How local college basketball programs fared in the transfer portal

Chicago
By Chicago 26 Min Read

If maintaining players on your roster has become the top recruiting priority for college coaches, recruiting out of the transfer portal is next. 

The importance of portal recruiting has dwarfed the recruitment of high school players for basketball programs across the country over the past two years. 

The locals — college basketball programs across the state — have spent endless hours over the past six months filling their needs. 

As the college school year begins and basketball season is right around the corner, here is what the college programs across the state have done to improve their respective rosters through the transfer portal. 

Illinois

There were plenty of minutes to replace, but the decisions of Coleman Hawkins and Terrence Shannon, last year’s big prize in the portal, announcing they were coming back to Champaign for another season was a massive shot in the arm for the program. 

The return of Shannon and Hawkins abruptly ended any rebuild or transitional period talk and kept hopes alive for Illinois in getting out of the first weekend of the NCAA Tournament next March. 

But even with the return, coach Brad Underwood and staff still had to dip heavily into the transfer portal again this year and added four pieces. 

Portal prize: Marcus Domask, Southern Illinois

There is a whole lot of substance and experience in a player who has done nothing but produce for four years in the Missouri Valley Conference. Domask was a star at SIU. He started every single game he played in during his four seasons playing for coach Bryan Mullins. 

This past season he averaged 16.7 points, 5.8 rebounds and 3.8 assists a game this past season while being named to the all-MVC first-team. 

If the 6-6 Domask, who has scored over 1,600 career points, can find a way to guard someone at the high-major level, he’s going to make a very nice impact. 

Other portal pieces: Illinois landed two other perimeter pieces in Quincy Guerrier and Justin Harmon.

Guerrier, a big, long, 6-7 versatile piece with a combined four years of high-major experience at Syracuse and Oregon, has scored 1,280 career points and has evolved into a three-point threat throughout his career. His three-point numbers have steadily improved. 

He made a combined 26 threes in his first two college seasons while shooting just 27 percent; in the past two seasons, he’s made 100 while shooting 33 percent from beyond the arc. 

Harmon, who played his high school basketball at Curie, is a hard-nosed 6-4 guard who put up numbers at Utah Valley State, averaging 14 points, 3.8 rebounds and 2.9 assists a game this past season. Harmon emerged as a bonafide defensive stopper on the perimeter. He returns home with one year of eligibility remaining. 

Northwestern

With a bulk of a NCAA Tournament team returning, there weren’t many holes to fill for Chris Collins and his staff. Star guard Boo Bouie announced he’s returning while the Wildcats did lose Chase Audige, who declared for the NBA Draft. 

But Northwestern did about as well as it could in addressing the needs it had, particularly improving the perimeter shooting and a replacement for Audige.

Portal prize: Ryan Langborg, Princeton

Langborg is a portal recruiting coup for the Wildcats. He’s a veteran 6-4 shooting guard who averaged 12.7 points a game as a junior while helping lead Princeton to a Sweet Sixteen appearance. 

Langborg should step right in and ease the sting of losing Audige. Langborg, who has made 132 three-pointers the past two seasons, shined in the tournament, scoring 22 and 26 points in the final two NCAA Tournament games this year. He’s made 63 starts and scored over 800 points in his three college seasons. 

Other portal pieces: NU was able to dip into the portal for added roster depth. 

Blake Preston, an experienced transfer from Liberty, may not have put up big numbers, but the 6-9, 220-pound big man will provide frontcourt depth. He averaged 6.7 points and 5.1 rebounds a game this past season. 

Northwestern also added a building block for the future in Justin Mullins. The Oak Park product will have three years of eligibility remaining after bursting on the scene as a freshman at Denver this past season. The 6-6 Mullins averaged 9.8 points and 3.1 rebounds a game in his first season. 

Wyoming forward Jeremiah Oden (25) shoots over Northern Iowa forward Cole Henry during a 2021 game.

Wyoming forward Jeremiah Oden (25) shoots over Northern Iowa forward Cole Henry during a 2021 game.

Marco Garcia/AP

DePaul

The Blue Demons are hoping four key additions from the transfer portal will reverse their fortunes after a tough 2022-23 season. They added a group filled with college experience, size and length. 

Portal prize: Jeremiah Oden, Wyoming

With the added size, length and versatility of the athletic 6-8 forward, Oden checked off a lot of boxes in the transfer portal for coach Tony Stubblefield. 

