NOTICE: The views expressed in The Vermilion’s opinion pieces do not necessarily reflect those of The Vermilion staff or of the University of Louisiana at Lafayette.
OPINION – As Coach Bobby Marlin continues to rebuild this Ragin’ Cajuns basketball program, the team has felt both the pros and cons of the transfer portal and the impact it can have on the roster changes.
The positive aspect of the transfer portal and the new, one-time immediate eligibility rule gives Marlin the chance to dip into other programs and seek better talent.
Look at reigning Sun Belt Conference Defensive Player of the Year Theo Akwuba, for example. The monstrous center started his collegiate career at Portland State University where he entered the transfer portal after a short stint with the Vikings.
As Coach Marlin was in search of an immediate impact center, he signed the athletically gifted center and the rest is history. Akwuba has already established himself as one of the conference’s most talented big men.
Along with Akwuba, the Cajuns have continued their transfer portal dominance by adding former four-star recruit and St. John’s transfer Greg Williams Jr. Williams. As a Lafayette native, he gives Marlin an experienced wing who can dominate from all three levels and provide defensive help as well.
Another key off-season addition by Marlin, the Cajuns added former five-star recruit and McDonald’s All-American Jordan Brown after a stretch at the University of Arizona, where he gained tremendous experience playing in the Pac-12.
The highly-touted recruit has the chance to showcase his talent in this thriving system Coach Marlin has developed alongside Theo Akwuba. The Cajuns are set to have two of the best big men in the Sun Belt in 2021-22.
The transfer portal has been Coach Marlin’s best friend this off-season, but also his worst nightmare. Losing its top two offensive producers the last two seasons in Cedric Russell and Mylik Wilson this summer, it’s been in full rebuild mode for this team. Though the flurry of talent he’s added could have them not even skip a beat.
Losing Wilson to Texas Tech, the former Cajun standout saw the chance to play on a bigger stage and jumped on it immediately. Wilson is a high-caliber talent and the chance to showcase his skills at a Power Five school is understandable.
For Russell, the dominant Cajun took his talent to Ohio State University after entering his name in the transfer portal. Using his extra year of eligibility due to the NCAA’s COVID-19 policy, he decided to do just what Wilson did and go play at a dominant Power Five school.
Yes, the Cajuns lost two of their most prized possessions, but the additions Coach Marlin brought in can outweigh the losses. Russell and Wilson are about as dominant as they come, but reeling in Greg Williams Jr. and Jordan Brown from major programs put this team in great position to be successful.
The transfer portal has become one of the best ways to gain experienced talent to a young roster, which is precisely what Coach Marlin has done. With this becoming the new normality, it will be interesting to see how the transfer rules continue to play out for years to come.
Story: Zachary Nagy