Utah Valley guard Justin Harmon is transferring to Big Ten country to join the Fighting Illini. Courtesy Western Athletic Conference.

Harmon to Illinois, Hopkins Commits, and More Offseason News

The offseason in college basketball has become quite the circus. There is the coaching carousel where coaches jump from school to school, especially after a big season at their previous stop. With that carousel comes to the transfer portal and players wanting to make the jump to what they perceive as perhaps greener pastures. It is all part of creating some offseason buzz.

With that being said, offseason news continues to take place regarding the Western Athletic Conference.

Here is just a little of that news on this Tuesday morning.

Justin Harmon Heads Home

After two seasons in the Rocky Mountains, Utah Valley guard Justin Harmon is heading home to play in the Big Ten. On Monday evening, Harmon committed to Brad Underwood and the Fighting Illini of Illinois. Harmon will don the orange and white after two years in the green and white.

During his time in Orem, Harmon averaged 12.9 points, 3.8 rebounds and 2.3 assists per game. Harmon was a catalyst in helping Utah Valley to 20 wins in 2021-22 and 28 wins in 2022-23. The Chicago, Illinois native stepped onto the scene in Orem in a big way on Dec. 1, 2021 at the UCCU Center. Harmon came off the bench to score 24 points in an overtime upset win over then-12th-ranked BYU. In the win, Harmon also pulled down seven rebounds and went 8-10 from the free throw line.

During Utah Valley’s NIT run, Harmon averaged just over 20 points per game, including a 32-point night at New Mexico.

Utah Valley was 48-21 in Harmon’s two seasons in Orem.

Tarleton Guard Headed to the SWAC

Javontae Hopkins is going to be a little closer to home to finish out his college basketball career. The former Tarleton guard committed to Prairie View A&M on Monday. This means Hopkins will be playing just 43 minutes from his hometown of Houston. That is a little better than the 4-hour drive to Stephenville.

Either way, Hopkins has been a mainstay in the Tarleton lineup over the last four years. Hopkins appeared in 110 games as a Texan, averaging a little over 4.5 points and 1.4 rebounds. At 6-0, which if you look at Hopkins, might be generous, the little giant plays much bigger. With quickness, explosiveness, good hands, and a knack for creating chaos, Hopkins will be an instant impact guy in the SWAC.

Former WAC Freshman of the Year Down to Four

There was a lot of hype when former CBU guard Taran Armstrong joined the Lancers. That hype is still ongoing as the 2021-22 WAC Freshman of the Year has narrowed his list of new suitors to four.

Three Big East schools and Gonzaga are in the mix to land the talents of the 6-6 guard from Burnie, Tasmania. In two seasons at CBU, Armstrong averaged 10.6 points, 5.6 rebounds and 4.8 assists.

Armstrong burst onto the scene on Nov. 18, 2021 when he recorded a triple-double in a win over San Jose State. Armstrong finished with 16 points, 12 assists and 10 rebounds in the 67-66 win over the Spartans.

Ladyjacks Lose Two Stars

In the blink of an eye following Mark Kellogg’s departure to West Virginia, SFA also lost two of its star players. WAC Freshman of the Year Jordan Harrison announced her decision to enter the transfer portal. And about 30 minutes after Harrison made her announcement, 2022 WAC Tournament MVP Zya Nugent made the announcement that she was also entering the transfer portal.

Harrison was the floor general for the Ladyjacks in 2022-23. The WAC Freshman of the Year averaged 12.1 points, 3.7 rebounds and had a team-high 169 assists in her lone season in Nacogdoches. Shifty, quick, good decision making were on full display for the 5-6 true freshman guard. It wouldn’t surprise anyone to see Harrison end up in Morgantown playing for her former head coach.

Following Harrison’s announcement, Zya Nugent, who is still recovering from a blown out knee from the 2022 offseason, also announced her decision to enter the transfer portal. Nugent averaged 12.9 points and 5.1 rebounds in 2021-22. However, it was her performance in the 2022 WAC Tournament that really put her on the map. In two games, Nugent averaged 21.0 points and 7.5 rebounds in leading the Ladyjacks to the WAC Tournament title. During SFA’s NCAA Tournament game against North Carolina, Nugent had a team-high 26 points to go along with six assists and five rebounds.

About the author

Kyle McDonald

Love everything about WAC Hoops so decided I wanted to write more about it and cover this amazing conference that just keeps getting better. Follow us on Twitter @wachoopsdigest for information, game analysis and much more.

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