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Matt is taking this week off, but we should have enough freelance stories ready to go to still publish an uninterrupted week of Extra Points. Today, let's kick it over to Andy for a look and what happens after an athlete hits the portal. Matt will return next Monday.


NEW ORLEANS — Ten minutes, if that. That's how long it took Kansas guard Joseph Yesufu to start hearing from schools after he entered the transfer portal in 2021, following his sophomore season at Drake, where he helped the Bulldogs go 26-5 as the Missouri Valley Conference Sixth Man of the Year.

"Yeah," Yesufu said, laughing, at the 2022 NCAA Men's Final Four. "Very quick."

Yesufu was one of four transfers on Kansas' national championship team. Some detractors earnestly call the level of activity in the transfer portal an "epidemic," Bill Walton has called the transfer portal the "Tinder transport," and whatever you want to call it, the portal, combined with the one-time transfer exception, is the new reality, one that players say outsiders don't always understand.

"This is a business as well," said Kansas guard Jalen Coleman-Lands, a former top-40 recruit from the class of 2015 who just finished his seventh year of college at his fourth school — a college career that became ripe for trivia questions or memes among the sport's hardcore fans.

"A lot of people don't understand and realize how much of a business the NCAA is and just college basketball is. A lot of times when you transfer they don't look into, 'Was your coach fired?' You know, in my position, coming from U of I, DePaul and even Iowa State, you know the majority of my coaches have been fired, you know? I was put in a position where I was either going to wait to see who the program brought in or have a choice to be like, 'Where do I want to go?'

"I think that's one major misconception. Is it really your choice? Do you want to sit there and wait for the ball and the ball's in someone else's court, or do you want to take the ball and then have a choice on where you want to go?"

"I feel like it could all be for family issues," Yesufu added, describing some potential misconceptions about transferring. "People don't know what goes on within people's lives. Someone could be sick at home, that's why they transferred. I feel like you've got to be put in that position. People outside don't know what it is, how it is looking in. With the transfer portal, I one-hundred percent support it. You've got to do what's best for yourself, not what's best for the fan."

'It started off of a Twitter message'

You're a college athlete and you just entered your name in the transfer portal.

What happens next? Well, it varies, depending on who you are, your recent production and what schools are interested in you.

"It depends on kinda where you're at, what you've done that previous year — film, stats — what tier you're at, because that's contingent on who's reaching out to you," Coleman-Lands said. "Do you have to do more of the reaching out? That's something I think is individualized based off of your position."

Coleman-Lands spent the 2021 season at Iowa State, which went 2-22, losing its final 18 games. Only four Division I men's basketball programs that played during the 2020-21 season had fewer wins than Iowa State and two of them canceled or suspended their seasons. But despite the two and half months of consecutive losses, the then-sixth-year senior still produced at a level in the second-best conference in the country, according to kenpom.com, that he garnered significant interest last offseason.

Scoring 20 points twice against Kansas in a three-day stretch in the 2021 season probably didn't hurt.

"I was in a good position, even though my team, we didn't do well last year," Coleman-Lands said. "Personally, I was above 40 percent from three, around 90 percent from the free throw (line), things like that, so statistically it made it easier for me to be in a position to have options and finish my last year how I wanted. I was grateful Kansas reached out."

Yesufu said his high school coach and several AAU coaches reached out to college coaches on his behalf. "You know, basketball, everybody's connected," he said. "Everybody knows somebody at each program, so that's what helped me."

Brady Manek's path from Oklahoma to North Carolina started through North Carolina assistant coach Brad Frederick. First, a Twitter direct message, then a phone call. Then a few more. Eventually a commitment-sealing Zoom call.

"It started off of a Twitter message and then I got a phone call," Manek said, acknowledging he wasn't going to give a commitment on the first or the second phone call. "The transfer portal is crazy. There's so many teams, so many people, and my experience in the transfer portal was very different than my experience in high school. High school, I didn't have very many phone calls and (when) I entered the portal, I had a lot of phone calls.

"I wasn't sure what I really wanted and when I figured out what I really wanted, I texted (North Carolina coach Hubert Davis) the night before and said, 'I need to get on a phone call with my parents and you tomorrow morning,' and we talked for about an hour and I decided to commit. It was special and I just felt like it was going to be the right fit."

That fit wasn't about wearing Carolina blue or playing for the college program of Michael Jordan, Vince Carter and James Worthy.

"There's a lot of people that would just go to UNC for it to be UNC," Manek said, "but what I was really looking for was what my position would be, the people coming back at my position. What was Coach wanting me to be? What was he envisioning as a team? He knew what I brought to the table. He knew that I was a 'four,' I shot threes, dunk it, I'm decently athletic, I can pass. He knew that and he saw that, and for him to take a chance on me and want to change to a more spread-out lineup, that's special. It's really worked out and it's been awesome."

Manek said he arrived at North Carolina hoping for a Sweet 16 run, but he and the Tar Heels got two and a half times as many wins as that in the NCAA tournament. North Carolina wouldn't have made the national championship game without Manek, and Kansas likely wouldn't have won its fourth national championship without Arizona State transfer Remy Martin. There's a good chance next year's national finalists will receive a commitment from at least one difference-making transfer this offseason.

When you see a tweet announcing that a given player has entered the transfer portal, don't be surprised if the player has already received messages from interested schools by the time you've read that tweet. A few Twitter DMs, phone calls and a family-wide Zoom call later, they'll settle upon a commitment.

As Coleman-Lands said, that's just business.



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