Transfers have become the new fad in college basketball. Athletes are now free to enter the “transfer portal,” where players can have two-way communication with schools showing interest. It’s the most freedom we have ever seen given to players at the collegiate level, and it has taken the offseason by storm. Ten years ago, the offseason saw just 577 players choose to transfer. In 2021, 1,728 players at least tested the portal. The significant disparity can be attested to a change in the rules, where players can now enter the portal but choose to return to their original school if they are unhappy with the available opportunities.
Kansas’s Remy Martin and North Carolina’s Brady Manek are two recent cases of the portal’s upside. Both have been among the top-performing players in this year’s NCAA Tournament and are each fifth-year seniors in their first season at their new school after spending the previous four at the same program. Martin hails from Arizona State, while Manek will be remembered for his time with Oklahoma, but both are displaying what the transfer portal can provide to players. An opportunity to find a new situation where they can thrive on an even bigger stage.
Martin was the engine for Arizona State for three straight years, starting with his sophomore campaign. He became the second Sun Devil in program history to be named to an all-league team three times and was considered a near-consensus first-team All-American selection by most media outlets. 19.1 points per game on 43.3 percent from the floor was nearly identical to his output during his junior year, and Martin had his eyes set on the 2021 NBA Draft.
After what he would later refer to as “good but not great” feedback during the draft evaluation process, Martin knew he needed an opportunity to further increase his stock. He withdrew from the draft process and chose to head East to become a Jayhawk. A knee injury suppressed Martin from seeing much of the court in the regular season, but the point guard saved his best for last, with two games of 20 or more points coming in the NCAA Tournament. Martin would claim the Midwest region’s Most Outstanding Player award.
In four seasons with the Sooners, Manek never averaged below double-digits in a season and showed that at 6’9″, he had a sweet stroke from the outside, shooting 38.1 percent from beyond the arc. It made him an immediate matchup nightmare and a key cog of Oklahoma’s offense. After his senior season, the Harrah, Oklahoma native said he “wanted to prove himself one more time” by succeeding at a school with a big stage like North Carolina.
Prove himself he has. Manek is averaging a career-high in points per game, assists per game, and nearly every shooting statistic. By New Year’s, he found his way into the starting lineup, and the Tar Heels haven’t looked back. The forward is now lighting it up in the NCAA Tournament, averaging 21.5 points, 8.0 rebounds per game, and has canned 16-of-34 triples. He has been the team’s leading scorer in the Big Dance.
Despite being in comfortable situations, both Martin and Manek took chances on themselves at blue-blood programs and are showing out on the sport’s biggest stage. It’s a perfect showcase of how the portal can give a player the chance to bet on themself and what can come to fruition. It very well may end up becoming the best decision of both players’ lives.
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The post Remy Martin & Brady Manek are Making Most of New Homes in NCAA Tournament first appeared on SportsGrid.