The next stage of college basketball free agency has begun with players picking their final (err, next) destinations.
We’ve already ranked the best players available, and now we’re ranking the best fits for the players who have announced their plans. Keep coming back to this, because we will update as more players pick their next schools.
1. Baylor Scheierman | 6-6 forward | senior | Transferred from South Dakota State to Creighton
The Scout: Scheierman was a point forward for the Jackrabbits and is one of the most skilled players in the country. He’s a knockdown shooter with deep range. He shot 46.9 percent from 3 and made 50 percent of his catch-and-shoot opportunities, according to Synergy. He can really handle and pass it and has a good understanding of how to use his body and change of speeds to get where he wants on the floor. He’s also excellent out of ball screens, freeing himself or setting up a teammate. His foot speed — or lack thereof — is a slight concern when making the leap to the high-major level, where he should be expected to land. But he can make up for it with his understanding of how to get shots and craftiness. He showed he could score against high-major athletes in SDSU’s NCAA Tournament loss to Providence when Scheierman went for 18 points, 10 rebounds and three assists. He had a one-handed, wrong-footed righty scoop off the glass in that game that illustrated how he’s going to be able to score no matter the level. There’s some similarities to Brady Manek in that his size, range and ability to get his shot off quickly is extremely valuable to any offense. Scheierman is a Manek-like shooter but with more playmaking in his tool bag. He may struggle to keep quicker guys in front of him, but his offense and shooting is good enough to not worry about that too much. He’s listed at 6-6 but looks taller. He’ll likely play the four defensively, and offensively, he should go somewhere that has a vision for taking advantage of his ability to make plays with the ball in his hands, similar to what he was able to do at South Dakota State.
The Fit: This is a fun one. Greg McDermott tapped the brake pedal this year and had more of a defensive-oriented team, but with the return of a young core and addition of a shooter/playmaker like Scheierman the Jays should fly again. Scheierman goes to a spot where he’ll face better talent and it’s hard to see him not looking great in that system. Every indication is this was largely an NIL-driven recruitment, but the arrangement should work well on both sides.
2. Nijel Pack | 6-foot | junior guard | Transferred from Kansas State to Miami
The Scout: Pack can fit on pretty much any team in the country. He is capable of playing either guard spot but thrived moving off the ball this season next to Markquis Nowell, allowing him to focus more on scoring. He is one of the best knockdown shooters in the country and he can get it off quick, either off the bounce or the catch. He’s a career 42.9 percent 3-point shooter, made even more impressive by the difficulty of some of those shots. Pack should have no shortage of suitors, given he’s a high-character guy who can make shots and run a team. He is from Indianapolis, and the two Big Ten programs in the state of Indiana could both use a shot-making guard.
The fit: Miami needed a lead guard to take over for Charlie Moore and landed one of the best available in Pack. Pack will fit well in Miami’s offense, which leans heavily on the guards. Jim Larranaga spreads the floor and lets his guards go, whether in isolation or working out of ball screens. Pack is good working out of ball screens and he is an elite shooter. The more catch-and-shoot opportunities you can create for him, the better. He was at his best playing alongside another creator in Nowell, and he’d benefit from Isaiah Wong returning to school. Wong has declared for the draft but left open the possibility of returning to school. If he doesn’t return, Miami would be smart to go find another playmaking guard in the portal to pair with Pack.
3. Kendric Davis | 5-11 guard | graduate | Transferred from SMU to Memphis
The Scout: “What Remy Martin did for Kansas, KD could do that for somebody on steroids,” a coach in the American said of the AAC Player of the Year. If Davis ends up in the right spot, he could be the final piece to make someone a title contender. Davis is one of the best guards in the country when the ball is in his hands. He’s got a tight handle, quickness, ability to change speeds and score at all three levels. He’s crafty too. He’ll get defenders in the air and get to the foul line, where he shot 86.8 percent this year. He’s not just a high-volume scorer either; he can shoot it with efficiency. He averaged 19.4 points — shooting 37.2 percent from 3 and 50.5 percent inside the line — to go along 4.4 assists this season. When asked to be more of a facilitator, he can do that too. He averaged 7.6 assists and led the country in assist rate as a junior. The one knock: “Zero defensive instincts,” the coach said, “but when that ball’s in his hands, he is awesome.”
The Fit: Memphis had one very significant hole this season: the point guard position. Up until the later portion of the season, the Tigers really struggled to get in and out of efficient offensive sets in large part because they just didn’t have a player that could handle the responsibility. With Davis entering the fold, that will be absolutely no issue. This has been the expected outcome from college coaches from the moment that Davis hit the portal after Tim Jankovich’s departure from SMU. Coaches from significant basketball powers tried to get involved, but got very little traction. Davis brings his 19 points and six assists per game over the past two seasons to Memphis, where he’ll get to run the show and have the freedom in their uptempo offense to attack and make plays. It’s an enormous get for Memphis, the kind of move that could push them back into the NCAA Tournament in 2023.
4. Johni Broome | 6-10 center | junior | Transferred from Morehead State to Auburn
The Scout: Broome is one of the best long-term prospects coming from the the mid-major level in the portal. He still has three years of eligibility left and would be a valuable defensive anchor. He averaged a double-double (16.8 points and 10.5 rebounds) and was one of the nation’s top shot-blockers, averaging 3.9 blocks per game and ranking seventh nationally in block rate, per KenPom. He has great instincts as a shot-blocker. He doesn’t bite on fakes, stays down and can block shots with either hand. That allows him to stay out of foul trouble. He committed only 3.4 fouls per 40 minutes this season and fouled out of only one game in two years. Broome is also intriguing on the offensive end. He’s skilled enough to short roll and make a mid-range jumper or attack from that area of the floor. He moves well for his size and is more comfortable putting the ball on the floor than most centers. Morehead State posted him up off the block a lot, and he’s good at getting to his spots off dribble-down moves. He’s a lefty who can score over his right should and also has the Dirk Nowitzki one-footed jumper in his arsenal.
The Fit: It’s extremely easy to see what Auburn was able to pitch Broom on. He’s about as seamless a fit as you can imagine. Broome will slot perfectly into the role being vacated by Walker Kessler at the center position for Auburn as a terrific all-around defensive center. He’ll operate as a strong pick-and-roll big for the wild Auburn guards, and can play both with another big in Yohan Traore or in lineups where he is the lone big on the court. It’s an enormous get for Auburn to end up with Broome, and this is the exact kind of place for Broome that has a chance to develop him into being an NBA center.
5. Brandon Murray | 6-5 wing | sophomore | Transferred from LSU to Georgetown
The Scout: Murray is a terrific, ready-made two-way teenager at the wing position. With Will Wade and the Tigers’ coaching staff turning over following the season, Murray entered the portal. A former four-star, top-100 recruit out of IMG Academy, Murray had about as good a freshman season as could have been expected, averaging 10 points and saving his best for conference play, averaging 11 points and shooting 49 percent from the field and 35 percent from 3. On top of that, he was pretty good defensively this season switching within LSU’s scheme across the perimeter positions. He was rewarded for his play with All-Freshman SEC honors after the season. He is from the Baltimore area and was recruited by Kevin Nickelberry, who recently went to Georgetown as an assistant under Patrick Ewing. He’s a clear high-major wing, and potential NBA player down the road.
