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Nugent: Offseason expectations are higher than ever across college basketball, what that could mean for teams like Creighton

Creighton head coach Greg McDermott gestures against Gonzaga in the first half of a Sweet 16...
Creighton head coach Greg McDermott gestures against Gonzaga in the first half of a Sweet 16 game in the NCAA men's college basketball tournament at Hinkle Fieldhouse.(Michael Conroy | AP)
Published: Apr. 6, 2021 at 8:05 PM CDT
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - As Baylor celebrates its national title the offseason is here and it’s one unlike any other. Because transfers played a bigger role than ever in the Final Four, eight of the 20 starters were transfers, and Baylor, the last team standing, heavily relied on them.

The path to a national championship is changing, the Bears proved it. There’s plenty of supply with now 1,200 players in the transfer portal, players looking for something different and better. No doubt, not every person has the same idea of what better is, for some, it could be a deep run in the tournament, for others it could be more shots or maybe a position change. Whatever they are looking for, potential team success will also be attractive.

That’s what coaches are now going to try to be creating every offseason. This is going to be very hectic because not only are they recruiting high school players but also sorting through the 1,200 players in the portal. Identifying strengths and considering how players will potentially complement each other.

Greg McDermott was asked about this offseason before Creighton played Gonzaga, here’s what he said, “The landscape is changing with transfers being immediately eligible, I think it could make it a little more difficult to build a program, I think you will build a team each year rather than build a program.”

From a Creighton perspective, the Bluejays will have a new nucleus in the fall. Christian Bishop is in the portal, Denzel Mahoney is going to give the NBA a shot, Marcus Zegarowski, Mitch Ballock and Damien Jefferson could choose that path as well.

That leaves a lot of minutes, not only for players like Shereef Mitchell, Ryan Kalkbrenner, Antwann Jones and Alex O’Connell. But a top 30 recruiting class too, featuring Mason Miller, Ryan Nembhard and John Christofilis.

If Creighton does end up with five new starters, it’s hard not to see a transfer or two or three jumping at the opportunity to join a program that just played in the Sweet 16. One that plays in the BIG EAST and draws like the Bluejays.

Gone are the days where you lose a big chunk of your rotation and it becomes a multi-year rebuilding process. It can be fixed faster with the right players. But pulling that off is hard, there’s a reason Baylor was the first, many have tried, only one perfected it.

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