The transfer portal has created chaos in college basketball. In April of last year, the restrictions on transfers for NCAA athletes were removed almost entirely. This resulted in around 15,000 athletes transferring to different schools and teams at an unprecedented rate. As the rules remain, each sport has seen similar movement this off-season as well. It has completely changed the landscape of every conference and division as a whole.
The WAC was one of these conferences that had seemingly daily transfers change potential rankings for men’s and women’s basketball. This wasn’t something unfamiliar, however. 41 women’s basketball players in the WAC entered the portal last season, making the conference among the national leaders in portal entries. This offseason, though, seven different players on current WAC teams chose to transfer but stay in the conference.
Abilene Christian: Brooke Jessen from UTRGV
In its inaugural season in the WAC, the Wildcats finished fifth in the regular season. They were also eliminated in the second round of the WAC post-season. Obviously, ACU wants to improve on this average first season and recover from losing two of their best players in Jamie Bonnarens and Tatum Barber.
Head coach Julie Goodenough didn’t turn to the transfer portal until last season. So, it is impressive that she snagged Zoe Jackson from Butler as well as Brooke Jessen from in-state rival UTRGV. Last season, Jessen’s best game was coincidentally against ACU in the WAC tournament. She scored 14 points, including three 3-pointers, and she grabbed 9 boards. She is a very capable player and will fill some of the holes needed to improve the Wildcats’ performance.
California Baptist: Georgia Kehoe from Seattle & Kinsley Barrington from Southern Utah
Following their championship run in 2021, CBU performed well last season as well, finishing third in the regular season and making it to the semifinals of the WAC Tournament. They also appeared in the WNIT. However, this offseason saw the Lancers losing six of their key players due to graduation and transfers. They did keep the young and dangerous Trinity San Antonio and have begun to build around her with new additions from the transfer portal, including Georgia Kehoe from Seattle and Kinsley Barrington from Southern Utah.
Kehoe started in 22 games last season and averaged 7.0 PPG, 4.8 REB, and 1.0 BLK. She looks to bring a much-needed additional paint presence to a CBU squad wanting to repeat their 2020-2021 championship season. Kinsley Barrington, on the other hand, is actually a newcomer to the WAC since this will be Southern Utah’s first season in the conference. Although she only played in five games last season for the Thunderbirds, they were impressive minutes. Barrington averaged 10.6 PPG and 3.8 REB. Another stellar paint presence makes this Lancer squad a thing of defensive nightmares.
Grand Canyon: Sydney Palma from California Baptist University & Aaliyah Collins from Chicago State
Since taking the reigns two seasons ago, Molly Miller has led the Lopes to back-to-back WAC championship games. She has also made them a defensive force to be reckoned with. However, this offseason multiple Lopes graduated and moved on from GCU, resulting in the need for new talent. The GCU coaching staff acquired not just one, but two of the WAC’s best guards in CBU’s Sydney Palma and Chicago State’s Aaliyah Collins.
Last season, Palma led the WAC in 3-point percentage with an impressive 44.7% from behind the arc. She will certainly fill the offensive holes left by graduates Amara Graham and Tianna Brown. Aaliyah Collins from CSU brings the defensive edge GCU has become infamous for. Collins was in the top-10 in the nation last season for steals among freshmen. She also led the Cougars with 14.6 PPG; 3.0 AST, 2.4 STL, and 4.6 REB. Collins was also named to the All-WAC 2nd team. Both players are great all-around threats that make GCU one of the favorites to win the WAC.
Southern Utah: Megan Jensen from Utah Valley
In the team’s final season in the Big Sky Conference, Southern Utah went 18-12 (14-6 in conference play). They managed to tie as the runners-up to regular-season champion Idaho State. The Thunderbirds look to make a splash in their inaugural season in the WAC. Recently, SUU picked up Center Megan Jensen from what is now their in-state and in-conference rival Utah Valley. Last season, Jensen averaged 6.3 PPG and 4.4 RPG, so look for her to play great minutes in the post behind or alongside the 6’5” Lizzy Williamson.
UTRGV: Iyana Dorsey from Tarleton State
Last season, UTRGV had a fairly disappointing season, only winning 14 of its 33 games and finishing in the lower half of the WAC standings. Wanting to improve upon this, UTRGV has made many moves this offseason, including recruiting Iyana Dorsey from Tarleton State.
In her sophomore season last year, Dorsey led the Texans in scoring with 10.4 PPG. She also ranked fourth in the WAC in free throw percentage with 83.8%. Along with her stellar defense, her offensive weapons make her a fantastic addition to the Vaqueros and will definitely give them the boost they need to improve their play.
The teams that were once seen as rivals become new homes for these seven players, and the impact of their choices will be felt on and off the court. The transfer portal plays a key role in college hoops. It is certainly going to be interesting to watch these storylines develop throughout the 2022-2023 season.