Experiencing the final game of the University of Connecticut’s dominant championship run this spring was exhilarating, but unfortunately, it also marked the end of the 2022–23 college basketball season. Although we’ve seen no hoops since then, there have been a plethora of exciting changes in the sport this offseason that will hopefully set up another great five months of basketball.
As expected, the combination of loosened transfer portal rules and the allowance of name, image and likeness deals in 2021 have created lots of roster turnover. Most notably, Hunter Dickinson, the former starting center for the University of Michigan, took his talents to the University of Kansas. This, along with three other quality transfers, gave coach Bill Self’s Jayhawks what most believe to be the best transfer portal class in the nation.
Unlike past offseasons where teams usually only gained one or two players through the portal, schools almost regularly picked up a full five-man lineup of players. Both the University of West Virginia and Pennsylvania State University recruited an astounding nine transfers. All of this movement was accelerated by the massive name, image and likeness packages that school boosters were giving out, with many coaches believing the average deal to be around $200,000.
But the personnel changes did not stop there. As with most offseasons, several big name schools made big splashes with their coaching hires. The one that most are talking about is the addition of head coach Rick Pitino to St. John’s University’s staff. Although Pitino was the face of the infamous recruiting scandal at the University of Louisville, he also very well could be the best coach in college basketball. He’s already shown why he’s accomplished so much, recruiting a huge transfer class of eight quality, high-potential players.
Furthermore, the most notable resignation in the sport took place at University of West Virginia. In the spring, former coach and basketball hall of famer Bob Huggins used derogatory language while on a radio show, and then, only weeks later, was arrested on a DUI charge. After calls to fire Huggins, he eventually resigned and this led to the hiring of his prior assistant coach, Josh Eilert. Similarly, Jim Boeheim, the long-time Syracuse University head coach, retired, giving the reins to the former associate head coach Adrian Autry.
Possibly the biggest news coming from this summer, though, was the major conference realignment that took place between almost all of the Power Five conferences. While most of the moves came from football, these arrangements will heavily affect the college hoops landscape. The Pac-12 lost almost every team in their conference, with four schools joining the Big Ten and four more leaving for the Big 12 this year. Additionally, Stanford University and the University of California, Berkeley moved to the ACC, leaving the Pac-12 with just two teams come 2024. The Big 12, which is losing the University of Oklahoma and the University of Texas to the SEC, also added the University of Houston along with three other teams for the 2023 season. Once all of these changes come to fruition, the Power Five will be more of a Power Four, as the Pac-12 will no longer be the powerhouse conference it was in the past.
The 2023 offseason is one that will definitely be remembered, likely changing college basketball forever.