Analyzing Three of the Winners of the NCAA Transfer Portal Heading Into 2022

The introduction of the Transfer Portal in college athletics has changed the entire recruiting process in college basketball. There are now several talented, experienced players at every position that have immediate eligibility at any school they transfer to.

With the portal era firmly underway, here’s a look at some of the biggest winners of the NCAA transfer portal this offseason.

Miami

Last season, Miami made its first-ever appearance in the Elite Eight. The Hurricanes were one of the most surprising teams in all of college basketball. After three straight losing seasons, Miami went 26-11 last season and finished fourth in the ACC during the regular season.

Miami had an up-and-down start to the year, and after a Thanksgiving tournament where the Hurricanes lost to Dayton and Alabama the team was 4-3. However, the Hurricanes had been active in the transfer portal, and as the team gained more experience playing with each other they became one of the best teams in the ACC.

The Hurricanes finally gained recognition on the national level after a road victory vs No.2 Duke in January. In the tournament, Miami won games over USC, former No.1 ranked Auburn, and Iowa State before losing to eventual national champions Kansas.

Transfers Charlie Moore and Jordan Miller were a huge part of Miami’s success last season, and this season the Hurricanes will hope to have success with the help of a few new transfers.

All-Big 12 First-Team selection Nijel Pack and Arkansas State transfer Norchad Omier are two of the most talented players who entered the transfer portal this offseason. Pack is one of the best scorers in the nation and averaged 17.4 points per game last season.

Omier is another excellent scorer, just like Pack, and averaged 17.9 points per game at Arkansas State. In addition to his scoring, Omier is also an excellent rebounder, averaging 12.2 rebounds per game, an area where Miami could use improvement after being one of the worst rebounding teams in the ACC last season.

The Hurricanes return several important players from last season’s Elite Eight team heading into 2022-23, and also welcome Pack and Omier to the program. The Hurricanes could be set for another fantastic season next year.

Illinois

Just like Miami, Illinois saw two of the best players in the transfer portal enter their program this offseason. Matthew Mayer and Terrence Shannon both joined the team earlier this year.

Last season, Illinois finished 23-10 and finished tied for first with Wisconsin in the Big Ten standings. Back-to-back losses early in the season to Marquette and Cincinnati raised questions about Illinois early in the season, but by the end of the year, the Fighting Illini had emerged as one of the conference’s best teams.

However, the NCAA Tournament didn’t go the way Illinois expected. A two-point loss to Indiana in the first game at the Big Ten Tournament started off postseason play on the wrong foot, and a week later Illinois survived a near-upset against Chattanooga in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. A 15-point loss to Houston in the second round eventually ended the season.

While the transfer portal saw Andre Curbelo and Jacob Grandison, among others, depart the program, it still allowed Illinois to recruit two of their probable starters this season in Mayer and Shannon.

Mayer scored 9.8 points per game last season at Baylor and has played 126 games so far in his college career. He has also improved in every single season he has spent in college, scoring 4.6, 4.8, 8.1, and 9.8 points per game in each of his four years at Baylor, culminating in an All-Big 12 Honorable Mention last season.

At Texas Tech, Shannon scored 10.4 points per game last season after scoring 12.9 points per game the year prior. He was a member of the All-Big 12 Third-Team in 2020-21 before being a member of the All-Big 12 Tournament team last year.

While Illinois’ roster will look significantly different next year after players departed for the NBA or through the portal, the Illini should still be one of the best teams in the Big Ten next season.

Florida

After winning National Titles in back-to-back seasons in 2006 and 2007, Florida was one of the best programs in the country. Recently that trend had continued with UF appearing in the NCAA Tournament in 2017, 2018, 2019, and 2021.

Despite that, the program was unable to recapture the momentum it had earlier in the century, and Head Coach Mike White departed to become the Head Coach at Georgia after last season.

Todd Golden was hired to replace White as Florida’s Head Coach. Golden previously worked under Bruce Pearl at Auburn before eventually becoming the head coach at San Francisco. During his time at San Francisco, Golden was 57-36 and returned the program to the NCAA Tournament last season.

Golden takes over a Florida program that finished last season at 20-14. UF finished in a tie for fifth in the SEC and lost their only game at the SEC Tournament before being eliminated in the second round of the NIT.

There are high expectations for the program, which will hope to return to the NCAA Tournament this season. Four key transfers, Trey Bonham, Alex Fudge, Will Richard, and Kyle Lofton will join the program as Golden begins his time in charge.

Bonham averaged 13.6 points per game at VMI last season after being selected as a member of the SoCon All-Freshman team the year prior. He also averaged more than four rebounds and four assists per game last season.

During his only season at LSU, Fudge averaged only 3.3 points per game, and didn’t play more than 10 minutes in a game after February 16. However, the forward has incredible potential to become an outstanding college player and also, potentially, an NBA Draft selection.

Richard also transfers to Florida after only one college season. He averaged 12.1 points per game and six rebounds per game in his only season at Belmont. In addition, he was a member of the Ohio Valley Conference’s All-Newcomer team.

At St. Bonaventure, Lofton was an All-Atlantic 10 Third-Team selection last season and a First-Team selection in 2020-21. He averaged 12.8 points per game last year. In addition, Lofton was the ninth-best player in the country in assists per game last season, finishing with 5.9 per game.

Many of Florida’s transfers are young, but talented, and will provide Golden with an opportunity to develop his team and players as he begins his tenure as head coach. This strong group of transfers could help UF return to being among the best teams in the SEC.

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