College Coaches Confidential: "Which coach recruits the transfer portal best?"

Jamie Shaw07/31/23
Article written by:On3 imageJamie Shaw


Arkansas Head Coach Eric Musselman has recruited the transfer portal (Hitt/Getty Images)

Over the last couple of years, the transfer portal has taken over the college basketball off-season. This year, the portal opened for one-time, non-graduate transfers on March 13, and the window remained open for 60 days. The portal was also open before and after that time frame for graduate transfers to enter. Over 1,800 players entered the transfer portal during this 2023 off-season cycle.

Sure, the majority of the players who entered the portal averaged less than ten points per game at their previous stops, but this surge has caused a shift in the recruiting process. When the NCAA passed the rule that first-time transfers could enter the portal without penalty (previously, all non-graduate transfers had to sit a season), that allowed a new avenue in recruiting. Many coaches adapted quickly, but it also allowed for different philosophies. 

A quick look at last year’s Final Four shows how important the transfer portal has become. National Champion UConn had four players in their rotation from the portal. San Diego State also had four. Miami and Florida Atlantic each had three from the transfer portal. Eight of the 20 starters in the Final Four came from the transfer portal. 

Read Which college programs are the best talent evaluators? | Read Which coach do you fear the most on the recruiting trail? | Read The significance of the June 15 call day | Read Which college coaches are best in game?

In this College Coaches Confidential segment, I talked with college coaches from the Power Six to the Division Two level to get their perspective on…

What coach(es) do you think do the best job of recruiting out of the transfer portal? And why?

Coaches talk

A Coach in the ACC: “Creighton, Arkansas, Alabama, Gonzaga, Wake Forest, Kansas, West Virginia, Tennessee, NC State, and Pitt are some schools I think do a great job evaluating. But at the same time, you know why a lot of these guys do well in the portal, those three letters (N.I.L).”

A Coach in the ACC: “Jerome Tang (Kansas State) made a neat splash with the last cycle and found success. He has continued to do so with this cycle, too.”

A Coach in the SEC: “TJ Otzelberger (Iowa State) has been really good. He knows the guys who fit what he wants, and he goes hard after them. He places a bigger emphasis on how they fit as a team, and it shows on the court.”

A Coach in the ACC: “Miami. They don’t take a ton of transfers, but they select the right ones for them. Charlie Moore helped lead them to the Elite Eight two years ago. Nijel Pack and Norchad Omier were a big part of their Final Four. Jordan Miller too. The balance they have between transfers and high school kids, they seem to have it figured out.”

A Coach in the Big 12: “I thought Jerome Tang (Kansas State) and Dennis Gates (Missouri) did a great job in the portal last year. They used the portal to get better, and they won.

A Coach in the Conference USA: “In regards to sheer volume, Arkansas is really good. Muss has like a whole department within his staff dedicated to the portal. It seems they contact EVERYONE.”

A Coach in the ACC: “Eric Musselman (Arkansas) has had this figured out for a long time. His NBA background probably helps a lot with that. He is really able to get guys based on what role they will have with their team.”

A Coach in the American: “Andy Kennedy at UAB. He has reputation and pedigree and can make stuff happen. I would say he has adopted the new age of recruiting well, especially with the transfer portal. BYU does a good job recruiting the portal as well.”

A Coach in the Big East: “Arkansas, Gonzaga, and Kansas always do well in the portal.”

A Coach in the Conference Carolinas (D2): “At the D2 level, I think Omar Wattad at Lander has done a great job of finding good players who fit his system. At the D1 level, Eric Musselman (Arkansas) comes to mind when thinking of guys who look to be getting it done in the portal. They’re always one of the first people to reach out to all the high-level transfers while still being exclusive on the ones they take.”

A Coach in the ACC: “Gonzaga has done a great job of adding quality pieces to their roster, through the portal, over the course of the last several years.”