Gold: Pac-12 basketball transfer portal winners and losers
Last season, a trio of transfer hoopers took the Pac-12 by storm, with Washington’s Keion Brooks, Arizona State’s Desmond Cambridge Jr. and Arizona’s Courtney Ramey all ranking among league leaders in multiple categories.
The Pac-12 hasn’t been quite so active in this year’s transfer portal, which lacks top-line incoming players, but several teams have improved and in a hurry, while others have been dinged by departures.
Here’s a look at the Pac-12 transfer portal winners and losers …
It’s not the transfer portal that did Mick Cronin dirty, it’s the siren song of the NBA. The Bruins are facing a big rebuild in the face of the departures of Jaime Jacquez Jr., Tyger Campbell, Amari Bailey and potentially Adem Bona and Jaylen Clark to the NBA Draft.
With a total talent vacuum, particularly on the offensive side, the arrival of sharpshooter Lazar Stefanovich from Utah is especially important. As a sophomore for the Utes last year, he started 14 of the 31 games in which he played, averaging 10.8 points, 3.1 rebounds and 2.6 assists while hitting 35.8% of his 3-point shots (53-of-148).
His arrival more than offsets the recent portal entries of lightly used backups Mac Etienne and Abramo Canka, who figured to get buried by new signings this offseason.
Despite enormous hype and massive potential, 5-star recruit Harrison Ingram just never lived up to the lofty expectations on the floor. Can he get his mojo back in North Carolina? The Tar Heels certainly hope so. He wasn’t bad at Stanford, averaging 10.5 points, 5.8 rebounds and 3.7 assists last year, but he was supposed to be a true difference-maker for Jerod Haase.
He’s not the only departing Cardinal, either. Junior starter Michael O’Connell, who averaged 25.7 minutes, 5.2 points and 3.1 assists, also opted to leave, as did valuable role player Isa Silva, who averaged 13.0 minutes, 3.2 points and 1.2 assists.
In comes Jared Bynum, who started 24 games for Providence and averaged 10.0 points and 4.3 assists last year.
Despite losing Stefanovich, the Utes are better off this season with the additions of 3 players who should get ample playing time, including a pair of former Pac-12 contributors.
Former Georgia Tech and Mississippi State guard Deivon Smith averaged 24.8 minutes, 8.0 points and 5.6 rebounds last year, and he’ll contend for a starting role. So, too, will former Colorado starter Lawson Lovering, a 7-1 post force who averaged 4.9 points, 4.7 rebounds and 1.0 blocks as a sophomore, as well as former Washington starter Cole Bajema, who averaged 8.8 points and 4.2 rebounds for the Huskies while shooting 36 percent from behind the arc.
They should more than make up for the losses of Stefanovich, and reserves Jaxon Brenchley, Bostyn Holt and Mike Saunders Jr.
Dana Altman secured the commitment of a pair of instant contributors in former Georgia guard Kario Oquendo — who averaged 12.7 points as a junior in 2022-23 after leading the Bulldogs with 15.2 points per game, including 18.3 points in SEC play — and former ASU guard Devan Cambridge, who played one season for the Sun Devils with his brother.
But the Ducks lose one of their top players, former Syracuse forward Quincy Guerrier, who scored 9.0 points per game last year after averaging 10.1 in 2021-22. Rivaldo Soares is also gone, off to Oklahoma along with his 7.2 points per game, while former star recruit Kel’el Ware is also headed to the Midwest, taking his 6.6 points per game to Indiana.
Despite losing Lovering to Utah and Dominique Clifford to Colorado State, the Buffaloes upgraded their roster with one key addition in TCU’s Eddie Lampkin Jr.
The former Horned Frogs big man adds instant size to a roster that could use it. He’ll play a nice complement to the Buffs’ talented perimeter scorers. Last season in 24 games (19 starts), he shot 55.4 percent from the field and averaged 6.3 points and 5.9 rebounds. Lampkin’s exit from the TCU program on the eve of the postseason was not without its controversy, but he’ll get a fresh start in Boulder.
Loser: Oregon State
The college basketball community was on high alert when Rick Pitino hired as head coach at St. John’s, knowing the combination of the iconic coach and the iconic Big Apple would provide an alluring destination.
Oregon State was one of the first to get poached, as 11.6-point scorer Glenn Taylor heads east. He is a big loss, while youngsters Donovan Grant and Nick Krass are less painful losses.
The problem? OSU has signed no one to replace any of the three, and Taylor lives a big void.
Draw: Washington State
First losing TJ Bamba, the Cougars’ leading scorer last year at 15.8 points per game, was a blow. He’ll head to Villanova as arguably one of the top transfers in the land.
But then adding DJ Rodman to the list of goodbyes really hurts. Rodman blossomed this year, averaging 9.6 points and 5.8 rebounds, and he’ll join an up-and-coming USC squad that will put him to quick work.
Wazzu added some solid scorers, including former second-team all-Big Sky selection Isaac Jones, who averaged 19.4 points and 7.4 rebounds for Idaho last year. And Jaylen Wells, who averaged 22.4 points, 8.7 rebounds and 2.6 assists, while shooting 51.7% from the field and 44% from deep as a sophomore for Division II Sonoma State this past season, is certainly intriguing.
This one is tough. The Trojans are adding arguably their best recruiting class in program history, and the recent addition of Bronny James is a difference-maker of the highest order, but some departures are going to sting.
Losing Pac-12 6th Man of the Year Reese Dixon-Waters to San Diego State and stud freshman Tre White to Louisville will set the Trojans back some.
The arrival of D.J. Rodman helps soften the blow, but nothing compares to Boogie Ellis coming back for another year while adding James and top recruit Isaiah Collier.