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So far, USF basketball roster remains intact as portal fever rages on

Only three Bulls backups have entered the NCAA transfer portal since it opened March 18.
 
USF freshman guard Jayden Reid (0) had a team-best 40 steals and 101 assists in a dazzling rookie season.
USF freshman guard Jayden Reid (0) had a team-best 40 steals and 101 assists in a dazzling rookie season. [ IVY CEBALLO | Times ]
Published April 3

TAMPA — As springtime maladies go, pollen has nothing on portal fever.

Since the NCAA transfer portal opened for basketball players on March 18, rosters from Boise to Boca Raton have been ravaged. Veteran college hoops scribe Jeff Goodman reported Tuesday that 1,142 men’s players had entered the transfer portal since its opening.

Stetson, fresh off its first NCAA Tournament appearance, reportedly has lost six players to the portal, including three of its top four scorers. Florida Atlantic, which lost coach Dusty May to Michigan, also has lost three of its top four scorers. And though UCF has given embattled coach Johnny Dawkins an extension, five Knights players still have entered the portal since the season ended.

Meantime, American Athletic Conference regular-season champ USF has weathered this scourge with nary a sniffle.

As of Wednesday morning, only three Bulls backups — sophomore Gerald Jones and juniors Sam Hines and David Ogunleye — had entered the portal. Hines, whose role diminished under the new coaching regime, averaged 4.2 points this past season. Jones and Ogunleye combined for 16 points and 19 rebounds.

And while the portal remains open until May 1, conventional logic suggests any other Bulls pondering a transfer would have done so by now, if only to get ahead of the influx of players who have entered their names.

If that logic holds up, five of the Bulls’ top nine scorers — including AAC Co-Player of the Year Chris Youngblood — will return for the 2024-25 season. That number could increase if veterans Selton Miguel and Kasean Pryor, both of whom have a year of eligibility remaining but could entertain pro opportunities, choose to stick around.

Youngblood and fellow veteran guards Brandon Stroud and Kasen Jennings — all of whom followed USF coach Amir Abdur-Rahim from Kennesaw State — seem a lock to remain and help their mentor realize his vision of leading the Bulls to the NCAA tournament. Tampa Catholic alumnus Kobe Knox, who averaged 26.2 minutes (and 8.4 points), presumably also will stay home.

And in his news conference following a season-ending loss in the NIT’s second round, Abdur-Rahim spoke as if he fully expects promising rookie guard Jayden Reid and developing 7-foot freshman Daniel Tobiloba to remain.

“It’s going to be fun with that big boy (Tobiloba) over the next couple of years,” Abdur-Rahim said.

“Man, I can’t wait to see Jayden Reid. I can’t wait to see his body change, wait to see him next year when he’s 6-1, 185. Now, when he’s driving and those dudes put two hands on him ... he’s delivering the blow.”

Still, nearly a month remains until portal fever passes over. But the harshest wave has passed, and the Bulls have remained virtually immune.

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And that’s another victory for a program that has experienced them in bulk lately.

Contact Joey Knight at jknight@tampabay.com. Follow @TBTimes_Bulls.

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