There are countless opinion pieces floating around about the changing nature of college sports and NIL and conference realignment and the transfer portal. This isn’t that. This is first, a statement of the plain reality that the transfer portal and specifically intra-conference transferring are not likely to go away in the near future. 70% of teams in the Big 12 have an intra-conference transfer on their roster (Texas Tech has 2). Second, how is this reality playing out in the best men’s basketball conference in America?
Please be aware that the players evaluated here include De’Vion Harmon and Bryce Thompson. Harmon began his career at OU and had a pit stop in Oregon last year before ending up with Texas Tech this season. Bryce Thompson is not new to the Cowboys this year, it’s been two seasons since he last played for the Jayhawks. I am NOT including on this list Emmitt Matthews who started at West Virginia and is back with West Virginia after playing a season with Washington. The rationale for this is that to be on this list, you have to have played for a different team within the conference. That’s why Jaylon Tyson made this list despite the fact that like Matthews, he ended up where he “started”. He committed to Tech, followed Beard to Texas, and is now back with the Red Raiders.
Jalen Bridges: Started with West Virginia, now with Baylor
In the offseason, the departure of Matthew Mayer, Kendall Brown, and Jeremy Sochan necessitated that Baylor look to the portal for a wing. They found their guy in the familiar face, Jalen Bridges. Since arriving in Waco he has started every game for the Bears at the power forward position and has had quite simply his best collegiate season. The only criticism of Bridges to this point would be the regression of his 3P% to a career low. That being said, he has been shooting the long ball much better as of late, converting 37.0% of his 3.4 attempts per game over his last 6 games. He hasn’t exactly exploded statistically, going from an insignificant player to a star. Still, he has been everything the Bears are looking for and then some.
2 Seasons with West Virginia: 7.3 PPG, 4.2 RPG, 0.6 APG, 0.8 SPG, and 0.6 BPG in 61 games played (52 started; 22.8 MPG) on 45.2% FG, 35.6% 3P, and 78.9% FT
This Season with Baylor: 9.6 PPG, 5.7 RPG, 1.1 APG, 0.7 SPG, and 1.2 BPG in 20 games played (all starts; 24.8 MPG) on 50.7% FG, 26.2% 3P, and 76.6% FT
1 Game v. West Virginia: 10 points, 11 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 steal, and 1 block on 38/0/80 splits and a 1-0 record
Tre Mitchell: Started with Texas (after being at UMass), now with West Virginia
Following the departure of Gabe Osabuohien and Jalen Bridges, the Mountaineers needed to bolster their frontcourt. They dipped their hands into the portal and came up with Mitchell. I thought before the season that there was a strong possibility that Tre might end up being WVU’s best player this season and sure enough, he leads the team in scoring and win shares (per sports-reference.com). He has played more at the 4 than the 5 but has been a home run for Bob Huggins.
Last Season with Texas: 8.7 PPG, 4.0 RPG, 1.3 APG, 0.7 SPG, and 0.7 BPG in 24 games played (17 starts; 18.6 MPG) on 47.8% FG, 32.6% 3P, and 80.0% FT
This Season with West Virginia: 12.6 PPG, 5.8 RPG, 1.8 APG, 0.7 SPG, and 0.6 BPG in 20 games played (18 starts; 29.1 MPG) on 49.7% FG, 39.3% 3P, and 77.6% FT
1 Game v. Texas: 12 points, 8 rebounds, 1 assist, and 2 block on 36/50/100 splits and an 0-1 record
Jaylon Tyson: Started with Texas, now with Texas Tech
After Bryson Williams and Kevin McCullar left, Coach Mark Adams went looking for a versatile wing. He got a guy that he had originally recruited out of high school in Tyson. It should be noted that he only played in 4 games for the Longhorns, entering the portal early in the season. He has started every game he’s appeared in for the Red Raiders this season is in the top 3 on the team in rebounding, assists, steals, blocks, and 3P shooting. He has come almost out of nowhere and become a major contributor for Tech.
Last Season with Texas: 1.8 PPG, 1.1 RPG, and 0.4 APG in 8 games played (no starts; 6.9 MPG) on 40.0% FG, 0.0% (0/4) 3P, and 66.7% FT
This Season with Texas Tech: 9.7 PPG, 5.7 RPG, 1.4 APG, 1.4 SPG, and 0.4 BPG in 19 games played (all starts; 26.9 MPG) on 45.4% FG, 36.8% 3P, and 72.4% FT
1 Game v. Texas: 12 points, 14 rebounds, and 1 assist on 56/25/50 splits and an 0-1 record
De’Vion Harmon: Started with Oklahoma (detour at Oregon), now with Texas Tech
Texas Tech lost over 91.9% of their assists from last season and were accordingly looking for a point guard who could impact things right away. Harmon ended up being that guy. Harmon is an experienced and athletic guard, capable of initiating the offense. He hasn’t been nearly as consistent or clutch as most Tech fans would prefer (hence their struggles in conference play). Still, he is 2nd on the team in scoring and leads the Red Raiders in assists and steals.
