The transfer portal is here to stay

Submitted photo Jamison Battle

The NCAA Transfer Portal was established in 2018 to simplify the process of switching schools. Once the player informs the school’s compliance office that he or she wants to transfer, their name goes into the portal and is available to all coaches.

Over 15,000 players entered the portal in 2018-19, the NCAA reported. It is not readily known how many are in it this year, but it seems that it is busting at the seams.

“I think the transfer portal is a little different for every person who is in there,” explained Terrell Battle, whose son Jamison Battle entered it after two seasons at George Washington. “A while ago when somebody wanted to transfer, it was a bad thing,” he continued. “This player [is] transferring because he didn’t get along with the coach [or is a] bad player [with a] bad attitude.

“But transferring these days is not about that. It’s about kids finding the right fit,” Terrell noted. “A lot of times the people are in the portal are good players, good students – they just want something different.”

Jamison Battle, a Minneapolis De La Salle graduate, last week agreed to sign with Minnesota, the first of three former transfer portal players who’ve signed with new Gopher Coach Ben Johnson.

“Minnesota felt like home,” 6’-3” guard E.J. Stephens told the MSR. He was all-Patriot League last season and now gets a fifth season of eligibility because the NCAA is giving an extra year to all college athletes who seek it due to the pandemic. “I love the vision Coach Johnson has for this program, and I want to be a part of it,” added Stephens.

Jamison, a 6’-7” forward, “likes Ben a lot. He developed a rapport with Ben back in high school,” said his father. “It’s exciting for him to come play for [Johnson].” Leaving the D.C.-based school wasn’t “because he was mad at the coach or not playing. It was finding the right fit for his game,” Terrell pointed out.

His son arranged Zoom meetings with coaches during the renewed recruiting of the now-former GW player, who averaged over 17 points a game last year. “[Jamison] owned the process.  It wasn’t a whole lot I had to do,” said Terrell. He and his wife “talked virtually every day about his thoughts and where he was. I feel good about him making the decision.”

Terrell said he and his family can see Jamison play more now that he’s home. “Selfishly as a dad, I get to see him at [home] games and see him every day. I’m excited for him to be part of the community.”

During his introductory press conference, Johnson reiterated that the transfer portal, like it or not, is part of college basketball. Since the season ended, the Gophers have seen six players enter it. 

“The portal is not going anywhere,” predicted Terrell Battle. “The hard part is that so many are in the portal and there’s not enough places for them to go. It will be interesting to see how it evolves over time.

“It worked out for Jamison, and I’m excited about it,” he concluded.