Western Michigan men’s basketball has undergone some major changes so far in the offseason, with the transfer portal giving way to many players entering and exiting the program. Here’s a look at what’s gone down so far:
Players leaving the program
There was not much downtime before it was announced over a period of several weeks that a sizable group of the existing players on WMU’s roster would be leaving the program.
Perhaps the biggest loss the roster has endured has been the departure of senior forward Greg Lee, after he initially committed to return to the squad. Lee transferred into the program last season and found immediate success, averaging 13 points and 7.3 rebounds per game. Lee will be making his way to the Penn State Nittany Lions for his final season.
Patrick Emilien has taken his talents to St. Francis Brooklyn after providing forward depth for the Broncos the last few seasons, while Luke Toliver will be taking a short trip north up US-131 as he found a suitor in Division-II Grand Valley State. Kawanise Wilkins is heading to Tarleton State after working his way back from multiple knee injuries to play off the bench for WMU this season.
Sophomore big man Chase Barrs found a new home in Florida A&M. Barrs didn’t play many minutes in his two seasons at WMU, and will look to be a bigger defensive presence in his journey to Florida. William Boyer-Richard is heading back to his native country of Canada to attend Brock University this fall and hopes to be a verteran presence as his vocal leadership was a strength for the Broncos last season.
Guards Rafael Cruz Jr, Jaylon Holmes, and Jason Whitens all remain in the portal as of June 8.
The transfer portal taketh, but the transfer portal also giveth. Considering the amount of players in the WMU program who entered the portal at the end of the season, head coach Clayton Bates has made quick and swift work replacing them with guys who he thinks have not been given a fair shot in their previous programs.
Duquesne transer Lamar Norman Jr. was the first addition the Broncos made to rebuild the squad. Norman Jr. is a former top-10 prospect in the state of Michigan and averaged 6.1 points and 1.8 rebounds per game in his sophomore season with the Dukes.
Shortly after, Norman’s high school teammate at Godwin Heights Markeese Hastings announced that he would also be joining WMU in the 2021-22 season. Coach Bates said they were enamored with Hastings coming out of high school and the program was excited to add him when he entered the portal after exiting Butler.
Valparaiso transfer Mileek McMillan will look to add some scoring output to the team, an area where the Broncos tended to falter just a year ago. McMillan adds a verteran presence to the Broncos, as he played in 121 career games in his time as a Crusader, averaging 4.2 points and just under 2 rebounds.
Western Michigan then added another guard in the form of Eastern Illinois transfer Mack Smith. This addition again helps address the lack of offensive output from last year’s squad, with Smith bringing over averages of 10.7 ppg, 3.3 rebounds per game and a respectable 39.8% field goal percentage. Smith also holds the NCAA record for consecutive games with a made three-pointer, as he recorded one in 91 straight games.
Looking by position, B.Artis White is still the top option at point guard for the Broncos. In his two seasons in the Brown and Gold, White has only improved his offensive output and efficiency, while playing a substantial amount of minutes. True freshman Gus Etchison could see some action in a backup role as well.
Shooting guard is looking quite the opposite. Returning sophomore Josiah Freeman showed flashes of potential at the position last year with his deadly three point shooting, but it seems like Bates will be giving transfers Lamar Norman Jr. and Mack Smith a solid path to minutes at the position as well. Look for them all to get a fair shot through the first few games of the season. Incoming freshman Cam Kimble will look for opportunities for playing time as he starts his career at WMU.
The forward positions look to be more of the same with Danny Kolp being the only returning forward on the roster. Expect Coach Bates to use transfers Mileek McMillan and Markeese Hastings for the majority of the time with Kolp being more of a third option. Incoming freshman Owen Lobsinger may look to carve out some minutes in the rotation as well.
After flirting with the transfer portal through the first half of the off season, junior Titus Wright will be returning as the likely starting center for Western Michigan next season. Wright is coming off a season where he averaged 8.7 points per game as well as 5.4 rebounds per game, both improvements over his freshman campaign in just about half as many games played in. Kolp and McMillan could see playing time at center as well.