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Utah basketball gets transfer commitment from Cincinnati, another player enters portal

Utah head coach Craig Smith on March 27, 2021. On Friday, the Utes received a commitment from Cincinnati’s Gabe Madsen, while Norbert Thelissen entered the transfer portal.
Utah Athletics

In the span of exactly 15 minutes on Friday afternoon, it was displayed on Twitter for the Utah Utes how the transfer portal can both give and take.

At 3:07 p.m. Mountain Time, Cincinnati guard Gabe Madsen announced that he is transferring to Salt Lake City, becoming the first addition to the roster since Craig Smith became head coach. At 3:22, however, Verbal Commits reported that forward Norbert Thelissen has entered the portal.

First the good news. Madsen is a 6-foot-5, 195-pounder from Rochester, Minnesota (Smith’s home state) who appeared in two games this season as a freshman for Cincinnati in December. On the last day of 2020, he announced he was opting out of the rest of the campaign because of COVID-19.

On March 15, it was widely reported that Madsen was among a large contingent of Cincinnati players — including his twin brother, Mason — who had entered the portal as part of an uprising of sorts within the program.

According to 247 Sports’ rankings, Gabe Madsen was a top 300 recruit in the country for the class of 2020 and he also held scholarship offers from Iowa, Minnesota, Marquette and Northern Iowa.

Utah is reportedly in the running for another Cincinnati transfer who has local ties, as multiple outlets have reported that Mike Saunders Jr., who played his high school ball at Wasatch Academy, is considering both the Utes and the BYU Cougars, among other schools.

Thelissen, on the other hand, will be entering the portal having never attended Utah. The Holland native was signed last July, but it was known then that he would not be eligible until next season.

Four players from last season’s Ute roster are still reportedly in the portal: Timmy Allen, Alfonso Plummer, Lahat Thioune and Jordan Kellier. Brendan Wenzel entered the portal during the season and is now at Wyoming. Riley Battin entered the portal before deciding to return to Utah.