Two more Marquette basketball players enter NCAA transfer portal, and Shaka Smart earns another coach of year award

·2 min read

The bench will look different next season for the Marquette men's basketball team.

A day after guard Emarion Ellis entered the NCAA transfer portal, MU forwards Zach Wrightsil and Keeyan Itejere did the same on Tuesday.

Wrightsil's decision is not that surprising. He told the Journal Sentinel earlier this month that he was keeping all his options open for his future after knee issues limited him to three games with the Golden Eagles.

Wrightsil will need to get a medical waiver from the NCAA to play next season after spending four seasons at Loyola (New Orleans), where he was the NAIA player of the year last season, before transferring to MU. But Wrightsil had knee surgery in June, and after returning to action still experienced discomfort. Another surgery in December ended his season, though he was still an enthusiastic presence on the Golden Eagles' bench this season.

Keeyan Itejere appeared in 13 games for Marquette this season while throwing down five dunks. He announced on Tuesday that he is entering the NCAA transfer portal.
Keeyan Itejere appeared in 13 games for Marquette this season while throwing down five dunks. He announced on Tuesday that he is entering the NCAA transfer portal.

Itejere, like Ellis, originally committed to MU head coach Shaka Smart when he was at Texas. He followed Smart to the Golden Eagles and redshirted last season while the coaches tried to harness Itejere's explosive leaping ability. He holds the program record for standing vertical leap at 36.5 inches.

Playing time was hard to come by for Itejere this season. He appeared in only 13 games and made all five of his shots, each of them dunks.

With Ellis and Itejere in the portal, the Golden Eagles have a scholarship slot open for next season and could add a transfer to bolster depth.

Shaka Smart is NABC coach of the year

Last week, Smart was honored by the United States Basketball Writers Association as the national coach of the year.

On Tuesday, the National Association of Basketball Coaches gave Smart its award.

In Smart's second season at MU, the Golden Eagles won a program-best 29 games. The school also claimed its first Big East outright regular-season title and tournament championship.

The 45-year old Smart was also honored as Big East coach of the year. He is a finalist for the Naismith Award for coach of the year along with Purdue's Matt Painter, Kansas State's Jerome Tang and Houston's Kelvin Sampson.

The Naismith Award winner will be announced April 2 and the Associated Press' coach of the year will be named on March 31.

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This article originally appeared on Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Marquette's Keeyan Itejere and Zach Wrightsil in NCAA transfer portal