Drew Timme and the real problem with the transfer portal

click to enlarge Drew Timme is all smiles after cutting a piece of net from Gonzaga's WCC title-clinching victory against Santa Clara on Feb. 19, 2022, at the McCarthey Athletic Center. - ERICK DOXEY PHOTO

Erick Doxey photo

Drew Timme is all smiles after cutting a piece of net from Gonzaga’s WCC title-clinching victory against Santa Clara on Feb. 19, 2022, at the McCarthey Athletic Center.

The laziest take in college basketball is that Gonzaga isn’t actually good because they haven’t won a national title.

We know that one’s beyond absurd.

But the second laziest take is that the transfer portal is running college hoops.

Certain coaches and fans bemoan the fact that in 2021 the NCAA changed its rules and allow non-graduate players to transfer to another school without having to sit out a year. As a result, more players who are unhappy at their current schools or think they could get a bigger spotlight at another university decide to pack their bags and leave. Coaches whine about feeling like they have to recruit players to not leave, and fans complain that players lack the toughness to grind out their situation and hope it improves.

But really, it’s not a problem. It makes logical and moral sense for the NCAA to allow this: The coaches who often make millions are able to leave for other schools without reproach, so punishing the unpaid athletes by making them burn a year of eligibility without being allowed on the court always felt like a cruel and usurious cost for seeking a better playing situation. Sure, some impatient players will inevitably transfer and find themselves in worse situations, but it’s still a net positive to give the players agency over their college hoops careers.

There is actually one clear downside to the current state of transfers, and Drew Timme declaring for the NBA Draft yesterday actually illustrates the issue.

Timme declared his intention to enter the NBA Draft process on Thursday, but he hired an NCAA certified agent, meaning he can test the waters and still come back to Gonzaga if he wants. It will be interesting to see what Timme decides, as he’s likely to be at best a second round pick and could go undrafted because of his lack of elite athleticism and size.

There’s a decent chance he could make more money coming back to Gonzaga, thanks to the recent NCAA’s new Name, Image, Likeness rules, which allow for collegiate players to get paid for endorsements and advertising. Timme would return as the face of college basketball, meaning he could cash in on advertisements that wouldn’t be available for a low-level NBA rookie. It’s almost certain he could make more than a two-way rookie NBA contract pays.

Timme has more than earned the right to take his time and make the decision that’s right for him.

click to enlarge Gonzaga forward Drew Timme goes to the hoop. Now, will he go to the NBA? - YOUNG KWAK

Young Kwak

Gonzaga forward Drew Timme goes to the hoop. Now, will he go to the NBA?

Unfortunately, the delay in certainty is a real hindrance for Gonzaga in this modern transfer landscape.

With players entering the transfer portal as soon as the season ends, the clock is ticking to try to land top transfers. In this system, having a player who is 50/50 on the decision to stay/leave a school really handcuffs a team. Since players have until June 1 to decide to return to school, it creates a huge question mark on the roster for months.

Timme is the perfect example to illustrate this issue. Obviously, he is way, way, way better than anyone the Zags could bring in to play center next year, and the Zags absolutely need to wait on his decision. But GU also is unlikely to land one of the top bigs on the transfer market while Timme is in limbo. If Timme were gone, Gonzaga would be the No. 1 transfer destination for a big — being able to slide into the starting lineup for a national powerhouse that turns out pros is a no-brainer. But players aren’t going to want to commit to transferring to the Zags knowing they might get bumped for a returning Timme.

For a concrete example, Gonzaga has reportedly contacted former Utah Valley center Fardaws Aimaq. The double-double machine is a beast, but he’s not a floor spacer like Chet Holmgren was. Pairing him alongside Timme wouldn’t make sense, as both need to operate primarily in the paint. He’d be a perfect replacement if Timme left, and Gonzaga would probably be the favorite to land him if the All-American were for sure gone. But there’s almost no chance Aimaq will land at GU with Timme’s status up in the air, and he’s unlikely to wait until June to make a decision.

The system essentially punishes schools for having borderline NBA talents, and there’s no obvious fix to rectify the issue.

So for now, Zags fans are left waiting. The team will be fine no matter what Timme decides, though watching the mustachioed big make one last run at a national title would sure be a treat.

As always, the NCAA never makes things easy.

Article Source: Inlander