Three-Point Play: Transfer rule, Kai Sotto, JT Thor
The potential one-time transfer rule change could be a massive improvement in college basketball, but should it be enforced for the next season? In this week’s Three-Point Play, Rivals.com analyst Corey Evans addresses the negatives of doing so. Evans also has the latest on Kai Sotto and dishes on the latest curve ball in the recruitment of J.T. Thor.
2022 Rankings: Top 75
1. QUESTIONS SURROUND THE TRANSFER RULE
Free agency. That has been the common refrain as I have spoken with over a dozen head and assistant coaches in recent days regarding the new rule that would allow all first-year transfers to play immediately in the fall. All of the coaches were affiliated with high-major programs, which would benefit the most from the rule change.
I get that coaches are creatures of habit and will eventually adjust to what is implemented, but there is great concern surrounding the "What if?" factor. Some have pondered whether the low and mid-major ranks will become a feeder system of sorts, similar to how the junior college ranks work. Players might spend a year or two playing in a league like the Southern Conference, succeed, and then be plucked away by the ACC or AAC. I know it happens some now, but it might become an automatic in future years.
Another possibility: There could be a trade system in place. One power conference head coach barters with another from a mid-major school and an exchange is made in which the lesser power program player is traded for a star from the lower rung. The possibilities are infinite.
Another obstacle is that the Transfer Waiver Working Group won’t address the Division I Council until April 23-25 and, if passed, wouldn’t go into effect until June 1. So, for someone like Nebraska's Fred Hoiberg, who has always been a big proponent of transfers in roster construction, he might be banking on all of his first-time transfers being eligible next season. Say that he lands seven such commitments before the end of April. Meanwhile, the working group presents its case and the rule is passed, but it actually won’t be instituted until the 2021 season. What does that leave Hoiberg to do? Now, half of his roster isn’t eligible to play in the fall, leaving him with just seven capable bodies.
I am not here to fight for or against student-athlete rights. Rather, I am attempting to understand how such a rule can go into effect when the transfer season will only be halfway done. It would be like starting a game and then at halftime new rules are put in place for the second half.
This is a landmark situation for the sport and if greater clarity isn’t handed down immediately next college season might be won by one of two groups: those that sit back and wait or by those that take the risk and hit the transfer portal like a national championship is on the line. And it very well could be.
2. SOTTO A NO GO
Is it going to be Auburn? DePaul? Georgia Tech? Kentucky? USC? A wildcard school? Maybe none of the group. The ongoing recruiting process of this winter’s breakout, Kai Sotto, might not be won by a school at all.
Sotto, a star in his native Philippines who boasts over 140,000 followers on Instagram, made the move to the United States in the fall. Since then, he has made some entertaining mix tapes that have earned a huge following of fans and also made for major interest from the college coaching side. However, the chances of seeing Sotto on a college basketball court might be lower than previously believed.
Sources have told Rivals.com that Sotto is leaning toward skipping college entirely and instead training for the 2021 NBA Draft. If Sotto chose to attend the Skills Factory in Atlanta, he would not be the first to decide on such a route. Last summer, top-50 wing Marjon Beauchamp made a similar decision by declining the college path. Once he graduates in the spring, he will begin a 12-month training program with Chameleon BX.
Maybe Sotto ultimately decides against such a decision and makes a college fan base excited for its late-year addition. While Sotto does need further on-court experience, this decision could be another case of a highly touted prospect going against the grain and choosing a route other than college during his time between the prep ranks and the NBA Draft.
3. CURVE BALLS APLENTY WITH JT THOR
JT Thor's recruitment this winter has resulted in one curve ball after another.
Just three weeks ago, we broke the news that Thor might play on the travel circuit this summer, take a prep year in the fall and attempt to leap directly to the NBA next summer. Before that, it appeared his interest in Kentucky might result in the Wildcats landing a talented forward who would enroll in the coming months. Even before that, we thought that Thor was the next to commit to Oklahoma State and he would become the main running mate alongside Cade Cunningham.
Well, none of that has happened - and might never take place. On Tuesday, another avenue was unveiled when we broke the news that Thor would take an unofficial visit to Auburn this week. Bruce Pearl has placed a heavy priority on Greg Brown, but there is a feeling that Thor might not just be Plan B if Brown does not commit, but rather Pearl would gladly take them both and figure it out from there.
Thor has a few official visits remaining that could be taken before he decides. If Thor likes what he sees at Auburn, there is a strong chance that he returns for an official visit in April.