A crowded transfer portal in college impacts boys basketball recruits

Published: Apr. 12, 2022 at 11:04 PM CDT
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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) - Late into his junior season, all-state junior Traijan Sain does not have a single college scholarship offer.

“Our generation especially the grade before me they were down feeding for scrubs that were just hanging down low,” said the Cedar Rapids Washington junior.

Recruiting for college basketball has been slow for Sain and others around his age, and coaches in the area say it’s a patter. Players like Sain are usually offered at least a scholarship by this time, but recruiting has slowed down.

“What we’re seeing now is just a little bit later and less interest from college coaches,” said Kennedy head coach Jon McKowen. “Some of the kids that we would guess that would maybe be high major kids or even Division I scholarship kids not getting a lot of interest.”

College basketball nationally, especially on the men’s side, is facing a backlog. It’s thanks in large part to the extra year given to all athletes because of COVID, but the most prominent reason for the slowdown is the transfer portal.

“There was a lot of kids that jumped in the transfer portal this year more than I’ve seen in a long time,” said Upper Iowa University head coach Brooks McKowen.

Under a new rule put place in 2021, college athletes can transfer to a different school once and immediately play for that new school. This year, according to, there are over 1,200 names in just the Division I transfer portal (as of April 12th.)

“I think that’s the part that hurts high school kids,” said Brooks McKowen. “Coaches are looking for that quick fix and not necessarily trying to build a program up with high school kids.”

It makes sense, college coaches often are given the choice between a 21-year-old transfer and an 18-year-old high schooler.

“The transfer portal has definitely changed the game of recruiting,” said Aaron Thomas, head coach of Aplington-Parkersburg and Martin Bros. AAU. “It’s no fault of the coaches or of the young men in college were transferring that’s the legal rule.”

The problem unintentionally hurts high school recruits like Sain. Having more interest earlier gives them more options, making it easier to choose the best place for their education, not just where they play basketball.

“Education does really matter like getting a scholarship,” Sain said. “Getting that free education will make a huge difference paving the way for the rest of your life.”

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