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MX News Update 2024

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The biggest winners and biggest losers

The Mountain West men’s basketball teams had 60 players transfer this season, with 33 making picks at their next school. Meanwhile, the MW has added 33 players via the transfer portal. You can follow all the moves here on our transfer portal page. But let’s cut to the chase: Which schools have been the biggest winners and biggest losers of the MW transfer portal craze? We sort each MW school into a winners, losers, and neutral column. The teams are listed in alphabetical order.

Winners

State of Colorado: The list of “winners” isn’t very long, but Colorado State qualifies. The Rams had five players enter the portal in Jack Payne (Idaho); Taviontae Jackson (Southern Utah); Kyle Evans (UC Irvine); Javonté Johnson (undecided); and Cam Lowe (undecided), but those guys only combined for 103 points last season. Meanwhile, Colorado State had added five players, including Ethan Morton (Purdue); Keshawn Williams (Northern Illinois); Bowen Born (Northern Iowa); Jaylen Crocker-Johnson (Little Rock); and Nikola Djapa (LIU). Morton is a former top-100 recruit; Williams and Born have both averaged 17.9 ppg in a DI season; and Crocker-Johnson and Djapa both performed as freshmen last year. Transfer talent is a net plus.

Nevada: The Wolf Pack has added five transfer commitments, but the real reason Nevada falls into this category is its work to retain its best players. All-MW third teamer Nick Davidson and two-time All-MW defensive team honoree Tré Coleman both remained with Nevada, which retained last season’s top five scorers still eligible. The only somewhat painful loss was former four-star prospect Jazz Gardner. Meanwhile, Nevada added a nearly 20-point scorer in Kobe Sanders (Cal Poly); one of the top shooters in the portal in Xavier DuSell (Nevada); an athletic great in Brandon Love (Texas State); and a pair of future sophomores in Chuck Bailey III (Evansville); Justin McBride (Oklahoma State)

Losers

Air Force: The Falcons will almost never make the “winners” list because they can’t add DI transfers due to school policy. That is extremely damaging to modern college basketball and puts Air Force in a bad position year in and year out. And for the second straight season, the Falcons lost their leading scorer to a transfer, with Rytis Petraitis moving to Cal (the year before it was Jake Heidbreder to Clemson, where he redshirted). Kellan Boylan, a solid starter, also moved to Lipscomb.

State of Fresno: The Bulldogs underwent a head coaching change and had seven players enter the portal in Xavier DuSell (Nevada); Donavan Yap, Jr. (San Jose State); Leo Colimerio (Queens, NC); Eduardo Andre (West Virginia); Enoch Boakye (undecided); Isaac Taveras (undecided); and Jalen Weaver. Those players were the Bulldogs’ top seven returning scorers. Weaver retreated from the portal, which helps. But Fresno State’s only DI transfer so far is reserve big Mor Seck (4.0 ppg, 2.9 rpg, 1.1 bpg). Coach Vance Walberg has also added Triton (Illinois) College guard Amar Aguillard and San Diego City College forward Alex Crawford, but there is a significant talent drain in the San Joaquin Valley.

New Mexico: Things were looking good for New Mexico until fellow MW freshman JT Toppin entered the portal just before it closed. He joined two-time All-MW guard Jamal Mashburn, Jr., who committed to Temple. Those are two types of MW player of the year talents. The Lobos also lost backup big Sebastian Forsling. The loss of Mashburn seemed mutually beneficial as Donovan Dent emerged as the Lobos’ top lead point guard. But losing Toppin stings. On the plus side, New Mexico retained Dent and Nelly Junior Joseph and added CJ Noland (North Texas) and Filip Borovicanin (Arizona), with Noland being a double-digit scorer at the DI level and Borovicanin a developmental great. This is a modern ‘loser’.