The Fit: Murray lands in a place with some familiarity because of the connection to Nickelberry. The Hoyas need an influx of real talent after going winless in the Big East, and Murray is that. An SEC coach described him as one of the best 3-and-D options in the portal. Murray’s defensive versatility should help what was by far the worst defense in the Big East. The Hoyas also need some scoring pop, and Murray is talented enough to emerge as a legitimate go-to guy.
6. Tristen Newton | 6-5 guard | junior | Transferred from East Carolina to Connecticut
The Scout: Unquestionably one of the best offensive creators this year in the American Athletic Conference, Newton departs East Carolina following the changeover in head coach from Joe Dooley to Mike Schwartz. He averaged 17.7 points, five rebounds and five assists last year, possessing the ability to play both on and off the ball as a lead or secondary offensive creator. He’s still really thin, but he reads the floor and will be significantly helped by playing with better players around him than he had at East Carolina. He sees skip passes and high-level pick-and-roll reads. He makes live dribble passes from creative angles and plays unselfishly. He’s conscientious on defense and knows where he needs to be rotationally and helps generally despite his thin frame. But more than that, he’s twitchy but plays with great pace off the bounce. He can attack the basket and finish. As a shooter, he’s got a good set shot and looks more comfortable off the catch, although there is some real ability to hit pull-ups if he has time behind ball-screens. He has more touch than his 33.3 percent mark from 3 would indicate, but he does need to clean up that shot off the bounce. This is a no-doubter high-major guard who should immediately step in as a starter at a good location next year. There is a real chance he develops into an NBA player if he gets the jumper mechanics down consistently as opposed to the twisting shot he has right now.
The Fit: The Huskies had a real need in the backcourt for a lead guard following R.J. Cole’s decision to start his professional career. In Newton, they get arguably the best one available in the portal. Whereas Cole was a smaller floor-general type following two high-scoring years at Howard, Newton is more of a creative combo guard who can really score off of pull-ups, make high-level passing reads, and attack in transition. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Connecticut speed things up a bit more next year, led by Newton as well as athletic wings Andre Jackson and Jordan Hawkins. With that trio and Adama Sanogo, the Huskies are now some transfer portal depth additions away from competing at the top of the Big East in 2023.
7. Trevon Brazile | 6-9 forward | sophomore | Transferred from Missouri to Arkansas
The Scout: Brazile is a high-upside forward who was a late-bloomer in the 2021 recruiting class. He started his junior season in high school as a 6-foot-1 guard, but he hit a growth spurt and spiked up to his current 6-9 size with long arms and twitchy athleticism. He’s still working through some skill-based adjustments to his new frame, but his upside is as high as any player’s in the portal currently. He averaged seven points and five rebounds last year while stepping away occasionally as a four man who can shoot from 3, but teams will be most intrigued by his 1.9 blocks per game that were third in the SEC. Essentially, he profiles extremely well as a shot-blocking floor-spacer at the forward position, a skill set that is exceptionally difficult to find at any level. A few NBA scouts have even told The Athletic that they have some interest in Brazile as a potential pre-draft two-way player they know isn’t quite ready for the league yet, but has a real ceiling if his development goes right.
The Fit: This partnership makes a lot of sense on paper. Arkansas center Jaylin Williams is one of the best charge-takers in the country, and now Eric Musselman has a pogo-stick shot blocker to run in behind Williams in Brazile. That sort of arrangement worked splendidly for Texas Tech a few years ago when Tariq Owens was roaming behind a bunch of charge-takers. But will Williams be back? Arkansas has recruited a lot of bigs in recent days, seemingly preparing for a potential departure from their all-around center. With or without Williams, Brazile is a high-upside big that has shown defensive success in the SEC already. Surrounded by elite talents such as Nick Smith, Anthony Black and Jordan Walsh, he should get clean looks from 3 more often. He just needs to cash in on them regularly.
8. Norchad Omier | 6-7 big | junior | Transferred from Arkansas State to Miami
The Scout: The story here is remarkable. A Nicaraguan forward who didn’t really pick up basketball until he was 13, Omier has developed into one of the most productive big men in the country. He’s a multi-time first-team All-Sun Belt member, and won the league’s Player of the Year award this season in 2022. An undersized big, the name of the game here is balance and fundamentals. Omier has tremendous body control around the basket, and knows how to use his big, 235-pound frame to shield the ball from defenders and score around the basket. His touch around the rim is exceptional, and his footwork is precise. He averaged 18 points and 12 rebounds per game while shooting 63 percent from the field, dominating the interior by carving out space with terrific lower body strength. His defensive ability is also real, as he won the Sun Belt Defensive Player of the Year award through sheer activity. His motor doesn’t stop running, and he’s constantly trying to hunt ways to move his man around into an advantageous position for himself on both ends. It’s hard to explain without watching him, but Omier just really knows how to use his lack of size to his advantage to leverage opponents away from the rim, play through contact, and dominate the interior. I do have some real worries about him moving levels, and how that will translate. He’s a non-shooter at this point who doesn’t have great mechanics in that regard. And as an undersized big, it’s possible that the athletic giants at the high-major level could work to undermine his effectiveness. The fit here is going to be absolutely essential. He needs to find the perfect landing spot, but if he does, he has all-league upside just due to how hard he plays.
The Fit: Miami struggled on the glass and defending the interior last year, and those are two spots where Omier should help right away. He was the best rebounder available in the portal. He replaces Sam Waardenburg, a stretch 5 who was a threat as a pick-and-pop guy. Omier is more of a traditional, back-to-the-basket big, so Miami will have to adjust accordingly. He’s not a traditional roller, but that’s something he’ll likely be asked to do for the Canes. At the very least, he’s got potential to be a better pick-and-roll partner for Nijel Pack than anything the guard had at K-State. That’s something Pack was really missing at his former school, which made it even more impressive he was able to score efficiently using ball screens. As for the concerns about Omier being undersized, he lands in a league that isn’t exactly full of athletic giants. Armando Bacot will present challenges, but right away Omier profiles as one of the most talented bigs in that league.
9. Will Richard | 6-5 wing | sophomore | Transferred from Belmont to Florida
The Scout: Richard was named to the OVC All-Newcomer team this year after averaging 12 points, six rebounds, two assists and over a steal per game. He’s a genuine long-term NBA Draft prospect who somehow slipped through the cracks and fell to Belmont, at 6-5 with something in the range of a plus-six wingspan that is really evident on the court. You can feel his length out there. He moves like an NBA player moves, with terrific footwork and polish as well as strong slashing and finishing ability. He plays well off the ball and is used to running high-level actions from playing in Belmont’s offense. He can shoot off the catch, direct off of dribble-handoffs, or whatever you need. He also has high-level defensive ability. Basically, as soon as the shot comes around — and it will, given his touch; he just needs to work on some slight tweaks such as finishing higher as opposed to farther out in front of his face — he’s going to be a high-level scorer.
