Rice basketball has been gutted by the Transfer Portal this offseason. For better or worse, the Owls are adapting to a new normal in college basketball.
No sooner had the final installment of an offseason series on Rice basketball been published than did everything change for head coach Scott Pera and the Owls. Josh Parrish entered the Transfer Portal. Then Trey Murphy III followed. Then Drew Peterson tacked his name onto the list. In the span of a week a promising upcoming season was plunged into uncertainty.
“I’m not sure all of this stuff is good for the game,” Pera said a few weeks later after he’d found the replacement for those transfers and the outgoing senior class. He acknowledged that he wishes the best for those leaving Houston, but wishes there were another way. In his eyes, the grass isn’t always greener.
And it’s not going to get easier. The NCAA is discussing doing away with the rule that mandates a one-year penalty for all transferring players. Under the proposed guidelines, all athletes would be granted immediate eligibility across all sports. Could this tip the balance of power even further away from smaller schools like Rice? Pera thinks so.
If the rule passes, Pera thinks schools like Rice “become like the minor leagues”, grooming talent for the elite programs.
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After dealing with as much adversity as he has, it’s easy to see how Pera came to hold that position. Many believe his words of caution, fearing things could get even worse on the transfer front. But as of this writing, it’s already a bleak picture for Rice and its fellow Conference USA peers.
As of May 1, at least 11 C-USA schools had lost at least one player this offseason. Eight had lost at least two. Rice was among at least three schools that have lost three or more. The exodus isn’t on its way. It’s here.
Reluctantly, Pera has made plans for the worse. “As much as I didn’t want those guys to leave, you can’t be on your heels in this process anymore in college basketball,” he said. “It is the world we live in.”
Rice responded by signing a seven-person class this spring. The new additions ranged from incoming high school players to experienced, junior college and grad transfer players. The Owls had a variety of holes to fill, so they cast a wide net. As much as they might not want it to be true, today’s transfer epidemic has, in many ways, become the new normal.
“We’ve kind of gotten used to this,” Pera said. It’s grim, but it’s reality. Rather than dwell on the negative, Pera and Rice basketball vow to keep moving forward with a new roster but the same purpose.