Kansas State coach Bruce Weber worries about college basketball's future

Transfer portal has major impact on roster management

Arne Green
Salina Journal
Kansas State coach Bruce Weber shouts out directions to his team during Saturday's game against Texas Tech at Bramlage Coliseum.

While contemplating the future of college basketball Wednesday, Bruce Weber went old school for a moment.

"I know change is hard for everybody and change is a part of life," he said of the game in general and specifically the emergence of the transfer portal as a major factor in recruiting and roster management. "But I still go back to Coke and Coke Classic.

"Sometimes people make bad decisions and they have to go back and say, 'What did we do? Did we mess this up?' "

He was referring of course to Coca-Cola's 1985 decision to introduce New Coke in hopes of reclaiming a dwindling market share, only to face a public backlash and reverting to the old formula under the new name of Coca-Cola Classic.

More on K-State Basketball

"For me, we can deal with it. It's just part of basketball," he said of the ever-increasing number of players changing schools at the drop of a hat. "If you want to stay in the game, you've got to be flexible, you've got to change.

"To me, the thing I worry about is (the players') future, where they have somebody to go to. If you keep leaving schools, who's going to go help you in the long run?"

Weber

Not that Weber has shied away from the transfer portal. On the contrary, when K-State lost four players — most notably DaJuan Gordon and Antonio Gordon — immediately after the season ended, he and his staff went to work finding experienced replacements who could step into significant roles immediately.

First they landed graduate transfer guard Mark Smith from Missouri, then added point guard Markquis Nowell from Little Rock and Wake Forest forward Ismael Massoud to fill the void. Smith has one year of eligibility left, Nowell two and Massoud three.

"I think we've done a good job of finding some older guys that will help us," Weber said. "We lost some, we gained some.

"Hopefully it's a positive on our end."

Weber's bigger concern, he said, is that players don't think things through before looking for change, often to their detriment.

"That's why I got in the business, to watch young men grow and develop them not only as basketball players, but give them a chance to get their degree and network and give them a chance to have a good life," Weber said. "That's what I'm worried about.

"I have guys that I've coached 30 years ago that are still calling me and saying, 'Coach, can you help me with this, can you do this or that? Can you call for me, I'm looking for a job.' Those guys, I'm going to be loyal to them because they were loyal to us. And right now, where's that going to go?"