The Fit: A great addition as Todd Golden’s first recruit. Richard will be a perfect test case to find out what this Florida staff is capable of early in its time in Gainesville. Richard has all of the tools to be a potential pro wing down the road. He’s the kind of player as a two-way wing that is really hard to find in the portal, and the kind of guy you can build just about any type of team around. He might not average 16 per game next season, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see him as a Day 1 starter averaging 13 points, four rebounds, a couple of assists and a couple of steals while providing a great impact as a winning player. Then as a third-year player, don’t be surprised to see him emerge into a first-team All-SEC player whom the NBA looks at as an interesting 3-and-D wing.
10. Terrence Shannon Jr. | 6-6 wing | senior | Transferred from Texas Tech to Illinois
The Scout: A three-year player at Texas Tech, Shannon entered the portal within 24 hours of the Red Raiders’ season ending in the Sweet 16 to Duke. It’s worth noting that he has said he is considering a return to Texas Tech. Also note: if Shannon declares for the draft, he exhausts his collegiate eligibility. So the early portal entrance was likely a strategic move on his part to get a full examination of the options at his disposal. A draft prospect in 2021 who chose to return to school despite real NBA interest, Shannon never took the next step this season. He started a majority of the Red Raiders games and improved his shooting numbers, but he was merely a piece of the Tech puzzle, not a standout, All-Big-12 quality player. Shannon is undeniably the best athlete in the portal, an explosive 6-foot-6 leaper with a great first step. But he’s more of just a solid defender than a great one, as his focus seems to waver at times. He’s gotten better playing off the catch because his shooting has improved, and he can attack in a straight line off the bounce. But we see him more as a starting-quality high-major player as opposed to a star.
The Fit: Seemingly the target of an intense Big Ten recruiting battle, Illinois has won out following some behind-the-scenes machinations that derailed Michigan’s chances of ending up with him. Just ask Hunter Dickinson about that one. Instead, Shannon goes to Illinois. The Illini pretty desperately needed help on the wing, and Shannon will find himself in a real position to do something that never really came to fruition at Texas Tech: have a fairly primary offensive role. This is the ideal scouting context for Shannon to prove to evaluators at the next level that he can improve upon the skill-based issues he still hasn’t proven capable of bringing on a consistent basis. If he averages 15 points and knocks down 37 percent of his 3s, something that is eminently doable, he should position himself better to be a pro. On top of that: it’s worth noting that I would expect Shannon and Coleman Hawkins to combine to be one of the most athlete 3/4 combinations in all of collegiate hoops next season.
11. Jalen Bridges | 6-7 wing | junior | Transferred from West Virginia to Baylor
The Scout: Bridges was essentially a two-year starter for West Virginia, a 6-foot-7 combo forward who could step out and shoot it, get out in transition, and switch a bit defensively. Unsurprisingly given those tools, NBA scouts had started to take notice of him coming into the year following an All-Freshman Big-12 campaign in 2021. Alas, he took a bit of a step back this season, averaging just eight points and five rebounds with a real reduction in efficiency despite a significant increase in minutes. He has kind of a high, boxed-off shot that displays some touch, but results in inconsistency as he made just 32 percent from 3 this season after making 40 percent as a freshman. Out in transition, if you give him some space he can attack and really leap into dunks. He’s not a shot creator, but a smart coach that runs a well-spaced high-ball-screen scheme on offense and a switching defensive scheme will get a quality high-major starter here that brings defensive energy and versatility as well as spot-up capabilities on offense to play off of those screen-and-roll guards.
The fit: Go back and read the final sentence of our assessment of Bridges. He’s going to the ideal system for his skill set. He fits a need for Baylor, which is losing freshmen wings Jeremy Sochan and Kendall Brown to the NBA. Bridges is more in the mold of a Brown. He’s not quite the athlete — no shame here, as not many are — but he has more upside as a shooter, spacing the floor from the corners as Baylor’s guards work out of ball screens. He should also benefit from Baylor’s ability to create turnovers and get out in transition. He’s also an excellent fit in Baylor’s no-middle, switching defense. The Bears love versatile defenders like him, and he’s going to an offensive system that should bring out his best traits. Also, after experiencing a bit of an off year, he’s going to a spot where they’ve thrived developing players similar to him.
12. Mark Sears | 6-1 guard | junior | Transferred from Ohio to Alabama
The Scout: Sears’ game is just very well-rounded across the board. After playing a backseat role to Jason Preston as a freshman, he blossomed into a terrific player this season who profiles well as a potential starting quality high-major guard. He made first-team All-MAC and was clearly among the best players in the league, averaging 20 points, six rebounds and four assists. He makes his presence felt defensively, makes solid (if unspectacular reads) as a passer, and consistently knocks down shots at a high level. He made 40.8 percent of his 3-point attempts, he rebounds well despite not having a lot of size, he operates well out of ball screens, particularly with a pick-and-pop big like Ben Vander Plas, who is also transferring.
The Fit: Sears is landing in a perfect spot to show off his ability to play in space and work out of ball screens. Alabama likely needs a replacement for Jahvon Quinerly at the lead guard spot, and Sears has the talent to play in the SEC. He’s also going from one program that shoots a ton of 3s to another that does the same. He’ll have free rein to handle the ball and create as long as he continues to prove his passing reads are on point. If he can handle the level, this seems like a perfect marriage of system and player.
13. Fardaws Aimaq | 6-11 center | graduate | Transferred from Utah Valley to Texas Tech
The Scout: The most productive player in the portal, Aimaq was the 2021 WAC Player of the Year, and averaged nearly 19 points and 14 rebounds for Utah Valley this season on his way to being named the WAC Defensive Player of the Year for the second straight year. He’s an enormous presence inside and absolutely crushes the glass at the WAC level. Offensively, Utah Valley loved to get him involved out top with dribble handoffs, using him to activate his guards on the move. They’d roll him into post-ups and get him the ball throw it up off of the offensive glass. The main issue with Aimaq, though, is his touch. He only made 42 percent of his post-up attempts, per Synergy, despite a significant size advantage in the WAC. Additionally, he made just 61 percent of his shots around the basket in non-post settings. The worry here is that he may smoke a few too many lay-ups at the high-major level, while also getting hit away from the basket defensively because his foot-speed isn’t awesome. He’s a high-major starting center who will clean up the glass and probably average a double-double, but he’ll need to find the right situation in order to impact winning.
The Fit: I’m a touch more skeptical on this fit schematically than I am for other bigs. Texas Tech likes to play an aggressive brand of defense that involves a lot of switching on ball screens. Aimaq isn’t that kind of big. He’s a true center without great mobility at this stage in terms of lateral quickness. I wouldn’t love him having to guard a perimeter player on an island one-on-one. Having said that, Mark Adams is a defensive genius, so it’s very possible he can develop a scheme that works for them. Aimaq will immediately slot well into the starting center role next to Kevin Obanor at the 4 and should provide an enormous interior presence the team lacked at times this season.
