Will Indiana fill its final available scholarship on its 2023-24 roster?
Mike Woodson had a simple answer for that ten days ago.
“We’re always looking,” the IU coach said.
“I’m always looking to better our team and if we can pick up someone, then we’ll we’ll pursue it and see what happens.”
At the time Woodson referenced the possibility of pursuing players who pulled their name out of the NBA Draft and hit the transfer portal. To date not much has come from that path. Not yet anyway.
And despite what seems like a dwindling pool of options, new names keep popping up in this brave new world of the transfer portal and NIL.
One reason for new prospects on the IU radar is late activity in the class of 2023, which at least in some cases seems to be a byproduct of the portal activity.
Former North Carolina class of 2023 signee Simeon Wilcher was released from his national letter of intent, and there were reports this past week of contact by IU. He was a high school teammate of IU freshman Mackenzie Mgbako, so there was an obvious connection to at least explore. But already there have been reports that the top-40 4-star shooting guard is leaning towards St. John’s. He visited there this weekend according to reports. Unless he sets up additional visits soon he’s likely headed to the Red Storm.
Update: Wilcher committed to St. John’s on Monday
In-state class of 2023 shooting guard Joey Hart visited IU earlier this week, along with Kentucky. The Linton-Stockton H.S. product decommitted from Central Florida last month. The Indianapolis Star reported on Saturday there’s mutual interest between IU and Hart, and he wants to decide by Sunday — as in today. There’s a least some thought that IU is waiting to see what other prospects do first. It would be a bit of a surprise if Hart ended up in Bloomington, but it’s not completely out of the question.
One player who pulled out of the draft and is worth keeping an eye on is Kentucky guard Antonio Reeves. The Chicago product hasn’t put his name in the transfer portal, and reports indicate he has to finish coursework to become a graduate and be allowed to transfer without restriction. While it’s all speculation, there have been multiple reports indicating Reeves does indeed intend to transfer. And Indiana still has a need for his strengths. If he enters the portal, don’t be surprised to see IU make a push.
Reeves averaged 14.4 points and shot 39.8 percent from three-point range at UK a year ago, including 41 percent in SEC games. The competition for the 6-foot-5 shooting guard would no doubt be intense if he does hit the portal.
If Reeves graduates and enters the portal, he’ll be the latest in an interesting phenomenon that has emerged in this portal/NIL era. We’re in the peak bargaining power phase of the college basketball offseason.
We don’t expect IU to be involved with Rutgers transfer Paul Mulcahy, but his entry in the portal last week is the poster child for this latest trend. By entering the portal as a graduate transfer in June, Mulcahy faces very little competition. Any school that still has a need for his talents will be all in. As a proven high major guard, he’s already been contacted by a lot of schools, and those with deep NIL coffers remaining will have an edge. It would be good to be in a spot like Mulcahy right now.
The point being, as long as the portal is open for graduates, this process of roster building theoretically goes on indefinitely. Especially at a time when agents are involved behind the scenes to encourage the moves.
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