Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes ofwebsite accessibility
MENU

Mountain West transfer portal: The biggest winners and biggest losers

Matt Bradley
Matt Bradley, right, has transferred to San Diego State from Cal. (Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

Mountain West basketball teams have had 59 players transfer out of the conference or into the conference this offseason. You can track all of the moves on our transfer portal page here. But let's cut to the chase — which schools have been the biggest winners and biggest losers from transfer portal madness? Take a look below.

Winner

San Diego State: The Aztecs continue to pull some of the best high school recruits in the Mountain West year after year, but they've become sneaky good at landing impact transfers under Brian Dutcher, including Devin Watson (technically under Steve Fisher), Malachi Flynn, KJ Feagin, Yanni Wetzell, Terell Gomez and Joshua Tomaic. SDSU has lured the best transfer among MW schools this offseason with the addition of Matt Bradley, who averaged 18 points per game at Cal last season. ESPN ranks him as the 16th-best transfer on the market, and I wouldn't be surprised if he's the MW player of the year at season's end. SDSU also added a solid veteran big in 6-9 Tahirou Diabate, who averaged 9.6 points and 5.1 rebounds per game at Portland last season. And the Aztecs haven't lost any players to the portal, either.

Loser

Wyoming: Jeff Linder nabbed a steal in the 2020 recruiting class with the signing of Marcus Williams, a lightly recruited three-star prospect who thrived during his first season in Laramie while earning MW freshman of the year honors. He played so well he upgraded to a Power 5 school this offseason. It's the downside of the transfer portal for mid-major schools, with Williams (No. 20 among ESPN's top transfers) signing with Texas A&M after averaging 14.8 points and 4.3 assists per game as a rookie. He wasn't the only key player lost. Kwane Marble II, a part-time starter the last two seasons who averaged 9.5 points and 4.1 rebounds per game last season, transferred to Loyola Marymount. Wyoming added Utah transfer Brendan Wenzel in January — he played two games for the Utes in two seasons — but Wyoming lost two big pieces without replacing them yet.

Winner

Nevada: There's a good chance Nevada's entire starting five next season is comprised of Division I transfers. The Wolf Pack went two over the scholarship limit signing transfers during the 2020-21 season and added one more earlier this month. That led to some roster paring, with Zane Meeks, Kane Milling and Robby Robinson leaving the program. Meeks is the only significant loss there. But his departure is more than made up for with the additions of Oregon's Addison Patterson (former top-50 recruit), Texas' Will Baker (former top-35 recruit) and Wichita State's Trey Wade (a proven winner entering his sixth season of college). Nevada added upside with Patterson and Baker and experience with Wade and is among the favorites to win the MW in 2021-22 thanks to its transfer-heavy lineup.

Loser

Utah State: The Aggies lost coach Craig Smith to rival Utah, which has led to a program exodus. MW player of the year (media edition) Neemias Queta turned pro early, so he doesn't count in this article. But Utah State also lost six players to transfer (a seventh was in the portal but opted to return). The starting backcourt of Rollie Worster and Marco Anthony followed Smith to Utah (Aggies fans can't like that), and key reserve Alphonso Anderson left for Pacific. New coach Ryan Odom — we liked the hiring — has added two transfers from his old stomping grounds, UMBC, in R.J. Eytle-Rock and Brandon Horvath. Eytle-Rock averaged 14.3 points, 4.9 rebounds and 2.6 assists and Horvath 13.1 points and 8.7 rebounds, so that helps. But the Aggies' depth has been crushed by transfers.

Winner

Fresno State: The biggest plus for Fresno State this offseason is talented big man Orlando Robinson didn't enter the draft or portal. He could have leveled up to a Power 5 school. But he's sticking around and will be surrounded by more talent at guard, which was a major issue last season. The Bulldogs were inconsistent in the backcourt, but Jemarl Baker, Jr., formerly at Kentucky and Arizona, has been added. He was ESPN's 87th-best transfer available this offseason after averaging 12 points per game for Arizona in 2020-21. Fresno State also got a rare in-conference transfer in UNLV's Donavan Yap, who could make an impact. The Bulldogs lost four transfers, but it's been worth the tradeoff to add Baker's production and Yap's upside.

