Fred Faour: Believe it or not, college basketball is already back in business with the transfer portal

Mandatory Credit: Photo by Rogelio V Solis/AP/Shutterstock (13832148c) Houston guard Tramon Mark (12) readies to pass in the second half of the first round of a college basketball game against Northern Kentucky in the NCAA Tournament in Birmingham, Ala., . Houston won 63-52 NCAA Houston Men’s Basketball, Birmingham, United States – 16 Mar 2023

Fred Faour: Believe it or not, college basketball is already back in business with the transfer portal

While college basketball ended just a week ago with UConn cutting down the nets at NRG Stadium, a lot of what happens next season is already underway with the transfer portal. Teams are landing key players to help fill roles for next season. The portal allows a player to transfer to another school and have immediate eligibility.

Like everything in sports, some teams are better at it than others. Arkansas has done well (picking up former UH guard Tramon Mark this week), and last year Memphis landed Kendrick Davis from SMU. All Davis did was lead the Tigers and the AAC in scoring and help his team reach the NCAAs. At SMU the year before, he was AAC Player of the Year.

Houston has also made some strong pickups, including reportedly two key players, including Baylor starter LJ Cryer, who averaged 15.0 points and shot 41.5% from 3-point range last season. He will help offset the loss of Marcus Sasser. The Cougars also landed Damian Dunn, who averaged 15.3 points per game last season at Temple, 11th in the American. Presuming Jamal Shead returns, the Cougars will have reloaded a backcourt that got them to the Sweet 16 and had them ranked No. 1 in the nation for multiple weeks.

Some players in the portal wind up going pro. But a number help their new teams. The top player in the portal is likely 7-1 Michigan center Hunter Dickinson, who will make an immediate impact on his new team. But Cryer was one of the top players available, too.

While the portal gives, it also takes. Michigan stands to lose Dickinson but picked up Caleb Love from North Carolina. Houston lost Mark but landed Cryer and Dunn, with maybe more coming. TCU picked up Jameer Nelson, Jr. from Delaware. LSU added guards Jalen Cook and Abu Ousmane.

It’s a new form of recruiting. Teams can add proven players with game tape who can fit their systems. Players can find homes where maybe they are a better fit, can get more playing time, and possibly develop.

Most of the top players are still in the portal, so there is a lot more to come and a lot more to pay attention to as teams start this first phase of recruiting.

Yes, college basketball just ended. But this is where next season begins.

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