State of San Diego: After losing the MW’s best player, Jaedon LeDee, to graduation, the Aztecs needed a big effort in the portal. At best it will break even. SDSU has lost three players to power conference schools in Micah Parrish (Ohio State), Lamont Butler (Kentucky) and Elijah Saunders (Virginia). Butler is the biggest loss. He is an excellent point guard who can run an offense while defending multiple positions (he was the MW Defensive Player of the Year in 2023-2024). The Aztecs added Nick Boyd (Florida Atlantic); Jared Coleman-Jones (Middle Tennessee); and Wayne McKinney III (San Diego) who have all averaged at least 9.0 ppg. SDSU will continue to add. But this wasn’t a good offseason in the portal for the Aztecs.

State of San Jose: The Spartans have had massive roster turnover with the portal entries of Alvaro Cárdenas (San Jose State); Myron Amey, Jr. (LMU); Garrett Anderson; Tibet Gorener; William Humer; Bennett Blackerby; Rickey Mitchell, Jr.; Diogo Seixas; and Iggy Mitchell. Amey, Cárdenas and Görener were the Spartans’ top three last season. They will be difficult to replace. SJSU has added a solid player in Donavan Yap, Jr., Fresno State. But losing three starters to the portal is not optimal.

State of Utah: For the second year in a row, Utah State must rebuild its roster. This year it’s not all over again. After allowing zero points last season, Utah State had a MW-high 12 players enter the portal this offseason. Two of those – Mason Falslev and Ian Martinez – went back to school and are potential All-MW players. But gone are Great Osobor, the reigning MW Player of the Year, and Josh Uduje, the reigning MW Co-Sixth Man of the Year. Those losses alone put the Aggies in the “losers” column. New coach Jerrod Calhoun has been busy in the portal, adding Deyton Albury (Queens, NC); Aubin Gateretse (Stetson); Drake Allen (Utah Valley); Tucker Anderson (Central Arkansas); and Braden Housley (Southern Utah). All five of these guys scored double figures at the DI level last year, so there is talent here. But the fact that it’s another major renovation is difficult.

Wyoming: The Cowboys had eight players leave for DI schools last season, including Graham Ike to Wyoming. This year’s exodus was not as large, but it was significant. The Cowboys have lost Brendan Wenzel (TCU); Caden Powell (Rice); Jonas Sirtautus (Radford); Jacob Theodosiou (Loyola, MD); Cam Manyawu (Drake); and Kael Combs (undecided) to the portal. Wenzel was Wyoming’s second leading scorer and remained eligible; Manyawu was one of MW’s best freshmen; and Powell was a starter. The Cowboys return one of the top six scorers, so we’ll put them in the “losers” category despite the addition of Matija Beli (UCSB); Tyree Ihenacho (North Dakota); and Touko Tainamo (Denver). Ihenacho and Tainamo are strong additions.

Neutral

Boise State: The Broncos were in great form until they lost Chibuzo Agbo to USC. Still, it was a solid offseason for Boise State, which retained two All-MW players (Tyson Degenhart; O’Mar Stanley) and added regular point guard Alvaro Cárdenas (San Jose State); NAIA star Javan Buchanan (Indiana Wesleyan); and former top-100 recruit Dylan Anderson (Arizona). Depth is usually an annual problem for Boise State, and that will likely remain the case next year as the Broncos also lost Jace Whiting (UNLV); Kobe Young (Cal State Fullerton) and Roddie Anderson III (undecided). But this has been a successful offseason for Boise State, which is the likely pick to win the conference in the preseason.

UNLV: Outside of Air Force, the Rebels have had the quietest offseason in the transfer portal. UNLV has lost two transfers – Jackie Johnson III (Fordham) and Shane Nowell (Portland State) – and added two – Jaden Henley (DePaul) and Jace Whiting (Boise State). That’s a net positive, considering Henley is the best player of those four. The bigger news was that UNLV signed freshman Dedan Thomas Jr. from entering the portal, but it was a relatively quiet offseason for a team that has had a lot of turnover in the transfer portal over the past two offseasons.

Columnist Chris Murray provides insight into Northern Nevada sports. Contact him at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @ByChrisMurray.