Open transfers reshaping college basketball | sports

Open transfers reshaping college basketball |  sports

“When it comes to putting a roster together, it’s going to be season by season,” Underwood said. “I think we’re all sitting out there and wondering whether we’ll ever sign a freshman again and what’s the value in that. I think there’s a ton of that going on right now when we could all take upperclassmen and they can’t transfer again. We would be remiss if we didn’t keep every option open and keep looking at them.” Bailing on high school recruiting entirely is probably a step too far.

Open transfers reshaping college basketball | Sports At least for Underwood.

Underwood is keeping every option open. “You’ve got to look at every item on the menu today,” Underwood said. “I don’t know what that will look like eventually, but we’re not going to quit recruiting high school players and freshmen. I believe in them, but there’s obviously a new menu item you’ve got to pay attention to as well.”

As of Friday afternoon, nearly 1,400 players are in the transfer portal — double the rate of a year ago at this time. The bonus year of eligibility given to all players because of the pandemic that created “super seniors” has inflated that number. Underwood doesn’t envision the number of transfers being as high in future seasons, but they’re not going away entirely either. The idea of bringing in 18- or 19-year-olds and developing them is still a priority, but it’s not the only program-building avenue anymore.

The roster additions Illinois announced Wednesday will probably become the norm. Underwood has only signed four players in the fall in his time at Illinois in Ayo Dosunmu, Andre Curbelo, Coleman Hawkins and Luke Goode. Wednesday’s newcomers are incoming freshmen RJ Melendez and Brandin Podziemski and Florida transfer Omar Payne. A freshmen/transfer combination signing in the spring is arguably the future. The change in the NCAA’s transfer rules seemed inevitable. It doesn’t come without some unintended consequences, however, in Underwood’s opinion.

“We all have to figure in academic responsibilities at each institution. We have to figure in graduation rates, which the way this thing is looking right now, I don’t know how we do that. You’ve got 720-plus athletes in the portal who are upperclassmen. … It’s complicated. It’s not as simple as go in the portal and get somebody.” “It’s amazing how things have changed,” Underwood said. “You used to sign two or three kids in the fall and be done. You knew what your team was and could start planning. Really diving in to making your team better from an Xs and Os standpoint and start putting pieces of the puzzle together and conducting workouts and growing. Those situations are obviously not going to happen.”

The first offseason with free transfers is one thing. Players that can find a new college basketball home will. But what happens in future seasons when rosters are laden with transfers? “It’s amazing how things have changed,” Underwood said. “You used to sign two or three kids in the fall and be done. You knew what your team was and could start planning. Really diving in to making your team better from an Xs and Os standpoint and start putting pieces of the puzzle together and conducting workouts and growing. Those situations are obviously not going to happen.”

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