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NCAA basketball: Winners and losers of the 2023 transfer portal

Louisville transfer Hailey Van Lith makes LSU the clear favorite to repeat as NCAA champions in 2024. (C. Morgan Engel/NCAA Photos via Getty Images)

Whether coaches like it or not, the NCAA transfer portal has become a crucial part of roster-building in the offseason. In addition to high school recruiting, programs now have to worry about losing players to the portal and filling gaps with transfers. Some teams are thriving in the new landscape, while others are struggling.

Here are the winners and losers of the hyper-active 2023 transfer portal season.

Winners

LSU

The additions of Hailey Van Lith and Aneesah Morrow elevate LSU as the clear winners of the transfer portal. The defending champions needed a point guard after Alexis Morris departed for the WNBA, and they got the best available in Van Lith. Her midrange game and playmaking ability will complement Final Four Most Outstanding Player Angel Reese, and she also gives the Tigers another scoring option. Meanwhile, Morrow adds another offensive threat to the frontcourt and brings even more rebounding to the Tigers’ lineup. Reese and Morrow each averaged a double-double last year and should clean up on the glass once more.

North Carolina

The Tar Heels have managed to stay under the radar during the chaos of the transfer portal, but Courtney Banghart is building a contender in the ACC. The Tar Heels lost Kennedy Todd-Williams to Ole Miss and Destiny Adams to Rutgers, but still came out on the winning side of transfer season after securing Lexi Donarski (Iowa State), Indiya Nivar (Stanford) and Maria Gakdeng (Boston College). With Deja Kelly and Alyssa Ustby already on the roster, the Tar Heels now have capable scorers at every position. Donarski and Gakdeng also bolster the team’s defense, with Donarski as an on-ball defender and Gakdeng as a rim protector.

UCLA

While teams like LSU and North Carolina added several new players, UCLA added one and made it count. They needed a post presence and they got one in the 6-foot-7 Lauren Betts from Stanford. Not to mention they retained the rest of their talented roster, a difficult feat in today’s transfer era. Betts, the No. 1 player in the Class of 2022, joins No. 2 player Kiki Rice and two other top rising sophomores in Gabriela Jaquez and Londynn Jones. Add in Charisma Osborne, who chose to skip the WNBA draft in favor of playing one more season with UCLA, and the Bruins are a team that can contend for a title.

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UCLA added 2022 No. 1 recruit Lauren Betts this offseason. (John Todd/NCAA Photos via Getty Images)

Ohio State

The Buckeyes lost Taylor Mikesell to the WNBA but gained defensive stopper Celeste Taylor out of Duke and Taiyier Parks, who returns home to Ohio after four years at Michigan State. Taylor, in particular, is a player to get Ohio State fans excited. The Buckeyes’ identity is tied to their defensive prowess, particularly their press. Taylor, a 2023 Naismith Defensive Player of the Year finalist, fits perfectly into Ohio State’s system, joining former Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year Jacy Sheldon to create a dynamic backcourt that will spearhead the press.

Colorado

A big reason for Colorado winning the transfer portal is that they didn’t lose any major players. The Buffs are a Power 5 program without a storied basketball history, making them the kind of team players might transfer from after a strong season. But Colorado’s core, including four starters, is returning from last season’s Sweet 16 run. One thing that was missing for the Buffs in 2022-23? Aside from Frida Formann, Colorado didn’t have any reliable 3-point shooters. That changed thanks to the addition of Maddie Nolan in the portal. The former Michigan player also gives Colorado another ball-handler to play alongside Jaylyn Sherrod.

South Carolina

Iowa exposed a weakness in South Carolina in the Final Four, and Dawn Staley remedied it by bringing in Oregon point guard Te-Hina PaoPao. The Gamecocks lost Aliyah Boston, Brea Beal, Zia Cooke, Leticia Amihere and Victaria Saxon to graduation, but with Kamilla Cardoso, Raven Johnson and Ashlyn Watkins returning, and three top-25 recruits coming in, those players won’t be as hard to replace as you might think. The Gamecocks already had starter-caliber players coming off the bench, but they didn’t have enough shooting. PaoPao provides experience and an outside threat. She made 2.3 3-pointers a game last season on 42.4 percent shooting from deep.

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Te-Hina Paopao helps South Carolina replace the talent they lost after their Final Four run. (Ben Lonergan/The Register-Guard/USA TODAY Sports)

TCU

The Horned Frogs haven’t had much success in recent years, winning just eight games last season, but first-year coach Mark Campbell is guiding the program in the right direction. TCU signed former Oregon player Sedona Prince, who stepped away last season with an injury and a plan to turn pro before returning to college, and former 4-star recruit Madison Connor out of Arizona. The Horned Frogs also added former Stanford guard Agnes Emma-Nnopu, who showed potential in limited minutes over three years, and Una Jovanovi, who averaged 14.6 points and 3.8 assists at Cal State Fullerton last season.

