Quakeaways from Tyler Perkins entering transfer portal to leave Penn men’s basketball

New transfer portal occupant Tyler Perkins averaged 13.7 points and 5.3 rebounds in 29.8 minutes per game as a freshman in 2023-24. (Penn Athletics)

Penn’s offseason got off to a depressing start on Monday when standout freshman guard Tyler Perkins entered the transfer portal.

With the caveat that I possess no inside knowledge, it wouldn’t be a surprise if the Georgetown fans who have been salivating over the Lorton, Va. native since the summer of 2023 finally got their wish.

The Quakers have now lost their best returning player for two consecutive offseasons. At least Perkins ripped the band-aid off early, hopping into the portal on the first day of its 45-day window. Jordan Dingle entered the portal more than a month later in 2023.

Much of this analysis could be rendered obsolete by the time the portal closes, but here’s a first stab at what Perkins’ departure means in the grand scheme of things for both the Quakers and Ivy League at large:
It’s Sam Brown’s backcourt now.

As the season progressed, fellow Ivy Hoops Online contributor Steven Tydings and myself came to the begrudging acceptance that Perkins was an eventual major flight risk, given his lack of local ties.

That’s not the case for classmate Sam Brown, who stands to become Penn’s lead guard. Who will fill out the backcourt next to him — possibly incoming freshman AJ Levine — is an open question.

Brown, a product of Lower Merion High School, was one of coach Steve Donahue’s highest-priority recruits in the 2023 recruiting cycle. He told City of Basketball Love that Donahue attended nearly every one of his games as a high school junior.

It would be a genuine shocker if Brown leaves Penn so long as Donahue remains the head coach.

Brown lived up to his reputation as an elite shooter in his freshman campaign, connecting on threes at a 43.3% clip on 141 attempts. He showed signs of improvement as a slasher as the season progressed and will be asked to do a lot more next season with Perkins gone.

It’s lazy to pin Perkins’ exit on Steve Donahue.

I admit that I spend too much time reading a Penn fan message board that is so old and poorly-maintained that my request to join has been waiting for “administrator approval” for the better part of four years.

Something tells me that the administrator isn’t coming back.

At any rate, some posters on that board are pinning Perkins’ exit on Donahue and renewing their calls for him to lose his job.

This is a problem for the Ivy League much bigger than any element of Donahue’s coaching ability. When Malik Mack and Danny Wolf enter the portal later this offseason (and make no mistake, that’s a “when” and not an “if”), are Harvard and Yale going to fire Tommy Amaker and James Jones?

There’s so much NIL money flowing into the highest levels of college basketball that players like Perkins, Wolf and Mack will stand to make hundreds of thousands of dollars, even at middling programs. As written last year when Jordan Dingle left, the traditional equation that has ended in top players choosing the value of an Ivy League degree over opportunities elsewhere no longer works.

Unless and until wealthy donors adapt and open their checkbooks to fund collectives similar to how power conference programs, more top players at all Ivy schools will leave.

Don’t hold your breath over that last sentence.

It feels as if the entire model of college athletics is about to collapse. The NCAA Tournament looks like it will inevitably expand as power conferences (specifically, the SEC and Big Ten) look to hoard more tournament units to themselves. The alternative is mid-major and low-major conferences losing their automatic bids to March Madness entirely.

The combination of NIL collectives gaining power while the NCAA has basically given up enforcing any rules around transferring has basically turned every Division I basketball player into a mercenary on a year-to-year handshake arrangement.

All of that stands wholly separate from Dartmouth men’s basketball’s push to unionize, which will have second-and-third-order effects too big to encapsulate in a single sentence.

When you think about the institutional attitudes Ivy League schools have historically held, it seems much more likely that Penn and its peers drop out of Division I or abandon sports entirely rather than join the athletics arms race.

1 thought on “Quakeaways from Tyler Perkins entering transfer portal to leave Penn men’s basketball”

  1. Well said, comrade Wenik. Your analysis is on point. I’m of the belief the Ivies should start dropping the bag on players while paying them proper wages (go Dartmouth!), or they should actually make tuition affordable. Hey, why not both?

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