2020-21 with Oklahoma: 12.9 PPG, 3.4 RPG, 2.0 APG, and 1.1 SPG in 25 games played (23 starts; 31.9 MPG) on 47.7% FG, 33.0% 3P, and 73.2% FT
This Season with Texas Tech: 12.2 PPG, 2.7 RPG, 3.4 APG, and 2.0 SPG in 20 games played (all starts; 30.6 MPG) on 45.4% FG, 22.9% 3P, and 67.1% FT
1 Game v. Oklahoma: 23 points, 4 rebounds, 3 assists, and 1 steal on 60/0/71 splits and an 0-1 record
Tyrese Hunter: Started with Iowa State, now with Texas
The reigning Big 12 Rookie of the Year was one of the biggest names in the transfer portal this last season, and the expectation from many was that the league leader in steals as a freshman would be a huge part of Texas’s success this season. Although he is 2nd on the team in scoring and has started every game for the Horns, he has not looked nearly as confident as he was a season ago with the Cyclones, all too frequently taking a backseat to UT’s starting PG, Marcus Carr. He is not making nearly as big a defensive impact as he did last season and remains a sub-40% shooter.
Last Season with Iowa State: 11.0 PPG, 3.5 RPG, 4.9 APG, and 2.0 SPG in 35 games played (all starts; 31.9 MPG) on 39.1% FG, 27.4% 3P, and 68.7% FT
This Season with Texas: 10.3 PPG, 3.5 RPG, 3.0 APG, and 0.8 SPG in 20 games played (all starts; 28.9 MPG) on 39.5% FG, 31.8% 3P, and 78.6% FT
1 Game v. Iowa State: 10 points, 2 rebounds, and 3 assists on 27/33/67 splits and an 0-1 record
Rondel Walker: Started with Oklahoma State, now with TCU
TCU didn’t need to replace much this offseason, returning more production than anyone else in the conference (by a wide margin) including bringing back all 5 starters. They did lose Francisco Farabello, opening up a bench guard slot, the Walker seemingly would fit into perfectly. Out of 101 Big 12 players this season who have appeared in at least 10 games, Walker ranks 99th in Usage Rate (per sports-reference.com). He has appeared in every game for the Frogs but takes less than one shot per game and just has had very little impact thus far.
2 Seasons with Oklahoma State: 6.3 PPG, 2.7 RPG, 1.0 APG, and 1.4 SPG in 59 games played (15 starts; 23.9 MPG) on 39.5% FG, 30.7% 3P, and 70.4% FT
This Season with TCU: 2.4 PPG, 1.8 RPG, 0.9 APG, and 0.5 SPG in 20 games played (4 starts; 13.9 MPG) on 29.8% FG, 25.0% 3P, and 80.0% FT
Currently No Games Played v. Oklahoma State
Bryce Thompson: Started with Kansas, now with Oklahoma State
Thompson is in his 2nd season with the Pokes. The former McDonald’s All-American only spent a single season in Lawrence where he struggled to get regular playing time. His time in Stillwater has seen him carve out an important role with this team. This season, in particular, he is the team’s leading scorer and 2nd leader in assists. His defense and 2P% leave something to be desired, but if the Cowboys are going to make any noise later this year, he’ll likely need to be a big part of making that happen.
1 Season with Kansas: 4.6 PPG, 1.5 RPG, 1.1 APG, and 0.4 SPG in 20 games played (4 starts; 17.1 MPG) on 35.3% FG, 22.2% 3P, and 64.7% FT
This Season with Oklahoma State: 11.3 PPG, 2.7 RPG, 2.2 APG, and 0.5 SPG in 20 games played (all starts; 28.4 MPG) on 38.8% FG, 39.6% 3P, and 55.8% FT
3 Games v. Kansas: 14 PPG, 1.7 RPG, and 1.0 APG on 43/47/75 splits and an 0-3 record
Kevin McCullar: Started with Texas Tech, now with Kansas
Following the departure of Ochai Adbaji, Chrisian Braun, and David McCormack, Kansas went searching for an experienced wing. They nabbed McCullar because of his versatility and defensive toughness. Thrown into the mix with POY candidate, Wilson, and highly touted freshmen, Dick and Adams, Coach Bill Self likely had visions of McCullar being a leader and glue guy who could help lead his team back to the Final Four. The guy they’ve gotten so far has been good, not great. His rebounding and steals numbers are at career highs while his scoring and advanced stats have stagnated or regressed slightly.
Last 2 Seasons with Texas Tech: 10.2 PPG, 5.3 RPG, 2.7 APG, 1.5 SPG, and 0.5 BPG in 49 games played (43 starts; 30.1 MPG) on 40.8% FG, 30.1% 3P, and 71.6% FT
This Season with Kansas: 10.4 PPG, 7.3 RPG, 2.1 APG, 2.5 SPG, and 0.6 BPG in 19 games played (all starts; 30.2 MPG) on 43.5% FG, 29.0% 3P, and 76.5% FT
1 Game v. Texas Tech: 7 points, 2 rebounds, 3 assists, and 1 steal on 33/33/NA splits and a 1-0 record
Overall, intra-conference transfers this season have been a bit of a mixed bag, some are bringing exactly what they brought at their old schools, some have improved, and some have regressed. These guys have a combined record of 2-7 against their former teams. I, for one, am glad that, so far, we haven’t had to watch former Baylor guys suit up elsewhere within the conference. I am also grateful for Jalen Bridges and the impact he has made for the Bears this season (especially in their current 5-game winning streak) as an intra-conference transfer. Sic em!