GUEST COMMENTS: It’s a brave new world in the sport of college basketball

LEXINGTON, Ky. (KT) – John Calipari is used to players taking the one-off route when they leave Kentucky. He’s just not used to players throwing their names on the transfer portal after just one season.

Earlier this week, security guard Devin Askew announced plans to switch to a different program this season after a roller coaster ride with the Wildcats. Askew would likely have had to wait another year before starting his college career earlier after being released. The decision to enroll early gave Askew time to consider where he will end the rest of his college career.

It is not known where Askew will enroll, but he could take the route Johnny Juzang took after leaving the program last year and move closer to his California home. Juzang enrolled at UCLA and helped lead the Bruins to the Final Four that season. Based on what Askew said in previous interviews, playing near home doesn’t play a huge role, but that could change if he consults with his parents and family members about his next destination.

The transfer portal is the college version of the free agent market used by professional gamers and is becoming increasingly popular for gamers as they wish to select and explore options after deciding to exit a program. Most of these players are influenced by external sources while others are simply dissatisfied with the current situation.

While the transfer portal – much like the free agency – has its advantages, it offers unfortunate gamblers an easy way out when it comes to leaving a program or organization. The free agent method, particularly in Major League Baseball, has destroyed a player’s loyalty to a particular team. For the past two decades or more, it’s rare for players to pull a Barry Larkin where they’ll play for the same team from start to finish. Larkin played his entire 18-year career with the Cincinnati Reds.

The rise in college graduate transfers has given college gamers the opportunity to play in the college ranks – in reality a fifth or sixth season – and Calipari has got used to players like Reid Travis, Nate Sestina and Davion Mintz as short-term fixes Fixed immediate problems. These players bring at least four years of experience to a program while they graduate.

Because of the transfer portal and the rise in college graduate transfers, the landscape of college basketball has changed rapidly. The recruitment and development of four year old players is becoming increasingly rare and that is a shame for college basketball.

The teams that feed the novice from the first to the last semester in a four-year cycle have proven successful and this has been shown in recent years. It really showed in this year’s national championship game between Gonzaga and Baylor, two of the most skilled teams in the tournament.

Much like our world, college basketball changes quickly, but sometimes the best way to maneuver change is getting back to basics.

Keith Taylor is the sports editor for Kentucky Today. You can reach him at [email protected] or twitter @ keithtaylor21.

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