ASU men’s hoops challenged again by NIL, transfer portal rules

Jul 19, 2023, 7:39 AM

Bobby Hurley, Arizona State...

Head coach Bobby Hurley of the Arizona State Sun Devils speaks to the media before the opening round of the NCAA mens basketball tournament at Ball Arena in Denver on Thursday, March 16, 2023. (Photo by AAron Ontiveroz/MediaNews Group/The Denver Post via Getty Images)

(Photo by AAron Ontiveroz/MediaNews Group/The Denver Post via Getty Images)

Look no further than Tempe when it comes to the volatility of a collegiate sports program with the new NIL rules and the transfer portal.

Bobby Hurley’s Arizona State men’s basketball squad has only three players returning from last year’s roster. A team, by the way, that was pretty darn good, winning 23 games and making the NCAA Tournament.

But that didn’t stop two players from graduating, one from entering the draft and six more transferring away. The latter was the unexpected hit, one ASU filled with six transfers of its own, two new freshmen and a JUCO transfer.

As Hurley pointed out on Tuesday before the team departs for preseason play in Europe, those guys left for a variety of reasons. But the impact of NIL deals and the ease of the portal are undeniable.

“We’re gonna expect this type of change and turnover every year and that’s how I’m focusing and looking at it,” Hurley said.

It’s not a guarantee for failure. The core of Arizona State’s 23-win squad last season was built around newcomers and transfers. But the degree of difficulty is far higher.

Hurley noted one of three returnees, junior wing Jamiya Neal, is someone more focused on where he gets developed the best as a player so he can pursue professional opportunities later as opposed to a NIL deal he had from elsewhere that is more lucrative in the short term. The head coach hopes his program’s ecosystem can be that type of benefit, as he noted junior guard Frankie Collins and senior big Alonzo Gaffney were in similar positions.

“He wants to be here. … He thinks our style of play and the growth and the development he’s seen in his game over a couple of years, that that’s his bigger picture than a one-time payout in NIL,” Hurley said of Neal.

Neal stressed the importance of players like him and Collins being able to be themselves on Hurley’s team.

“Some people out here just trying to go chase money and get the biggest bag but that’s not what it’s always about,” Neal said. “Sometimes it’s about investing in your future and I think staying here was a good investment for both of our futures.”

The Sun Devils will spend July 24-Aug. 2 in Europe, beginning with a visit to Paris for two games across four days. The trip ends in Greece for one game in a pair of days in Athens before the team will bond further at Mykonos, a small island off the coast of Greece for some beach time.

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