Transfer portal hits hard for Oakland, Detroit Mercy hoops Tuesday

Tony Paul
The Detroit News

At some point this offseason, there will be few, if any, Division I college basketball teams unaffected by the growing-by-the-minute transfer portal.

On Tuesday, Oakland guard Rashad Williams — who led the nation in 3-point attempts this season — and Detroit Mercy forward Chris Brandon entered the portal.

Oakland guard Rashad Williams, right, hugs forward Trey Townsend after the Horizon League final.

Williams was a surprise, at least to program outsiders, given his big role with the Golden Grizzlies the past two seasons. The Detroit native and Wayne Memorial alum averaged 13.6 points this season, shooting 277 3-pointers — and making 94 of them (33.9%). He often ran hot and cold from beyond the arc, but when he was hot, he could change a game in the span of three or four minutes, and often did.

This will be his second transfer. He went to Cleveland State out of high school, but moved on to Oakland after coach Dennis Felton was fired. It took a half-season to get him eligible in 2019-20, but he averaged 19.5 points over the final 15 games of the season. In his one season at Cleveland State, he averaged 10.8.

Williams is the third Oakland player to enter the portal, but first starter. He has two years of eligibility remaining, because of the NCAA's "free" year in the COVID-19 era. Senior guard Kevin Kangu also is in the portal after seeing his role diminish this season, as is freshman guard Joey Holifield.

Coach Greg Kampe was hoping for a rather uneventful year with the transfer portal, after losing 12 players to transfer over the previous two offseasons.

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At Detroit Mercy, Brandon, who also plays some guard, became the first Titans player to enter the portal this offseason. He was a starter much of 2019-20, when he led the team in rebounds at 8.1, and averaged 6.3 points. A Houston native, he was part of head coach Mike Davis' first recruiting class.

He got off to a tough start this season, because of an injury and some COVID-19 contact tracing. Brandon didn't play until mid-December, and only started receiving big minutes in early February. He averaged 5.2 points — scoring in double figures three times, all in the last five games — and 5.9 rebounds.

Brandon also has two years of eligibility remaining.

Both Detroit Mercy and Oakland made strides this season, especially down the stretch, and both coaches were excited about having their main contributors all back next season. The Titans were 12-10 and won a Horizon League tournament game, while the Golden Grizzlies were 12-18, but 12-9 after their 0-9 start, and made the league championship game.

On Monday, Eastern Michigan starting point guard Bryce Christian entered the portal as did teammate Chris James. Western Michigan has had six players enter the portal since the season ended, including three of the team's top six scores from this season, Titus Wright, Rafael Cruz Jr. and Patrick Emilien.

Central Michigan has one player in, guard Deschon Winston, who actually entered the portal in December. He didn't play this season, but played all 32 games last season.

As of 7 Tuesday night, 336 Division I men's basketball players had entered the portal since March 1, including six from Penn State on Tuesday alone, including the Nittany Lions' top four scorers a day after the school hired its new coach.

In other local college basketball news Tuesday, Detroit Mercy's Antoine Davis and Oakland's Jalen Moore were named first-team all-district by the National Association of Basketball Coaches. Davis was first-team as a freshman and second-team as a sophomore. He also was named honorable mention All-American by the AP on Tuesday.

tpaul@detroitnews.com

Twitter: @tonypaul1984