Kansas Reunion at Sweet 16 Sign Multiple Times in College Hoops

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — There will be quite a reunion when Kansas and Providence join Iowa State and Miami at Sweet 16 in Chicago this week, and it perfectly demonstrates the ephemeral nature of college basketball these days.

The top-seeded Jayhawks, who face the Friars in the semi-finals of the Midwest region earlier on Friday night, have sharp-shooter Jalen Coleman-Lands on their bench, who was part of a mass exodus from the Cyclones after last season.

Iowa State coach TJ Oetzelberger brought on Tristan Enruna, who played for the Jayhawks last season. Enruna will line up against Hurricanes guard Charlie Moore in the other regional semifinal on Friday night, whose career odyssey began at Cal and included a pit stop with the Jayhawks before spending the last two seasons at DePaul.

“I’m happy for TJ and Iowa State and so much more for Tristan – he gets to play in the Sweet 16,” said Kansas coach Bill Self. “And I’m really happy for Charlie to play in Sweet 16.”

Almost every team left in the NCAA Tournament has at least one major player who transferred from four years of school. And while this was once a relative rarity as transfers required an entire year of rule changes, over the years it has become easier than ever for players to continue their careers elsewhere.

Or in Moore’s case, soar through three other Division I schools before landing with the ‘Keynes’ in Sweet 16.

“I worked hard to get to this moment. I think I’m a good enough player to be here.” “I never thought about anything. I never really tried to worry about anything. I tried to take it one moment at a time. And I feel like I did.”

The No. 11 seed is seven four-year transfers to Iowa State’s roster, which Oetzelberger had to rebuild after taking the job last spring, and four came from power conventions. But it has paid off in a big way for Oetzelberger, who has taken a two-win team from last season to the second weekend of the NCAA Tournament.

Penn State transfer Izaya Brockington has been a catalyst for the Cyclones, averaging more than 17 points a game, but Enruna has given Oetzelberger crucial minutes off the bench in NCAA Tournament victories over LSU and Wisconsin.

“A lot of times when people are shifting, especially as older players, they talk about having more opportunities, more shots, center points, potentially being the go-to person,” Otzelberger said. “My question right before them is: How hard are you willing to work for it? What do you do extra? What’s your leadership ability? What do you do when things get tough?

“What I would say with an overwhelming sense of pride,” Otzelberger continued, “There are people like Izaiya Brockington and (Minnesota transfer) Gabe Kalaschuur, who have led us throughout the season, are the people who immediately talked about how they Will work hard, win games and play for pride for Iowa State is how important it is to them. It meant a lot to me and they have shown that throughout our season.”

While the Stars aligned to bring Coleman-Lands within the game of facing Iowa State for a spot in the Final Four, Enruna and Moore won from facing the Jayhawks for a spot in New Orleans. Of course, there are many players in each regional. Sites that have ties to other teams in the NCAA Tournament are still alive.

Another ex-Iowa State player, Rusir Bolton, averages 11.3 points for No. 1 overall seed Gonzaga, who plays Arkansas on Thursday night. A gradual transfer from fourth-seeded Razorback Miami is heavily dependent on Chris Lykes.

The winner of that game could face Texas Tech — which plays Duke on Thursday night — where first-year coach Mark Adams has eight Division I transfers on the roster. One of them is Daniel Baccho, who redshirted last year in Arizona.

The Wildcats, another No. 1 seed, who plays Houston on Thursday night, have 7-foot Oumar Ballo from Mali, who played for Gonzaga last season. The Cougars face Kyler Edwards, their No. 2 scorer who spent three seasons with the Raiders, and Reggie Chaney, who played his first two years for the Razorbacks.

After changes in coaching led to many of those players being transferred, the NCAA has taken steps to make such moves easier. Others simply sought a new position, better opportunity, or a change of scenery.

They all wanted a shot at playing in the last four. Given the number of Division I transfers still in Sweet 16, at least some will get their wish this weekend.

“It’s something we dreamed of as kids,” Coleman-Lands said. “I mean, you watch basketball and you want to see it at the pinnacle. And that’s where champions are defined.”


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