4 most painful Texas basketball transfer departures all-time

The transfer portal is a two-way street for most programs, which is the case for Texas in the 2020s.
Dillon Mitchell, Tyrese Hunter, Texas basketball
Dillon Mitchell, Tyrese Hunter, Texas basketball / Aaron E. Martinez/American-Statesman /
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Will Baker
Will Baker / Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports

Will Baker, C

Former five-star center recruit from Austin (TX) Westlake High School, Will Baker, was one of the highest-rated big men prospects in the last decade for the Texas program. Baker was the centerpiece of a 2019 recruiting class for former head coach Shaka Smart that ranked 17th nationally in the 247Sports Composite.

Texas had two top-50 rated big man recruits who signed in the 2019 class that looked to be the future of the program's frontcourt, Baker and high-four-star Kai Jones.

A combination of frontcourt depth on the roster and coaching turnover led to Baker entering the transfer portal after spending the first 18 months of his collegiate career at Texas.

Baker only played 23 games at Texas (0 starts) during his true freshman campaign in 2019-20. He averaged 2.1 points per game, 1.9 rebounds, and 0.3 assists.

In 2020, Baker entered the transfer portal looking for more playing time and a bigger role with another Division 1 school. He found a home with the Nevada Wolfpack in the Mountain West Conference, where he emerged as an impact player and a multi-year starter in the frontcourt from 2021-2023.

Baker would develop into a legitimate floor-spacing big man who could score at a decent clip consistently for the Wolfpack in his two seasons with Nevada. He earned All-MWC Third-Team honors while helping head coach Steve Alford and Nevada to an NCAA Tournament appearance in 2023.

After spending two seasons at Nevada, Baker decided to transfer for the second time in three years. He spent the final year of his collegiate eligibility last season playing for the LSU Tigers in the SEC. Baker ranked top three for LSU in points per game (11.0), rebounds (4.8), and field goal percentage (50.2) as their starting center in 2023-24.

It was nice to see Baker succeeding elsewhere after he got buried deeper down the bench in the Texas rotation early in his collegiate career in 2019 and 2020. But it left something to be desired for Texas fans to see a hometown kid from Westlake High School not be able to develop at the university in his own backyard.