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University of Pittsburgh men’s basketball’s starting five is older than that of the Oklahoma City Thunder. The eye-opening age gap between the two illustrates the transfer portal era in college sports.
When the transfer portal first came into existence in October of 2018, the landscape of NCAA athletics changed forever. It allowed players more mobility than ever before, and coupled with the additional year of eligibility granted during the 2020 season, extended the careers of athletes who would have already turned pro. In addition, it gave coaches a new way to build their rosters through players with the proven ability to perform on the collegiate level instead of turning to high schoolers.
The Panthers are the perfect example.
Here is how Pittsburgh breaks down by its starting five:
- Greg Elliott — 24 years old
- Graduate transfer after four years at Marquette
- Nelly Cummings — 24 years old
- Graduate transfer after three years at Colgate and one year at Bowling Green
- Jamarius Burton — 22 years old
- Graduate transfer after two years at Wichita State and one year at Texas Tech
- Blake Hinson — 23 years old
- Junior transfer after two years at Ole Miss
- Frederiko Frederiko — 21 years old
- Sophomore transfer after one season on the JUCO level at Northern Oklahoma
The average age of Pittsburgh’s starters is 22 years and nine months old.
Now let’s compare that age to the Thunder.
Here is how Oklahoma City breaks down by its starting five:
- Lu Dort — 23 years old
- Undrafted in 2019
- Shai Gilgeous-Alexander — 24 years old
- First round pick in 2018
- Josh Giddey — 20 years old
- First round pick in 2021
- Jalen Williams — 21 years old
- First round pick in 2022
- Jeremiah Robinson-Earl — 22 years old
- Second round pick in 2021
The average age of the Thunder’s starters is 22 years old.
Although a nine-month difference is rather insignificant, it is less about the number and more about what it says. A professional basketball team’s roster is younger than that of one of its amateur counterparts.
This is the era of the transfer portal in college basketball and it leads to unique ways of assembling a roster and a unique dynamic in terms of age within the sport. What a time to be alive!