How can it possibly get worse for a 2-19 basketball team? New coach Jeff Wulbrun faces an uphill battle with DU starters being plucked from the hoops transfer portal. So far, DU’s three top scorers from this past season have left the program and two more players are in the portal with the intention to transfer.
It all began when promising freshman Sam Hines, Jr. (10.7 points, 5.8 rebounds) recently announced his move to South Florida. Next, it was leading scorer Jase Townsend (19.2 points, 4.2 rebounds) announcing his exit to the University of San Diego. Yesterday, big man Robert Jones (9.1 points, 5.0 rebounds) announced he was headed to Big 12 basement dwelling Iowa State to play for former Summit League head coach TJ Otzenberger.
While the move of Hines and Townsend to greener pastures may have been expected in this era of portal-mania, it was a surprise to see Robert Jones leave. Jones fit the profile of many big men that new head coach Jeff Wulbrun was known to develop during the course of his coaching career but, surely, a chance to play in the Big 12 was not an opportunity that Robert could pass up.
Starting guard Taelyr Gatlin (5.3 points, 1.3 rebounds) still sits in the transfer portal. Even seldom-used Ray Kowalski entered the portal. We told you about the big impact of these transfers on other teams in the Summit League as well.
With well over a thousand players planning to change teams this year, nearly every basketball program has been impacted, big and small. Less restrictive one-time transfer allowances and additional years of eligibility have accelerated movement across the NCAA, not just in basketball. While the Power Five still recruit four-year high school prospects, they now use proven mid-major collegiate basketball players to fill the gaps of exiting portal players with little time to react to players departing their squads. Plus, landing a proven collegiate player may prove to be less risky than an unproven high school prospect.
Wulbrun will have to jump on the portal and recruiting trail immediately to fill the gaps. As for Denver men’s basketball fans, how do you find positives from these departures? This is a team that went 2-19 this past season and lost to Dixie State. There is nowhere to go but up.
Photo of Robert Jones courtesy of Denver Athletics