B1G losses: Picking each Big Ten hoops team's biggest transfer loss
The transfer portal has become nearly as essential to roster-building in college basketball as recruiting the high school and junior college ranks. Depending on the program, the portal might even be the preferred method of business.
For some veteran coaches, it takes some getting used to. And in the cases of Jay Wright and Roy Williams, you get the impression that they’d already seen enough. Those Hall of Famers are gone. But the portal, it seems, is here to stay.
The portal both giveth and taketh. Yesterday, we looked at each Big Ten program’s best offseason transfer addition to date. Today, we delve into each B1G team’s biggest loss.
As always, all things here are not equal.
Some programs lost role players who simply wanted more playing time. Others were forced to replace difference-makers. That balance will play a large role in how next year’s title race plays out.
Illinois: PG Andre Curbelo (St. John’s)
To use a Big Ten football analogy, Curbelo is a lot like former Indiana quarterback Michael Penix Jr. — electric when he’s healthy. But you never know when he’s going to be healthy. So like the Hoosiers and Penix, you can understand why the Illini and Curbelo both wanted a change of scenery. These are amicable breakups that should serve both parties well.
For Illinois, the pain will be eased by the arrival of 5-star freshman point guard Skyy Clark. So there’s a chance St. John’s will gain more than Illinois lost.
Indiana: G Rob Phinisee (Cincinnati)
Phinisee is a hard-nosed defender, which means he’s found the perfect program for his basketball personality. It also means he’ll be missed.
Another of Phinisee’s strengths is giving Indiana decent minutes if Xavier Johnson is in foul trouble — which is the case more often than Mike Woodson would like. Freshman Jalen Hood-Schifino will look to fill his role next season.
Iowa: PG Joe Toussaint (West Virginia)
Toussaint was going to back up Ahron Ulis next year. Now he’ll have a chance to start for Bob Huggins in Morgantown.
One thing you can’t question is Toussaint’s mental toughness. Any guy willing to play for both Fran McCaffery and Huggy Bear clearly doesn’t mind a little background screaming.
The Hawkeyes would love to still have him around, but this is more of a win for the Mountaineers.
Maryland: C Qudus Wahab (Georgetown)
Wahab was a much-ballyhooed transfer from Georgetown a year ago, but his scoring and rebounding production dipped drastically as a Terrapin. So Wahab decided the grass was greener on the original side of the fence and headed back to the Hoyas.
In general, playing for Patrick Ewing as a center seems like the right choice. Plus, better to return to a coach you know rather than playing for a 4th in 3 years, as would have been the case had he stayed at Maryland.
Michigan: PG Frankie Collins (Arizona State)
Collins did a nice job filling in for the injured Devante Jones in the NCAA Tournament, and certainly could have competed for the starting job next year. But when the Wolverines picked up Princeton graduate transfer Jaelin Llewellyn, Collins pulled up stakes and headed to Tempe.
Michigan State: C Julius Marble (Texas A&M)
The Spartans may be able to replace Marble on the floor, but they will be hard-pressed to add a player with a cooler name than Julius Marble by the start of next season.
There’s also no guarantee they’ll find a suitable replacement. A reserve the past 3 seasons, he was in line to start with Marcus Bingham going pro. Tom Izzo needs to find a replacement in the portal, which has yet to happen.
Minnesota: G Abdoulaye Thiam (Portal)
Thiam played a total of 50 minutes as a freshman, and has yet to find a new home. From the looks of it, Gophers coach Ben Johnson nudged Thiam in the direction of a school where he can find more playing time in order to open up a scholarship.
Nebraska: C Eduardo Andre (Fresno State)
Andre came off the bench to average 3.1 points and 3.6 rebounds per game. Fred Hoiberg faces a far bigger headache figuring out how to replace freshman sensation Bryce McGowens, who entered the NBA Draft.
Northwestern: PF Ryan Young (Duke)*
Young is a placeholder until we learn whether Pete Nance decides to return to the Wildcats or transfer elsewhere. Like Kofi Cockburn last year, Nance entered the transfer portal while going through the draft process.
If Nance comes back, Young is Northwestern’s biggest loss. Young averaged 9 points and 4.2 rebounds playing 17 minutes per game last season. One would think he projects strictly as a reserve for the Blue Devils.
Perhaps he can keep a seat warm for when Chris Collins needs an assistant coaching job next year.
Ohio State: PG Meechie Johnson (South Carolina)
Johnson backed up senior starter Jamari Wheeler last season, and did not have a guaranteed path to starting next year. The Buckeyes signed 4-star point guard Bruce Thornton and brought in Oklahoma State combo guard Isaac Likekele.
Johnson is better served playing for 1st-year South Carolina coach Lamont Paris and the reinvented Gamecocks.
Penn State: PG Sam Sessoms (Coppin State)
Sessoms was a nice player for Penn State, leading the Nittany Lions in 3-poing shooting percentage last season. But it looks like Micah Shrewsberry upgraded at the position by adding Drexel graduate transfer Camren Wynter, who was all-CAA the past 2 seasons.
Purdue: SG Eric Hunter Jr. (Butler)
As things currently sit, this feels like the most significant departure in the Big Ten.
Hunter was 3rd on the Boilermakers in minutes, and by far the team’s top 3-point shooter. He would have been 1 of Purdue’s leaders, period, in his 5th season. Instead, he made the short trip down Interstate 65 to return to his hometown.
Matt Painter either needs more consistency from streaky junior Brandon Newman, or incoming freshman Fletcher Loyer will be leaned on in a big way.
There are no Scarlet Knights in the transfer portal. Though he has to replace Ron Harper Jr. and Geo Baker, Steve Pikiell has a pretty nice cast returning next season.
Wisconsin: PF Ben Carlson (Utah)
Carlson was pretty well stuck behind Tyler Wahl on the depth chart, so a move West made sense. He’ll have a chance to start for the Utes, who have a 1st-year coach in Craig Smith.