Powell: The transfer portal doesn’t play favorites


Jacob Rice/Iowa State Daily

Tyrese Hunter speaks at a press conference March 24 at the United Center.

James Powell

The dust has settled.

Tyrese Hunter has entered the transfer portal after one season at Iowa State, announced via his social media Monday. For some, it was a complete shock. For others, rumors were floating around days before and indications as early as Sunday night that a decision was imminent.

Let’s start with this: this is not intended to bash or criticize Hunter in any way, shape or form. There aren’t many who achieved what he did in one season at Iowa State, and he earned the right to reflect and make a decision that he felt best for himself.

Still, it’s fair for many to wonder what the root cause was for this particular entry into the portal. Most see it as an opportunity for Hunter to maximize his value at a potential blueblood such as Kentucky, North Carolina or Auburn. There are no early indications of schools that are interested, but one can assume the line will be long.

Regardless of the reason, the use of the transfer portal has exploded in recent years. Players are quicker to transfer than ever before, and sitting out a full season after transferring has become a thing of the past.

Players want to be where they feel wanted. They also want to have the best chance to succeed individually, as part of a team, and with whatever ventures may result from that success. There are also occasions where players want to be closer to home and family, coaching changes, new recruits and the list goes on.

The point is, the possibilities are endless as to why Hunter decided to enter the portal when he did, but it’s likely all centered around wanting to capitalize on the value he created in his freshman season with the Cyclones.

But for those who loathe the transfer portal and the movement of player empowerment, I encourage you to look at the very team Hunter is likely transferring from.

Izaiah Brockington. Gabe Kalscheur. Aljaz Kunc. All names familiar to Iowa State basketball because of the transfer portal. All with potentially completely different reasons for leaving their initial school and coming to Iowa State.

In this case, the Cyclones were on the losing end of this transfer portal entry. You don’t just replace one of the top freshman point guards in school history. Tamin Lipsey may step in admirably, but to plant those expectations on him just because Hunter did it the year prior isn’t fair.

Iowa State has a laundry list, even just in recent history, of players who chose to transfer to Iowa State to try and maximize their value. That’s how the portal can work for you at times, and Hunter is an example of when it works against a school.

Also aiding in the transfer portal movement is the idea of NIL playing a big role in where a player wants to play. Some players are big enough that they’ll be profitable no matter where they play. Others need to be in the right situation to maximize the potential profits they could see.

Take Doug Edert of Saint Peter’s, everyone’s favorite Cinderella in this year’s tournament. He had a promotion with Buffalo Wild Wings that hit social media in the week between the Round of 32 and the Sweet 16. It’s not a bold statement to say he wouldn’t have had that opportunity unless his Peacocks thrust themselves onto the national stage.

By the way, he has already hit the portal and committed to a new team. See, it can even happen to Saint Peter’s.

In Hunter’s case, who’s to say the true reason for his decision besides him. The possibilities are nearly endless for why he decided to enter the portal. And eventually, we’ll know what school he plays for next, and I’m sure he’ll continue to build on the value and notoriety he developed in his freshman year.

But for the transfer portal as a whole, this is just the way things are now. It may feel like no player is safe after this particular decision. That may just be the new normal to get used to.

The moral of the story is that the portal giveth and the portal taketh away. It gave the Cyclones a star in Izaiah Brockington this season, and it took away Tyrese Hunter, a star in his own right who will now try and build on what he started.