Why NCAA Basketball transfer portal continues to increase in 2021

The times of NCAA basketball are changing and changing fast. Out of left field, the transfer market has exploded over the last few years. According to Verbal Commits, back in 2019 over 900 players entered their names into the transfer portal.

In 2020 the market exceeded over 1,000 players for the first time. And in 2021 we currently sit with 1,293 players in the portal but hold on and let me refresh my computer, nobody has entered in over an hour it must be frozen. All jokes aside, it shows no signs of slowing down. The question is why is the portal suddenly overfilling with players? Is this good or bad for the sport? And does this favor mid-majors or high major teams more?

There is a lot of things we can point to, this year in particular. When the NCAA announced that the 2020-2021 college season was going to be a “free year.”

“The pandemic will continue to impact winter sport seasons in ways we can’t predict. Council members opted to provide for winter sport student-athletes the same flexibility given spring and fall sports previously,” “The actions today ensure the continuation of local decision-making in the best interest of each institution and its student-athletes.”

-M. Grace Calhoun, Athletics director at Pennsylvania University

It seems as if every mid-major starter is in the portal, whether it is to take a step up in competition or to give it one last go with another small school while furthering their education. Players are wanting to prove to NBA scouts that they can still put up big numbers in a bigger league and increase their potential draft stock.

A guy like Marreon Jackson for example was the MAC conference player of the year, but you won’t find him on any NBA draft boards. Having similar success at a conference that plays more consistently high-level competition would certainly give him a boost from NBA scouts or higher-up Euro League ones.

Another thing we are seeing is guys that ended up transferring the last off-season are reentering their names this season. We have even seen guys like Elijah Olaniyi and Jason Carter end up returning back to their schools they originally transferred from. Now, why is this happening?

Well, the last off-season due to the COVID 19 pandemic players weren’t able to actually go on campus or meet in person with coaches about why they should transfer to their school. Ultimately leading to guys going blindly into situations that may not have been as suitable for them as they once thought.

Back in my day which is odd to say being only 26, transfers had to sit out a season before being eligible to play. Now the NCAA grants virtually everyone immediate eligibility making it appealing to players to look at other schools. Players love to play, and guys frankly just weren’t as willing to just practice and not play in the games for a whole season.

Now is this good or bad for the sport? Personally, I am stuck in the middle on it. On one hand, you have a way for players who were overlooked in high school to have a chance to go to a bigger school and possibly earn them a chance to play professionally. The downside to that is these smaller schools are going to have a major challenge staying on top in their conference.

With players going in and out of the fold coaches are really going to have to bring in replacements in the portal. Some would say having some parody is a good thing, but I think we all root for Davids to one day become Goliaths.

What is the solution? If I was a committee member on the NCAA, my solution I think is pretty fair to both sides of the spectrum. You have the option to transfer one time and have immediate eligibility, after that if you chose to transfer again you must sit out a year. But if you have already used your one free transfer and your coach takes another job you can transfer and immediately play again.

Why should coaches who are getting paid handsomely be able to leave a school and then coach again immediately the following year? While players who are making the money for the sport have to sit out. But even with that, I am still a little torn on it because personally, I don’t think you make your commitment to a coach you make it to the university.

It’ll be interesting to see what happens the rest of this offseason and the next few seasons. As it sits right now the transfer market isn’t going to slow down, so will the NCAA step in and put a halt to all the madness? The basketball world will have to wait and see.

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