Oden, whose dad Jonathan Oden played at DePaul, is a superior athlete who is returning to Chicago after playing his high school basketball at St. Rita. Oden brings a wealth of experience, starting 62 games in the Mountain West Conference during his three years at Wyoming. He averaged 9.6 points and 3.6 rebounds a game this past season. 

Other portal pieces: DePaul added size, length and some shooting on the perimeter in 6-2 Chico Carter, 6-7 Jaden Henley and 6-6 Elijah Fisher. Plus, the Blue Demons secured much-needed size inside with the addition of 6-10, 235-pound Mac Etienne. 

The Blue Demons needed to add a consistent shooting threat from the perimeter with experience and found one in Carter. The 6-2 shooting guard started all 25 games he played last season at South Carolina and averaged 9.8 points a game. 

But he’s been an ultra-consistent three-point shooter throughout his career, first at Murray State, and then at South Carolina. Last season he shot 47 percent from three (49 of 103). 

Henley, who has transferred in from Minnesota, can play multiple positions after playing 20 minutes a game as a freshman in the Big Ten last season. He averaged 5.3 points a game but played his best basketball down the stretch, averaging 9.6 points and shooting 6-of-8 from the three-point line in the Gophers’ final six games. 

As a former five-star recruit out of high school, Fisher brings a ton of upside, especially as a defensive presence on the perimeter. He spent his freshman season last year at Texas Tech, averaging 3.3 points and two rebounds a game. 

Etienne was a late summer addition from UCLA. As a prep player, he was among the top 50 prospects in the country. Since then he’s been at a prep school, torn his ACL, redshirted and played sparingly this past season for the Bruins. But he’s a player who boasts an upside and brings an interior presence. More importantly, he’s spent three years at a great, winning program and has three years of eligibility remaining. 

Loyola

Coach Drew Valentine did some heavy lifting in the portal this spring. In surrounding the return of leading scorer Philip Alston, Loyola has replenished its roster with four portal transfers. 

The Ivy League was particularly good for the Ramblers as they nabbed two All-Ivy League performers.

Portal prize: Dame Adelekun, Dartmouth

Adelekun is a big addition for Valentine and the Ramblers. The highly efficient Adelekun brings valued size, strength and rim-rattling athleticism to the roster. In 23 minutes of action, the 6-8, 230-pound Adelekun averaged 13.8 points and 7.2 rebounds a game while dishing out 2.5 assists. He was a second-team All-Ivy League selection. 

Other portal pieces: A trio of other portal recruits is heeded by Greg Dolan, another second-team All-Ivy League selection. The 6-3 guard had a breakout junior season at Cornell. He shot it at a high clip from the three-point line (48 threes and 42 percent) while averaging 13.3 points, 3.6 rebounds and 3.5 assists a game. 

Patrick Mwamba brings a lot of game experience to Loyola. He’s made 56 starts between stops at UT-Arlington and Oral Roberts. This past season the 6-7 forward was a key piece off the bench for a NCAA Tournament team, averaging 7.9 points and 5.4 rebounds a game at ORU. 

Des Watson is a guard with size and brings Atlantic 10 experience, transferring from within the league. The 6-5 Watson put up 9.4 points and 3.8 rebounds a game at Davidson and has two years of eligibility remaining. 

UIC

Coach Luke Yaklich took a big hit with the loss of leading scorer Jace Carter to the portal; Carter transferred to Texas A&M. But UIC has done quite well in the portal this spring with the addition of four players. 

Portal prize: Isaiah Rivera, Colorado State

A star in high school at Geneseo in central Illinois, the big 6-5 guard played the past three seasons at Colorado State where he was part of a NCAA Tournament team as a sophomore and started 31 games as a junior this past season. Rivera averaged 8.6 points, 3.7 rebounds and 1.9 assists a game for the Mountain West school. 

Other portal pieces: Yaklich restocked his backcourt. In addition to Rivera, the Flames will welcome a trio of other perimeter players. 

Marquise Kennedy, the former Brother Star who played the past four years at Loyola, is a big addition.

The athletic guard stays in Chicago and will complete his college career with the Flames. He brings a wealth of experience, knows the league from his days when Loyola was in the Missouri Valley Conference, and has averaged over 20 minutes and been a consistent eight to nine points a game in his four years with the Ramblers. 

Drew King transferred in from Houston Christian and could prove to be a sneaky good addition after a rock-solid freshman year. King makes the jump from a low-major Division I program to a mid-major one but put up 8.9 points, 3.6 rebounds and 4.6 assists a game playing in the Southland Conference. 

