With a second title now in hand, it's back to the roster management grind for KU coach Bill Self
One of the biggest challenges of modern-day college basketball is that the roster building never stops.
Win a national title? Cool. Congrats. Better get back on the recruiting trail the very next day.
That has become particularly critical with the rise of the transfer portal. Whether you’re a college basketball blue blood or a small-budget mid-major, the grind never ends.
Programs like Kentucky, Texas, Michigan State, and more, have been on the prowl for nearly three weeks after enduring early exits from the NCAA Tournament.
There’s no way that anyone would trade winning a title for a three-week jumpstart on the transfer scene. But that head start for others makes it crucial for those who play deep into the tournament to get right to it after the celebration subsides.
At Kansas, recruiting is a year-round endeavor and has been for years anyway. But the extra attention required to make a run to the national title no doubt pushed that to the back burner for a couple of weeks.
The good news for these Jayhawks is that the 2022 recruiting class was already full entering the tournament. Five-star prospects Gradey Dick and MJ Rice, along with four-star forwards Zuby Ejiofor and Ernest Udeh Jr., give Kansas one of the top classes in the country as is.
The bad news for KU is that foursome is not likely to be the only players they bring in before the 2022-23 season begins.
Fresh off of winning it all, Bill Self’s Jayhawks enter into a wait-and-react period, where decisions from a handful of current players with eligibility remaining, as well as contact from transfers who might be interested in joining the program, create a level of uncertainty that can make it tough to predict what’s next.
In the past, with a newly crowned national champ like Kansas, fans and the rest of the college basketball world easily would be able to look at the roster, pick out who’s coming back and decide how likely that team is to defend its title the following year.
Today, too much is unknown to be able to do that and to be confident that you’re anywhere close to accurate.
We’ll get to those decisions by the Jayhawks in another article and plan to have plenty of coverage of that aspect and whatever movement there may be in the weeks to come.
But keep it in mind as lists of new schools and potential suitors for big name transfers start to surface.
In the Big 12 Conference alone, we’ve already learned that K-State guard Nijel Pack, Texas guard Courtney Ramey and Texas Tech wing Terrence Shannon Jr. are looking for new places to play next season. And they’re just three of the several hundred players nationwide who already have entered the transfer portal this offseason.
It would be naïve to think that there won’t be some type of movement within the KU program. And that’s why it’s so important to get fully back to the recruiting grind after winning it all.
The transfer portal is here to stay. And you can bet that Kansas will look to take advantage of it every offseason from here on out.
One important factor to note this year, however, is that the NCAA deadline for transferring with immediate eligibility for fall and winter sports athletes is May 1, not July 1 as it was last year. It appears that this will be a permanent part of the NCAA calendar, with July 1 being the key date for spring sports athletes.
That should help coaches manage their rosters a little better — and earlier — than what we saw a year ago. But there will be movement. Make no mistake about that. And if you're as lucky as Kansas or North Carolina to land a difference-maker like Remy Martin or Brady Manek, that player movement could wind up paying off in a very big way.