The 2022 transfer portal season officially surpassed the 2021 season, with 1,284 Division I players entering their names into the portal (compared to 1,197 a season ago). It’s a win for every player that made a decision to start a new journey or took a chance on themselves and their game.
For some programs, this was a big year for the portal, and for other programs, this was a big year… in the opposite direction as talented selected players to leave.
Here’s a look at the programs across the country that gained the most and lost the most to the transfer portal:
Gained the most
The Bears’ already short roster looked pretty bleak with the departures of NaLyssa Smith, Queen Egypt and Jordan Lewis. But Nicki Collen had no problem dipping into the transfer portal and adding talent and depth to the roster, which is already adding three top-75 players in the 2022 high school recruiting class.
Blackwell, a 6-foot guard and the nation’s second-leading rebounder last season (13 per game), will bring a high motor and tenacity. She averaged 15.4 points per game last season for the Tigers and is a good 3-point shooter (34 percent), so she’ll slot into this starting lineup and contribute immediately on both ends. Edwards, a 6-foot-2 forward, brings size, physicality and scoring potential. She averaged nearly a double-double last season (16.8 points and 8.4 rebounds per game). Van Gytenbeek, a 5-7 guard, was one of the more surprising transfers last season (only because we rarely see folks leave Stanford with undergrad eligibility remaining). But after averaging about eight minutes a game over two seasons, she’s looking for an opportunity to play a larger role on the outside for a team. As a career 37 percent long-range shooter, she’ll help the Bears’ 3-point-shooting efforts. With three seasons of eligibility remaining, she’s a long-term addition for Collen.
Added: Rickea Jackson (Mississippi Statetwo years remaining), Jasmine Franklin (Missouri State, one year remaining), Jasmine Powell (Minnesotathree years remaining), Jillian Hollingshead (Georgiathree years remaining)
Though Tennessee will return key players such as leading scorer Jordan Horston, Tamari Key and Sara Puckett, the Lady Vols lost three of their top six scorers and are bringing in only one top-100 player in the freshman class (No. 11 Justine Pissott), so it wasn’t a surprise to see coach Kellie Harper turn to the portal for some instant additions. With this incoming transfer group, Tennessee fills some major needs that can provide productivity and depth.
Jackson, a 6-2 forward, entered the transfer portal in late January and committed to Tennessee in late March. Through 15 games last season, Jackson averaged 20.3 points (19th most nationally) as well as 6.8 rebounds and 1.5 blocks per game. Franklin, who tore her ACL in December, is a two-time first-team All-Missouri Valley Conference member, and up until her injury was averaging 14.9 points, 12.1 rebounds and 2.4 blocks per game. For anyone curious how Franklin might make the jump from mid-major to power conference: In four games against power conference opponents last season, she averaged 16.3 points and 13.8 rebounds. Powell, who left Minnesota in late January, can bring some competition and depth to the point guard spot for Tennessee. She averaged 12.4 points and 5.7 assists per game. On a veteran Georgia team as a freshman, Hollingshead appeared in 20 games, playing about 12 minutes per game. Hollingshead ranked as the No. 37 player in the 2021 recruiting class.
Reese was the No. 1 player in our transfer portal rankings. She’s a walking double-double, which is clutch for a team like LSU, which is looking to replace every starter. Reese has a coach in Kim Mulkey who’s happy to craft a roster around Reese’s dominance and versatility in the paint. At Missouri, Williams averaged 9.1 points and 4.1 rebounds this past season, and Carson averaged 5.2 points and 0.8 rebounds in 12 games last season at West Virginia. Poole is an intriguing prospect. Like Reese, she has three seasons remaining so she’ll have time to grow within the program. As the No. 24 player in the 2020 recruiting class, she never really hit her stride in Columbus, averaging just 5.6 points during her two seasons. But with a fresh start in Baton Rouge, perhaps Poole can emerge as a consistent starter, driver and distributor for the Tigers.