14. Andre Curbelo | 6-1 guard | junior | Transferred from Illinois to St. John’s
The Scout: If it goes right, Curbelo could turn into an All-America-level engine of an NCAA Tournament team. It’s not an exaggeration to call him one of the most dynamic ballhandlers and passers in college basketball, skills he showcased at an incredibly high level back in his freshman 2020-21 season. That year, he won the Big Ten’s Sixth Man of the Year award for a No. 1 seed Illinois team, and averaged nine points, four rebounds and four assists. There was an expectation that he would take an enormous step forward and become the catalyst for a top 15 team in the country, with a terrific pick-and-roll partner in Kofi Cockburn. Alas, that didn’t occur, and this is where the questions come in. Curbelo suffered a concussion early in the season and just never got right from there. He averaged seven points and three assists while shooting 32 percent from the field and 17 percent from 3. This is the conundrum: Can you get Curbelo back to his freshman-year level? The upside is high, but the floor here is that he’s a backup guard. All reports out of Illinois were absolutely terrific prior to him suffering his concussion.
The Fit: St. John’s is an interesting fit because the team already has something of a non-shooting lead guard in Posh Alexander. Offensively, Mike Anderson must find more shooting to complement those two; otherwise, the Red Storm are in some trouble. Having said that, the area where this fit really works is in terms of tempo. Curbelo will surely enjoy playing with more freedom out in transition, as St. John’s played at a faster pace and averaged more possessions per game than any other team in college basketball last year. The fit here is incomplete until we know who will be surrounding Curbelo, but on some level St. John’s should probably just always be taking chances on talent like this, even if it’s not an ideal match.
15. Terry Roberts | 6-3 guard | senior | Transferred from Bradley to Georgia
The Scout: Roberts was the Missouri Valley’s Newcomer of the Year last season, a first-team all-conference player for Bradley who is lightning in a bottle offensively. He’s electric with the ball, capable of creating something out of nothing on offense in a flash. His handle is terrific, and he’s an explosive athlete who can get where he needs to go out of isolations. He averaged nearly 15 points, five rebounds and four assists this year, and hit 34 percent from 3 on a steady diet of tough pull-up shots. He makes some really impressive live-dribble passing reads, but the critical part of his game that he’s going to have to clean up will be turning it over. His assist-to-turnover ratio was very close to the 1-to-1 mark, and he makes some choices both in terms of shot selection and distribution that will worry high-major coaches. But above all, this is a high-major athlete at the guard spot with enough size to not be a liability on defense and enough handle to genuinely break down opposing teams.
The Fit: Well, Georgia needs just about everything as it transitions from the Tom Crean era to the Mike White era. As a first-year building block, Roberts is a terrific lead guard option who will absolutely perform well in the SEC. That league tends to be among the most athletic leagues in the country every year, and Roberts’ quick first step and explosive change of pace ability will fit right in as a terrific option. We’ll see who White and company surround him with to get a better feel for how Georgia could compete this year.
16. Jahmir Young | 6-1 guard | senior | Transferred from Charlotte to Maryland
The Scout: Young has been an absolute killer, outstanding guard in Conference USA now for three years, a three-time all-league selection including back-to-back first team appearances. The smooth lefty can play both on or off ball, and generally makes good decisions while keeping control of the ball. He averaged a robust 19.6 points, six rebounds and four assists per game this year for Charlotte, and was the catalyst for everything they did. He’s versatile in that they’d run the occasional post-up for him, they’d back-cut him to get him open looks at the rim (where he has a terrific inside-hand finish), and they’d run him off of off-ball screening actions to get him loose for free — and that’s before we even get to the typical scoring guard arsenal that comes off of ball screens. He has great touch from the interior and from the line, but can get a bit wild on the move from behind the 3-point arc and needs to clean that up. There are also some defensive concerns here that he’ll have to work through at the point of attack. He’s a bit reminiscent of now-former Connecticut guard R.J. Cole. Cole made first-team All-Big East this past season as Connecticut’s lead, but did so shooting just 40 percent from the field and 33 percent from 3. He also plays better defense than Young. Basically, we’re projecting Young as a high-major starter, but maybe not quite an all-league guy.
The Fit:If Young does not head to the 2022 NBA Draft — and he probably shouldn’t — he’ll head to Maryland to be a centerpiece of new coach Kevin Willard’s rebuild in College Park. For as good as Young is, and he is very talented, this is almost more important for symbolic reasons than anything else. Young will be the first player from powerful area high school DeMatha Catholic to suit up for Maryland in 15 years, an insane but true statistic that goes to show how much the local recruiting issues at Maryland had developed over the previous regimes at the school. Moreover, Young is a two-time first-team All-Conference USA guard who will bring some scoring punch to the Big Ten. He’ll need to prove that he can separate consistently at the highest level of college, but he will definitely bring shooting, touch from the midrange, and genuine ballhandling ability to the table. He should be something of an upgrade on Fatts Russell, especially on the offensive end. The Terps have a ton of work to do still to build out their roster, but this is a good start for Willard.
17. Souley Boum | 6-3 guard | senior | Transferred from UTEP to Xavier
The Scout: Boum should generate some high-major interest, much like former teammate Bryson Williams did a year ago. Boum was one of the best mid-major scorers in the country, averaging 19.8 points per game this season. He can shoot both off the bounce and catch, knocking down 36.8 percent from 3. He’s best when set up for open catch-and-shoot 3s, but he’s also effective in the mid-range and he has a floater game. Where he struggled was finishing at the rim — 40.7 percent in the half court, per Synergy — but he can get there. He’s slithery with a live dribble and effective working out of ball screens. He can play either guard spot, but he’s probably best suited at shooting guard.
The Fit: Sean Miller figured to have a really good offensive team in his return to Xavier because of the return of Jack Nunge, Zach Freemantle and Colby Jones in the frontcourt. Miller also had some success landing two highly-rated guards in Desmond Claude and Kam Craf. What he needed was a veteran scorer to replace Paul Scruggs, and he found that in Boum. Boum has the game to succeed at this level and he goes to a place where he simply needs to focus on scoring and guarding. Creighton is going to be the trendy pick to win the Big East, but if you’re looking for a dark horse, Xavier could be sneaky.
18. Antonio Reeves | 6-5 wing | senior | Transferred from Illinois State to Kentucky
The Scout: If you’re looking for scoring, scoring, and more scoring, Reeves might be the perfect player for you. He averaged 20.1 points per game in the Missouri Valley this year on his way to winning second-team all-conference honors as well as the league’s Most Improved Player award. Above all, he’s a pull-up maestro, capable of getting his shot from wherever on the floor at just about any time. He finished second in the conference behind Isiaih Mosley from Missouri State in scoring, hitting pull-up jumpers at a 51.4 effective field goal percentage, a very high number given his volume of shots. Among the 227 players nationally to take at least 100 pull-up jumpers, Reeves finished 19th in his efficiency in terms of making them, per Synergy. And yet, there’s a reason he only made second-team all-league despite those numbers. The rest of his game is a real work in progress. He has a long way to go as a passer and playmaker for others, and his defense leaves something to be desired. There is some question how scalable his game is to high-major situations where he’s just a piece of the puzzle. Still, my bet is a good high-major takes a shot on him and sees if those parts of his game can improve. The scoring is lethal enough to take such an informed bet.
