Good Morning, Illini Nation: Big Ten and the portal

 Good Morning, Illini Nation: Big Ten and the portal


Welcome to “Good Morning, Illini Nation,” your daily dose of college basketball news from Illini beat writer and AP Top 25 voter Scott Richey. He’ll offer up insights every morning on Brad Underwood’s team:

Transfer season is still in full swing. Just ask Purdue. The Boilermakers lost another veteran to the portal on Tuesday, with former Evanston standout and News-Gazette All-Stater Nojel Eastern announcing he would use his final season of eligibility elsewhere. Combine that with losing Matt Haarms to BYU, and Purdue coach Matt Painter is in a bit of a pickle.

Here’s a look at which Big Ten team been hurt the worse with outward bound transfers:

Ohio State

Players lost: D.J. Carton (Marquette), Luther Muhammad (Arizona State), Alonzo Gaffney

Impact: The Buckeyes hit big when they landed Carton, who was, for a time, ranked as a five-star recruit in the 2019 class. His personal issues derailed his freshman season, but didn’t exactly diminish his talent. While Gaffney struggled as a freshman and Muhammad regressed as a sophomore, Ohio State’s wing depth takes a serious hit for 2020-21 unless a healthy Seth Towns (Harvard grad transfer) is the answer.


Players lost: Matt Haarms (BYU), Nojel Eastern

Impact: Both players regressed in 2019-20, with Eastern taking a serious stumble offensively. That said, losing multi-year starters is never ideal — especially for a team that played so inconsistently this past season.


Players lost: Makhi Mitchell (Rhode Island), Makhel Mitchell (Rhode Island), Ricky Lindo Jr. (George Washington), Joshua Tomaic

Impact: Combine those four transfers with Jalen Smith as a potential first round pick, and Maryland coach Mark Turgeon is down to Chol Marial in his returning frontcourt. The Terps did add Alabama grad transfer Galin Smith on Tuesday, but they remain thin up front.


Players lost: Jervay Green (Pacific), Dachon Burke (PRO), Samari Curtis (Evansville), Cam Mack, Charlie Easley (South Dakota State), Kevin Cross (Tulane)

Impact: By sheer numbers alone, Nebraska was hit the hardest in the portal. But that’s just the Fred Hoiberg way. He’s already reloaded with plenty of inbound transfers. The only question is if this group of nearly all newcomers will fare better than the 2019-20 group of essentially all newcomers that won seven games.


Players lost: Alan Griffin (Syracuse), Tevian Jones

Impact: How much losing Griffin and Jones truly impacts the Illini is still to be determined. Should both Ayo Dosunmu and Kofi Cockburn stay in the NBA draft, Illinois will feel the loss of Griffin — a guy that proved to have potential as a go-to scorer — more. How Austin Hutcherson and Jacob Grandison fare in their first season on the court could also soften the blow of losing Griffin and Jones.


Players lost: David DeJulius (Cincinnati), Colin Castleton (Florida), Cole Bajema

Impact: DeJulius is the big loss here given he served as Zavier Simpson’s backup in 2019-20 and Simpson has since exhausted his eligibility. Castleton and Bajema didn’t find much of a role under Juwan Howard, but the transfer losses only exacerbated the Wolverines’ rough spring in losing out on 2020 guard Josh Christopher and seeing Isaiah Todd back out of his commitment to go to the G League.


Player lost: Payton Willis (Charleston), Bryan Greenlee

Impact: Maybe Minnesota coach Richard Pitino sees a big role for incoming freshman Jamal Mashburn Jr. If he doesn’t, then the Gophers are going to need a serious uptick in production from Gabe Kalscheur with Willis (a regular starter) leaving the program. 


Player lost: Kobe King (Nebraska)

Impact: The Badgers handled King’s midseason departure just fine. In fact, they went 9-2 without him. Considering most of the roster returns intact for 2020-21, Greg Gard and Co. should still be fine moving forward.


Players lost: Cordell Pemsl (Virginia Tech), Riley Till (Cal Poly)

Impact: Neither player had a significant role in 2019-20, although Pemsl’s was larger than Till’s. Iowa also restocked its frontcourt in the 2020 class. Combine that youthful depth with a healthy Jack Nunge and Luka Garza withdrawing from the NBA draft (the move he should make), and the Hawkeyes will be fine.


Player lost: Damezi Anderson

Impact: Anderson played behind Justin Smith the past two seasons — in a significantly limited role, no less — and that wasn’t going to change in 2020-21 should Smith pull his name out of the NBA draft (the smart move). The Hoosiers have a replacement, at least position wise, for Anderson in 2020 signee Jordan Geronimo.


Player lost: Peter Kiss (Bryant)

Impact: Maybe the third time will be the charm for Kiss, who started his career at Quinnipiac before joining the Scarlet Knights. While Kiss started 11 of 30 games in 2018-19, he played in just two games this past season. Rutgers managed without him.


Player lost: Jared Jones

Impact: Jones’ departure doesn’t really tip the scale of significance given he averaged just 2.9 points and 2.1 rebounds as a freshman 10.3 minutes per game off the bench. Pete Nance, Robbie Beran and Ryan Young were the focal points of the frontcourt. Northwestern coach Chris Collins’ biggest hurdle right now is the fact he still has three open scholarships.

Penn State

Player lost: Kyle McCloskey

Impact: The former walk-on played in just 19 total games in two seasons, and actually appeared fewer times in 2019-20 than the year prior. Pat Chambers and Co. will move on.


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