Yusef Salih is a 6-0 guard with two years of eligibility remaining. He spent two seasons at Idaho where he played major minutes in the Big Sky Conference. Salih averaged 6.5 points a game while also being a three-point threat (89 three-pointers the past two seasons) this past season. 

Marquette guard Emarion Ellis drives up the court against Kansas State during a 2021 game.

Marquette guard Emarion Ellis drives up the court against Kansas State during a 2021 game.

Nick Krug/AP

Bradley

The Braves, who have either won the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament or regular-season championship in three of the last five years, lost a good one to the portal in Rienk Mast. The 6-10 Mast was an all-MVC first-team selection who transferred to Nebraska. But coach Brian Wardle added three portal transfers with a whole lot of years left to play. 

Portal prize: Emarion Ellis, Marquette

Ellis was once a top 100 recruit out of high school and brings perimeter versatility with his size and length. He played sparingly as a freshman at Marquette before missing last season with a knee injury. But the 6-5 Ellis is a definite talent who could thrive in new surroundings. 

Other portal pieces: While many programs have taken portal transfers with a lot of age and seasoning to them, Bradley will welcome a pair who just completed their freshman seasons: 6-10 Kyle Thomas and 6-3 Trey Pettigrew. 

Thomas, who played at St. Joseph and Benet while in high school, brings legit size and potential after playing 13 minutes a game last season at Eastern Illinois. Pettigrew, a guard with positional size and scoring acumen, played his senior season of high school at Kenwood. He returns to the state after playing 11 minutes a game as a freshman at Nevada. 

Illinois State

Coach Ryan Pedon is set for his second season and has assembled a roster that is poised to make a move up the Missouri Valley Conference, thanks to the addition of four portal transfers. 

Portal prize: Jordan Davis, Wisconsin

The numbers won’t jump out at you but when you can add a player who played 20 minutes a game in the Big Ten, the potential of a portal gem is there. The 6-4 Davis brings athleticism, size and a defensive presence to the perimeter after averaging 5.1 points and 3.5 rebounds a game last season for the Badgers. 

Other portal pieces: The addition of Monmouth transfer Myles Foster will be key. After three seasons at Monmouth, the 6-7 Foster brings size and endless length following a breakout junior campaign where he played over 30 minutes a game. Foster averaged 12.7 points and 6.6 rebounds a game this past season.

Brandon Lieb is a familiar name. The 7-footer played his high school basketball at Deerfield before spending the past three years developing at Illinois. Lieb didn’t put up numbers or receive much time while in Champaign, but he developed his body and competed against the likes of legitimate Big Ten big men every day, including Kofi Cockburn. 

The Redbirds will also bring in Dalton Banks, a transfer from Southern Illinois who knows the league well having played three years for the Salukis. The 6-2 guard was a spot starter in his time in Carbondale and averaged 20 minutes a game over three seasons with the Salukis. 

Southern Illinois

There were some significant but not unexpected holes to fill with veteran standouts Marcus Domask (Illinois) and Lance Jones (Purdue) entering the portal and ultimately leaving for the Big Ten. They helped the Salukis to a successful 23-10 record this past season. 

Bryan Mullins, who begins his fifth year in Carbondale, assembled a group of four portal transfers. 

Portal prize: RJ McGee, Tulane

A Chicago native who played at Kenwood, McGee has one year of eligibility remaining and a whole lot of experience after playing four seasons and starting 27 games at Tulane. More importantly, the 6-5 McGee brings a ton of versatility on the perimeter with his size, length and ability to defend multiple positions. 

Look for McGee’s numbers to rise with a bigger opportunity in front of him at SIU after averaging 4.4 points and 2.8 rebounds a game. 

Other portal pieces: The Salukis added three other pieces from the portal in guards Trey Miller and Jovan Stulic, along with 6-8 Jarrett Hensley. 

With a developed mid-range game and some athleticism to go with it, the Salukis hope Trey Miller can provide some offensive punch after showing such promise as a young player this past season. The 6-2 guard averaged 10.4 points and 3.1 assists a game as a true freshman at Incarnate Word. 

Stulic played in only four games this past season at Arkansas-Little Rock due to injury, but the 6-5 guard has started 59 games in his four years. Stulic averaged 7.8 points a game and shot 44 percent from the three-point line just two years ago while playing 26 minutes a game. 

While the game experience has been limited thus far, Hensley does bring three years of college experience to SIU –– one season at UNC-Greensboro and the last two at Cincinnati –– to go with size and shooting ability. 

