SIDEBAR: How does the transfer portal work?

Every day, Kent State’s men’s and women’s basketball coaches scroll through names in the NCAA transfer portal in search of someone that could improve the program. 

The transfer portal, created two years ago, is a database of every student-athlete who wants to transfer. Schools can contact them as soon as their name is entered into it. 

“The whole transfer process is like trying to put together pieces of a puzzle,” men’s coach Rob Senderoff said. 

When looking for players in the portal, it’s all about familiarity. Women’s coach Todd Starkey and Senderoff said their coaching staffs generally look for players in the portal that they recruited out of high school or had a prior relationship with. 

Once the coaches find a player that they like in the portal, they usually contact their previous coaches in high school and college to learn more about the type of person they are on and off the court. One of the main traits coaches look for is coachability, the ability to learn from feedback. 

“It’s not a matter of convincing players to come to us,” Starkey said. “We tell them. 

‘This is who we are.’ If they are a good fit, then we will look into it further.” 

Senderoff and Starkey said that it helps when potential transfers have already played with or against current players in AAU competition. Players want to play with their friends; that was the case with multiple current players on both teams. 

Starkey had recruited his team’s two transfers, Bexley Wallace and Linsey Marchese, when he was an assistant at Indiana. Wallace, who played high school basketball at Pickerington Central,  also already knew a few players on the team. 

Wallace played two years at Penn State, Marchese two years at Indiana. Both were top 100 recruits coming out of high school.

Starkey mentioned how playing in the Big Ten will prove to be an extremely valuable experience for both of his transfers; Bexley Wallace and Linsey Marchese. 

Senderoff stressed that one phone call can determine what school a player goes to. Coaches, he said, have to figure out what appeals to every player and then explain to them how they will fit into their program. 

With the men’s side having a higher player turnover rate, Senderoff used the transfer portal extensively to build his team over the past two years. Six of the 15 players on the team transferred here. 

Two of the 14 players on the women’s team are freshmen and two are transfers. 

Both teams have also lost players to the portal. In the spring, starting guard Anthony Roberts transferred from the men’s team to St. Bonaventure. Asiah Dingle, the women’s leading scorer last season, left for Stony Brook.  

Starkey said that the transfer portal has caused him to adjust his focus in recruiting. Sometimes, he said, it makes more sense to sign a transfer rather than a player out of high school. He believes it is very important to maintain a balance between recruits and transfers.

Two of the 14 players on the women’s team are transfers and two are freshmen. 

“The portal has definitely worked out in our favor,” Starkey said. “Players are choosing to come here because they now have the autonomy to make their own decisions.”