Skip to main content

101 Moves, Names and Narratives Shaping the Men’s College Hoops Offseason

From transfers to coaching changes to elite incoming freshmen to pressing story lines, consider this your one-stop guide.

We’re 101 days away from the first day of the 2022–23 men’s college basketball season!

A lot has happened since “One Shining Moment” played in New Orleans to celebrate a Kansas national championship. From shocking coaching changes to huge transfers to high-stakes stay-or-go NBA draft decisions, next season has been shaped by a near-endless stream of roster and coaching movement over the last four months that has only recently slowed down.

All those changes and domino effects are nearly impossible to keep up with. That’s why Sports Illustrated has summarized the biggest moves you should know about to get you ready for the upcoming season. Consider this your one-stop guide to the 2022 offseason.

Here’s how it all went down.

Nijel Pack, Kenny Payne, Drew Timme, John Calipari and Marcus Sasser

Left to right: Pack, Payne, Timme, Calipari and Sasser

We knew heading into the offseason that the sport would be losing a legend in Mike Krzyzewski, but the big shock of the offseason was Jay Wright (1) retiring at Villanova. The move sent shockwaves through college basketball, forced to deal with losing another legend from its coaching ranks who had built arguably the best program in the sport in the last decade. His replacement was announced within minutes: Fordham’s Kyle Neptune (2), who was a stalwart on Wright’s staff before taking the Fordham job a year ago and played a role in both national titles the Wildcats won.

Louisville turned to alum and longtime Kentucky assistant Kenny Payne to replace Chris Mack as coach (3). Payne, considered an ace recruiter, immediately made landing top 2023 recruit D.J. Wagner a priority, even hiring D.J.’s grandfather Milt (4) to his support staff to sweeten the deal. It’s a Bluegrass State battle between Louisville and Kentucky to land Wagner’s services. Payne also hired Duke assistant Nolan Smith off Jon Scheyer’s staff (5), so Scheyer raided Kentucky’s bench to add rising star recruiter Jai Lucas (6).

The first vacancy of the carousel was at Maryland, which parted ways with Mark Turgeon early in the 2021–22 season. From the moment the job opened, Seton Hall’s Kevin Willard was seen as a strong candidate, and the Terrapins’ search eventually led to Willard (7) shortly after the Pirates’ season ended in blowout fashion against TCU. Between yet another early NCAA tournament exit and a “classless” final press conference, the Willard era in South Orange ended rather unceremoniously. But Seton Hall fans should be thrilled about the future after landing alum Shaheen Holloway (8), who burst into coaching superstardom by leading Saint Peter’s to the Elite Eight.

But the center of this year’s coaching carousel was, without question, the SEC. Six of the league’s 14 schools changed coaches this offseason, and in many instances schools competed for the same candidates.

  • Georgia was first to the market after Tom Crean flamed out in Athens, and the Bulldogs stayed within the league to hire Florida’s Mike White (9). White was starting to feel the heat in Gainesville, but expectations are lower at UGA, and he finished outside the top 50 in KenPom only once in six seasons at Florida.
  • Florida responded with a daring hire: 37-year-old Todd Golden (10), who was fresh off leading San Francisco to the NCAA tournament. Golden is analytically savvy, spent some time in the SEC working under Bruce Pearl at Auburn and put together a remarkable year with the Dons. Still, it’s a big jump from going 22–21 in three years in the WCC to a program that has the upside to win a national title.
  • LSU was forced to jump into the coaching market when the NCAA’s notice of allegations against Will Wade was even more damning than expected. The Tigers went with Murray State’s Matt McMahon (11), who had to essentially completely turn over the roster after a mass exodus into the transfer portal.
  • Missouri moved on from Cuonzo Martin and replaced him with Cleveland State coach Dennis Gates (12), who has been a hot name to move up since taking the Vikings to the NCAA tournament in 2021. Gates, a former Leonard Hamilton assistant at Florida State, brought well-regarded FSU assistant Charlton “C.Y.” Young (13) with him to Columbia as his top assistant and paid him $600k per year to do it.
  • South Carolina parted ways with Frank Martin, who took the Gamecocks to the Final Four in 2017. His replacement: Lamont Paris (14), who comes in from Chattanooga. Paris made a splash early by landing top 2023 recruit G.G. Jackson and convinced him to reclassify and join the Gamecocks right away for this season.
  • Mississippi State might be the toughest job in the league, but athletic director John Cohen earned strong marks for hiring New Mexico State’s Chris Jans (15). Jans is a grinder who’ll be able to navigate the tricky SEC waters in recruiting and is fresh off beating UConn in the NCAA tournament.

