Portal season in full swing

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Apr. 2—CHAMPAIGN — The transfer portal opened March 18.

That put more than just preparing for a first-round NCAA tournament game against Morehead State in Omaha, Neb., on the Illinois men’s basketball coaching staff’s plate. The first day saw nearly 200 players officially declare their intent to transfer. More than 1,200 populate the portal to date.

That steadily growing number of transfers took up some of Brad Underwood’s attention the past two weeks.

That included making recruiting phone calls to potential transfers while walking the halls of TD Garden in Boston last week amid the run-up to the Elite Eight.

The overlap between trying to extend an NCAA tournament run and not fall behind in roster building for the next season rankled the Illinois coach.

“It’s the most absurd thing in the history of the sport, by the way, what we’re doing in the portal while we’re playing basketball,” Underwood said. “It’s ridiculous. I’ve got one coach scouting and two just living in the portal. I’m making recruiting calls up and down the hallway (Friday) while we’re preparing for an Elite Eight game. Maybe that’s my fault. It’s reality.”

The reality of the transfer portal hit Illinois on Monday. It was a full experience. Mercer transfer Jake Davis? In. Illini forward Dain Dainja? Out.

“I would like to thank all of the coaching staff for bringing me into this program with open arms,” Dainja wrote in a note on social media. The 6-foot-9, 255-pound big man saw his playing time, and therefore production, dip this past season.

“It was truly an honor to be a part of this amazing group and being able to win a Big Ten championship,” Dainja continued before thanking strength and conditioning coach Adam Fletcher. “Finally, I’d like to thank Illini Nation for your continued support the past couple of years. I am thankful to be getting my degree from the University of Illinois, and I will be forever grateful for the opportunity I had here. This place will forever be family to me!”

Dainja’s departure…

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Source link : https://sports.yahoo.com/portal-season-full-swing-144800811.html

Author : The News-Gazette, Champaign-Urbana, Ill.

Publish date : 2024-04-02 14:48:00

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