Louisville coach Jeff Walz summed up how quickly the college basketball world moves when asked about the transfer portal recently at the Seattle regionals of the 2023 women's NCAA tournament.
"You've got Selection Sunday and Portal Monday," he said.
Players can enter their names into the portal as soon as the NCAA tournament bracket is revealed. And just two weeks since Selection Sunday, nearly 300 players have made their plans to transfer. Last season more than 1,300 players passed through the portal.
The impact stretches far and wide and is easy to see. Every team in this year's Sweet 16 except Iowa had at least one starter who was a transfer. And the top scorer for Colorado, LSU, Miami, Ohio State, Ole Miss, Tennessee and Utah was a transfer.
Ole Miss coach Yolett McPhee-McCuin says all coaches should be on board with the transfer portal. "Anyone who's whining about it is going to be out of business in two years. You better evolve or you're gone," McPhee-McCuin said at a postgame news conference over the weekend just minutes before Walz's comments. "The portal is part of life, baby. I just embrace it."
It's no coincidence the Rebels had six transfers play significant roles in the program's first Sweet 16 appearance since 2007. McPhee-McCuin also leaned heavily on Maryland transfer Shakira Austin -- the third pick of the 2022 WNBA draft -- last year to get Ole Miss to its first NCAA tournament appearance in 15 years.
All the movement over the next several weeks will heavily influence the results of the 2023-24 season. Here's a look at the 20 players who will potentially have the most impact in the transfer portal.
1. Kiki Jefferson, 6-foot-1, G, senior, James Madison
She scored 17 points in the Dukes' first-round NCAA tournament loss to Ohio State, just one example of what she can do for a major conference team. Jefferson elected not to enter the WNBA draft and instead will use her extra COVID-19 year to play somewhere other than Harrisonburg. The Sun Belt Player of the Year averaged 18.2 points, 7.9 rebounds and 2.9 assists. She also scored 30 points against North Carolina early in the season.
2. Lexi Donarski, 6-0, G, junior, Iowa State
The bad news in Ames just keeps coming. First, the Cyclones lost in the first round of the NCAA tournament, meaning Ashley Joens has played her last game in an Iowa State uniform. Then 6-foot-6 center Stephanie Soares ' petition to play another year in college was denied by the NCAA. That makes Donarksi's decision sting that much more. After 95 starts, 13.2 points and 3.2 rebounds per game, plus a 2022 Big 12 defensive Player of the Year honor, the one-time five-star recruit is looking elsewhere. With that kind of experience, she could be a difference-maker.
3. Shayeann Day-Wilson, 5-6, G, sophomore, Duke
Duke didn't make the NCAA tournament a year ago and went out in the second round this season. Despite a successful regular season that saw the Blue Devils just miss out on an ACC regular-season title, Day-Wilson's numbers dropped across the board. She scored less, took fewer field goal and free throw attempts, shot a lower percentage and handed out fewer assists as Duke's focused shifted even more heavily toward defense. Day-Wilson, who will have two years of eligibility remaining, can play either guard spot and could be an immediate starter in a new program.
4. Jayda Curry, 5-6, G, sophomore, California
After leading the Bears in scoring for her first two collegiate seasons but Cal going 23-30 in that time, Curry is moving on from Berkley. She was the Pac-12 freshman of the year and led the league in scoring at 18.6 points per game in 2022, and ranked sixth in the Pac-12 at 15.5 points per game this season. Curry has the potential to be a game-changing scorer for a program looking to take another step or the missing playmaker for a national title contender.
5. Kennedy Todd-Williams, 6-0, G, junior, North Carolina
Just as Todd-Williams and the other members of Courtney Banghart's first recruiting class were about to hit their senior season, she has elected to enter the portal. Coming off a career-high 13.4 points per game in which she was the only Tar Heel to start every game, the Jacksonville, North Carolina, native should be a highly sought-after two-way player who could make a huge difference. Her departure is a big hit to a North Carolina team that was set to challenge for an ACC title.
6. Kennedy Fauntleroy, 5-7, G, freshman, Georgetown
After the firing of coach James Howard, Fauntleroy, the unanimous Big East freshman of the year, entered the portal. She stuffed the stat sheet with 10.9 points, 3.9 rebounds, 2.9 assists and 2.4 steals per game and shot 37.5% from 3-point range. Fauntleroy should be highly sought after with three years of eligibility remaining.
7. Maria Gakdeng, 6-3, F, sophomore, Boston College
After watching high-profile teammates Taylor Soule and Cameron Schwartz transfer a year ago, Gakdeng is now leaving Chestnut Hill, too. An improving scorer (11.3 PPG) and one of the ACC's best interior defenders, Gakdeng would be a high-end role player on an NCAA tournament team looking for a deep run.
8. Jada Walker, 5-7, G, sophomore, Kentucky
By season's end, Walker might have been the Wildcats' best player. She was Kentucky's second-leading scorer at 12.6 points per game and averaged 16.3 in three SEC tournament games. Once a four-star recruit out of Virginia, Walker was also recruited by Michigan, Arizona, Mississippi State and NC State.
