April 17, 2023 

Locked on Women’s Basketball: The NCAA portal is hopping 

Missy and Michelle discuss the NCAA portal and how it is changing the landscape in college basketball

It’s time for another episode of the Locked on Women’s Basketball podcast. We are just two weeks out from the 2023 NCAA championship crown being claimed by LSU and now we know there is no more “off-season” in college basketball. The transfer portal is in high gear — the wild, wild west as some coaches like to call it. Longtime WBB journalist Michelle Smith joins host Missy Heidrick to talk about the trends, the why’s and some interesting names in the portal right now.

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Michelle talks about the NCAA portal and how it is changing the landscape of the offseason:

“Yeah, I mean, it’s been, I think we had 1,000, more than 1,000 kids in the portal last year, we’ve got more than 1,000 kids in the portal this year, we’ve had coaches talk about how as soon as the season’s over, not only are you trying to recruit new players, but you’re recruiting your own players to come back. And I think that’s a bigger part of the equation, even this year, maybe than it was last year, if that’s possible, because it’s just very easy for a player to decide, I’m going to go try a new situation.

I’m thinking about the disruptive nature that this brings to programs when you’ve got six and seven. And in the case of some schools, almost your entire roster going. The snowball effect of two or three kids go and then their friends, those two or three kids go, oh, well, if my friends aren’t here, then I’m out too. And then all of a sudden, you’re a program with a handful, if you’re lucky, have kids left on your roster.”

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Michelle talks about Stanford and what is happening there with a lot of student-athletes leaving the program and entering the portal:

“Yeah, I mean, Stanford used to be a place where kids went in and they didn’t come out until they came out with that Stanford degree. And that was important to the kids, that was important to their parents. That was part of Tara’s selling point. Tara VanDerveer is a Hall of Fame coach; she is not the easiest coach to play for; she is demanding. Through the years, I think she’s mellowed a little bit. But she’s still one of the toughest coaches out there. And obviously, she produces teams that go far every season, but you used to go to Stanford and you didn’t come out and she would tell me if I make a recruiting mistake, I have to live with it because they’re not going anywhere.

Stanford is not immune to people transferring. But largely, it’s been in the graduate space, and to have the number one recruit in the country go to have two other players. And so it’s just really interesting in a place like Stanford where that degree is absolutely the thing that people really, really want to get in addition to a great basketball experience, obviously. If even Stanford is going to see players leave, then this is really is the wild wild west.”

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