OGDEN — In a period of less than three weeks, Weber State men’s basketball committed six of its seven players now officially signed to the 2020 class.
Now, after that whirlwind, coaches are honing in on a big man to complete the signing class.
With potential rule changes pending, that’s slowed down the recruiting process into a narrower focus with one player left to sign.
“It could happen fast, it could happen later. We’re trying to shoot high and be picky, so it could take a little longer,” WSU head coach Randy Rahe said about signing the final player.
Part of the reason is the pending May 20 vote when the NCAA will decide if athletes transferring for the first time can become immediately eligible. Currently, in most cases, non-graduating players are required to sit out for one year unless they are granted a transfer waiver. Waiver requests are evaluated based on the varied circumstances around a player’s transfer.
While Rahe is currently recruiting a handful of big men, he expects the proposal to pass in May and then take effect immediately, impacting the recruiting landscape.
“If the player we want doesn’t become available right now, if the rule changes on May 20, the transfer portal is going to get bombarded,” Rahe said. “If we haven’t got a big guy we want by then, we’ll have a lot more options then if the rule passes ... we feel pretty confident the rule will change and there will be more kids in the portal.”
Recruiting big men hasn’t changed much over the years. Like drafting Sam Bowie over Michael Jordan, or Greg Oden over Kevin Durant, everybody wants an impact center.
Since recruiting is limited at least through May 31 to phone and video calls due to the coronavirus pandemic, the big-man effect has become magnified.
“These big guys, as soon as they come on that portal, everybody in the country is calling them. I talked to a kid this week, I finally got a hold of him after trying for a day and a half, he said he had 75-80 calls within the first two hours of being listed on the portal,” Rahe said. “You can’t work out your guys, there’s nothing to do, everyone’s at home, so everyone’s sitting there staring at the portal all day.”
Rahe said Dontay Bassett, a graduate transfer from Florida who signed his National Letter of Intent last week, had to stop answering the phone during the second day after entering the transfer portal.
“Then it calms down and they narrow it down to what they’re looking for,” Rahe said.
Bassett joins Isiah Brown (Grand Canyon), Balint Mocsan (Idaho State), Seikou Sisoho Jawara (Loyola Marymount), Zahir Porter (junior college), Darweshi Hunter (Division II) and Dillon Jones (prep freshman) as the seven players to sign last week.
Rahe said he expects all seven of those players to be eligible to play next season. Bassett, Brown and Mocsan are graduate transfers and eligible by rule, and Porter and Jones enter with no such questions.
The question marks are Sisoho Jawara and Hunter. But Sisoho Jawara’s coach was fired after the player’s lone season at Loyola Marymount and Hunter did not have a full scholarship at Central State. As such, even if the first-time transfer proposal fails, Weber State expects both players to successfully obtain transfer waivers to compete immediately due to their circumstances.
To the NCAA, part of the appeal of enacting the first-time transfer rule is removing the need to evaluate hundreds of such waiver requests each offseason and simply allow each player one transfer without having to sit out.