A pair of familiar faces to their respective schools returned to Big East programs: Thad Matta (16) at Butler and Sean Miller (17) at Xavier. At each coach’s peak, they were among the 10 best in college basketball. But health issues helped keep Matta sidelined for the last five years, and Miller had to get out from under the cloud of the FBI investigation into the sport that sent one of his Arizona assistants to prison.

The other main story line from the coaching carousel season was the jobs that didn’t open. Patrick Ewing got a vote of confidence from AD Lee Reed (18) despite a historically bad season at Georgetown. Arizona State (19), Stanford (20) and Washington (21) stood pat to leave the Pac-12 with no changes this cycle, as did Northwestern (22) and Nebraska (23) in the Big Ten as well as Pitt (24) and NC State (25) in the ACC. If you’re piecing together an early 2023 hot seat list, that group would be a good start.

UNC’s Armando Bacot dribbles vs. Duke’s Mark Williams

Bacot headlines a returning UNC core that could have the Tar Heels at the top of preseason polls.

Who’s back?

Namely, big men! The combination of name, image and likeness (NIL) deals and the shrinking market for true post players in the NBA has left men’s college basketball with some high-profile returning star power in the frontcourt. That starts with defending National Player of the Year Oscar Tshiebwe (26), who is back at Kentucky after briefly testing the NBA waters. He’ll make around $2 million (or more) this year in NIL-related income, per Jeff Goodman, and is the first men’s NPOY to return to college since Tyler Hansbrough.

Joining Tshiebwe in the “star centers back for more” contingent:

  • Drew Timme (27), who waited until late on deadline day to take his name out of the NBA draft and head back to Gonzaga.
  • Armando Bacot (28), who is back for his senior season at North Carolina after an incredible NCAA tournament run for the Heels.
  • Trayce Jackson-Davis (29), who took Indiana to the Big Dance as a junior and can further put his name in program record books with a big senior season.
  • Hunter Dickinson (30), who credits NIL as a major reason for his return to Michigan after averaging more than 18 points and eight rebounds per game in 2021–22.

Bacot’s return to Chapel Hill set the tone for the rest of UNC’s core to run it back. Caleb Love (31), RJ Davis (32) and Leaky Black (33) could have all explored pro options, but decided to come back to school and chase a national title alongside Bacot. That means four of North Carolina’s five starters are back after coming up three points short of a championship in April, and those four returners are a huge reason why UNC is No. 1 in SI’s summer top 25.

Timme also got help from big-name returners, as Rasir Bolton (34) decided to use his extra year of eligibility, and Julian Strawther (35) withdrew from the draft process as well to give Gonzaga a strong returning core. The Zags do have to replace star point guard Andrew Nembhard but should be a legitimate national title contender yet again.

Some of the other most impactful return-to-school decisions:

  • Marcus Sasser (36) missed much of last season with a foot injury but at his best is one of the country’s top guards. His return to Houston means this year’s Cougars group could be Kelvin Sampson’s best team yet.
  • Kansas expected significant departures after winning it all but was fortunate to bring back Jalen Wilson (37) for his third season in Lawrence. He averaged more than 11 points and seven rebounds per game as a sophomore and will be a centerpiece of this year’s Jayhawks.
  • Versatile forward Jaime Jaquez Jr. (38) bypassed testing the waters altogether and decided right away to go back to UCLA for his senior season. Jaquez had an injury-riddled season for the Bruins, but he should be an All-American candidate this year.
  • Two of last season’s top transfers, Marcus Carr (39) and Timmy Allen (40), each decided to return to Texas for their extra year of eligibility. If you thought last year’s Longhorns were old, check out this year’s group. When Carr began his college career at Pitt back in 2017–18, he played against the likes of Grayson Allen, Bonzie Colson and Ty Jerome.

