Palsgrove’s Points: A summary of the Liberty men’s basketball and the transfer portal

Since basketball season is over, it’s time for my seasonal tradition of breaking down and grading the Flames’ transfer portal wins and woes. Today, we’re looking at Liberty University men’s basketball and the changes to its roster since its season ended in Huntsville a few weeks back. 

Before we start, remember, the transfer portal is an ever-moving and ever-changing whirlpool of hopes, dreams and disaster. A player who declares for the portal can withdraw himself from it, or a player who is committed to a school can pivot and renege on said commitment. Everything I write in this column is as up to date as can be, but I cannot and will not promise that this will be the final result of this year’s transfer portal window. 

Let’s start with the fun stuff. 

Transferring to Liberty — SG Taelon Peter

Formerly of Arkansas Tech, the first win for the Flames in the portal comes from a 6-foot-4-inch guard out of Arkansas. Peter is the type of guard Flames fans have been clamoring for for years: a guard with size, speed, athleticism and the ability to score at will. He was ranked by On3 as the 105th best player in this year’s portal and comes to Liberty as the only ranked portal acquisition in the school’s history. 

On top of being named the Great American Conference Player of the Year, Peter helped Arkansas Tech claim the second seed in its conference tournament with a 25-7 overall record. Peter is entering his senior season with just one season of eligibility remaining, but all signs point to that being a very impactful season.

In his last season at Arkansas Tech, Peter averaged 18.5 points per game along with just over five rebounds per game. He wasn’t the type of player to chuck up bad shots either, averaging just under 50% from the field (49.9) and just over 40% from beyond the arc (40.1). Those are elite-level numbers, and if he plays like that into training camp, I would not at all be surprised to see Peter claim one of the empty spots in the top six. 

Now you may be asking, “Why are there openings in the top six of the Flames’ rotation?” Well, let’s get to that. 

Transferring to Belmont from Liberty — SG Brody Peebles

In all honesty, this doesn’t surprise me. Peebles was the Flames’ sixth man in the rotation but also fourth on the team in points. His early-season heater slowed a bit as the Flames settled into a rotation and into conference play, and he ended the season shooting 33.6% (sixth on the team) from beyond the arc, 45.4% (fifth on the team) from the field and a team-best 87.5% from the charity stripe while also making the third-most free throws on the team. 

As talented and as beloved as Peebles is, his production wasn’t quite to the point of irreplaceability. Peter’s ability to cut to the rack and his hot hand from three makes him the early candidate, at least in my eyes, to take over those sixth-man minutes. Unless Head Coach Ritchie McKay wants Peter to grace the Flames’ starting lineup and fill the void left behind by another former Flame. 

Transferring away from Liberty — SG Joseph Venzant

Not a lot of things make my jaw hit the floor so hard it bruises, but this announcement did. Venzant was coming off of a surprisingly good season in which he averaged 6.2 rebounds per game (second on the team) and one steal per game (first on the team). That breakout year came after being given the majority of the hardest assignments on the defensive side of the floor by McKay and continuing his high-flying antics on offense. He was rewarded for his dominant season on the defensive end with a CUSA All-Defensive team selection.

Venzant, like Peebles and Peter, enters the portal with one season of eligibility remaining. He hasn’t made an announcement yet regarding any visits or potential suitors, but it’s just a matter of time. 

Transferring away from Liberty — F/C Ben Southerland and G Jaylen Davis

The last two transfers for the Flames are two young bucks (I can say that; I’m older than they are by like two years) who are looking for that ever-present greener grass. Davis has yet to appear in a game for the Flames after being redshirted along with Kai Yu and Curtis Blair. Southerland just wrapped up his redshirt-freshman season with an average of 1.6 points and 1.5 rebounds per game in 6.9 minutes. Both of them have yet to announce their future home, but it sadly won’t be Liberty (barring something strange). 

Palsgrove is the assistant sports editor. Follow him on X.

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