Loser

UNLV: For the second straight offseason, UNLV's roster has been ripped apart and started from scratch. Coach T.J. Otzelberger left for Iowa State, the first domino that tipped the Rebels' roster upside down. Ten of UNLV's 13 scholarship players entered the portal, which could be a record. That included first-team All-MW pick Bryce Hamilton, third-team All-MW pick David Jenkins Jr., quality big man Cheikh Mbacke Diong and glue guys Moses Wood and Caleb Grill, who went with Otzelberger to Iowa State. Hamilton, Jenkins and Diong each ranked among the top-65 transfers to leave their school this offseason, per ESPN. UNLV lost 64.3 points, 30.5 rebounds, 10.2 assists, 6.4 steals and 2.3 blocks per game via transfer. That's a lot of production to make up.

Winner

UNLV: Can you be a winner and loser at the same time? Probably not. But I don't want to dump on UNLV too much. The Rebels have added some talent to replace all the lost pieces this offseason. Those players include Jordan McCabe (West Virginia), Royce Hamm Jr. (Texas), Victor Iwuakor (Oklahoma), Donovan Williams (Texas), David Muoka (Lamar) and Justin Webster (Hawaii). That's six Division I transfers in all, four from the Big 12, for first-year coach Kevin Kruger (his now-retired dad, Lon, coached in the Big 12 last year at Oklahoma). None of those Power 5 transfers averaged more than 4.0 points per game last season, so they're upside plays who aren't proven. Webster, who averaged 12.3 points per game for Hawaii last season, was the most productive of the bunch at his previous stop. Don't get me wrong: I'd rather have the players UNLV lost than the ones they gained, but there's some potential here.

Loser

Boise State: This is a moderate loser as Boise State lost only one scholarship player to transfer, that being RayJ Dennis to Toledo (the Rockets went 21-9 overall, 15-4 on conference last season). Dennis had a good sophomore season for the Broncos, who are elite at player development. He averaged 8.6 points, 3.0 rebounds, 2.9 assists and 1.2 steals per game and had All-MW potential. His departure doesn't necessarily change the trajectory of Boise State for next season, but it is the loss of a good player without adding a similar talent in the portal. Boise State has been a net positive in transfers the last few seasons, but at this point it's a net negative.

Neutral

New Mexico: Unlike two other teams that had head-coaching changes (UNLV and Utah State), the Lobos haven't been ravished by transfers. New Mexico has lost six players to transfers, but only two are significant (Bayron Matos and Keith McGee). And the Lobos have replaced them with Arizona State's Jaelen House and Minnesota's Jamal Mashburn, Jr., the No. 88-ranked available transfer, per ESPN. House (4.5 ppg, 32.7 percent shooting) and Mashburn (8.2 ppg, 35 percent shooting) will add to the Lobos' scoring, but they've been inefficient players so far in their careers (to be fair, Mashburn was a freshman in the Big Ten last year). If I had to rank these four players in terms of quality, I'd go Mashburn, Matos, McGee, House, so the Lobos have been neutral despite a lot of coming and goings.

Overall, the MW has lost more talent this offseason than it's gained via transfer, in large part because of the exodus at UNLV and Utah State following their coaches taking Power 5 jobs. But that's not the case with all the MW teams as SDSU, Nevada, Fresno State and Colorado State have all been net positive in the transfer portal this offseason. It's not surprise three of those four teams (CSU, SDSU, Nevada) are the favorites to win the MW next season.

Columnist Chris Murray provides insight on Northern Nevada sports. Contact him at crmurray@sbgtv.com or follow him on Twitter @ByChrisMurray.

Offbeat News

FOLLOW US ON TWITTER