The Fit: John Calipari likes wings that are wired to score, guys like Immanuel Quickly and Malik Monk. Kentucky tends to run scorers like this off a bunch of screens, which was not how Reeves got his at Illinois State. He’s better off the dribble than the catch. He’s a little wild and it’ll be interesting to see how he adjusts surrounded by a lot of talent. He was a high-usage player at Illinois State. He also played on a losing team. Can he be a positive piece in a winning culture? Kentucky is betting on the talent, and as a wiry wing with a really good pull-up game, there’s potential for Reeves to give the Cats consistent scoring. The question is whether he adjusts to how Calipari sets up his wing scorers or if Calipari will adjust to play to Reeves’ strengths.
19. Tanner Holden | 6-6 wing | junior | Transferred from Wright State to Ohio State
The Scout: Holden was among the most productive scorers to enter the portal, having averaged 20 points per game in the Horizon League this year on his way to his second-straight Horizon League first-team All-League honors. He carried Wright State to the NCAA Tournament, where he put up an awesome 37-point performance against Bryant that led Wright State to a First Four win. Holden is a foul magnet, a guy who constantly attacks, plays well off of two feet, absorbs contact, and either finishes or gets to the line. He also moves well off the ball and finds points off of cuts, scoring more points off of cuts — per Synergy — than any wing in the country, largely playing off of Grant Basile post-ups and motion offense back-cuts. Holden is a reluctant shooter who won’t have the ball as much at a high-major stop. But he should be a high-major starter next year due to his age, experience, basketball IQ, and well-rounded game.
The Fit: Under Chris Holtmann, the Buckeyes have tended to really feature their best players with a lot of usage. Will Holden be that, or more of just a starter? It probably depends on who else the staff can bring in. Holden moves really well off the ball and knows how to create shots that way, which is something Ohio State hasn’t really had over the last few years given how ball dominant players like E.J. Liddell, Malaki Branham, and Duane Washington were. But in order to take best advantage of that in the Big Ten, given the size and length that most teams have on the interior, Holden is going to have to work to consistently extend his range beyond the 3-point line. Being a driver and cutter toward the rim is a bit tougher when going against 7-foot giants in the Big Ten. Holden hit 41 percent of his catch-and-shoot jumpers last year, per Synergy, so hopefully for Ohio State he can up his volume on those to round out his offensive game.
20. K.J. Williams | 6-10 big | graduate | Transferred Murray State to LSU
The Scout: The Ohio Valley Player of the Year this past season, Williams joined wing Tevin Brown and guard Justice Hill to form the nucleus of a 31-3 Murray State team that went to the Round of 32. Given the accolades, though, Williams was the centerpiece. He is an inside-out big who can punish smaller players on the block just as easily as he can pick-and-pop from distance. He hit just 30.4 percent from 3 this year, but over his career he’s made 35 percent of his 219 attempts. Because of that inside-out skill, he’s a fit almost anywhere at the collegiate level. He’s definitely more offense-first than defense, but he averaged 18 points and eight rebounds and is good enough on offense and versatile enough to play at the high-major level as a difference-maker. His coach at Murray State, Matt McMahon, is now the LSU head coach, so that could be a real fit.
The Fit: As predicted, Williams is headed to play for his former coach and he has all the opportunity in the world to prove himself at the high-major level, since McMahon essentially started from scratch with this roster. He now has three of his best players at Murray State in place and has quickly filled nine scholarship spots. Williams should be the star, and knowing how he would be featured had to be a big attraction.
21. Brandon Huntley-Hatfield | 6-10 forward | sophomore | Transferred from Tennessee to Louisville
The Scout: Post-hype sophomore alert! Huntley-Hatfield had a pedestrian freshman season at Tennessee, but could be poised for a breakout in the right place. He is a former five-star, top-30 recruit in the country with some interesting skill level and talent. The idea here is that he can be something of a perimeter four-man at 6-foot-10. He can handle the ball for a big, and has some real potential to shoot. He has a good, physical frame at 240 pounds. There’s just a lot of room for growth here, even if one-and-done was always a bit too aggressive. At Tennessee, he didn’t get a ton of minutes this year and averaged over 3 points and just under three rebounds. He was just stuck behind a busy frontcourt with a lot of options, and everyone knows how Rick Barnes trusts his vets over freshmen. I would expect Huntley-Hatfield stays at the high-major level; he’s too talented to move down, with some real NBA upside with further growth.
The Fit: Kenny Payne was a big man whisperer at Kentucky and he has a talented project now to work with in Huntley-Hatfield. Payne simply needs talent and any kind will do at this point. He at least has an interesting front court now, combining the athletic Huntley-Hatfield with massive Sydney Curry, the former junior college product and one-time Kansas commit who finished the year really strong.
22. Frankie Collins | 6-1 guard | sophomore | Transferred from Michigan to Arizona State
The Scout: A bit of a surprise. Collins is a former top-50 recruit who played limited minutes as a freshman last season behind older guard DeVante Jones. In the only game that Collins started last year, the team’s NCAA Tournament first-round game against Colorado State, he was outstanding while scoring 14 points, grabbing six rebounds and dishing out two assists. He was seen as the future of the point guard position at Michigan, even with the school bringing in Princeton transfer Jaelin Llewellyn for some depth. Above all, Collins brings three things. He can play at real speed, pushing tempo and playing out in transition. Second, he can put pressure on the rim with his quickness in halfcourt. Finally, he’s an aggressive point-of-attack defender that really gets into opposing lead guards. Originally from the Las Vegas area, maybe Collins moves back out West. But I would anticipate he has a long line of potential suitors for him as an answer at the lead guard spot with three years of eligibility left.
The Fit: If Collins was after more offensive freedom and a team that plays with pace, he found it at Arizona State. Bobby Hurley has a guard-friendly program and his point guards always put up numbers. He needed a replacement for Marreon Jackson and found one with a ton of potential in Collins, who will likely start in the backcourt alongside Nevada transfer Desmond Cambridge. Hurley just coached his worst offensive team, but he’s landed some firepower in Collins and Cambridge. Both are wired to score.
23. Darin Green | 6-4 guard | senior | Transferred from UCF to Florida State
The Scout: Over the last three years, only 30 players in college basketball have made more 3s than the 208 Green has made in that time. He’s also made them at a 39 percent clip. But unlike many of the pure spacers in the portal, Green has some athleticism and can at least compete defensively at the high-major level. He won third-team All-AAC honors this past year while leading UCF to a .500 conference record as its top scorer. There are some limitations here, as he’s not really a ballhandler or creator in the halfcourt at all. He’s an average decision-maker (he doesn’t turn it over, but he’s not making the creative reads, either). But shooting travels just about anywhere. Pop Green into the starting lineup and trust that he’ll make a few 3s per game and give his team more room to operate offensively.
