Exploring transfer portal targets CMU could pursue to offset departures
With four of the team's top players graduating in 2020, Central Michigan's men's basketball team will have some holes to fill heading into the 2020-21 season.
With each departing senior taking their chunk of production with them, coach Keno Davis and company will be left scrambling to offset the voids they will leave.
Whether it be the loss of David DiLeo's outside stroke, Dallas Morgan's energy or Kevin McKay's ability to get to the rim, many roles are available for the taking within the Chippewa locker room.
With that said, Davis has made a living throughout his time at Central Michigan plucking able-bodied, experienced players off the transfer portal in similar situations. This allows him to replace the departures with players that have seen playing time in college as opposed to bringing in freshmen in need of development.
Currently, the Chippewas have two scholarships available heading into the 2020-21 season. Davis could choose to award walk-ons Preston Enloe and Dylan Jergens with scholarships, however its likely that the Chippewas aren't done adding to their roster. Given his history, it is likely that Davis will scour the transfer market to fill these scholarship voids.
Here are five names currently in the transfer portal that could suit up for the Chippewas next season:
*Note: All players listed with eligibility as of the 2020-21 season
Drew Lowder — 6-foot So. G
Transfer from Holy Cross
Lowder took an official visit to Mount Pleasant for the Chippewas' season finale against Western Michigan. Since then, he's been unable to visit anywhere else due to the coronavirus pandemic. For that reason, the Chippewas may currently hold the upper hand in landing this prized recruit who played his high school ball at Ann Arbor Pioneer.
Lowder played just 12 games at Holy Cross, averaging 14.1 points per on nearly 44 percent shooting. In his time with the Crusaders, he scored double digits in all but two games highlighted by a 24-point performance against eventual Big Ten champion Maryland in his collegiate debut.
He would bring instant production to Mount Pleasant, given that he is allowed to play right away. In May, the NCAA is scheduled to vote on a proposal that would give all transfers a one-time waiver for instant eligibility. Should that pass and Lowder choose Central Michigan, he'd likely start in the backcourt.
If Davis can land Lowder, he finds someone who can replicate the shooting of DiLeo and Morgan as well as the playmaking of McKay. Lowder should be the top priority for Davis and company heading into the late signing period.
Jacob Polakovich — 6-foot-9 Jr. F
Transfer from the University of Indianapolis
Central Michigan is light in the frontcourt. Throughout the last two seasons, the Chippewas have had a frontcourt rotation centered around Rob Montgomery and Romelo Burrell, both of whom were undersized for the "five" position.
Though Davis landed Malik Muhammad, a 6-9 center from East Los Angeles College, Polakovich would provide depth for a frontcourt that currently only features Muhammad, senior Kevin Hamlet and freshman Caleb Hodgson.
Polakovich entered the transfer portal after the departure of Stan Gouard, former coach at UIndy, stepped down to take the head coaching job at Southern Indiana. If Davis is able to land Polakovich, he would be securing a big man who started 30 games last season, albeit at the NAIA level.
Another player who was a star in high school, Polakovich made waves at Grand Rapids Catholic Central High School. He was twice named All-State and averaged a double-double in each of his last two seasons with the Cougars. At UIndy, he averaged 8.7 points and 6.4 rebounds as a sophomore.
Braden Burke — 7-foot Sr. C
Transfer from Michigan State
Burke started his career at Robert Morris, where he started eight of his 32 games. He then transferred to Michigan State, walking on with the Spartans for the following season. After sitting out one year due to NCAA transfer requirements and playing sparingly in the following two, Burke is ready for another shot to prove himself.
Burke is a rare guarantee given his immediate eligibility. He also has experience going against NBA-caliber big men Xavier Tillman and Nick Ward every day in practice while with the Spartans. He also would provide leadership, having been in a winning environment that included a trip to the Final Four in 2019.
Bakari Simmons — 6-foot-4 So. SF
Transfer from Texas A&M
Simmons hails from Chicago, Illinois and was a 3-star prospect coming out of high school. He spent last season at Texas A&M but did not appear in a game. He entered the transfer portal in February and has presumably been looking for a new home ever since.
A double-digit scorer with great athletic ability, Simmons would provide a playmaking threat that would gel well with Davis' up-tempo, high-flying style of play. If things didn't pan out for Simmons at Texas A&M because he was not playing, he could jump in at Central Michigan and become an instant star.
Should Simmons choose the Chippewas, he would battle with JUCO transfers Ralph Bissainthe and Demarcus Demonia to slide into the void left by McKay. Being a high-major transfer, however, there is a chance that there are more prestigious schools pursuing him.
Meikkel Murray — 6-foot-6 Jr. F
Transfer from Coffeyville Community College
Murray was named an NJCAA All-American last season after averaging 16.7 points and 7.4 rebounds a game. Verbal Commits, a recruiting based website, shows that Murray has an offer from Central Michigan.
While not being a great outside shooter, posting just a 29 percent clip from beyond the arc, he's a good athlete who competes on the boards despite being undersized.
He is most suited to fit the mold that Davis has created within the program throughout his tenure, a high-level JUCO player who comes in with immediate eligibility and experience.
Murray also holds offers from Georgia Southern, Lamar, Stony Brook, Cal State Bakersfield, Jacksonville State, Portland State and Albany according to Verbal Commits.
Other players to watch: Cameron Butler — 6-foot-10 Jr. F (San Bernardino Valley College), Caleb Huffman — 6-foot-4 Jr. G (Iowa Western Community College)