Washington recently had 5 entrants in the transfer portal but it was possible for fans to claim that at most Cole Bajema was expected to play a major role on next year’s roster. Well, there’s no sugar coating this one as talented freshman Keyon Menifield has entered the transfer portal just a week after publicly announcing he was planning to return to Washington. The expected entry was first reported by Dawgman.
In his freshman year the 6’1 Menifield averaged 10.0 points and 3.1 assists per game on 41/33/70% shooting splits. The story of Menifield’s recruitment had been one of the few victories in the Mike Hopkins era. Despite leading the Nike EYBL in scoring he was being unrecruited by any major program largely because of his incredibly skinny frame. The Washington coaches took a chance on him and he vastly outplayed his recruiting ranking in year number one in college. Menifield was the biggest bright spot of an otherwise disappointing season and his declaration that he would return helped lessen the blow of Hopkins surviving the chopping block.
Instead, Menifield has reversed course and we’ll see if that causes any of the other public declarees (Koren Johnson, Braxton Meah, and Franck Kepnang) to also change their minds after all using the same framework in their previous announcements. Washington is also awaiting the decisions of Noah Williams and Keion Brooks Jr. who each have one more year of eligibility remaining. Menifield in his statement said he is still considering a return to UW but that doesn't seem a likely outcome.
There had been at least a glimmer of hope that the Huskies would be able to put together a reasonable roster for next season. A returning core of Menifield, Johnson, Meah, and Kepnang plus potentially Brooks and incoming freshman Yates could be supplemented with a transfer or two. It’s still possible that you replace Menifield with a different portal guard and the results for 2023-24 don’t change appreciably. But many Husky fans fell in love with Menifield’s playing style and it’s obvious to see he has star potential. His decision to leave will only result in further frustration from the fanbase that the current coaching staff is still in place.
In the best case scenario (still not a good one), this means Noah Williams sticks around and he gets fully healthy to look much better. It could also mean Washington can be in the running for an experienced guard like Joe Girard from Syracuse. But Menifield was a lottery ticket that had clearly hit and now someone has taken it out of the hands of Husky fans just as we were walking up to the counter to cash it. This one is going to sting for a long time.
Nonetheless, I’ll still be rooting for Keyon to succeed at his next stop. It’s hard to blame anyone that chooses not to be associated with UW basketball at the moment, especially if they have no other ties to Seattle. Expect him to wind up with a better chance at NIL money on a winning team with a competent offense. Good for him. Meanwhile, will the last one left close the door on the way out.