The Fit: The Seminoles are the team that everyone seems to be sleeping on heading into next year. They return an absolutely loaded sophomore class in Jalen Warley, Matthew Cleveland and John Butler — all of whom we could look up at in 2023 and see as legitimate early entrants to the NBA Draft. In Caleb Mills, they have a terrific, older point guard. And Malik Osborne still has eligibility to return if he chooses to as a rugged, upperclassman forward. Here, they add Green, a shooter that they were missing this past season to give the offensive handlers a bit of space. Coach Leonard Hamilton and his staff have a team that could absolutely compete at the top of the ACC again next year as long as the rising sophomores take the steps you’d expect. Florida State is one of the most undervalued teams heading into next season. They have a real case as a top-15 team in the country despite the fact that people seem not to be ranking them in their preseason top 25 lookaheads.
24. Efton Reid | 6-11 center | sophomore | Transferred from LSU to Gonzaga
The Scout: Full disclosure: we’ve never been wildly high on Reid despite his status as a top-50 recruit last season. We had him ranked relatively lower compared to consensus on last year’s available college basketball free agency ranking. The idea behind Reid has always been that he can be a physical presence on the interior with some perimeter skills and potential to shoot it. Indeed, Reid does have solid touch inside, but his jumper is a real work in progress and his decision-making can be very questionable at times. Moreover, the concern has always been with footspeed on defense. Can Reid consistently defend in space? Can he find a scheme that minimizes that concern at all? He started every game for LSU this season, but wasn’t all that impactful on the stat sheet while being relatively inefficient due to his shot selection and turnover rate. On top of that, he led the SEC in fouls this past season. Reid is a pretty real project, and the team that recruits him needs to be ready to work with him on these fronts.
The Fit: As mentioned above, we’ve had some long-term Reid skepticism. He’s still going to take some things off the floor in terms of mobility and he needs to be fully engaged on defense. But man, he could not have found a better place to minimize some of his issues and accentuate all of his skills. Gonzaga is one of the few schools in the country that will foster a well-spaced, post-oriented offense for Reid to take advantage of his myriad skills on the block in regard to footwork and touch. On top of that, Gonzaga is about as good a school in the country as there is at teaching rim protection skills, the thing Reid will most need in order to find success defensively given his lack of footspeed. This is a great transfer decision from Reid. He has a chance to really blossom and flourish at Gonzaga. Both schools run uptempo offenses, but LSU is more centered around pushing for drive and kicks or lay-ups, whereas Gonzaga will be much more comfortable with him running the floor and trying to get an early seal, and they teach their guards how to hit entry passes in those circumstances. This was the best possible way for Reid to have a chance to develop into an NBA player, and a prime example of player finding the right fit in the right scheme and transforming your opinion about what he could be as a college basketball player.
25. Jaren Holmes | 6-4 wing | graduate | Transferred from St. Bonaventure to Iowa State
The Scout: A juco transfer after a year to the Bonnies, Holmes has been a three-year starter for a strong stretch of teams. He’s averaged double-figures each of those years, although this past season was by far his worst in terms of efficiency as he struggled with his jumper. Still, Holmes will be exceedingly popular because he’s a versatile player capable of filling a number of roles as long as the jumper falls, which it did at a 39 percent clip from 3 in his first two seasons at Bonnies. He rebounds and plays physically. He passes at a solid level. There is just a lot of skill and toughness he brings to the table. On top of that, Holmes is also a terrific student who has been all-academic in the Atlantic-10 for three straight years. I would anticipate him to be seen as a terrific role player option for a number of teams.
The Fit: Holmes will hope to follow in the footsteps of past St. Bonaventure transfer Izaiah Brockington and break out with the Cyclones. Another tough shot-maker, Holmes will be able to step into the roles vacated by Brockington and transfer guard Tyrese Hunter. He’s a plug-and-play starter who will be effective pressuring the rim and acting as a scorer for a now offensive-needy Iowa State team.
26. Noah Carter | 6-6 forward | junior | Transferred from Northern Iowa to Missouri
The Scout: Carter is a high-IQ, big-bodied, 6-7, undersized forward who makes it work with pure feel for the game. He averaged 15 points and four rebounds in a slow Northern Iowa system, doing a little bit of everything. But above all, Carter just never really stops moving. He’s constantly searching for little creases and openings in the defense, hunting for ways to leverage his opponent to use his strength at 230 pounds to seal his man away from the rim. He was second-team All-Missouri Valley this year and moves people around at his position pretty easily. The worry with Carter at the high-major level is his footspeed and ability to defend against the most athletic guards. On top of that, Carter did only hit 29 percent from 3 this season, but his touch is excellent around the rim and from the foul line and he gives reason to believe that he has room for growth there.
The Fit: Carter’s best position is a small-ball four, and that’s the one spot where Missouri is actually in decent shape with Kobe Brown. But the Tigers really, really, really need skill and scoring, and so Carter is a great fit there. He immediately becomes Mizzou’s most skilled player. The one worry in the SEC is whether he can hang defensively, especially if he’s guarding perimeter players. “It’ll be interesting to see how he fares defensively,” an SEC coach said. “It looked like (on film) he wasn’t the most explosive athlete laterally or vertically. So what his identity on the floor is defensively should be interesting to see. But he’s definitely a really skilled offensive player.”
27. Alex Fudge | 6-8 forward | sophomore | Transferred from LSU to Florida
The Scout: Look, the numbers don’t tell the full story here on Fudge, who is considered one of the highest upside transfers by coaches due to some of his athletic tools. Still just 18, he averaged only three points and three rebounds in 14 minutes per game. But some of his good tape moments are among the best you’ll find of any available player. Particularly, his defensive numbers and help moments are strong. He posted nearly a 6 percent block rate and a 4 percent steal rate. The track record is strong for players at the high-major level who have played at least 10 minutes per game as a freshman and notched his numbers. It’s Fudge, Zion Williamson, Nerlens Noel, OG Anunoby, Tari Eason last year at Cincinnati, and Chris McCullough at Syracuse. That’s five first-round picks and no one else until Fudge just did it, which goes to showcase how high-level his defensive tools have potential to be if he’s allowed to be aggressive, read the play, and react to what’s happening around him. Offensively, things are absolutely still a work in progress. I don’t really trust him to make decisions on the move, his jumper is viable but still hitchy, and he largely operated from corner to corner last year, waiting for cuts or dunker spot opportunities. Fudge is a project, but it’s hard to find players with this kind of upside. Again, he’s only 18. If things go right for him developmentally over the next two years, he has a chance to be a first-round pick. The downside here, though, is a bit lower than for most of the players listed here, given how raw his game is.
