Nijel Pack announced his intention to enter the transfer portal this afternoon (I’m sure you’ve heard already, this isn’t ).
Pack joins fellow 2022 Wildcat players Selton Miguel, Carlton Linguard, and Luke Kasubke in the portal, in what looks to be a total roster reset for new head coach Jerome Tang.
Could Pack Return?
Absolutely, he says as much in his announcement. At the same time, he’s going to have his pick of pretty much every school in the nation. Tang is going to have to make a compelling argument that K-State will be significantly better over the next two seasons. It’s going to be a tough sell. Pack is from Indianapolis, Indiana and all 3 high major programs in the state are coming off NCAA tournament runs. Purdue and Indiana, in particular, are in the market for transfer guards.
What Does This Mean for 2023?
If Pack leaves, at least the question of how to play two small(ish) point guards at the same time is answered. That’s the best I’ve got in terms of positive spin. I was hopeful he would return, and have been telling my Purdue folks to calm themselves, because it looked like he was staying, but that obviously didn’t come to fruition.
This makes Coach Tang’s job in 2023 significantly harder. I was worried about this exact scenario, which is why I wrote the “Good Vibes Only” article. Please don’t delude yourself, this hurts. Yes, the transfer portal makes it hurt a bit less, but I will be shocked for K-State pulls a first team All-Big12 guard out of the portal. If the shoe were on the other foot, and a guy like Pack announced he were transferring to K-State, everyone would be thrilled. 44% 3 point shooters capable of shooting off the dribble and off the catch (both moving and stationary) are exceedingly rare. Don’t discount what Pack did in his two years in Manhattan, it was nothing if not impressive, under some extremely trying circumstances.
There is a high probability the 2023 team is going to struggle, especially early in the season. That’s the usual price of changing coaches. It’s not an argument against changing coaches if you are willing to suffer some short term pain for long term success, but it’s often the price of doing business. Or maybe K-State shocks the world and wins the Big12 next season? Anything is possible in sports (other than Purdue making a Final 4) and if I were better at reading basketball tea leaves, my NCAA bracket wouldn’t be a complete dumpster fire. Either way, you hope to eventually end up on the right side of the pain/gain equation (but it’s much easier if the initial pain is minimal...more of a stubbed toe than a broken leg).
Once the portal settles (this could lead to further defections, I have no idea) we’ll have a better idea about the makeup of the 2023 team. Coach Tang needs to bring in some instant impact transfers and possibly land a big fish or two in recruiting to maintain his early momentum. That’s certainly possible.
At least I’ll have plenty of things to write about this offseason.