Utah Valley’s Aziz Bandaogo told ESPN he will enter the NCAA transfer portal later Friday, immediately becoming one of the best available big men on the transfer market.
“The reason I am entering the portal is just not for my basketball career but more importantly for my mental health,” Bandaogo said. “I have been going through a very hard period for months where my day-to-day life has severely been affected. I’m grateful for the chance and I hope all my supporters will acknowledge the importance of this decision.”
Bandaogo, a 7-foot junior from Senegal, averaged 11.7 points, 10.1 rebounds and 2.9 blocks. He ranked as the third best shot-blocker in college basketball and was named WAC defensive player of the year, helping Utah Valley make the NIT Final Four, where they lost to UAB.
An NBA Academy Africa alumnus, Bandaogo was one of the most improved players in college basketball this season, playing just 14 total minutes as a freshman and then averaging 2.7 points in 12 minutes as a sophomore at Akron, before exploding as a junior into one of the best big men in mid-major basketball.
His coach at Utah Valley, Mark Madsen, departed for Cal in the Pac-12 this offseason after his team’s excellent season in which they went 28-9 (15-3 in conference).
Bandaogo’s size, rebounding and shot-blocking prowess should make him one of the most coveted available players in the transfer portal, as he’s expected to draw interest from a variety of power five conference schools in need of a starting caliber big man.
“This is a recent decision I have made to transfer,” Bandaogo said. “I haven’t had much time to think or to be worried about it. I just know I want to be closer to my friends and family that I have in USA. I feel that’s very important for me at the moment.”