Plus, some mid-major stars who decided to run it back:

  • Wyoming got point forward Hunter Maldonado (41) back for another year, forming one of the best duos in the country with dominant back-to-the-basket big Graham Ike.
  • Antoine Davis (42) tested the transfer portal but instead will play one more season for his father Mike at Detroit Mercy. If he stays healthy and produces at similar rates to his first three seasons, he could finish his career as the NCAA’s second-leading scorer all time.
  • Speaking of high-scoring guards, Darius McGhee (43) will play one more season at Liberty after averaging 24.6 points per game despite standing just 5'9". He had games with 48 and 47 points this past season.
  • It could be a banner year for the Atlantic 10, but two returners stand out: DaRon Holmes II (44), Dayton’s star freshman who earned some late NBA draft buzz after an impressive first collegiate season, and Yuri Collins (45), a pass-first point guard who withdrew his name from the transfer portal in favor of another year at Saint Louis. Both teams have top-25 potential.
Creighton landed Baylor Scheierman over the offseason

Can Scheierman help shoot the Bluejays to the top of the Big East?

Who transferred?

The Verbal Commits transfer list includes 1,750 names, topping the 2021 list by eight. What were the most impactful of those moves?

It’s open to debate whether Kansas State transfer Nijel Pack (46) was the best in this year’s cycle, but his recruitment had the greatest influence on the portal by far. The first team all–Big 12 selection committed to Miami in mid-April, a huge get for the Hurricanes over the likes of Purdue, Ohio State and a host of other suitors. But the impact of Pack’s commitment was felt not just by the Canes, but the entirety of college basketball. A two-year, $800,000 NIL deal with Lifewallet (and Hurricanes booster John Ruiz) signed by Pack and announced simultaneously with the junior’s commitment set the market for future deals and priced out many schools in the process.

Numbers like what Pack received were tossed around in rumor mills around the sport in the days leading up to his commitment, but the very public nature of it created a real shift in player expectations and realities for coaches attempting to navigate the portal. One top mid-major coach told Sports Illustrated this offseason that after Pack’s deal, any big man they felt would improve their team would have come with a price tag upwards of $100,000.

Some of the other main contenders for the top player to change hands this offseason: Tyrese Hunter (47), Pete Nance (48), Kendric Davis (49) and Baylor Scheierman (50). Hunter was one of the best freshmen in the country and led Iowa State to the Sweet 16 but is now off to Texas, where he’ll fit well in Chris Beard’s defensive scheme. You couldn’t draw up a better replacement for Brady Manek at the power forward position for North Carolina than Nance, who heads to Chapel Hill after four years at Northwestern. He’s skilled, versatile and will look even better with a more talented supporting cast. Davis was one of the best point guards in the country during his time at SMU, and he’ll be the centerpiece of a retooled Memphis team for his final year of eligibility. And then there’s Scheierman, who saw virtually every top school express interest after hitting the portal. Could he be the missing piece for a Creighton team with an outstanding young core?

One driver of transfer portal movement is always coaching changes. One illustration: LSU parting ways with Wade drove a massive roster exodus, including seven players into the portal. Those seven scattered across the country to big-time programs, including Brandon Murray (51) to Georgetown, Efton Reid (52) to Gonzaga and Alex Fudge (53) to Florida. Then, new coach Matt McMahon brought three top players from Murray State in KJ Williams (54), Justice “Juice” Hill (55) and Trae Hannibal (56) to jumpstart the rebuild in Baton Rouge. Of course, that left Murray State in need of a rapid retool, so the Racers added six transfers (including two from the D-II ranks).

