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PRINCE ON ILLINOIS BASKETBALL

PRINCE ON THE ILLINI: NCAA transfer portal could be harmful to high school athletes

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The NCAA basketball transfer portal has 1,673 players who entered following the 2021-22 season.

It is one of the best things that has happened to college coaches, with the NCAA expanding the one-time transfer exception to all student-athletes, no matter what sport they play.

"I would like to stay old," University of Illinois men's basketball coach Brad Underwood said. "Of course, having young guys to develop them is great, but being old is a nice advantage."

It is nice to have a roster of players who have played and practiced at the D-I level.

Illinois lost over 90% of its scoring. Instantly it added Terrence Shannon Jr., who college basketball analyst Andy Katz said was one of the players in the portal. Immediately, he will give Illinois some leadership after playing at Texas Tech for three years.

The flip side of all of this is that high school three-star basketball recruits are being left out of the equation.

Look no further than Rock Island's Amarion Nimmers, a 6-foot-3 combo guard who recently committed to Iowa as a preferred walk-on; before his commitment, Nimmers visited Illinois.

Make no mistake about it, Nimmers should be a D-I scholarship athlete. Five years ago, he would have had a plethora of D-I offers. The Iowa Hawkeyes got a steal in Nimmers because of the transfer portal.

From a football standpoint, it may have a bigger impact.

The quarterback position is arguably the most important on the field. Before the portal, after a senior had graduated, teams had to rely on No. 2s without a lot of playing time or experience. Now you can go to the portal and pick up a proven veteran signal-caller and not miss a beat. All the while you can add freshmen and have them sit and learn.

For the college fan, if your coach has a good eye for talent, being young anymore is an excuse; you can be old and stay old with the new way of college athletics.

Illinois' basketball program lost two-time All-American Kofi Cockburn to the NBA draft, but the Illini are looking hard at a couple of good players in the portal who will not replace Cockburn but would add another dimension to an already athletic lineup in Champaign.

Northwestern's Pete Nance and Baylor's Matthew Mayer both entered the NBA draft. If the draft does not work out, expect Illinois to pursue both of these prospects, but Illinois would have a lot of competition for them.

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