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 entered Portal was not just for my basketball career but more importantly for my mental health,” Bandaogo said. “I have been going through a very difficult period for several months where my daily life has been severely affected. I am grateful for the opportunity and I hope all my supporters will recognize the importance of this decision.”
The 7-foot junior from Bandaogo, 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 the WAC Defensive Player of the Year, helping Utah Valley to the NIT Final Four, where they lost to UAB.
An NBA Academy Africa alumnus, Bandaogo was one of college basketball’s most improved players this season, playing just 14 minutes as a freshman and then averaging 2.7 points per 12 minutes as a sophomore at Akron, before exploding as a junior as one of the best big men in mid-major basketball.
His coach at Utah Valley, Mark Madsen, left for Cal in the Pac-12 this offseason after his team’s stellar season in which they went 28-9 (15-3 in conference).
Bandaogo’s size, rebounding and shot-blocking skills will make him one of the most coveted players available on transfer portals, as he is expected to draw interest from a variety of Power Five conference schools in need of starting-caliber big men.
“It’s a recent decision I made to transfer,” Bandaogo said. “I don’t have a lot of time to think or worry about it. I just know that I want to be close to my friends and family in the US. I think that’s very important to me right now.”