Pope, Nwaokorie depart in transfer portal, Kapic joins from Lynn

Pope, Nwaokorie depart in transfer portal, Kapic joins from Lynn
Image by Keita Kobayashi for The UCSD Guardian

For the first time since the Tritons began Division I play, Bryce Pope will not be suiting up in blue and gold. The 6’3” guard announced via Instagram and X Friday afternoon that he would be transferring to the University of Southern California in the fall. This comes only a month after the disappointing loss in the first round of the College Basketball Invitational to Chicago State. Pope departs La Jolla as the Tritons’ leading scorer since entering the Big West and will look to help the Trojans rebound after a disappointing 2023-24 season.

 

Also departing is power forward Francis Nwaokorie. The Minnesota native finished the season averaging 11.3 points per game and 5.5 rebounds per game. He departs for Loyola Chicago and will join a Ramblers squad that achieved 23 wins last season. The two other big men in the Triton rotation are leaving as well; 7 foot center Emmanuel Tshimanga has entered the transfer portal and senior J’Raan Brooks has graduated. Outside of the primary Triton rotation, Michael Pearson Jr. and Justin DeGraaf have also entered the transfer portal, with the latter committing to NAIA school Grace College.

 

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The large number of departures is a monumental hurdle for a UCSD squad that finished with their best Division I season to date. Only three players from the Tritons’ usual seven man rotation remain: Aniwaniwa Tait-Jones, Hayden Gray, and Tyler McGhie, the latter of whom will likely start next season after an impressive debut Big West campaign. They will be joined by Nordin Kapic, the 6’8” junior from Division II college Lynn University. The power forward averaged 19.3 points per game and 9.2 rebounds per game for the Fighting Knights, and shoots 41.3% from beyond the arc. He also represents Austria on the international stage and was one of the top players in the 2023 U-20 European Championship Division B.

Update: Serbian forward Milos Vicentic announced that he will be joining the program Monday morning. He joins from McKendree University and has established himself as one of the top players in Division II, being named to the 2023-24 NABC Division II All-America Team. Vicentic averaged 21.5 points per game and shoots 41.2% from deep. The Tritons have now picked up two of the top DII transfers in the country. Kapic and Vicentic both are tall, European forwards with the ability to shoot from long range, and it will be interesting to see how coach Eric Olen uses them next season.

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Keita Kobayashi
Keita Kobayashi, Photo Editor
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