois State and Arizona State. Purdue lost as a No. 1 seed in the first round last year, partly because of its guard play. The Boilermakers answered by grabbing Lance Jones from Southern Illinois.

See where we’re headed? College coaches by the dozens are trying to match that success by tapping deep into the portal.

It’s no longer the “just win, baby” attitude of legendary Raiders owner Al Davis. It’s “just win NOW, baby.”

Traditional blue-blood college programs like Kentucky, meanwhile, are starting to get left behind with their “one and done” attitudes. For years Wildcats coach John Calipari has leaned on recruiting five-star players who very often leave for the NBA after one season.

Trying to catch lightning in a bottle for that one year seemed like the right strategy, especially while other top programs were successfully doing the same thing.

Kentucky, however, hasn’t made a Final Four since 2015 and hasn’t advanced past the second round since 2019.

Times, and strategies, are changing thanks to the transfer portal.

Suburban college players are getting involved as well.

Conor Enright, a Mundelein High School graduate, just entered the transfer portal after two seasons at Drake. Enright averaged 6.9 points this season while starting all 33 games.

College teammate Ethan Roberts, a Hersey grad, also entered the portal after head coach Darian DeVries left Drake for West Virginia.

Kam Craft, who played at Buffalo Grove High School, already found a new home via the transfer portal. After missing his entire season at Xavier with a knee injury, he’s transferring to Miami of Ohio.

They’re certainly not the first local players to enter the portal, and they won’t be the last. It’s a new way of life as players understandably take advantage of shifting scenery without having to sit out a year.

Top high school prospects such as Warren’s Jaxson Davis, Rolling Meadows’ Ian Miletic and Benet’s Gabe Sularski won’t have to worry about college offers.

But players on the next tier, and the tiers below that, are probably feeling the same lack of attention felt by so many football prospects.

It was only a matter of time.

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