The Fit: Defensively, he fits just about anywhere. The fit offensively could be dependent on what the roster eventually looks like. “He needs to be surrounded by shooting to open up scoring cuts at the rim. That would be huge for him,” an SEC coach said. “It wasn’t necessarily an ideal fit for him offensively last year at LSU just because they had a lot of guys like him, guys that were great athletes that couldn’t space the floor.” In addition to waiting to see how the roster develops, the fit here could also depend how he pairs with Colin Castleton. If they develop chemistry where Castleton learns to find him in the dunker spot when his man goes to help on Castleton post-ups, maybe it works out. But if those two log a lot of minutes together. Todd Golden is going to need to surround them with shooting.
28. Bryce Hopkins | 6-6 forward | sophomore | Transferred from Kentucky to Providence
The Scout: Hopkins flashed what he could do when given the opportunity in a late-February win over LSU when he had 13 points in 16 minutes. He’s got a thick build that makes him best-suited as a small-ball 4. He made only 5-of-16 3s this season, so it’s tough to say whether that part of his game is going to develop or not, but he did show off a nice mid-range pull-up in the LSU game. With three years of eligibility left and a guy who was the 33rd-ranked recruit in the 2020 class, he’ll surely generate plenty of interest.
The Fit: Ed Cooley has one of the best transfer hauls in the country and this gamble could really pay off. Hopkins never really got a chance to play at Kentucky, but he showed some flashes and he lands in a spot where he’ll be able to play the small-ball 4 spot, which is his best college position. Cooley has had success already playing a similar-sized player in that spot in former Friar Alpha Diallo. In Hopkins, he lands a player who should fit his system well and might just hit and become a star. Hopkins found a home where he’ll certainly get the opportunity.
29. De’Vion Harmon | 6-2 guard | junior | Transferred from Oregon to Texas Tech
The Scout: This will be the second time around in the transfer market for Harmon, a tough guard who started for two years at Oklahoma before deciding to move to the Pac-12. Playing next to Will Richardson and Jacob Young, he seemingly never got himself totally comfortable within the backcourt as the third member, and just didn’t have the kind of year that was anticipated. So he’ll now be subject to getting a waiver in order to play at his next stop immediately. But the team that gets Harmon will acquire a guy who can knock down shots off the catch, play reasonably well as a combo guard both on and off the ball, and defend both backcourt spots. He’s not going to kill you off the bounce and doesn’t put a ton of pressure on the rim, but Harmon is a genuine high-major starter that would fit best to a bigger point guard who can take on tougher assignments.
The Fit: Another tough guard for a Red Raiders team that needed some depth in the backcourt. Harmon is a good high-major starter that should be able to run the point for Tech. He’ll hit shots, and can play both on and off the ball at times. As mentioned above, we’ll see if he gets a waiver to play immediately at this stop. He’s a bit on the smaller side, but as long as he’s willing to fight through screens and fight defensively on mismatches, he’ll be just fine at Tech.
30. Dawson Garcia | 6-11 forward | junior | Transferred from North Carolina to Minnesota
The Scout: It’s a little troubling that both programs he’s played for got better after he left. In the games he played this season, North Carolina was 21 points per 100 possessions better when he was on the bench, per hooplens.com. The Heels put up better efficiency numbers on both ends without him. But Garcia is a career 36.2 percent 3-point shooter who is 6-11, moves well, can handle it, can post up and can rebound. Garcia may have to sit out a year unless given a waiver (he wanted to be closer to home in Minnesota for family reasons), because he’s already transferred once. He can play either big man spot and might be better off moving back to center, where he played at Marquette. That kind of skill at the center position is almost impossible to find at the college level.
The Fit: It was a bit surprising that Garcia didn’t end up at home in Minnesota during at least one of his first two recruitments, so maybe it’s good that he’s ending up there now. He had dreams of being a one-and-done during his first season at Marquette, but those fell by the wayside as he struggled with his defensive assignments regularly — particularly when faced with bigger, hulking centers. In the Big Ten, he’s going to be faced with a number of high-quality options in that regard. He needs to focus in on the details and be willing to battle on the interior with those guys when he can. He needs to be a big, not a wing. Still, at the center position, he could give Minnesota a really fun five-out lineup that can attack multiple different ways. He’s a good get, and he’ll be popular at home with the Minnesota fanbase.
31. Manny Bates | 6-11 center | senior | Transferred from NC State to Butler
The Scout: The best rim-protector in the portal has arrived. Bates is an enormous center with long arms who swats shots away from the rim with impunity. It’s not an accident that NC State’s defense fell off of an entire cliff this season, as Bates was the linchpin holding things together inside. He averaged 2.8 blocks per game over his first two years in college, earning all-defense honors in the ACC in 2021. However, Bates missed this entire season after injuring his shoulder in the first minute of NC State’s first game of the season, and without him, the Wolfpack plummetted towards being the worst high-major defense in college hoops this season. Offensively, Bates keeps things simple, screening, rolling, rim-running, and offensive rebounding. He can’t create on his own, but a good point guard can get him up around the 10-point mark per game. I’d expect Bates to end up at a different high-major looking for a defensive boost on the interior, as there is a case he’ll be among the best returning to college basketball next season.
The Fit: Thad Matta’s best teams at Ohio State were elite on the defensive end and usually blocked a lot of shots, and Bates helps give him that chance. The Bulldogs had the worst block rate in the Big East last season but that should change now with Bates. Matta also has a pick-and-roll partner to pair with Chuck Harris and a replacement for veteran big man Bryce Golden. It’s hard to see Butler finding a better fit up front in the portal.
32. Devin Carter | 6-3 guard | sophomore | Transferred from South Carolina to Providence
The Scout: Carter, the son of former NBA guard Anthony Carter, was an SEC All-Freshman player this past season. Don’t let the pedestrian nine points, four rebounds and two assists fool you, though; he played just 18 minutes per game in a relatively crowded South Carolina backcourt that never really seemed to figure out its roles over the course of the season. I thought by the end, Carter was the most impressive of the bunch, creating shots and effectively attacking SEC defenses on a per-minute basis. A former four-star recruit from Miami, Carter is talented enough to play at the high-major level. He just needs to clean up the jumper.
The Fit: Carter will head back to New England, where he played a prep year at Brewster Academy, to head to Providence. The Friars have a loaded graduating class and needed to do a lot of work in the portal to account for it. Among the Friars’ top six rotation players, only point guard Jared Bynum will return. He’ll be an effective player for the Friars for multiple seasons. Ed Cooley is terrific at getting offense out of these combo guards, and Carter fits the billing to a T.
33. Ben Vander Plas | 6-8 forward | graduate | Transferred from Ohio to Virginia
The Scout: Anyone looking for a hyper-smart, floor-spacing, ball-moving forward? Vander Plas fits the billing. He was the running partner out of pick-and-pops for now-Clippers guard Jason Preston and terrific sophomore guard Mark Sears, working to cover up every single crack and hole that exists in their offense. If Preston and Sears were the engines, Vander Plas was the oil that kept things running smoothly. The MAC coaches recognized how effective he was, too, naming him the league freshman of the year in his first season, followed by naming him to the all-league team three straight times, including the first team this last season. It’s worth noting that his full first name is Bennett. As in, Dick and Tony Bennett, who Vander Plas’ father played for and with at Wisconsin-Green Bay. Virginia could absolutely use a playmaking big like this, and got to see him up close in the 2021 NCAA Tournament when Ben dropped 17 points en route to Ohio’s upset over the Cavaliers.
