Underdogs: Men’s basketball transform roster through transfer portal


Baswanth Naidu / The Sunflower

Sophomore forward Quincy Ballard dunks the ball during the game against Central Arkansas at Charles Koch Arena on Nov. 7.

The men’s basketball team spent the spring recruiting season rebuilding their roster after losing nine players total, eight players to the transfer portal and one player to the NBA draft.

These losses include Dexter Dennis (Texas A&M), Tyson Etienne (Atlanta Hawks), Chaunce Jenkins (Old Dominion), Ricky Council IV (Arkansas), Clarence Jackson (Jacksonville State), Steele Gaston-Chapman (Hutchinson Community College), Qua Grant (Sam Houston State), Morris Udeze (New Mexico) and Joe Pleasant (Abilene Christian).

The transfer portal is a point of contention in the sports world, especially within college basketball. Some say that the loose rules around the transfer portal encourage players to seek instant gratification rather than wait their turn.

Junior transfer guard Colby Rogers, who entered the transfer portal twice during his college career, is waiting on a waiver from the NCAA to play this season. Rogers believes that the transfer portal offers players outlets to advertise themselves and maximize their opportunities, in and beyond college.

“I feel like the transfer portal has taken me all over the country,” Rogers said. “I’ve been able to plant my name in different spaces. It helps build my popularity, and I’ve gained so much experience from playing over here and there that, now, I can use that to help this team here.”

Senior guard Craig Porter Jr., who entered the transfer portal before choosing to come back to Wichita State, feels the transfer portal has given back to the team just as much as it took away.

“We’ve done a really good job of picking certain players that’ll fit our program and how we plan on playing,” Porter said. “I feel like coach [Isaac Brown] did a great job of finding players.”

The team spent their summer together doing team building both on and off the court. Organized activities included a workout at a boxing gym in Andover, bowling, pickleball games at Chicken N Pickle, and workouts at a nearby air force base.

“We hang out a lot as a team outside of basketball, especially during the summer,” Rogers said. “We had a lot of dinners at Coach’s house. We watched college football and NFL games on the weekends. We are hanging around each other, with coaches, just team building and team bonding”.

This new look team consists of 10 transfers, four returning players, and two freshmen. According to senior transfer forward James Rojas, the different personalities and playing styles have been working well together.

“We’re getting to know each other’s weaknesses and strengths,” Rojas said. “We have great practices every day. We all work out together every day. We’ve got great chemistry on and off the court, and we just need to continue to build that.”

Since the season started, all transfers have seen the floor except for Rogers, whose former school, Siena, has yet to release him to play.

Standouts from the transfer portal thus far are senior forwards Gus Okafor and James Rojas and junior guard Jaykwon Walton, who has started all three games thus far for the Shockers and scored 20 points Nov. 17 against Richmond.

“I think everybody brings a little bit of their own thing,” Rojas said. “We got really good guards, good bigs, and good wings. We got all around play everywhere. We got guys that can play multiple positions at once.”

Conference play in the American begins Dec. 28 at the University of Central Florida. The team was picked to finish eighth in the conference by the AAC Preseason Men’s Coaches Poll.

“I think a lot of times, especially when it’s a fairly new team, the expectations are low,” Rogers said. “Since we’re all new, all we have is each other, it makes a big difference. Especially these teams like Houston and Memphis who are, obviously, higher ranked. The underdog mentality gives you an extra boost.”