This offseason has been eventful for Duke as five players entered the transfer portal, including the Blue Devils’ starting backcourt in Celeste Taylor and Shayeann Day-Wilson. Associate head coach Winston Gandy followed suit, taking a new job at South Carolina.
With players no longer required to sit out for a season after transferring and the extra COVID-19 year of eligibility, the portal has become filled with talent. Duke head coach Kara Lawson has not been shy in the portal as five of the top nine scorers on last year's team were transfers. As a result, it is inevitable that she will tap into this resource to fill the voids left. Here are three prime transfer targets for the Blue Devils this offseason.
Hailey Van Lith: Louisville guard
This would be an absolute home-run transfer for Duke. Rising senior Hailey Van Lith is arguably the best remaining player in the portal, and her shot-creating ability is a valuable asset for any team. With the loss of Day-Wilson, the Blue Devils need to fill a spot at the point-guard position, and Van Lith would be a perfect fit. She would provide automatic offense for a squad that struggled to score last year, and her confidence exudes on the court.
The Wenatchee, Wash., native averaged 19.7 points, 4.5 rebounds and 3.2 assists per game with the Cardinals, demonstrating her versatility as a player. She also has experience with Lawson, as Van Lith was a player on the Duke head coach’s USA Basketball 3x3 team. Due to the fact that she was heavily recruited by Baylor out of high school, there has been speculation that the rising senior will join former Bears head coach Kim Mulkey’s squad at LSU. In any case, Van Lith should be a top priority for the Blue Devils and would offset the offensive production lost by Taylor and Day-Wilson.
Darrione Rogers: DePaul guard
Another excellent point guard in the transfer portal is DePaul’s Darrione Rogers. Fellow Blue Demon Aneesah Morrow is also in the portal, but Rogers is probably a more realistic target for Duke. While her scoring output of 16.8 points per game is certainly admirable, what is more impressive is her facilitating ability. Rogers dished out 5.1 assists per game last year, which was third in the Big East. The Chicago native is a high-volume but streaky 3-point shooter with a 31.8% clip from beyond the arc. Nevertheless, she has deep range and can keep a defense honest.
Even after Taylor announced her departure, the Blue Devils still have sophomore Reigan Richardson, freshman Ashlon Jackson, and incoming five-star recruit Jadyn Donovan as shooting guards. However, the depth at point guard is not as strong, and Rogers would round out the backcourt well. Like Van Lith, Rogers is great at creating her own shot, and this could certainly aid Duke going forward.
Erynn Barnum: Arkansas forward
With the departures of Shay Bollin and Taya Corosdale, another position that the Blue Devils need is a power forward, and there are many prospects in the portal that can fill that position. Redshirt senior Erynn Barnum was Arkansas’ leading scorer last year, averaging 15 points per game. She is also a very efficient scorer, shooting 55.6% from the floor, good for third in the SEC. Barnum is not a great 3-point shooter, but understands her role and can knock down a triple if necessary.
She would be a great fit because of her ability to run the floor in transition, a big part of Duke’s offense last year. Barnum can finish inside with contact and also leads the break on multiple occasions, demonstrating her versatility and ball-handling ability even at 6-foot-2. The Little Rock, Ark., native would be a valuable addition as she can help anchor the paint alongside centers Kennedy Brown and Yale transfer Camilla Emsbo.
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Ranjan Jindal is a Trinity first-year and an assistant Blue Zone editor of The Chronicle's 119th volume.