COVID-19 has not closed down the transfer portal.
The annual free agency period in college basketball has begun even though the NCAA banned in-person recruiting through at least April 15, which doubles as the opening day of the regular signing period.
"This is new ground because we planned to go to the national junior-college tournament and state high school tournaments if our schedule allowed and they were canceled," Oregon State men’s basketball coach Wayne Tinkle said.
"We are usually bringing people to campus now, so we have to get creative," he added. "We will work the phones and Skype and get as much done as we can. The April 15th date might be pushed back so the situation is fluid. It is a tough deal, but we are all dealing with it. It is not an uneven playing field."
Tinkle has 11 players who can return next season and signed prep forward Isaiah Johnson in the fall, leaving him with only one scholarship available unless other players leave the program. Sacred Heart transfer Cameron Parker and Wichita State transfer Morris Udeze are among the players the Beavers are recruiting, according to various reports.
Oregon has 10 players with eligibility to return and added a verbal commitment from point guard Jalen Terry, leaving Dana Altman with two openings unless there are departures. The Ducks have been listed among the suitors for a few transfers, including Amauri Hardy of UNLV, DJ Carton of Ohio State, Darius Perry of Louisville and Landers Nolley of Virginia Tech.
"No off-campus recruiting, so it is going to be real different," Altman said last week. "This is usually such a busy time. Getting ready for the first weekend of the NCAA Tournament and hopefully a second weekend, and one year there was a third weekend. Usually you are doing some recruiting, so March is really crazy, but we will have to see."
Nike canceled a couple of Nike Elite Youth Basketball showcase tournaments in April with Adidas also canceling its spring recruiting events.
"That is going to take April and make it a lot different," Altman noted. "This is new territory for all of us, so it will be a long spring and summer getting our hands wrapped around it."
The spring signing period is scheduled for April 15 to May 20, but that could also be altered by the NCAA.
"We can’t slow down," Tinkle said. "We will be working the phones and doing a lot of work on computers. Then we will put a plan in place once we get a grip on what we can do with our current team for offseason workouts and jump into that. We are in a holding pattern as far as what we can do outside Corvallis."
This week is spring break throughout the state and students at Oregon and Oregon State will take classes online when the new term begins next week. The Pac-12 Conference has prohibited "athletically related" team activities through Sunday, but that date seems certain to be extended.
"We can’t do anything with them," Tinkle said. "No practices or anything now."
Oregon could return eight players from last season along with transfers Eric Williams and Eugene Omoruyi, who both sat out this season.
"We have got good guys coming back with Eugene and Eric waiting in the wings," Altman said. "I am excited about our team, so hopefully we can get back to normal quickly, get back to our routine."
Oregon was slated to take a summer exhibition tour to Italy, but that will almost certainly be postponed for at least a year.
"Our routine is really going to change," Altman said. "I don’t know what the summer will bring with July recruiting and whether or not that will be on the table. We are going to have to play it day-by-day and hope this doesn’t hit as hard as some people are projecting and that we get through it a little quicker than anticipated.
"It is going to be a change for all of us. There will be some ups and downs. … We have to figure out spring quarter and how that is going to go with online classes. A lot of new territory in the next month and longer, so we are going to have to walk our way through."
Oregon baseball coach Mark Wasikowski warned that not being able to visit high school recruits will add to the challenge of recruiting.
"You can go online and look at stats and video and that is all well and good, but it is not equal to what you gather when you go to the park and get familiar with the guys," he said. "Schools that recruit off word-of-mouth and videotape, that will be deadly. That is not going to fly and you will make mistakes doing that."