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Abdoul Karim Coulibaly enters NCAA transfer portal

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The Pitt power forward was a starter and would have played a key role next season

NCAA Basketball: Virginia at Pittsburgh Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Pitt power forward Abdoul Karim Coulibaly entered the transfer portal on Wednesday, according to an announcement from the program. The native of Bamako, Mali, is the fifth player to leave the program in 2021, as Terrell Brown, Gerald Drumgoole, Xavier Johnson and Au’Diese Toney also left.

“We appreciate Karim’s time and efforts here with our program and wish him luck as he looks to continue his career elsewhere,” Pitt head coach Jeff Capel said in a statement.

Coulibaly joined the program in 2019 as a member of a four-man recruiting class that also included Justin Champagnie, Gerald Drumgoole and Ryan Murphy. Now, that class is disappearing fast, as Drumgoole entered the portal on March 11, Murphy left the program with Trey McGowens in 2020, and Champagnie is considering entering the 2021 NBA draft.

With Coulibaly, Drumgoole and Murphy all gone and Champagnie apparently with one foot out the door, Pitt could soon lose its entire 2019 class. However, it would not be the first time Capel lost an entire class, as the 2018 Pitt class that he built, which included Johnson, McGowens and Toney, has also departed.

During his time at Pitt, Coulibaly averaged 5.2 points, 3.9 rebounds and 0.9 blocks per game and carved out a role as the team’s primary frontcourt option. As such, he was expected to return next season and play a prominent role on the team, and his return was made all the more important by the exit of Brown. But with Coulibaly or Brown gone, a Pitt team already light on options in the frontcourt will be forced to rely on largely untested underclassmen, such as Max Amadasun and Noah Collier.

At this point, it is unclear what comes next for Pitt, as the exodus of talent could continue in an offseason that has seen the transfer portal flooded with far more players than usual. But on a positive note for Pitt, Ithiel Horton and Nike Sibande both expressed their intentions to return for another season, and if Champagnie comes back, Pitt could land on its feet.

In any case, Capel has the unenviable task of replacing three starters and two additional contributors on short notice, and how he manages the situation will go a long way in determining Pitt's success next season.