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Goodbye March Madness, Hello Transfer Portal Mania

Michigan center Hunter Dickinson (1) attempts a free throw against Toledo during the second half of the first round of the NIT at Crisler Center in Ann Arbor on Tuesday, March 14, 2023.

The brackets were busted, the upsets were thrilling, and the nets were cut down. March was madness. With the conclusion of the season, some players are looking for new opportunities. The transfer portal is open for business and guarantees an eventful off-season.

Goodbye March Madness, Hello Transfer Portal Mania

Hunter Dickinson, C, Sr.

Hunter Dickinson had great success at Michigan. Over the past two seasons, he averaged 18.5 PPG and 8.8 RPG for the Wolverines. He led the team to an Elite Eight appearance in 2021 and a Sweet 16 appearance in 2022. After another successful individual season that was nullified by team struggles, he decided to enter the transfer portal.

Dickinson would be a great fit for both Georgetown and Maryland. He is from the DMV area and went to high school in Maryland, just on the outskirts of Washington, D.C. Georgetown recently hired Ed Cooly, and the roster is in dire need of talent. Dickinson would make an immediate impact for the Hoyas, but without additional help, the team’s success could still be lackluster. If Dickinson decides he wants to stay in the Big Ten, the Terrapins would be a great suitor. Star players Jahmir Young and Julian Reese are returning to Maryland, which would form a fantastic trio with Dickinson. The Big Ten will be wide open next year, and landing Dickinson would instantly propel the Terps to the conference favorites.

LJ Cryer, PG, Sr.*

A freshman on Baylor’s 2021 National Championship team, LJ Cryer has blossomed over the past few years in Waco. This past season he averaged 15.0 PPG, 2.1 APG, 2.1 RPG, and shot 41.5% from behind the arc. Cryer has ambitions to grow as a true point guard and this was unattainable at Baylor, leading to him entering the transfer portal. Cryer is a unique portal talent since he already has plenty of experience with the Bears and has two years of eligibility remaining due to the Covid year.

One of the biggest stars of March Madness was Markquis Nowell. Nowell saw a drastic improvement in his playmaking ability which led to an average of 8.3 APG (compared to 5.0 APG in 2021-22). The key reason? Kansas State hired Jerome Tang away from Baylor to become their head coach one year ago. And who recruited LJ Cryer to Baylor? The one and only Jerome Tang. With Nowell graduating and Kansas State needing a new point guard, the writing on the walls should be in bold, underlined, and italicized. Cryer would be able to come in and thrive as a true playmaking point guard under Tang’s coaching. Kansas State already has three four-star recruits committed for next season and will return talented forward Nae’Qwan Tomlin (if he doesn’t declare for the NBA Draft). Houston could be another team to keep an eye on if they want to make a splash in their first Big 12 season. However, the Cougars already have Jamal Shead, blocking Cryer from becoming a true point guard.

Kel’el Ware, C, So.

Less than one year ago, Kel’el Ware was a five-star high school senior. Now he’s entered the transfer portal to look for a new team. Ware was buried on the Oregon bench this past season as he managed to only start four games and averaged less than 16 minutes per game. However, if given more minutes, he would be capable and expected to average around 13 PPG, 8 RPG, and 2.5 blocks per game.

The most obvious connection to Ware is the Arkansas Razorbacks. Arkansas was deep in the recruiting battle last year before Ware committed to the Ducks. Coach Eric Musselman has transformed Arkansas into a highly respected program with two Elite Eight appearances and an additional Sweet 16 appearance over the past three seasons. Additionally, the Razorbacks produced two lottery-projected picks this past season in Anthony Black and Nick Smith JrNot to mention, Fayetteville is significantly closer to Ware’s hometown of Little Rock than Eugene is. One downside about Arkansas is that they already recruited a four-star center, but there’s no such thing as too much talent in college basketball. Another team to keep an eye on is the Texas Longhorns. Similar to Arkansas, Texas was recruiting Ware but lost out to Oregon. Texas has been an active team in the portal in recent years with Marcus Carr, Sir’Jabari Rice, Timmy Allen, and Tyrese Hunter, to name a few. However, only Hunter might be back next year, as the former three are out of eligibility. The Longhorns will also be replenishing their roster with two five-star recruits set to join the team.

Max Abmas, PG, Gr.

It’s possible that Max Abmas‘ name doesn’t stand out at first glance. But his accomplishments definitely will. When 15-seed Oral Roberts made the Sweet 16 by upsetting 2-seed Ohio State and 7-seed Florida in the 2021 NCAA Tournament, Abmas was the star for the Golden Eagles. He averaged 26.7 PPG that tournament and followed it up by averaging 22.3 PPG, 3.9 APG, and 3.9 RPG the previous two seasons. After accomplishing everything he could in Tulsa, he entered the transfer portal to finish off his college career.

One connection that stands out immediately is Wichita State. The Shockers recently hired Paul Mills after his successful stint for Oral Roberts. Abmas was talented enough to transfer any of the previous seasons but stayed loyal to Coach Mills. He could follow his coach to Wichita, but his talents seem as if they will be in bigger demand. Abmas is from the Dallas area, and the local schools will be all over him. Baylor would be a good fit since Cryer entered the portal, but the Bears do have two four-star guards already incoming. Texas needs help up and down their roster, as mentioned above, but point guard isn’t their biggest need (unless Hunter enters the NBA Draft). If Kansas State doesn’t land Cryer, Abmas would be a great consolidation prize.

Already Transferred

Two big-name players have already committed to new schools. Jameer Nelson Jr. spent the prior two seasons as a Delaware Blue Hen after beginning his college career for George Washington. Nelson Jr. did average 20.6 PPG this past season but struggled shooting the ball from behind the arc, as he shot 31% on 5.6 attempts per game. He now transfers to TCU with hopes of filling in the hole left by Mike Miles Jr with his last year of eligibility. Kerr Kriisa started the past two seasons for Arizona but decided he needed a change. Losing to 15-seed Princeton in March probably played a part in that. Kriisa is transferring to West Virginia with one year of eligibility remaining and will learn from Bob Huggins’ coaching expertise. The Mountaineers have no committed high school recruits at this time, so expect them to continue to be active in the portal.


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