Transfer vs Recruiting

Author: Daniel Paglia and Matt Cotner

A New Era: Will the Transfer Portal become More Important than Recruiting?


The new NCAA transfer portal allows players to transfer without sitting out for a year. This change has revolutionized college basketball. Countless players have already entered the portal after the conclusion of this season. It has never been easier to fill a hole in a roster. What does this mean for Notre Dame? Should they focus more effort on the transfer portal than actual recruiting? Sports writers Dan Paglia and Matt Cotner offer their thoughts:


By: Matt Cotner

Recruiting Trumps All

The transfer portal undoubtedly brings new opportunities and adds chaos to college basketball. It is an exciting development that will continue to alter the sport. However, recruiting will always carry more weight than using the transfer portal.

Notre Dame’s program requires recruits who are willing to grow and learn within the system. Program success stories like Steve Vasturia and Matt Farrell paid their dues their first two seasons before making large impacts as upperclassmen. This has always been the unofficial motto for Notre Dame: Get old and stay old.

A wrench was certainly thrown into this strategy over the past few seasons. The class of current seniors were given plenty of playing time their freshman year because there were no other options. However, Mike Brey has always found the most success building a program around older, more experienced players that have understood the system for an extended period of time. 

Notre Dame is not a team composed of one-and-done players. In March, Blake Wesley became the first player in the Mike Brey era to declare for the NBA draft after his freshman season. The recruiting classes are essential for this Irish team because they do not rely as much on young talent. Getting old and staying old within the program is the best way to do this. Additionally, recruiting a player is hard, but missing out on him can potentially still pay dividends in the future if that player decides to transfer, as he may reconsider the schools that just missed the cut in his initial decision. Even transfer portal moves can have roots in recruiting.

None of this is to say that the transfer portal is not important. Certainly, players from the portal can help fit the desire for experience. Mike Brey will need to make use of the portal to remain competitive, especially over this offseason with a hole at center and the loss of freshman star Blake Wesley to the NBA Draft. However, in order to build off of this successful year, the team needs to continue to have strong recruiting classes like the one that is coming in next season.


By: Daniel Paglia

The Portal Promises Change

The transfer portal represents a security blanket for lapses in recruiting over the years. Outside of Blake Wesley, Mike Brey’s first one-and-done player in a sport that seems to be trending that way, which players have lived up to their recruiting hype over the last five cycles? Without the addition of several transfers over those seasons — Juwan Durham, Trey Wertz, Cormac Ryan — Notre Dame would have struggled for depth in a system notorious for only playing seven players. 

Enter a new and improved transfer portal that is absolutely bursting with potential with players now eligible to play immediately. Need a point guard? Find Andre Curbelo, a starter on a top-25 Illinois team. Need a center? Find Efton Reid III, a former five-star recruit ready to leave behind LSU after a coaching change. The transfer portal formerly benefitted only mid-major players looking to make the jump to the Power Five level, as well as depth players from top-25 teams looking for playing time elsewhere. The transfer portal now offers bona fide stars ready to make an immediate impact at their new destination. 

Look at Oscar Tshiebwe, the Naismith Player of the Year, who averaged 17.4 points and 15.2 rebounds per game for the Kentucky Wildcats. This time last year, Tshiebwe was finishing up his sophomore season at West Virginia before entering his name into the transfer portal. 

So what does this mean for Brey and Notre Dame? Despite signing a highly-touted recruiting class that features high four-star JJ Starling and fellow four-star Ven Allen-Lubin, the Irish are going to have to add at least one transfer, preferably more, to fill out their roster. High school recruiting will always be important, but the transfer portal allows Brey to find players ready to make an immediate impact, something he hasn’t often found in his recruiting classes.

Academic standards are high at Notre Dame which makes it more difficult for any transfer, but Brey has always preferred experience, so why not fully embrace it? Just as Duke and Kentucky have embraced the one-and-done model with varying degrees of success, Notre Dame can embrace the transfer portal as a route for completing their rosters. Rather than taking role players like Wertz and Ryan, Brey needs to seek out immediate starters who will take Notre Dame to the next level — Antonio Reeves of Illinois State, Curbelo of Illinois and Nijel Pack of Kansas State all fit this bill. 

Brey has already reached out to several players on the market, but it is time for Brey to embrace the portal over recruiting high school seniors. Rather than using transfers to complement recruits, I believe Brey should spend his time recruiting a small crop of elite players to combine with high-level transfers. The choice in college basketball will now be: immediate impact transfer or long term project as a recruit? Brey has traditionally favored long-term development, but now it’s time to shift his focus to the portal.