With the current landscape of college basketball and the continuing boom of the transfer portal, college coaches have been faced with an interesting decision: Can they skip the high school recruiting aspect of roster construction and just simply reload from the transfer portal each season?
According to college basketball insider and former Ohio State assistant coach Fran Fraschilla, at least one top program in the country feels that they can do this successfully year in and year out.
One Top 40 program coach told me last week that they will no longer recruit HS players but will live in the transfer portal. “We’re like the NBA. We can build through free agency or through the draft. We’ll take the surer thing.”— Fran Fraschilla (@franfraschilla) May 24, 2021
There are many different aspects that play into this; how many spots a team has open, what the portal looks like on any given season, what are the personal dynamics are with each player?
Let me be clear off the jump, I do think this can work for some teams during some seasons. If they are only replacing one or two guys or they are coming off of a big year where they have some extra momentum, sure, it can work.
But can this be utilized year after year without ever touching high school hoops again? No.
For example, next season, Ohio State will likely (it is hard to tell with the extra season of eligibility) have eight scholarship spots available. They already have three guys committed to the 2022 class and will likely add a couple more by the time they report.
So, if Ohio State simply did not recruit high schoolers and only utilized the transfer portal, recovering eight spots seems pretty impossible, unless you implement the Sean Miller/Arizona gifting process.
In that tweet, the anonymous source says “we are like the NBA.” In theory, yes, some years, some programs can be. In other years, like next year when Ohio State has eight spots to fill, that is just simply not a reality.
In his four seasons, Chris Holtmann has kept it pretty even in terms of high school recruits and transfers. He started simply with only high school players, recruiting 10 high school kids in the first three seasons in comparison to zero transfers coming in. But, in his last two seasons, he has brought in five recruits and five transfers. This number will continue to even out as the next five years come along (yes, I do believe there will be at least five more years of Chris Holtmann in Columbus).
This makes sense as transfers would be weary to head to a program with a new coach who is implementing a new system and culture. In Holtmann’s first three seasons, the program grew and got better and that is the thing that brings transfers in.
Even teams like Duke and Kentucky still heavily rely on high school recruiting. High school recruiting is still the cake, while the transfer portal is the ice cream on the side. Chris Holtmann and Ohio State are doing it right. You can have your cake and your ice cream. Keep bringing in guys like Malaki Branham and Kalen Etzler and keep bringing in guys like Joey Brunk and Jamari Wheeler. In this day and age, why limit yourself?
The premise should be this simple: Bring in all the talent you can, no matter where they come from.