Monday night saw the end to a dramatic NCAA Tournament and an unforgettable season, with Kansas outlasting North Carolina and cutting down the nets at the Caesars Superdome.
Now, the offseason — aka the silly season — is upon us. The transfer portal is humming. New coaches are looking to restock their rosters. Players will have to decide whether to remain in school or enter the professional ranks.
The next few months will determine so much for next season. Here is a primer:
NBA draft decisions
Arguably the biggest one revolves around a player — shooting guard Shaedon Sharpe — who hasn’t played a minute of college basketball. Sharpe enrolled early at Kentucky, but didn’t play. The Wildcats could be the top-ranked team in the preseason if Sharpe and Naismith Player of the Year winner Oscar Tshiebwe return. Of course, both could easily move on, and of late there doesn’t appear nearly as much confidence in Lexington that the mega-talented Sharpe will be back. A number of elite big men are facing intriguing decisions, too, players like Kofi Cockburn of Illinois, Drew Timme of Gonzaga and Armando Bacot of North Carolina. Players have until April 24 to decide to enter the draft and until June 1 to remove their name from consideration. Until then, so much will remain uncertain.
As the portal turns
Kansas doesn’t win it all without Arizona State transfer Remy Martin. Kentucky’s strong regular season was buoyed by transfers. Arkansas’ two straight Elite Eight runs have been all about transfers. It is now how the top programs reload, and for some it is how they build. There are a number of standouts already in the portal — potential difference-makers like Johni Broome of Morehead State, Fardaws Aimaq of Utah Valley, Nijel Pack of Kansas State and Terrence Shannon Jr. of Texas Tech, among so many others — and more are no doubt on the way.
A busy coaching carousel
It was a frenetic coaching carousel season, particularly in these parts. Kevin Willard went from Seton Hall to Maryland, and his former assistant coach, Shaheen Holloway, replaced him after guiding Saint Peter’s to a stunning Elite Eight run. Holloway has yet to be replaced. The big winner was the Big East, which added a rising star in Holloway and experienced winners in Thad Matta (Butler) and Sean Miller (Xavier). Not far behind was the Atlantic 10. Big names with big résumés entered the league at UMass (Frank Martin), Rhode Island (Archie Miller) and La Salle (Fran Dunphy).
Locals need to hit portal hard
Rutgers and St. John’s each have already lost their top player to the professional ranks, and Seton Hall may, too, unless Jared Rhoden chooses to return for a fifth season. All three programs are losing a significant amount of talent. The rosters are all in need of a major boost for the NCAA Tournament to be in consideration next March. St. John’s is involved with two significant transfers: Illinois guard Andre Curbelo and Oregon wing Eric Williams Jr. That duo would improve the talent level. Look for Rutgers and Seton Hall to be just as active. Otherwise, a long winter is ahead.
A champion in trouble
Kansas is facing five Level 1 violations from the NCAA for its role in the FBI investigation into corruption in college basketball. It is waiting on punishment from the governing body’s newly formed Independent Accountability Resolution Process. Coach Bill Self could be facing a lengthy suspension. A postseason ban may be on the way. Kansas will fight whatever the ruling is, but there isn’t an appeal process under this new system.