Welcome to basketball transfer portal season once again. While the numbers change by the hour, as of this writing, 638 players have entered their names in the Division I men’s basketball portal already this year. This does not include players who have exhausted their eligibility at the end of this past season. Some conferences have been hit harder than others and the Summit League certainly falls into that category.
Denver has already lost KJ Hunt to the professional ranks but the Pios have also lost Tristan Green, Taelyr Gatlin, and Payton Moore. But DU’s losses are nothing compared to South Dakota and North Dakota State,
South Dakota fired head coach 2021 Summit League Coach of the Year Todd Lee after finishing 19-12 this season. So far, eight players are following Lee out the door which include five of their top six scorers. Kruz Perrot-Hunt (15.0 points per game), Mason Archambauldt (14.5), Xavier Fuller (9.5), Hunter Goodrick (7.5) and Boogie Anderson (6.7) are looking for new opportunities elsewhere.
Apparently, it’s not so heavenly in NDSU’s Bisonville with the well-quaffed head coach David Richman on what appears to be a disinterested team. His top four scorers, Rocky Kreuser (15.6), Sam Greisel (14.3), Tyree Eady (10.3), and Jarius Cook (8.5) are portal bound along with three other of Richman’s hoopsters who are headed for different greener pastures.
The South Dakota State Jackrabbits, perennial Summit League winners, have lost two players. Little-used David Wingate is testing the portal waters along with the Jackrabbits’ third-leading scorer Noah Freidel (14.2). Freidel struggled with mental health and apparently received little support from the team’s staff. He left this note for the fans:
Thanks for everything jackrabbit nation🙌 you will be dearly missed pic.twitter.com/UNoLoEznJb
— Noah Freidel (@Noah_Freidel) March 18, 2022
(Note: DU has expended considerable effort on student and student-athlete mental health. Why not give Freidel a call?)
Four Fighting Hawk players are exiting the frozen tundra – led by their leading scorer, Paul Bruns (14.8). Adding insult to injury, Bruns is transferring in-conference to the South Dakota Coyotes who now have plenty of room on their roster for the former Grand Forks gunner.
So far, Western Illinois has lost their fourth-leading scorer, Colton Sandage (13.4), but not much else. Omaha’s Felix Lemetti (10.5) and Nick Ferrarini (9.9) are following the Nebraska tourist slogan, “Honestly, it’s not for everyone“, by hitting the bricks, too.
Even conference newcomer St. Thomas University is acting like a big-time DI program with their second-best scorer, Anders Nelson (14.6), along with Jarvis Omersa entering the portal. UMKC has only lost three minor contributors so far. However, they were gutted last season when the transfer portal claimed seven Kangaroos.
So far, only the Summit League’s Oral Roberts has been immune from the portal. Perhaps that 2021 Sweet Sixteen run is still keeping players in Tulsa or maybe they actually like it there.
More than 1,700 players entered the portal last season so expect these numbers to double over the next weeks and months. And even Denver could be hit yet again in the game of musical chairs.
At this point in time, mid-majors are forced to be nimble, work the transfer portal and look for foreign players and high school standouts to stock their depleted rosters. The teams with the ability to retain talent, reload quickly, and appeal to transfers appear to hold an advantage. Time will tell if Denver can take advantage of the changing landscape in college hoops but one thing is for sure – there is more change to come.
Top photo of Noah Freidel (#15): Peoria Journal Star