9. Alanna Micheaux, 6-2, F, sophomore, Minnesota
One of the Big Ten's most improved players, Micheaux is the first Gopher to leave the program after Lindsey Whalen stepped down as coach. She went from 4.7 points and 4.1 rebounds per game as a freshman to 13.8 and 7.9 this season and was named honorable mention all-conference. With 6-5 Sophie Hart arriving from NC State, Michaeux's loss might not be felt as much, but the Michigan native could have significant value to another Power 5 program.
10. Destinee Wells, 5-6, G, junior, Belmont
The Bruins' move to the Missouri Valley Conference from the Ohio Valley didn't slow down Wells at all. She got even better. She averaged a career-high 19.5 points per game and, more importantly, improved to a 45.5% 3-point shooter after making just 30.5% as a sophomore. Size is the biggest concern; Wells struggled against most of Belmont's top competition this season.
11. Kayla Padilla, 5-9, G, senior, Penn
Because the Ivy League doesn't allow graduate students to compete in athletics, Padilla has no choice but to leave the Quakers if she wants to keep playing. An 18.0 PPG scorer in her Penn career, Padilla should be able to help a team similarly to the way Abby Meyers became a top option at Maryland after transferring from Princeton.
12. Paris Clark, 5-8, G, freshman, Arizona
A year ago Clark was a McDonald's All-American looking to start her college career in Tucson. Today, she's looking for her second school. Averaging just 3.8 points per game in 24 games, the Bronx native didn't have the expected impact with the Wildcats, but she scored a season-high 11 points in a second-round NCAA tournament loss to Maryland.
13. Matilda Ekh, 6-0, G, sophomore, Michigan State
A career 39.8% 3-point shooter, Ekh could help plenty of teams looking to better stretch the floor. A consistent presence as a Spartan, Ekh only missed one game in her two seasons and started all but two. She was fourth in the Big Ten this season with 2.4 3-point field goals made per game.
14. Taina Mair, 5-9, G, freshman, Boston College
The departures of Gakdeng and Mair are a real blow to the Eagles' program. Mair was the team's third-leading scorer (11.1 PPG), right behind Gakdeng, and was eighth in the country with 6.6 assists per game on a team that only shot 41.4% from the field. That Mair is a Boston native who originally decided to stay home and then started all 33 games as a freshman makes the decision that much more surprising. She would be an ideal fit for a talented team that just needs to plug in a pass-first point guard.
15. Maddie Nolan, 5-11, G, senior, Michigan
Although her shooting accuracy dropped off some this year, Nolan using her extra year of eligibility would be a valuable addition to any team needing another deep threat as the last piece to the roster puzzle. She has been a starter the last two seasons with the Wolverines and hit her career high in scoring (9.1 PPG) this season despite seeing her 3-point shooting percentage fall from 40.5% in 2022 to 34.2%.
16. Camille Hobby, 6-3, C, senior, NC State
After finally getting her opportunity to start for the Wolfpack this season and producing career highs in minutes, points, rebounds and field goal percentage, Hobby is going to use her extra COVID year elsewhere. She is best in the low post and can provide difficult-to-find size and strength down low.
17. Lauren Ware, 6-5, C, sophomore, Arizona
Coming off a knee injury that cost her the entire season, Ware comes with a little risk. However, she could provide a big reward at 6-5 with three years of eligibility remaining. A limited offensive player in her two years with the Wildcats (4.8 PPG), Ware, who has averaged 1.1 blocks per game in her 52 appearances, would be valuable as a rim protector with time to develop as more of a scoring threat.
18. Frannie Hottinger, 6-1, F, senior, Lehigh
The extra COVID season gives Hottinger a chance to explore a higher level of competition, and the timing seems right after she won Patriot League player of the year. The Minnesota native averaged 20.4 points and 9.7 rebounds, essentially doubling her numbers from her junior season. That sort of productivity isn't likely to translate to a major conference, but her experience should.
19. JaMya Mingo-Young, 5-8, G, senior, Alabama
Like with Ware, injury could present some hesitation with Mingo-Young. She missed the second half of the season after being medically disqualified with lower extremity injuries. She averaged just 5.4 points per game before being shut down after 14 games, but she scored 11.6 points per game her first season with the Crimson Tide. Mingo-Young began her career with Mississippi State and only missed one game in two years with the Bulldogs.
20. Amber Brown, 6-0, F, senior, Pitt
Brown stood out amidst a tough four-year stretch for the Panthers program. She started all 110 games in which she played during her four years. She led Pittsburgh in scoring at 9.8 points per game this season and improved her shooting percentage to a career-high 49.5%.
19. Destiny Adams, 6-3, F, sophomore, North Carolina
The 2021 New Jersey Gatorade Player of the Year and the 20th-ranked recruit in the country that year, Adams is looking for a new home after struggling to find a consistent role in her two seasons in Chapel Hill. Her minutes jumped significantly in her sophomore season to 17.1 per game and her energy and toughness made an impact.
20. Tirzah Moore, 6-0, F, sophomore, Oral Roberts
After making first-team all-Summit League this year and winning conference freshman of the year honors before that -- but also watching her team go 25-34 in those two seasons -- Moore might be looking for more team success. She averaged 14.2 points and 8.1 rebounds while making 51 starts for the Golden Eagles and will have two more years of eligibility.