On Friday evening, Julia Hintz became the first member of the 2022-23 Cleveland State roster to announce that she has entered her name into the transfer portal, formally jolting the Vikings into the offseason following their NCAA Tournament defeat at Villanova last week.
Hintz, a guard from the storied New Berlin Eisenhower program in her native Wisconsin, is her high school’s all-time leading scorer and helped the Lions to a state championship in 2016. However, her time in Cleveland has mostly been spent out of action with a back injury, as she appeared in just 39 games for the Vikings from 2019-21, and none in the last two seasons. She did show promise as a threat from the outside with healthy, including a nine-point effort entirely on threes during her freshman season that proved pivotal to a win over Milwaukee.
Despite being unavailable to play, the soon-to-be health science graduate remained a part of the squad, helping the Vikings accelerate to a new level for the program. She was an active player on the 2021 WBI championship team, then took an off-court role as CSU returned to the WBI title game the following year, before winning the Horizon League tournament and appearing in March Madness this season. Hintz has two seasons of eligibility remaining, thanks to a redshirt and her COVID waiver year.
The narrative around portal activity tends to blame student-athletes for being fickle and opportunistic, and if there is a critical mass of departures from a specific school, people then wonder about issues with the coaching staff. However, the truth is often far more complex. Coaches often tell players that they’re no longer in the team’s plans for reasons ranging from team culture to scholarship availability, realities of college sports that existed well before the portal era. Though it doesn’t apply at Cleveland State for the moment, staff turnover is often another situation that facilitates exits.
Hintz’s decision launches what will undoubtedly be an interesting few months for the defending Horizon League champions, as Cleveland State will have to remake significant portions of its roster ahead of the 2023-24 season. Several centerpiece individuals like conference player of the year Destiny Leo and all-freshman team member Jordana Reisma are projected to return, but starters Amele Ngwafang, Brittni Moore and Barbara Zieniewska are all out of eligibility, while Hintz and any further portal entries will obviously create additional holes that need to be filled.