Virginia Tech head coach Kenny Brooks may have put it best.
“The portal giveth and it taketh away,” he said, rather poetically, at the 2023 ACC Tipoff. “It gives our people the opportunity to build more experienced rosters. It kind of takes away a little bit of the traditional way of building a team with freshmen.”
With more women's players taking advantage of extra NCAA eligibility due to COVID — Notre Dame’s women’s basketball's online roster goes as far as including a separate column next to the academic year to log eligibility — the makeup of ACC rosters has drastically shifted.
Virginia Tech, which returns both ACC Preseason Player of the Year Elizabeth Kitley and Cayla King for a fifth year, is benefiting from it. But how about preseason No. 16 UNC?
After not bringing in any transfers ahead of last season (sophomore guard Paulina Paris was the only new face on the roster), UNC head coach Courtney Banghart reached into the portal this offseason and pulled out three new pieces in Lexi Donarski, Maria Gakdeng and Indya Nivar. They have varied skillsets but all share one crucial aspect— experience. And, in today’s ACC, that’s as important as ever.
One can’t just, in Banghart’s words, recruit your “butt off with younger guys” — it’s simply “irresponsible not to monitor the portal.”
“We’re always attentive to it,” Banghart said. “If the right kid comes into the portal, you’re like, ‘Huh.’ I just didn’t know I’d bat 3-for-3 on it.”
Banghart got all the players she wanted. This is, of course, much to the dismay of coaches like Brooks, who went on to joke at ACC Tipoff, “What do they have, about 12 McDonald’s All-Americans on that team?”
Well, not exactly, but Banghart has called this year’s roster “by far, the deepest team” she’s coached.