Losers

Duke

Two seasons ago, Kara Lawson made waves by bringing in eight transfers, including Celeste Taylor. This time around, the portal wasn’t so kind to the Blue Devils, who lost five players including Taylor to Ohio State and Shayeann Day-Wilson to Miami. With Elizabeth Balogun graduating, Duke’s top three scorers are gone. They signed All-ACC Freshman guard Taina Mair out of Boston College, but overall the Blue Devils lost more than they gained.

Iowa State

Iowa State’s last few seasons have centered on 2023 WNBA draft pick Ashley Joens, so the Cyclones were bound for a rebuild of some kind this season no matter what. Now, they also have to deal with the loss of Donarski, a solid defender who contributed 12.1 points per game last season, and four other players. They will also feel the absence of Denae Fritz, who averaged 8.8 points and 4.6 rebounds per game before transferring to Baylor.

Oregon

Oregon has talented young players like Grace VanSlooten and Chance Gray to build around, but the departure of PaoPao marks the final piece of a worrying trend. Paopao was the last remaining player from Oregon’s 2020 recruiting class. The Ducks brought in five 5-star recruits that season, and all of them ended up transferring.

DePaul

Losing Morrow to LSU is enough to put DePaul in the losers category, but the Blue Demons also parted with six other players. The departures of Morrow and guard Darrione Rogers — who averaged 16.8 points, 5.1 assists and 4.7 rebounds per game last season — marks the end of an era where the Blue Demons failed to capitalize on star power. In Morrow’s two seasons, they made the NCAA Tournament once and lost in the first four games.

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All-American Aneesah Morrow was one of seven players DePaul lost this offseason. (David Butler II/USA TODAY Sports)

Arizona

Head coach Adia Barnes is a renowned recruiter, but the Wildcats roster took a major blow this portal season. Arizona lost Lauren Ware, a major contributor as a freshman during the team’s run to the 2021 national championship, and Paris Clark, the No. 5 guard in the Class of 2022. The Wildcats also lost three other players. Currently, there are just five players listed on Arizona’s official roster for next season.

NC State

Last year, NC State picked up former No. 3 recruit Saniya Rivers in the transfer portal. This year, things aren’t going as well for the Wolfpack, with five players on the way out. That includes three starters in Jakia Brown-Turner, Camille Hobby and leading scorer Diamond Johnson. Brown-Turner signed with Maryland, Hobby is heading to Illinois, and Johnson has yet to make a decision.

Iowa

The Hawkeyes didn’t lose or gain anyone in the portal, and that’s the problem. Iowa retains Cailtin Clark, Gabbie Marshall and Kate Martin from its starting lineup, and Hannah Stuelke will be more experienced and ready to step into a major role in the paint. Outside of that, the NCAA runners-up don’t have obvious replacements for McKenna Warnock or Monika Czinano. Iowa would have benefitted from finding a post in the transfer portal who could complement Clark’s playmaking and add depth alongside the developing Stuelke.

Eden Laase is a Staff Writer at Just Women’s Sports. Follow her on Twitter @eden_laase.

Nelly Korda Continues Unprecedented LPGA Run

LPGA golfer Nelly Korda poses with Mizuho Americas Open trophy
Nelly Korda took home the title at the Mizuho Americas Open on Sunday. (Sarah Stier/Getty Images)

Nelly Korda continued her unprecedented LPGA run on Sunday, winning her sixth tournament in the last seven starts. 

The 25-year-old Florida native took home the title at the Mizuho Americas Open, becoming the first LPGA player to record six wins in a single season since 2013 — and that’s with three majors and a little over half the season left to play.

"Oh, my gosh, six," Korda said after the win. "I can't even really gather myself right now with that, the head-to-head that Hannah and I had pretty much all day. Wasn't my best stuff out there today, but fought really hard on the back nine."

Korda is just the fourth player on tour to win six times before June 1st, joining LPGA Hall of Famers Babe Zaharias (1951), Louise Suggs (1953), and Lorena Ochoa (2008).

Should her victory run continue, Korda could break the current record for single-season wins, currently set at 13 by Mickey Wright in 1963.

Korda ended Sunday's tournament one shot ahead of Hannah Green, finishing the 18th with a par putt to win it all.

"I mean, to lose to Nelly kind of like is — it's sad, but then it's also Nelly Korda," Green said of her second-place finish. "You know, like she's obviously so dominant right now. To feel like second behind her is quite nice. Unfortunately the bogey on the last has a little bit of a sour taste."

Next up is the US Women’s Open, a tournament that Korda has yet to win in her career. 

