When there is a coaching change at the Division I level, everything is on the table in terms of how it will affect the roster.
The new coach is going to retain some players, he is going to lose some players to the NCAA Transfer Portal, he is going to be able to successfully re-recruit some players that opted for the portal, and he is going to hit the portal for new players to fill out his roster. Some players going to the portal may be very talented, even program cornerstones, and the new coach will simply have to deal with that as it comes.
Budding University of Utah freshman guard Ian Martinez entered the transfer portal on Tuesday morning, and that one seemed to get the fan base buzzing on social media. Martinez is talented and projects well enough where he was likely a future cornerstone, so yes, this particular Utah player opting to survey his options in the transfer portal hurts a little more than your average rotation player leaving.
Yet, this comes as absolutely no surprise, and everybody paying any attention for the last year-plus knows why. Utah got in on Martinez nice and early, when he was a junior at JSerra Catholic. The commitment came in May 2019 after Martinez’s father, Henry, was hired on staff. Krystkowiak is no longer in charge, new Utes head coach Craig Smith has opted not to retain Henry on staff, so Ian is in the transfer portal.
Admittedly, there is a school of thinking that says Smith should have retained Henry Martinez in some capacity in an effort to retain his son. I get that, but I definitely don’t agree with it. I think Ian Martinez is an excellent player with a high ceiling and he is going to do real damage at the Power Five level, but I would not sacrifice a roster spot to appease the family. Nobody asked for it, but that is my opinion.
Credit to Smith, because in the handful of interviews he has done since taking the Utah job on March 27, he has done a nice job of setting the tone for roster volatility in the early days of his tenure. Essentially, his public stance is that, if a player wants to be here, great, and if a player does not want to be here, that’s fine, too.
Smith didn’t believe Henry Martinez was a fit on his staff, and if that meant sacrificing a rotation player and potential cornerstone, so be it.
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