Big 12 Basketball

Top Big 12 Basketball Transfer Portal Takeaways: Kevin Young Hire, Uzan to Houston, Oklahoma State Exodus

We’re in mid-April, and while the talent traveling into the transfer portal has slowed, the talent already in the portal is starting to find new homes.

But since last week’s ‘Portal Thoughts,’ Baylor’s Scott Drew stayed home, BYU’s Mark Pope left for Kentucky and the Cougars have their replacement, and the Kansas women have taken in a transfer to help in the backcourt.

 

It’s Thursday, so let’s get to it.

A New Path With Kevin Young

BYU has been singularly lucky with its last two head-coaching hires. Dave Rose was a snug fit for the program, as was Mark Pope, once he got his feet under him. But with Pope now off to Kentucky, there are two levels of intrigue in Provo. First, who will replace Pope? Second, how many players will BYU lose?

Well, BYU answered the first question on Tuesday, less than a week after losing Pope. The Cougars hired Phoenix Suns associate head coach Kevin Young, who was just a finalist for the Brooklyn Nets job. He is the highest-paid NBA assistant coach at $2 million per year.

He’ll remain with the Suns until their NBA playoff run is complete, but he’ll begin player retention, contacting recruits, and hiring staff on the side.

He has head-coaching experience in the G League and he’s interviewed for several NBA head-coaching jobs. He is a Salt Lake City native and a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, which owns and operates BYU.

Now, Young has to answer the second part of the equation, and he likely won’t be able to step on campus until the Suns are done.

Right now the Cougars have five players in the transfer portal, though two did so before Pope left — Marcus Adams and Tanner Hayhurst.

Since Pope left, the Cougars have seen three players hit the portal: forward Aly Khalifa, guard Dallin Hall, and guard Richie Saunders. Interestingly, Khalifa reportedly has his selections down to three schools and isn’t ruling out a return to BYU. Hall is considering a long list of schools, per KSL, but he isn’t ruling out a return to BYU, either. Young’s hire may make a difference. It might not.

In the pre-portal era BYU was one of those places where you committed to the school more than the coach. This new era of college basketball will test that theory. But a hire this fast — less than a week after Pope left — gives Young and BYU a fighting chance to keep those transfers.

 

Storing Away A Transfer

The Kansas women’s basketball team secured a commitment from Wisconsin transfer guard Sania Copeland over the weekend.

The Kansas City, Kan., native who played her high school ball at Olathe North is coming home after two seasons with the Badgers. She started most of Wisconsin’s games last season, averaged more than 30 minutes and 6.8 points. With the super-seniors clearing out, there is playing time to be had and the third-year guard could be a great backcourt mate for the returning S’mya Nichols and Wyvette Mayberry.

Enter Uzan

As expected, Houston guard Jamal Shead announced his intention to enter the 2024 NBA Draft late last week. Almost on cue, the Cougars got a point guard to replace him in Milos Uzan out of Oklahoma.

This felt like an open secret. Coach Kelvin Sampson expressed no worry about point guard no matter what Shead decided to do. Everyone knew Uzan was visiting last weekend. Based on the comments of Uzan’s father, it sounded like this was a done deal before he even got to campus.

Uzan averaged 9.0 points, 4.4 assists, and 3.4 rebounds per game. He won’t be Shead, of course. But he runs a quality point, reads the floor well, plays solid defense, and is capable of shooting 40% from the 3-point arc like he did his freshman year. That percentage dropped to 28% this past season.

The Cougars have dynamic scorers and quality inside players. They don’t need Uzan to be ‘the man’ like they needed Shead to be. The Cougars need Uzan to be the player who makes sure the other players are set up for success, and he can do that.

 

The OSU Exodus Continues

The transfer portal has, to this point, not been kind to new Oklahoma State coach Steve Lutz. A half-dozen of the program’s players are in the transfer portal, one — Brandon Garrison — is considering in-state rival Oklahoma, and another — Eric Dailey Jr. — just committed to UCLA. Dailey could thrive in Los Angeles.

Lutz hasn’t taken in a transfer yet, but he hasn’t lost former coach Mike Boynton Jr.’s one recruit for the 2024 cycle, PHHoenix Prep guard Jeremiah Johnson. It helps that he’s an Oklahoma City native.

Texas Two-Step

Most Big 12 fans probably don’t care about Texas basketball anymore, but what’s happening in Austin is super interesting.

This weekend, the Longhorns added three transfer commitments — Arkansas guard Tramon Mark (16.2 ppg, 4.3 rpg), Indiana State forward Jayson Kent (13.5 ppg, 8.1 rpg), and Indiana State guard Julian Larry (11 ppg, 4.8 apg).

That’s a quality haul. Mark is a bona fide scorer. Kent can give Texas what Dylan Disu did last season. Larry can dish it alongside Tyrese Hunter.

But, that’s the thing. As those three came in, two Longhorns reportedly went into the portal — Hunter and forward Dillon Mitchell.

It feels like Texas knew what was coming. Plus, the Longhorns released four-star recruit Cam Scott from his letter of intent last week, eliminating that player from their 2024 recruiting class.

You can find Matthew Postins on Twitter @PostinsPostcard.

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