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Top Big 12 Basketball Transfer Portal Takeaways: Darian DeVries Time, Houston’s Possible Shead Search

Mar 21, 2024; Omaha, NE, USA; Drake Bulldogs head coach Darian DeVries reacts in the first half against the Washington State Cougars in the first round of the 2024 NCAA Tournament at CHI Health Center Omaha. Mandatory Credit: Dylan Widger-USA TODAY Sports

As much as is going on in college basketball, we can call this ‘Portal Thoughts’ all we want. But the reality is this will be about so much more than the transfer portal.

Now that the NCAA Tournaments are compete, the turnstiles are about to start spinning. Players are going to start announcing where they’re going, where they’re returning to and it’s already starting to shake up the Big 12.

It’s Wednesday, so let’s get to it.


Life of Darian

Darian DeVries is still trying to hire a staff at West Virginia, much less trying to bar the door out of Morgantown. Per Verbal Commits, the new coach has three Mountaineers in the portal — guard Kerr Kriisa and forwards Josiah Harris and Seth Wilson. Kriisa averaged 11 points per game. Harris averaged five points and four rebounds. Wilson averaged 3.5 points.

DeVries’ only incoming transfer is his son, Tucker DeVries, who averaged 21.6 points at Drake last season. That’s not a bad three-for-one, and there is nothing ruling out any of the three returning.

DeVries also lost a commitment from guard Carmelo Adkins, who signed while Josh Eilert was the interim head coach.

Plus, DeVries picked up a commitment from prep star Emerson ‘KJ’ Tenner, who signed with Drake in November. He decommitted from Drake and he should sign with the Mountaineers when the next signing period opens.

For now, DeVries is leveraging what he knows. But that must change fast. Hence the need for a staff.


Yokie’s Back

Ayoka Lee announced her return for one more season at Kansas State, and there was much rejoicing. It might have been her announcement. It might have been her dog, Bram, who she brought to her press conference.

This means that, assuming no one transfers out, the Wildcats will once again be one of the most experienced teams in the Big 12. The Wildcats have even picked up a transfer already in forward Kennedy Taylor, who was the Missouri Valley Sixth Player of the Year and averaged more than 10 points and seven rebounds last season. At 6-foot-3, she stacks the frontcourt with Lee, Gisela Sanchez and Eliza Maupin.

K-State could use one more shooter from outside. I hear that Hailey Van Lith is available? Just sayin’.

Houston’s Gonna Run It Back

The Houston Cougars got great news this week as both forward J’Wan Roberts and guard L.J. Cryer announced they would return for another season. Both are dealing with significant injury recoveries and going to the NBA or the transfer portal really does either no good.

Plus, the Cougars are set to get forward JoJo Tugler and guard Terrence Arceneaux back from injury next season.

As for guard Jamal Shead, it’s up to him. He has a waiver to use. He can come back, go to the NBA or transfer (I doubt he’ll do that). Recently, coach Kelvin Sampson expressed no concern about the point guard position.

If Shead comes back, Cougars make another run. If he doesn’t, this is the position where Sampson and his staff work the portal.

By the way, guard Damian Dunn is the only Cougars player in the portal, which is a telling statement about player retention for the Cougars.


Portal Doors Are Open at Iowa State

After a terrific season for the Iowa State women, the program has at least six players in the transfer portal, per and Cyclone Fanatic.

Nyamer Diew will play her final season elsewhere and the Cyclones will miss her grit. Forward Izzi Zignaro lost playing time to Audi Crooks and has already transferred to Montana. Isnelle Natabou, who was Crooks’ backup, is shopping, along with guard Shantavia Dawkins and forward Jalynn Bristow, the last of which was part of that incredible 2023 recruiting class. Mary Kate King also recently announced she’s in the portal.

So far, the top three scorers will return — Crooks, Addy Brown and Emily Ryan. The most significant player to replace might be guard Hannah Belanger, who is out of eligibility. The Cyclones may already have that covered in 2024 signee Aili Tanke, who just won the Women’s National 3-Point Shootout during national championship weekend.

The Cyclones are going to be a trendy team in the preseason (ESPN has them at No. 10 in their way-too-early Top 25). With those departures, coach Bill Fennelly and his staff can hit the portal for more shooting and more frontcourt depth to help Crooks.

The Baylor Equation

Now that John Calipari to Arkansas is officially official, the race is on to replace him. Just about everyone believes Kentucky athletic director Mitch Barnhart wants Baylor coach Scott Drew.

Baylor, even in this era of the transfer portal, has been a relatively stable program. Much of the credit goes to Drew and his staff. The Bears recruit well, transfer well and retain well. Only one Bear is in Verbal Commits’ transfer portal database and that’s guard Dantwan Grimes, who played 12 games last season and is already committed to Southeastern Louisiana.

If Drew is offered the Kentucky job — and if he takes it (which I think is 50/50) — we could see one of the most fascinating test cases of coach vs. program in recent memory.

I think Scott Drew is Baylor and I think if he leaves the program suffers incredible turnover. I wonder if the powers-that-be at Baylor believe the same thing?

Sun Devil Invasion

Of the four new Big 12 women’s programs, Arizona State has the least amount of recent success. The Sun Devils’ last NCAA Tournament was in 2019. Their longest excursions in the NCAA Tournament were in 2007 and in 2009 when they reached the Elite Eight. Since the start of the 2020-21 season the Sun Devils have won 43 games. Natasha Adair, entering her third year, has won four Pac-12 games in her first two seasons.

That makes her transfer list interesting. Per she has gotten three commitments, two from former Big 12 players — Oklahoma State’s Kennedy Fauntleroy and Kansas State’s Heavenly Greer. Fauntleroy played in five games but averaged 7.8 points before leaving the program. She was the Big East Freshman of the Year two seasons ago. Greer played in just 16 games last season for K-State and is looking for more playing time.

If you’re joining a new league, why not get some players that have experience there? With five players transferring out, Adair and the Sun Devils could use all the help they can get.  

You can find Matthew Postins on Twitter @PostinsPostcard.

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