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The strange and ongoing transfer journey of Riley Kugel can serve as a good reminder that recruiting is a fluid process in the world of college basketball.

Kugel, a 6-foot-5 guard who spent the past two seasons playing for the Florida Gators, was supposed to join the Kansas Jayhawks next season. When he committed to KU in late March he was Bill Self’s first transfer addition of the offseason.

Fast forward a few weeks, though, and he is no longer destined for Lawrence.

Why? Self told the NCAA March Madness podcast that it was “up in the air” whether Kugel would actually make it to KU and didn’t elaborate further. At least one college basketball reporter hinted that an academic issue brought the transfer to a screeching halt.

In any case, Kugel is once again a free agent in the transfer portal. And he may still end playing in the Sunflower State.

The K-State men’s basketball team is reportedly showing interest in Kugel along with Mississippi State and others now that he has re-opened his recruitment.

It would certainly be unusual for a player to commit to KU in March and then end up playing for K-State a few months later, but there is nothing normal about some of the transfer moves that are currently taking place in college hoops.

Commitments are not binding for transfers. Neither are financial-aid agreements. Until a transfer enrolls at a new school and starts taking classes, they are technically free to continue exploring options. Even then, some graduate transfers are still allowed to enter the portal so long as they haven’t played in a game.

In any case, Kugel looks to be an interesting transfer target for the Wildcats. He averaged 9.2 points and 3.5 rebounds while playing in 33 games for the Gators. Though his stats won’t blow you away, it’s worth noting that he only averaged 23.4 minutes per game. His body is also loaded with athleticism.

His highlight reel is impressive.

K-State basketball coach Jerome Tang is currently on the hunt for four more players. The Wildcats currently have nine scholarship players on their roster following the addition of Fullerton transfer Max Jones on Thursday.

Overall, it has been a busy off season for K-State. Tang’s team has lost 10 scholarship players from last year’s squad, leaving the Wildcats with only David N’Guessan, Macaleab Rich and Taj Manning as returning players. Tang has added five incoming transfers (Villanova guard Brendan Hausen, Michigan guard Dug McDaniel, Illinois-Chicago guard CJ Jones, Arkansas big man Baye Fall and Jones) to complement high school recruit David Castillo.

Perhaps Kugel could next.


Kellis Robinett covers Kansas State athletics for The Wichita Eagle and The Kansas City Star. A winner of more than a dozen national writing awards, he lives in Manhattan with his wife and four children.

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