How Wooga Poplar transfer impacts Miami basketball roster

Less than a week ahead of the May 1 deadline the Miami basketball program lost guard Wooga Poplar to the transfer portal.
Mar 6, 2024; Coral Gables, Florida, USA; Miami Hurricanes guard Wooga Poplar (5) celebrates after
Mar 6, 2024; Coral Gables, Florida, USA; Miami Hurricanes guard Wooga Poplar (5) celebrates after / Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports

The Miami basketball roster will look vastly different in 2024–25, with Wooga Poplar entering the transfer portal on Thursday morning. Poplar was the third-leading scorer for Miami in 2023–24. An ankle injury suffered in December hindered Poplar throughout the remainder of the season and caused him to miss three games.

Poplar averaged 13.1 points per game, 4.8 rebounds, 2.1 assists and shot 42.6 percent from the field, 38.5 percent on three-point attempts and 86.4 percent from the free throw line. The departure by Poplar leaves Nijel Pack as the only remaining rotation player and starter from the 2023 ACC Championship and Final Four team.

Poplar will instantly become one of the most sought-after transfers available. Miami signed Poplar in the 2021 class as a four-star prospect who was the 128th-ranked overall player, 34th shooting guard and seventh recruit in Pennsylvania. The entire 2021 Miami class has departed during the 2024 offseason.

Bensley Joseph who started most of the 2023-24 season transferred to Providence and Jakai Robinson remains in the transfer portal. Rising sophomore Paul Djobet, Pack and potentially forward Matthew Cleveland are the only returning players for Miami in 2024-25. Cleveland has not decided if he will return to Miami next season.

The departure by Poplar could explain Miami pursuing other transfer guards. Miami signed guards Jalil Bethea and Austin Swartz and forward Isaiah Johnson-Arigu in the 2024 class. Center Lynn Kidd from Virginia Tech and forward Brandon Johnson from East Carolina have transferred to Miami.

Small visited Miami last week. Johnson and Small were teammates at East Carolina before the latter played one season at Oklahoma State. The departure of Poplar should make Miami more attractive for Small. Bethea is the highest-ranked signee in Miami history and is projected to be a major impact player for the Hurricanes in 2024-25.

Poplar entering the transfer portal frees up minutes for Bethea and Swartz and gives Jim Larranaga and his staff another opening to sign an impact transfer. Earlier in the season Poplar was projected as a potential first-round pick. Inconsistency likely due to his ankle injury caused Poplar's draft stock to drop.

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Miami has a projected eight players currently on its 2024–25 roster, including Cleveland. Larranaga and his staff can now add as many as five more transfers for 2024–25. Miami needs more depth on the frontline and another player who can get his own buckets.