South Dakota State basketball lands big man Oscar Cluff in transfer portal

Apr. 16—BROOKINGS — To put a spin on an old phrase, the transfer portal taketh away and the transfer portal giveth.

While South Dakota State lost star players Zeke Mayo (Kansas) and William Kyle (still undecided) almost immediately after their season ended with an NCAA tournament loss to Iowa State, with another handful of reserves joining them in the portal later, the Jackrabbits have since added two transfers from power programs as coach Eric Henderson restocks the roster of a team that lost every member of its starting five.

First came Isaac Lindsey, a 6-foot-4 guard from the Wisconsin Badgers, and Tuesday came the addition of Oscar Cluff, a 6-11, 255-pound Australian center who played last year at Washington State, where he helped the Cougars reach the NCAA tournament. In fact, they were playing in the same regional as the Jackrabbits, in Omaha.

Cluff immediately becomes one of the most imposing post players in the Summit League, as he was a significant contributor to Wazzu in his lone season after coming in from junior college. Cluff started 23 of 35 games, averaging 7.0 points and 4.4 rebounds in just over 20 minutes per night. He shot .538 from the floor and .660 at the line while making his only 3-point attempt of the year. He also had 31 blocked shots.

Cluff scored in double figures nine times and had one double-double. He had 20 points, eight rebounds and three blocks in a game against Oregon State and 12 points and 14 rebounds against Stanford.

While he gives the Jacks a second true center alongside 7-footer Nate Barnhart, Cluff will be a far different style of player. He'll be a true 'banger', with a physical, back-to-the-basket offensive game that will be difficult for Summit League defenders to contend with.

Though they would not yet comment on the record, Jackrabbit coaches are, to put it mildly, extremely excited to land a player of Cluff's caliber. He'll have just one year of eligibility, but the Jacks clearly believe he can dominate. Indications are that this is one of the most significant additions they've made to the roster since Henderson has been the coach. Cluff was in attendance at the SDSU football team's Spring Game on Saturday, touring the school's athletic facilities with coaches and players.

Lindsey, meanwhile, will give the Jacks a veteran shooting presence. He played sparingly in three seasons with the Badgers, scoring 48 points in 46 games.

He was the No. 5 prep prospect in Wisconsin coming out of Mineral Point High School, where he was a three-sport star, playing quarterback in football and shortstop in baseball. He was a four-year starter and all-state pick in all three sports. Lindsey began his career at UNLV under former Jackrabbits coach T.J. Otzelberger before transferring to Wisconsin.