Owls in the portal after McKie steps down

Five of Temple’s players have entered the transfer portal in the last week, but some might return to North Philly.

Aaron Mckie stepped down from his position as Temple Men Basketball’s head coach on March 13. | ROBERT JOSEPH CRUZ / THE TEMPLE NEWS

Aaron McKie, one of Temple’s greatest players and former NBA Sixth Man of the Year, stepped down as Temple’s head coach last week after four years at the helm. 

As has become the norm in today’s collegiate athletics landscape, several Temple players have entered the transfer portal. Some could announce their entries at a later date. All players, except Khalif Battle, indicated they will talk to Temple’s new coaching staff before making a decision.

Khalif Battle, Damian Dunn, Nick Jourdain, Zach Hicks, Jamille Reynolds, and Hysier Miller have each entered the transfer portal. | ROBERT JOSEPH CRUZ / THE TEMPLE NEWS

Below is an update on where each player stands:

Khalif Battle

Battle’s history at Temple will be remembered as a complicated one. The former four-star recruit from Trenton Catholic Academy in New Jersey chose Butler over several schools including Temple – a decision that didn’t work out for him.

He struggled to find a role with the Bulldogs as a true freshman, averaging three points and 11 minutes played per game. 

Battle then transferred to Temple and immediately became an all-American Athletic Conference player. In his three years with the Owls, he averaged 18.1 points and 4.6 rebounds per game and shot 38.6 percent from three.

The 2022 preseason all-conference guard left the program after the Owls’ Feb. 16 loss to Wichita State. The game included Battle and McKie’s second public disagreement of the season, and Battle never returned to the team.

When on the floor, Battle was Temple’s most talented scorer. However, he wasn’t always easy to manage and ultimately altered the Owls’ “tournament-or-bust” season for the worst.

Considering Battle’s initial reasoning for committing to Temple, the fallout between him and McKie is shocking.

“When I found out that coach Aaron McKie got the head coaching job, it was basically a no-brainer,” Battle said. “I’m comfortable with him and he’s been a pro for a long time, so he knows what it’s like to be at the NBA level. That’s the ultimate goal.”

The New Jersey native has already generated significant interest in the portal, including from Big 5 rival Villanova and AAC rivals Memphis and Central Florida. He has two years of eligibility remaining.

Damian Dunn

Like Battle, Dunn enters the portal as a four-year player with two years of eligibility remaining. 

Dunn has been the Owls’ leading scorer in their games without Battle for the last three seasons, and entered Temple’s 1,000-points club in the Owls’ Feb. 22 overtime loss at Cincinnati

He is the only Owl to receive conference honors in each of the last three years. Dunn was a third-team All-AAC selection this year, a second-team All-AAC selection last season and an all-freshman team selection in 2020-21. 

The guard was McKie’s first recruit as a head coach and became a father in December. Combining those factors with the Power Five interest that he’s gained since last year, the third-team All-AAC guard is most likely out.

In high school, Dunn played for Stackhouse Elite, the AAU program run by former NBA All-Star and current Vanderbilt head coach Jerry Stackhouse. 

Dunn and Stackhouse are both from Kinston, North Carolina, and attended Kinston High School before transferring out of state for their senior seasons. Stackhouse transferred to Oak Hill in Virginia, and Dunn transferred to Meadowcreek High School in Georgia.

While in Georgia, he joined Stackhouse Elite, which was located in nearby Atlanta and played on the Adidas circuit.

With Stackhouse still at the helm and the Commodores being on the brink of making the 2023 NCAA Tournament, fans can expect Vanderbilt to be interested in Dunn if he meets the school’s rigorous academic requirements.

Nick Jourdain

Jourdain projects as an athletic, rim-protecting center in a slightly less-competitive conference, similar to Jake Forrester transferring to Saint Louis at the end of last season. 

He embraced the role of Temple’s small-ball center last season, carving out significant minutes for himself.

Battle and Jourdain were AAU teammates on the New Jersey Playaz, and Battle made Temple’s staff aware of Jourdain after joining the program.

Although returning to Temple remains an option for Jourdain, a new staff, the chance at a bigger role elsewhere and the departure of Battle make his chances of returning to Temple slim.

Zach Hicks

Hicks’ shooting, rebounding and size has intrigued enough Power Five schools to think he most likely won’t be back at The Liacouras Center in 2023-24. 

The sophomore shot 35.6 percent from three this season, and set Temple’s single-game record for threes made in a game with 10 against Delaware State in 2021-22.

In his two years at Temple, Hicks averaged 8.95 points and 4.6 rebounds per game in his career, and shoots 36.3 percent from three.

The Hicks family has already met with DePaul, and has arranged meetings with Syracuse and Texas-El Paso. 

Jamille Reynolds

Reynolds transferred from UCF to Temple as a sophomore and was dubbed “a generational talent” by third-team All-AAC guard Damian Dunn. 

The big man was the first post-scoring threat that McKie was able to recruit, averaging 10 points and five rebounds per game in 60 percent shooting.

Because he transferred last season, Reynolds would be required to miss a seasonsit out a year if he transferred again without receiving a waiver from the NCAA. 

Considering how teammate Taj Thweatt couldn’t obtain a transfer waiver this season, and how Reynolds would be on his third team in three years, returning to Temple isn’t completely off the table.

Hysier Miller

After Reynolds, Miller is the most likely of the current portal entries to return to Temple. The South Philly native averaged 8.6 points on 36.9 percent from the field this season, and didn’t compensate for the poor shooting with playmaking as he averaged just 3.75 assists per game.

With his 6’1” frame and lack of athleticism, it’s hard to imagine Miller transferring up to higher-caliber programs.

Miller will be visiting conference rival Southern Methodist, which pays each of its basketball players $35,000, this weekend. The guard has also received major interest from Fordham.


West Catholic Preparatory High School forward Zion Stanford is Temple’s only incoming freshman for the 2023 class. Stanford has already signed his National Letter of Intent and, according to his head coach Miguel Bocachica, will decide if he wants to be released after Temple hires a new coach.

His teammate, 2023 point guard Adam “Budd” Clark, has also reopened his recruitment. Clark was committed to Coppin State, but decommitted after the Eagles fired head coach Juan Dixon. 

If Stanford remains committed, Temple’s new head coach could pursue Clark as a package deal.

Returning Players

Point guard Deuce Roberts will be redshirted and have four years of eligibility remaining as he didn’t play during the 2022-23 season. 

Roberts didn’t have any Division I offers aside from Temple. However, it is possible that he transfers to a junior college to earn more.

The 2022 newcomers Shane Dezonie and Taj Thweatt would also be two-time transfers if they entered the portal, meaning they’ll likely return to avoid being forced to sit out next season.

Thweatt’s best friend and high school teammate at Wildwood Catholic Academy in New Jersey, sophomore forward Jahlil White, has not entered the portal. He was the key piece in Temple both recruiting and landing Thweatt. It doesn’t appear likely that he will leave the program.

Sophomore center Emmanuel Okpomo would be a two-time transfer, meaning he’d need a waiver like Reynolds. However, if Reynolds’ transfer is approved, Okpomo would have the inside track to being Temple’s starting center in 2023-24.

Freshman guard AK Fihla was a preferred walk-on from the NBA Academy in South Africa, and could earn a scholarship under Temple’s new staff.

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