Not every team needs to add three or four players through the portal to add a lot; some teams just need to add the right player. And for South Carolina — a team that returns six of its seven top scorers and six of its top seven rebounders — it was all about adding talent at the point guard position to account for Destanni Henderson‘s departure. The Gamecocks already have Raven Johnson at the spot. The former No. 1 point guard in the 2021 recruiting class missed last season after suffering a season-ending knee injury in November. By adding Fletcher, who comes in with four years of starting experience, coach Dawn Staley shores up the position by sustaining talent and experience there now (with Fletcher) paired with talent and experience gaining there for the future (with Johnson).
Fletcher missed last season after suffering a foot injury, but before that she started 111 games at Georgia Tech. Last season, she averaged 3.7 assists and 13 points per game. As a senior, (her super senior season at South Carolina will technically be her sixth year), she added a 3-point shot to her game, shooting an impressive 36 percent from long range on 64 attempts.
It’s hard to classify some teams as only winners or only losers of the transfer portal, and two teams — Maryland and Arizona — seemed like they didn’t belong in either category. The Terrapins and Wildcats lost significant talent and experience to the portal, but they are also impressively reloaded with talent that fills the gaps of their losses.
On a team that already had a short bench and was losing two top players to the WNBA Draft, losing Reese, Owusu and Collins — who combine for 144 career starts — is a major blow. The Terrapins head into 2022 without five of their top six scorers and their top three rebounders. Reese led Maryland in both categories with 17.8 points and 10.6 rebounds per game, and her departure alone would’ve put Maryland in this category. Owusu led Maryland in assists in two of the last three seasons, and Collins had become one of the Terrapins’ strongest rebounders on both ends of the floor.
In Pinzan, Maryland gets an elite, experienced point guard who averaged 5.3 assists per game last season and has ranked in the top percentile of nationally players in assist-to-turnover ratio the past two seasons. She should help ease the post-Owusu/Katie Benzan journey. And in Meyers, a 6-foot guard and the reigning Ivy League player of the year, Maryland gets a talented scorer who can pair well with Diamond Miller and Shyanne Sellers. She averaged 18.2 points per game last season, dropped 21 on Texas in December and 29 on Kentucky during the NCAA Tournament. She shot 40 percent from beyond the 3-point line and also averaged a career high in rebounding last season (5.9 per game), which will be important as the Terrapins adjust to a need for more floor spacing (without Benzan) and more rebounding ( without Reese and Collins).
The loss of Yeaney will be felt significantly on defense. She finished with 44 steals and 11 blocks last season and was a physical perimeter defender. Though neither Love nor Vonleh played significant minutes this season, their losses are particularly tough because they both had multiple seasons of eligibility remaining.
The Wildcats’ defense was strong again last season, giving up just 57.4 points per game, but their offense lacked a clutch scorer like they had during the 2020-21 season in Aari McDonald. Many thought Love might fill that role last year, but it didn’t come to pass. Though losing those three players is a hit to the Wildcats’ depth, coach Adia Barnes brought in two players with scoring ability from the portal. Fields averaged 15.4 points last season and Martinez averaged 11.3. Those two, along with Cate Reese, give Arizona a strong scoring base. Martinez is a 40 percent 3-point shooter so she’ll help space the floor alongside Helena Puyo and Madison Connerboth of whom could see increased roles.
Lost the most
The way the Wildcats played in the SEC tournament made it seem as though even with losing Rhyne Howard to the WNBA Draft, plenty of talent on this roster would remain to contend in the upper-third of the SEC. But then Edwards, Hunt and Massengill moved into the transfer portal and eyebrows raised as many wondered what the Wildcats will look like in 2022-23. Edwards was the Wildcats’ leading rebounder (8.4 per game) and second-leading scorer (16.8 per game). Massengill led Kentucky in assists, and Hunt was third in rebounds. That makes three starters with remaining eligibility who opted not to return to the reigning SEC tournament champs who would now have far more shooting attempts to spread around the team … not great.
Parrish and Scherr combined for 60 starts for the Ducks last season and presumably would’ve been starters again this coming season. With minutes available in the paint, Watson (who started nine games this season) could’ve been in contention too. Losing multiple players to the portal is tough. Losing multiple starters to the portal is really tough. Losing multiple starters who had three years of eligibility remaining is a bad sign for a program that hasn’t been close to its best since Sabrina Ionescu graduated.
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