Northern Illinois

Rashon Burno begins his third season as head coach and returns his top three scorers from this past season. Plus, he currently has three transfers from the portal in the fold to fill holes and add hope for an improved team in 2023-24. 

Portal prize: Philmon Gebrewhit, DePaul

This was a nice pick-up for NIU as the 6-7 shooter has played 22 minutes a game in the Big East over the past two seasons. Gebrewhit’s role will expand in the MAC after averaging 5.8 points a game last season for DePaul while shooting 37 percent from three. He’s also played two years of junior college basketball so he brings experience and age with him to DeKalb. 

Other portal pieces: Burno will welcome two high-upside pieces who battled some injuries at their respective high-major stops. 

The Huskies add depth in the backcourt with the addition of Quaran McPherson, a 6-3 guard who redshirted as a freshman at Nebraska and then sat out this past season with an injury. 

The biggest upside in the program, however, may be Ethan Butler. He was a redshirt freshman this past season at Oregon but only played in two games due to injury. Butler, a physically imposing 6-6 wing, was expected to make contributions this past season for the Ducks before injuries sidelined him. 

SIUE

Fresh off winning 19 games this past season — the winningest season SIUE has achieved since becoming a Division I program in 2008 and crushing past win totals –– coach Brian Baron has a stable of top players returning. But he and his staff also dipped into the transfer portal for a couple more pieces. 

Portal prize: Brian Taylor, Wisconsin-Milwaukee 

Taylor heads back to the St. Louis area where he was a star high school player for DeSmet in St. Louis. The former Missouri all-stater averaged 18.5 points a game as a senior before heading off to UW-Milwaukee last year where he saw minimal time. The 6-4 guard, however, brings size, length and versatility to the perimeter. 

Other portal pieces: The Cougars also added 6-9, 265-pound big man Adeola Seun who will provide depth on the interior. 

Eastern Illinois

In addition to the players the Panthers have landed out of the portal who have local ties, coach Marty Simmons has brought on assistants who all have similar ties.

Chicago native Marlon London, who played at Kansas and DePaul following high school graduation from St. Joseph, and Richard McBride, who played at Springfield Lanphier and Illinois, have joined Simmons’ staff. In addition, Danville native Kylen Butler is also an assistant coach. 

Portal prize: Jordan Booker, Tarleton

“Tiger” Booker, the former Bogan star, infuses instant energy into the program at point guard. He also brings experience having played junior college basketball before spending last season at Tarleton. 

The 5-10 Booker is a competitive leader who produced in minimal minutes, averaging 6.6 points and over an assist a game while playing 13 minutes. He also shot very well from the line (82 percent) and from three (47 percent). 

Other portal pieces: Coach Marty Simmons not only brings Booker home to Illinois, but he welcomes Jaylin Gibson, who played for some very good Evanston teams as a sophomore and junior in high school. 

After two seasons at Mt. Saint Mary’s, where he averaged 4.3 points a game off the bench this past year, the 6-4 guard brings size and physicality on the perimeter. 

Kooper Jakobi, a 6-6 transfer from Toledo, played in 34 games and averaged 2.2 points a game in 10 minutes of action. 

Western Illinois

Coach Chad Boudreau takes over the program from Rob Jeter after being an assistant for the past three years in Macomb. The Leathernecks needed to replenish the roster, particularly with size, and did so through the transfer portal, adding three players who are 6-8 or bigger. 

Portal prize: Drew Cisse, Missouri-St. Louis

Cisse, a 6-10 active big man from Division II Missouri-St. Louis, has impressed in summer workouts. He blocks shots and is an active defender. Cisse brings experience as he started 17 games a year ago, averaging 5.6 points a game and leading the team in rebounds with 6.8 a game.

Other portal pieces: The Leathernecks added frontcourt depth in Joe Petrakis, who has Division I experience, and small college star Rodrick Payne. 

Petrakis brings size and maturity to the interior as he’s 6-10, 220 pounds and is well-traveled and prepared for Division I basketball. He played a year of junior college, two years at Kansas State, a year at Western Carolina and spent this past season at Illinois State. While at Western Carolina in 2021-22, Petrakis started 30 games and averaged eight points and 3.2 rebounds a game and shot it well from three (31 of 57). 

Rodrick Payne has been a Division III star his first two seasons at Wisconsin-River Falls. The 6-8, 240-pounder was the conference’s Rookie of the Year as a freshman. He then averaged 16.8 points and 6.3 rebounds a game as a sophomore before making the jump up this year to the Division I level.

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