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How UVA Basketball can replace Isaac Traudt via the transfer portal

The portal tooketh away. But the portal could giveth, as well.

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament First Round-Furman vs Virginia Matt Pendleton-USA TODAY Sports

The news that Isaac Traudt would be transferring out of the Virginia Cavaliers basketball program was not exactly surprising, but stings for Virginia fans nonetheless.

Traudt looked like he would be a big part of Tony Bennett’s plans for the 2023-24 seasons and beyond. There is no immediately apparent replacement for Traudt on UVA’s roster. So it seems like Bennett will likely need to dive into the transfer portal to find someone who can give UVA what Traudt would have.

What was Traudt’s role likely to be? The worst part of him transferring after a redshirt season is we’ll never really know the answer to that. But Traudt’s high school film sure looked like a quintessential “stretch four,” a big with an outside shot to help spread the floor and improve spacing. It’s a role that Bennett has utilized well in the past: either as a blocker in the sides offense who can fire up a shot, or in the four-out and triangle looks UVA has utilized some since the 2019 title team.

So let’s assume that’s what Traudt was going to do. Who else is out there who plays like that?

Enter the Bart Torvik Transfer Portal tool. You can filter all the players who have entered the portal by the various advanced stats that Torvik’s site tracks. For the purposes of this exercise, here are the parameters:

  • At least 6-foot-7, and preferably a little taller
  • Three-point percentage of 30% or better
  • “Far two” percentage of 40% or better
  • “Close two” percentage of 50% or better
  • Good defenders (as rated by Torvik’s unique PORPAGATU! analysis)

Of the names in the portal today, about 30 players fit those criteria. Given that Traudt would have been a redshirt freshman next season, narrow it further by players who have at least two years of eligibility remaining. (Which gets weird because of 2020-21 COVID eligibility tweaks.)

Here are a few names to watch that could fit what Virginia will need to fill Traudt’s absence, in a couple different ways.

Immediate impact starter: Rienk Mast, Bradley

Tell me this doesn’t sound like a quintessential Tony Bennett guy. He’s from overseas (Netherlands). Two-time academic all-conference. Conference all-freshman team, then conference most improved, then first-team all-conference. He grabs rebounds, doesn’t turn the ball over, and doesn’t commit many fouls.

And at 6-foot-9 and 240 pounds, he shoots almost 35 percent from three and better than 56 percent on “far twos.”

Those attributes mean Mast is going to be a highly coveted target for any number of schools. While Charlottesville is not quite the United Nations it was a few years ago (following the departures of foreign-born players like Francisco Caffaro, Francesco Badocchi, and Kody Stattmann), Bennett has brought players from backgrounds like Mast’s into the fold—and of course Bennett has his own experience to draw on from playing overseas. UVA offers the exposure of the ACC and a clear pathway to the NBA.

Rotation guy and future star: Mustapha Amzil, Dayton

Another foreign name, this one comes with a bigger frame. At 6-foot-10, the Finland product was the third-leading scorer for a Dayton squad that reached the mid-30s/40s in advanced stat rankings like Torvik before falling off late in the season.

Amzil didn't handle quite the usage for the Flyers that Mast did for Bradley, and may not be as ready to immediately step in and carry an ACC contender. He’s also more of a perimeter player, despite being an inch taller: Mast shot fewer than 70 threes last season, while Amzil put up more than 120 (about the same number as Isaac McKneely’s season). Mast has more polished versatility; Amzil is more of a specialist now, who can develop into perhaps a better overall player.

Power Five starter and blue chip prospect in need of new home: Jaemyn Brakefield, Ole Miss

How nice would it be to have a player from elsewhere in the ACC on the roster, terrorizing his old team, instead of being on the receiving end of that?

Brakefield was a top-50 recruit in the class of 2020, and 247 rated him the sixth best power forward in that class (a group that included UVA targets Henry Coleman and Terrance Williams). He committed to Duke, but transferred home to Mississippi after a difficult freshman year. It was a good move: in Oxford, Brakefield improved to become a regular starter with a reliable outside shot (35 percent from three over two seasons).

With Ole Miss firing Kermit Davis midseason and making the reprehensible choice to hire Chris Beard, Brakefield returned to the transfer portal. The prospect of taking a guy on his third school wouldn't normally be appealing, but the turmoil at Ole Miss makes this move more understandable. Plus there would be some poetic symmetry to replacing Traudt, who is transferring to be closer to home, with a young man who flourished after doing the same,