Oakland basketball adapts after transfer-filled summer


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After several transfer announcements over the summer, the men's basketball roster will be finalized in July.

Michael Pearce, Sports Editor

After watching their season end on a last-second shot, Oakland fans had one collective thought regarding the future — “Everyone is coming back.” That thought was reinforced when graduate seniors Brad Brechting, Xavier Hill-Mais and Jaevin Cumberland took to the official website of the Golden Grizzlies to announce their intent to return.

“Jaevin, Xavier and I came in with each other and started something that will never split us apart,” Brechting said on goldengrizzlies.com. “We love Oakland and it is our family. We have unfinished business next season and are determined to complete our mission.”

It came as a shock to most when a month later, it was announced that Cumberland and first-year standout Braden Norris were both transferring. Both have since landed at different programs. Cumberland will be teaming up with his cousin Jarron at Cincinnati, while Norris is headed to Loyola University in Chicago, home of the Ramblers.

When Karmari Newman announced his intent to transfer as well on June 10, the total Oakland players to transfer in the last 9 months ballooned to six. Stan Scott, James Beck and Brailen Neely all transferred as well, with Neely moving to Wayne State in October of 2018.

The transfers of Beck and Scott were expected by many, but for Head Coach Greg Kampe, the most shocking one was the departure of the fifth-year senior, Cumberland.

“I knew that all three of those guys [Brechting, Cumberland, Hill-Mais] were being recruited behind the scenes by places — it’s not legal, but it happens,” Kampe said. “I called them in and said ‘If you’re going to leave, I need to know now so I can replace you’ and all three said they weren’t leaving.”

The press release was then put out in an attempt to discourage other schools from looking at the three cornerstones of the team.

Norris leaving was a shock to most as well, and Kampe still has no real idea why Norris decided to transfer. The reasoning Kampe received was that the freshman was “searching for a better opportunity,” which Kampe felt “made no sense at all.”

Oakland has been one of many mid-major schools over the past few years to get hit with the transfer bug. The recent implementation of the new “transfer portal” has created a sort of free agency for a college prospect, where they can enter the portal and explore any and all options available to them.

In the past, Kampe has never tried to take a team’s best player off of their roster. Instead, he has tried to make Oakland a landing spot for players who had issues at their first school or weren’t getting consistent playing time at the high levels. Now, Kampe is adopting an “if you can’t beat them, join them” mentality.

“We’re going to stick our nose in it [the transfer portal], and if there are good players there who want to come to Oakland, we’re going to take them,” Kampe said. “You can fight it or you can adapt, and I think that part of being successful in life is adapting. Oakland is going to have to adapt to be successful.”

Recruitment is still ongoing, and the roster will be finalized come early July, as the team will prepare to compete in a tournament in Greece in August.