Ten more transfers who could make a substantial impact on the upcoming season:

  • Kevin McCullar (57) dealt with plenty of backlash from fans in Lubbock for leaving Texas Tech for Kansas, but the defense-first wing provides a much-needed veteran presence for the Jayhawks.
  • Illinois reconstructed its team with three Big 12 transfers for the post–Kofi Cockburn era in Champaign. Midseason addition Dain Dainja (58) from Baylor helps solidify the center position, but Texas Tech’s Terrence Shannon Jr. (59) and Baylor’s Matthew Mayer (60) have high-level college pedigrees and make the Illini a far more versatile team. Another Big Ten title feels attainable.
  • In addition to LSU’s Reid, Gonzaga also added one of the best guards in the portal in Chattanooga transfer Malachi Smith (61), who stuffed the stat sheet better than almost anyone last season on an NCAA tournament team and gives Mark Few another veteran presence in the backcourt.
  • A few mid-major bigs moving up worth mentioning: Rebounding machine Norchad Omier (62) heads from Arkansas State to Miami; “Big Maple” Fardaws Aimaq (63) is off to Texas Tech after two seasons of eye-popping numbers at Utah Valley; Auburn beat out Florida in a high-stakes recruiting battle for Morehead State transfer Johni Broome (64); top rim protector Osun Osunniyi (65) will finish his career at Iowa State after four years at St. Bonaventure.
  • Finally, the Emoni Bates (66) experiment failed spectacularly at Memphis, but the former top recruit will attempt to resurrect his career back home in Ypsilanti for Eastern Michigan.

Who’s gone?

Beyond players who finally ran out of eligibility (looking at you, Brad Davison), here’s a rundown of some big names you won’t see in college hoops this season.

Two of the biggest return-to-school decisions in the 2021 offseason were Johnny Juzang (67) and Kofi Cockburn (68), college stars with questionable pro futures who elected to return for one more year of seasoning. This time around, Juzang and Cockburn decided it was time to turn pro. Both are in the Jazz organization, with Juzang signing a two-way contract and Cockburn landing an Exhibit 10 deal with the organization.

The only lottery pick whose stay-or-go decision was in question was Shaedon Sharpe (69), the former No. 1 recruit in the class of 2022 who reclassified and joined Kentucky midseason. Once it was clear that Sharpe would be eligible for the ’22 draft, most expected he’d turn pro immediately. But the process wasn’t exactly smooth throughout and generated frustration in Lexington as the Cats realized a significant piece of their ’22–23 plans wouldn’t be there.

A few names that rose throughout the predraft process and wound up going in the first round after initially appearing 50–50: Dalen Terry (70), the connective tissue of Arizona last season who went No. 18 to the Bulls; Jake LaRavia (71), who exploded onto the scene at Wake Forest after transferring in from Indiana State and came off the board at No. 20 to the Grizzlies; Christian Braun (72), who impressed scouts with his toughness and polish after winning a national title with Kansas and is off to the Nuggets; and David Roddy (73), the Colorado State forward with the body of a lineman whose departure for the pros knocked the Rams out of preseason top 25s. Roddy went No. 23 to the Grizzlies.

Arkansas losing Jaylin Williams (74) to the pros was a significant departure from a national standpoint. Considering the Hogs’ loaded incoming class, Arkansas would have had a real case to be No. 1 in the preseason polls with its star center in tow. The other pro departure that had real impact on the No. 1 spot was transfer Kenneth Lofton Jr. (75), who starred at the G League Elite Camp and NBA draft combine before earning a two-way contract with the Grizzlies. Several industry sources expected Lofton to choose Houston had he returned to college, which would have been a major impact addition and pushed the Cougars over the top.

