While the Bulldogs benefitted greatly from the transfer portal, Sam Purcell’s Mississippi State basketball team did lose several players as well.
After wrapping up his first season as the head coach of the Mississippi State women’s basketball program, head coach Sam Purcell was faced with the tough task of recruiting and replacing a number of players.
Though Purcell and his Mississippi State basketball team fell short of making it to the Sweet Sixteen, the Bulldogs’ head coach is right to be pretty pleased with how it all turned out. And he’s even been pretty publicly supportive of the players that left.
During SEC Media Days, Purcell was asked about roster management and having to replace several seniors who graduated and then also how he navigated losing key transfers to the transfer portal and other teams.
Of course, Purcell emphasized how the Bulldogs have open communication and have a vision for the direction of the program.
And Purcell is also seemingly a pretty nice guy.
Mississippi State basketball head coach Sam Purcell discusses losing players to the transfer portal
“First of all, when you take over a program, you come in with a vision, most importantly you come in with a goal,” Purcell said, according to ASAP Sports’ transcript from SEC Media Days. “The media at times might like storylines, but each one of those transfers were for healthy reasons. They wanted different opportunities.”
(side note, between this quote and his famed and widely loved “talk to me nice” quote, I’m beginning to think that Sam Purcell may not totally love everything sports media does, which is fair).
Hats off to Purcell for being straightforward and supportive of his former players. He was presented with a public platform and instead of discussing how losing the players to the transfer portal may have negatively impacted his team, he focused in solely on the needs of his players.
The transfer portal has changed college athletics and it gives players increased autonomy and the ability to explore options that best fit their goals. It sure looks like Purcell recognizes that and is able to handle each situation on an individual level.
“As a head coach, that’s my responsibility,” Purcell explained. “When the season ends, we have one-on-one conversations, and you project where I see them, where things could go. Every player is entitled to a bigger opportunity with today’s climate. It was a welcoming thing that we were thankful for their opportunity and wish them nothing but the best of luck.”
While fans and writers and bloggers and what not may jump to conclusions about the transfer portal, it’s refreshing to see Purcell focus on how he openly communicates and supports his players.
Even if they want to play somewhere else.
Purcell is still working to build the Bulldogs up and as he continues to build a steady foundation, it’s important to keep in mind that successful (and sustainable) programs are often build around trust and alignment around a common vision just as they’re built with talented stars.
It’s cool to see Purcell lay the groundwork there with the Mississippi State women’s basketball team.