The top 10 women's hoops players in the portal right now

The NCAA’s decision to open the transfer portal the day after Selection Sunday has become one of college basketball’s hottest topics. It decimated some men’s rosters to the point that those schools decided not to compete in the NIT. At least a couple of women’s programs were in the same predicament.

Whether it continues to open this early or the date is pushed back, one thing is clear: The players are ready to move on.

More than 1,000 players used the transfer portal each of the past two years, and before play even begins in the Sweet 16 on Friday, more than 650 players are in it this spring. The impact is massive throughout the sport, but the transfer portal’s impact on this NCAA tournament is mixed. While the rotations at LSU and Baylor are filled with transfers, teams such as UConn, Stanford, Iowa, Gonzaga, Oregon State and Notre Dame are mostly homegrown.

The SEC has been hit hardest by impact defections so far. Six of the top 10 transfers have left Arkansas and Kentucky. Fortunately for the Razorbacks, coach Mike Neighbors is also bringing in a player from this list.

The portal will continue to swell as more teams are eliminated from the NCAA tournament. This list will change and expand along with it — and we’ll track the biggest transfers all offseason. For now, here are the top 10 players in the transfer portal.


1. Kaitlyn Chen, 5-9, G, Sr., Princeton Tigers

The precedent has been set. Abby Meyers at Maryland and McKenzie Forbes (Harvard), Kayla Padilla (Penn) and Kaitlyn Davis (Columbia) at USC are all Ivy League grad transfers who have made an impact in a major conference. With the Ivy not allowing players who have graduated to continue playing, Chen made it clear she plans to play after Princeton, and she has been in the portal since the fall. The 2023 Ivy League Player of the Year and assist leader this season, Chen could step into any contender’s backcourt and upgrade its playmaking.


2. Ajae Petty, 6-3, F, Sr., Kentucky Wildcats

Veteran departures from the Wildcats’ roster came quickly after coach Kyra Elzy was fired. Petty, who made significant improvement from last year (5.7 PPG to 14.7 PPG) and was playing her best basketball at the end of the season, ranked third in the SEC in rebounding (10.6 RPG) and fourth in field goal percentage (50.7%). With more talent around her, Petty, who began her career at LSU, could be even better.


3. Taliah Scott, 5-9, G, Fr., Arkansas Razorbacks

With 29 and 25 points in her first two college games, Scott was in the same conversation as JuJu Watkins, Hannah Hidalgo, MiLaysia Fulwiley and Madison Booker. The scoring remained (22.1 PPG), but the efficiency dipped and the turnovers rose. Injuries cost Scott some games in January, and then she ended her season in mid-February, citing family reasons before leaving the program altogether.


4. Saylor Poffenbarger, 6-2, G, Soph., Arkansas Razorbacks

Like Scott, Poffenbarger entered the portal last Monday, the day it opened. The SEC’s second-leading rounder (behind Angel Reese) at 11.2 RPG and the nation’s second-leading defensive rebounder (9.4), she will be moving to her third school (she played 12 games at UConn in 2021). Her offensive production faded at the end of the season (7.0 PPG in the last eight games), but Poffenbarger is also a solid defender who has two more years of eligibility.


5. Maddie Scherr, 5-10, G, Sr., Kentucky Wildcats

An injury cost Scherr the SEC tournament, and the coaching move prompted her to move on from Lexington. Her 12.5 points per game were a career high, but turnovers were on the rise as Scherr’s shooting percentage dropped. Her versatility could make her a high-end third or fourth guard for a top-25 team. The Kentucky native began her career with two years at Oregon before her two with the Wildcats.


6. Eniya Russell, 6-0, G, Sr., Kentucky Wildcats

Russell’s departure completes the massive turnover at Kentucky. She was part of the top-rated 2021 South Carolina recruiting class that included Raven Johnson, Bree Hall, Saniya Rivers (now at NC State) and Sania Feagin. Her career never got off the ground in Columbia, but she broke out in her second year with Kentucky, averaging 10.1 points and 3.6 rebounds per game.


7. Mama Dembele, 5-6, G, Sr., Missouri Tigers

Dembele’s first three years at Missouri produced little, but scoring (10.2 PPG) and assists (6.5 APG) more than doubled this season. Her assists and steals (3.3 SPG) were each good for sixth in the country, and Dembele made the SEC all-defensive team. Her outside shooting has improved but is still a hole in Dembele’s game. She will need to take better care of the ball at her next stop (3.4 turnovers per game).


8. Kailyn Gilbert, 5-8, G, Soph., Arizona Wildcats

Where Gilbert ends up will be one of the interesting stories of the transfer season. As she was leading the Wildcats in scoring (15.1 PPG), Gilbert was also openly expressing her disdain for defense. Eventually, that and her ball dominance became too much, and Gilbert and Arizona parted ways in February. It might not help Gilbert’s marketability that the Wildcats got better after she left. If her approach changes, the talent is there to make a big impact for the next two years.


9. Izzy Higginbottom, 5-7, G, Jr., Arkansas State Red Wolves

Committed to Arkansas

The only impact player to pick a new school already, Higginbottom stays in state, going from the Sun Belt to the SEC. She began her career at Missouri, but didn’t make an impact. Two years later she became one of the best players in the Sun Belt. Her 22.1 points per game represent a nearly seven-point improvement. Her 36.8 3-point percentage will also be a welcomed asset in Neighbors’ system. The addition of Higginbottom lessens the blow of losing Scott, two scoring-minded smaller guards.


10. Terren Ward, 5-11, G, Sr., Georgia Southern Eagles

After four years with the Eagles, Ward is likely looking to step to a larger league. She finished second to Higginbottom in Sun Belt scoring at 22.0 points per game, led the league with 9.1 rebounds and even shot 41.8 % from 3-point range. A two-time Sun Belt first-team selection, Ward might have been on the move as a grad transfer anyway, but when Eagles coach Anita Howard was let go, seven Georgia Southern players entered the portal.

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