Five other high-impact pro departures from those who had eligibility remaining:

  • Justin Lewis (76) would have likely been the preseason Player of the Year in the Big East for Marquette. His departure makes the path to a second straight NCAA tournament bid for Shaka Smart and the Golden Eagles more difficult.
  • Dereon Seabron (77) stayed in the draft after stuffing the stat sheet in 2021–22 at NC State. His return paired with Terquavion Smith would have formed one of the better duos in the country.
  • Most of Duke’s draft decisions were relatively straightforward, but Trevor Keels (78) went to the 11th hour before deciding to keep his name in the draft. Keels had an uneven freshman season in Durham, but a second year would have been huge for new coach Jon Scheyer.
  • St. John’s had a strong offseason in the portal, but couldn’t coax Julian Champagnie (79) back for one more year with the Red Storm. He was one of the best scorers in high-major basketball this past season.
  • Scotty Pippen Jr. (80) was one of the lone bright spots for Vanderbilt in the Jerry Stackhouse era. It’s hard to imagine things will go well in Nashville this season with the dynamic point guard off to the pros.
Incoming Duke freshman Dariq Whitehead shoots

Scheyer’s first Duke recruiting class includes Whitehead, shooting here for Montverde Academy.

Freshmen to know:

We might not be completely done adding elite talent to the sport for next season. Last year, for instance, both Jalen Duren and Bates committed to Memphis in August. And just last week, top 2023 recruit G.G. Jackson (81) reclassified to 2022 and committed to South Carolina, where he’ll be the centerpiece of Year 1 under Lamont Paris.

Here’s a brief scout on 10 freshmen whose names you’ll want to be familiar with long before the season starts in November:

82. Nick Smith (Arkansas): Smith might be the best NBA prospect in college hoops this year. A smooth 6'5" guard who can play on or off the ball, the native of just outside of Little Rock should be one of the best playmakers in the sport and a centerpiece of a Hogs team ranked No. 5 in SI’s summer top 25. He’s one of three McDonald’s All-Americans in Arkansas’s 2022 recruiting class.

83 + 84. Dariq Whitehead and Dereck Lively II (Duke): It’s hard to just pick one player from this incoming group at Duke. Whitehead is a game-ready wing who played at prep powerhouse Montverde, while Lively should be one of the best defensive players in the sport as a rim protector. These two were quite the coup for Scheyer in his first season.

85. Cam Whitmore (Villanova): There’s a very good chance Whitmore becomes a rare Villanova one-and-done. He put up eye-popping numbers for Team USA at the FIBA U-18 Americas earlier this summer and should carry a substantial scoring load for a Wildcats team that could be without Justin Moore for the season after he sustained an Achilles injury during the NCAA tournament.

86. Keyonte George (Baylor): George is a smooth operator in ball screens and should provide a major jolt to the Baylor backcourt. He put up an eye-popping 37 points with Baylor at the GLOBL JAM against a Canada team that featured college stars like Marcus Carr, Ryan Nembhard and Quincy Guerrier.

87. Jarace Walker (Houston): Walker was a five-star recruit out of IMG Academy and fits Kelvin Sampson’s system like a glove. He’s a high-motor forward with elite physical tools who should dominate on the boards for a Houston team that prioritizes the offensive glass.

88. Cason Wallace (Kentucky): With TyTy Washington Jr. and Sharpe each off to the pro ranks, the Wildcats needed scoring punch. That’s where Wallace comes in, a top-10 recruit, per 247Sports, whose brother Keaton scored 2,000 points in his college career. Expect him to plug in at the shooting guard spot next to Sahvir Wheeler in the backcourt.

89. Gradey Dick (Kansas): Dick is likely the most game-ready of a star-studded Kansas freshman class, and he’ll be leaned upon immediately with Ochai Agbaji and Braun off to the pros. He’s a strong outside shooter but also has great size and can really score off the bounce.

90. Skyy Clark (Illinois): The one-time Kentucky pledge saw his stock slip some later in high school as he dealt with injuries, but at his best was one of the most creative passers you’ll ever see in high school basketball. He should get the keys right away to run the point for a new-look Illini group.

91. Jaxon Kohler (Michigan State): Kohler is ranked just outside the top 50 in his class per 247Sports but is expected to play a major role for the Spartans from Day 1. While slightly undersized and a bit slow-footed defensively, Kohler’s a fun player to watch because of his skill level and toughness and should be a relied-upon post presence for Tom Izzo’s club.

