Transfer #SZN is in full swing right now, even if the state of college basketball is stuck at a standstill.
Head coach Matthew Mitchell and the Kentucky Women’s Basketball program have already hit the transfer portal hard during the offseason – and the last couple of offseasons, too – acquiring two impressive guards that ditched SEC programs in order to don a Wildcat jersey. But with questions still looming over the possibility of an immediate transfer rule being instituted as early as next season, there are still some holes in the roster that might need to be filled.
With that being said, the transfer market is overflowing with valuable talent. Mitchell already snagged two guards, now the frontcourt needs some love. Kentucky has been notorious – almost to a fault – for not having a dominant paint presence. It was a major talking point for last season’s team, who ranked 13 out of 14 among SEC teams in total rebounding. The way Mitchell runs his offense (and more particularly, his defense) doesn’t necessarily call for the need of a bruiser down low. He wants to shoot from beyond the arc and play pressure defense. But it’s hard to ignore the fact that, if Kentucky had someone over the size of 6-foot-2 who could rebound at an efficient level and help protect the rim, they could become so much more versatile.
I traveled over to WBBBlog.com – a website ran by Twitter user @Raoul_000, who regularly updates the site with every single transfer in the women’s basketball portal – to do a bit of research on some potential targets that Mitchell and his staff might look to bring in.
According to the numbers provided by the site, there have been a total of 299 players who have entered the portal. Only 54 of them are graduate transfers, meaning that only 54 of them will be able to play right away next season, no matter what happens with the immediate transfer rule. I sifted through every available player who had not already committed to a new team, mainly searching for players who worked either the forward or center position and were over the height of 6-foot-2. I came away with five potential targets that we will briefly run through, although only one of them is a grad transfer.
Kayla Mokwuah – 6-foot-4 rising junior transferring from Geroge Washington
Mokwuah was one of just four players from last season’s George Washington squad to appear in all 30 games, even starting in six of them. She was third on the team in scoring (8.0 PPG) and fourth in rebounding (4.5 RPG) while leading her team with 28 total blocks. In her sophomore year, she played at least 20 minutes in only nine games, but still managed 12 double-digit scoring outings. Mokwuah ranked just sixth among her teammates in total minutes but was arguably one of the top three most consistent.
While her competition was against the Atlantic-10 and GWU finished with a 14-16 overall record, including an 8-8 record in conference play, Mokwuah has size and skill that stands out. While she became a bit prone to turnovers and fouls in her second college season, she still shot over 48 percent from the floor. She was one of the more effective shot blockers in the country last season despite not even averaging 18 minutes per game. Rebounding on the defensive glass was one of her specialties.
Dominique Banks – 6-foot-5 rising senior transferring from Ole Miss
Dominique Banks might be the best current player among these five. She led Ole Miss (who went winless in the SEC last season) in rebounding and blocks, hauling in over six per game while swatting nearly two shots (her 1.9 BPG were third in the SEC), as well. Scoring isn’t necessarily her strong suit, as evident by her 6.0 points per game, but she still shot over 44 percent from the field and averaged 20 minutes per game. She started 12 games for the Rebels, appearing in all 30 of them.
Banks is an above-average rebounder that would immediately impact the court for Kentucky. She was a borderline elite shot-blocker last season even on limited minutes. She is insanely long and can run the floor, two key aspects of the game that Mitchell looks for. The only downside is her production would come mostly from right around the rim, but if she’s surrounded by four shooters, it could be a perfect mix. Banks didn’t need the ball when she was on the court at Ole Miss to make an impact; that’s exactly what Kentucky needs at center.
Isis Beh – 6-foot-3 rising sophomore transferring from UNLV
Like many of these transfers, Isis Beh also played in all 30 of her team’s games from this past season. While she only started one of them, she was a mainstay off the UNLV bench, averaging over 20 minutes per game as a freshman. However, as most rookies do, she had issues staying out of foul trouble. Despite this, she was still the second-leader rebounder amongst her teammates AND shot a team-high 52.9 percent. Beh shot just 2-5 from deep last season as she does an overwhelming majority of her work in the paint.
In terms of longterm potential, Beh might be the top option among this group. She was named to the All-Freshman team in the Mountain West last season.
Bride Kennedy-Hopoate – 6-foot-4 graduate transfer from New Mexico
Bride Kennedy-Hopoate is the player I believe we should keep an eye on. She’s the only graduate transfer on this list and would be able to fit right into the rotation from the first day of practice. The bonus that comes along with this grad transfer is her ability to stretch the floor. She is also the only player on this list that has proven she can knock it down from beyond the arc. She only appeared in eight games this past season, starting in two of them, before deciding to sit out here final season and transfer elsewhere.
She had already sat out the season prior after transferring from Iowa State, but it sounds like there was some internal tension between her and the New Mexico coaching staff. At the exact same time Kennedy-Hopoate announced her intentions to transfer, so did her teammate Najala Howell. Another member of the Lobos, guard Jayla Everett, transferred not long after them. So take in that information as you so choose. Even still, in the eight games she did play, Kennedy-Hopoate shot over 40 percent from the floor and 5-13 from deep. Her best outing from last season was a 17-point game against UTEP.
Lucy Cochrane – 6-foot-5 rising sophomore transferring from Oregon
Our final transfer is another youngster, but Lucy Cochrane is leaving one of the nation’s premier programs in women’s college basketball. The Oregon Ducks are losing a sizable chunk of their production, including the two top picks in last week’s WNBA Draft (Sabrina Ionescu and Satou Sabally). Another member of last season’s Ducks squad (Ruthy Hebard) was picked No. 8 in the same draft. Oregon does bring in a respectable recruiting class. Either way, Cochrane ultimately decided to send her talents elsewhere.
The Australian native appeared in 16 games for Oregon in her first college season but averaged just 6.6 minutes per game, never once playing more than 15 minutes in one outing. An injury late in the season hindered her on-court abilities down the stretch, but she still shot 10-16 on the year. An upside to Cochrane is she already has plenty of prior experience playing for Team Australia in multiple FIBA tournaments.
The transfer portal has never been as loaded with talent as it is has been over the last few seasons. Mitchell and his staff have done an excellent job of abusing that system lately (i.e., Chasity Patterson, Sabrina Haines, Amanda Paschal, and plenty more impact players) and they’ve already got off to a hot start. Adding a center to fill out the roster (for either this coming season or two years from now) is what they need if they want to make the leap into the rarified group of elite programs in the NCAA.