"Obviously it's on the top of my priority list," she said. "I just know there is never any good when you put more pressure on yourself. Just going to stay in my bubble that week and take it a shot at a time."

Earlier this year, Korda became the fastest player to collect $2 million in prize money over a single season. This latest win earned her an additional $450,000, bringing her season total up to $2,943,708.

Caitlin Clark Signs Multi-Year Deal with Wilson, Gets Signature Basketball Collection

caitlin clark poses with wilson basketball
Clark is just the second athlete to get a signature basketball collection with Wilson. (Wilson Sporting Goods)

Caitlin Clark has signed a multi-year endorsement deal with Wilson Sporting Goods that will include a signature basketball collection, the brand announced early Tuesday. 

According to Boardroom, Clark is just the second athlete to develop a signature collection with Wilson, with the first being Michael Jordan in the 1980s. In addition to her basketball collection, she will also "test, advise and provide feedback on a range" of related products. 

Three Clark-branded white-and-gold Wilson basketballs have already dropped. Each ball features laser-cut engravings of some of the guard's most memorable moments at Iowa, where she became the all-time leading scorer in Division I college basketball history.

Three Wilson basketballs from Clark's collection have already dropped. (Wilson Sporting Goods).

"I think it is super special, and it's been fun for me," Clark told Boardroom. "I feel like I was just that young kid who had those basketballs that I would store in the garage. I'm just very lucky and fortunate to partner with Wilson to create something that everyone can enjoy. It connects with a lot of generations, and it'll be fun to see kids walking around holding them."

The No. 1 overall pick at the 2024 WNBA Draft, Clark has been building up a slate of major endorsements since turning pro. Current partnerships include Gatorade and Panini, and she’s also close to signing a signature shoe deal with Nike worth a reported $28 million.

New York Liberty off to First 4-0 Start in 17 Years

sabrina ionescu of the new york liberty on the court
Sabrina Ionescu led the undefeated Liberty to a 74-63 win over Seattle Monday night. (Evan Yu/NBAE via Getty Images)

The New York Liberty are 4-0 on the season for the first time since 2007. 

The 2023 WNBA title finalists notched a 74-63 win over Seattle on Monday night, with Sabrina Ionescu dropping 20 points alongside eight assists. After the game, Ionescu told reporters she thought the team was coming together a bit easier than they did last year.

"I think having a year together, we don't nearly have to communicate as much on the court anymore," she said. "Because we can just play off one another and read. And that's obviously been the growth of this team, is being able to play a season together last year."

The team’s defense has also contributed heavily to the season's winning start. Last night, the Liberty held Jewell Loyd to just 13 points and nine rebounds. Loyd let the Storm in scoring, with only two other players in double digits, while Nneka Ogwumike missed her second straight game with an ankle injury. 

Storm free agency acquisition Skylar Diggins-Smith had eight points, and is averaging 14.5 points and 5.8 assists per game this season. In her postgame remarks, Storm head coach Noelle Quinn called on others to give her grace in her return. 

"There needs to be respect about the fact that she's had two children and hasn’t played in 20 months," said Quinn. "She’s not going to come overnight and be who she was 20 months ago and we have to respect that and honor that. And I do.

"My grace as a coach is to know she’s working her butt off every day. You guys don’t see it. Every single day. Two children. Not one, two. Not many can do that."

Australia’s Sam Kerr Ruled Out for 2024 Paris Olympics With ACL Injury

sam kerr playing for the australian womens national team
A longtime Matildas mainstay, Kerr has made 128 appearances for Australia alongside 69 career goals. (Joe Prior/Visionhaus via Getty Images)

Australia has confirmed that captain and star striker Sam Kerr will miss the Paris Olympics due to an ACL injury suffered early this year. 

Kerr, who also stars for Chelsea, tore her ACL in January. While unlikely that she would recover in time for the Olympics, Football Australia (FA) hadn’t confirmed her status until Tuesday when the team revealed its squad for upcoming warm-up games. 

In a statement, the FA said that Kerr remained on the sidelines and will continue her rehab program at Chelsea. 

"Attacker Amy Sayer (ACL) and forward Sam Kerr (ACL) remain on the sidelines with long term injuries," the report read. "Kerr and Sayer will continue their rehabilitation programmes in their home club environments and subsequently will not be available for selection for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games."

Tuesdays 23-player squad is a "strong guide" to the final Olympic lineup, according to coach Tony Gustavsson, but others like injured midfielders Katrina Gorry and Aivi Luik could potentially figure into the conversation. 

"[They] most likely will be physically available to be part of an Olympic roster," Gustavsson said of Gorry and Luik. "This window will be a tough one for me and my staff in terms of evaluating players, where they are, and then the final selection process for Paris."

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