The 10 big story lines of 2022–23:

92. The pressure is on John Calipari to make another deep run at Kentucky. Recruiting hasn’t slowed down at all for the Wildcats, but they haven’t been to a Final Four since 2015, and Calipari has just one national title since taking over in 2009. Losing to Saint Peter’s in the first round of last year’s dance after Kentucky’s disastrous 9–16 record in 2020–21 didn’t help matters.

93. Is Indiana making its way back to the top of the sport? The Hoosiers had an uneven Year 1 under Mike Woodson, but finished strong and got to the NCAA tournament. Now, every major piece is back and two top-30 recruits join the fray. With no clear dominant team in the Big Ten, the door is open for Indiana to get back to the top.

94. Could Creighton have its best team ever? The Bluejays clearly exceeded expectations with a young team in 2021–22, and now bring back a ton of talent and add a top transfer in Scheierman. Arthur Kaluma is getting first-round NBA draft buzz and Ryan Kalkbrenner is one of the most impactful big men in the country.

95. The passing of the torch at Duke and Villanova. Two of the greatest coaches in college basketball history step aside and are replaced by a pair of young up-and-comers in the industry in Scheyer and Neptune, respectively. Hubert Davis went through his share of growing pains at North Carolina early in the season before nearly leading the Heels to a national title, so we’ll see how smooth the transition is for Scheyer and Neptune as they take over two of the best programs in the sport.

96. Can Gonzaga finally cut down the nets? Numbers don’t lie: In the last six years, Gonzaga has been the best team in the sport three times and second-best twice, per KenPom. But until the Bulldogs actually win a championship, there will always be doubters because of the conference they play in. Mark Few has a team with enough talent to pull it off this year … but that was also the case the last two seasons.

97. PK85 brings some of the sport’s best to Portland this November. Duke, North Carolina, Villanova, Michigan State, Gonzaga and a host of other high-profile programs come together for the biggest event of the nonconference season. It’s a great opportunity for the sport to get some exposure during Thanksgiving weekend with elite ranked-vs.-ranked matchups.

98. The back-to-the-basket big man is here to stay. As mentioned above, several top centers came back to school rather than turning pro. Tshiebwe, Timme, Bacot, Dickinson, Jackson-Davis, Zach Edey, Kalkbrenner, Adama Sanogo, Colin Castleton … the list goes on. It’s by far the sport’s deepest position in 2022–23.

99. 2020’s forgotten mid-major darlings are back. Before the NCAA tournament was canceled due to COVID-19 two years ago, Dayton and San Diego State had legitimate chances to compete for a national title. Putting those types of expectations on this year’s Flyers and Aztecs is unfair, but both teams are in the top 20 of SI’s summer top 25. SDSU should have perhaps the best defense in the sport and Dayton features uber-talented big man Holmes, who shined as a freshman.

100. The backdrop of realignment. Conference realignment’s impact on the 2022–23 season will be relatively limited at the highest levels of the sport: The most notable movement comes with Loyola Chicago heading to the Atlantic 10 and Murray State, Belmont and UIC joining the Missouri Valley. But the massive future changes of Texas and Oklahoma to the SEC and UCLA and USC to the Big Ten loom over the sport right now as rivalries vanish and financial situations change.

101. Unique early-season game destinations. After previous games attempted on aircraft carriers have been impacted by condensation issues on the court, the sport is poised to try again with Michigan State and Gonzaga set to face off on the U.S.S. Abraham Lincoln docked in San Diego on Nov. 11. That same day, Wisconsin and Stanford will play a basketball game on the field of a baseball stadium at American Family Field, home of the Milwaukee Brewers. Grab some peanuts (or cheese curds) and enjoy! 

More College Basketball Coverage:

• Men’s Offseason Winners and Losers
Life at Saint Peter’s Already Looks Much Different
Ranking Every Power 5 School by Desirability