The Fit: This one made a ton of sense because of the family history. Bennett just coached one of the worst offenses he’s had at Virginia and he needed some shooting and playmaking. He gets that in Vander Pias. The one question is whether he and Jayden Gardner can play together. Both are college 4s. But Bennett has played with a big wing before — most recently Braxton Key — and should be able to get away with it in the pack-line. He’ll have to because Vander Pias and Gardner on the floor together should be good for the offense.
34. Tyreke Key | 6-3 guard | senior | Transferred from Indiana State to Tennessee
The Scout: Key missed this entire season at Indiana State following shoulder surgery, but he is a multi-time first-team All-Missouri Valley Conference player who is about as terrific a scorer as you’ll find at that level. He’s very polished and poised, a ground-bound player for the most part who gets by with terrific footwork and strength to bump guys off their spot. Indiana State back under Greg Lansing would even use him as a pseudo-post-up/mid-post option where he could use those drop steps and spin moves to score. Plus, prior to the shoulder injury he could really step away and knock down shots. That percentage took a bit of a dive in his senior season in 2021, but the hope is that he can get back to the level he was at previously, where there were few more efficient high-volume scorers at the high mid-major level. There are some questions here with him returning from injury, which is why he falls below guys like Reeves and Carter from the Missouri Valley. But at his best, he’s very much in their group and maybe even better.
The Fit: Key goes to a spot where the coach likes a good post-up, and that’s where he thrives. Rick Barnes is usually feeding a bigger player like Grant Williams, but he’d be smart to invert the floor with Key. The question marks here are whether Key can find his jump shot again — he shot 41 percent from 3 during his sophomore and junior seasons — and whether he’s athletic enough to hang in the SEC. His skillset should diversify Tennessee’s offense. The Vols had speed and shooting on the perimeter last season but didn’t really have an isolation scorer like him who could work in the mid-range.
35. D’maurian Williams | 6-5 wing | junior | Transferred from Gardner Webb to Texas Tech
The Scout: Williams is a terrific two-way wing that not enough people got to see this season because he played for a merely solid Gardner Webb team that finished 18-13 overall and 11-5 in the Big South. Offensively, Williams is a reliable shooter who can knock down high-volume looks from 3 from a variety of different situations. He hit nearly three 3-pointers per game at a 39 percent clip as the centerpiece of the offense, and generally makes good decisions as a passer. On top of that, he’s a switchable defender who can take on a variety of tough assignments and confidently take on his man on the ball. He averaged 15 points, five rebounds and 2.5 assists, and I felt he should have been on the first-team All-Big South team instead of making the second team.
The Fit: Man, Mark Adams just knows what he’s looking for, doesn’t he? Last year, he raided low-major leagues for Adonis Arms out of Winthrop and Davion Warren out of Hampton as 6-5 wings who could create offense and switch defensively. This year, it’s Williams. It’s tough to find a better fit of scheme and talent than Williams at Texas Tech, given the way he plays. He’ll fit like a glove with Texas Tech’s fungible no-middle defense and will provide a degree of 3-point shot-making that they could desperately use.
36. Al-Amir Dawes | 6-2 combo guard | senior | Transferred from Clemson to Seton Hall
The Scout: Everyone needs more shooting, and Dawes can provide it. He averaged 11.3 points and made 84 3s this season at a 39.8 percent clip. He’s at 37.2 percent from 3 for his career. He can play point guard but fits better as a secondary ball-handler, where his focus can be spotting up for 3. He’s a solid defender who guards without fouling — committing only 1.6 per 40 minutes. Whether he’s in the sixth man role or starting, you could plug-and-play him on just about any team.
The Fit: Seton Hall lost a lot in the backcourt with the graduation of Bryce Aiken and Jared Rhoden not staying for his extra COVID season and needed a scoring guard to play alongside Kadary Richmond. Dawes fits right in that Aiken role. He also gets to play under a new coach in Shaheen Holloway who seems to get the most out of his guards and played the position. So Dawes will find the opportunity he wants and the chance to continue to develop.
37. Nahiem Alleyne | 6-4 guard | senior | Transferred from Virginia Tech to UConn
The Scout: Alleyne should generate some interest because of his shooting. He made 153 3s in three seasons at Virginia Tech, knocking them down at an impressive 38.7 percent clip. He’s just an average athlete and doesn’t do a lot else offensively, but that shooting will play. Defensively, he’ll battle and can play up a position or two because you’re not going to move him. He’s strong and best when he can body up his man. He can get hung up on screens and isn’t that quick, but again, he’s going to fight on that end. He’s started 84 of 90 games in his career, averaged 9.7 points and has now played on back-to-back NCAA Tournament teams. This is a solid piece who fits a very defined role.
The Fit: The Huskies needed some shooting after graduating their best three 3-point shooters in RJ Cole, Tyrese Martin and Tyler Polley. So Alleyne fits a need there. He’ll likely battle Jordan Hawkins for a starting spot alongside fellow transfer Tristen Newton. Newton is a guard who needs the ball in his hands and Alleyne is more of a spot-up shooter, so they fit well alongside one another.
38. Sean McNeil | 6-3 guard | graduate | Transferred from West Virginia to Ohio State
The Scout: McNeil is a two-year starter in the Big 12 and a proven commodity as a floor spacer with a fearless mentality and NBA range. He hit 38 percent of his 333 3-point attempts over the last two years on his way to averaging 12 points. Instead of betting on how some low- and mid-major floor-spacers will move up levels, why not take the ready-made option? The thing with McNeil, too, is that he makes tough shots. You have to guard him from 30 feet in, because he’s a threat to pull from anywhere within that range. There are real defensive concerns here, and West Virginia had to game-plan around him on that end to a significant level. He takes value off the table on that end at the high-major level. The best place for McNeil is the place that can insulate him with length and speed defensively, something West Virginia struggled to do around him this year. But McNeil has value, and should stay high-major.
The Fit: Ohio State’s post-up friendly offense is best when it has floor spacers and McNeil was one of the best options in the portal in that department. He’s an elite shooter. He did his best work at West Virginia in 2020-21 when the Mountaineers had better talent around him with Derek Culver inside and Miles McBride running the point. He goes to a place where he’ll once again be surrounded by better talent, as OSU has a good interior option in Zed Key, Justice Sueing and fellow transfer Tanner Holden on the wing and then has a top-five freshman recruiting class coming in. McNeil should see better looks than he got this season at West Virginia, where defenses could basically just key in on him and Taz Sherman.
39. Jao Ituka | 6-1 guard | sophomore | Transferred from Marist to Wake Forest
The Scout: Ituka is one of the best young scoring guards in the country, having averaged 15 points per game on his way to winning the MAAC Rookie of the Year award this past season. He’s small, but he’s fearless as a driving attacker with real athleticism and an ability to draw contact and get to the line. He has good touch, but he needs to keep improving his comfort level from 3. Even so, it’s hard to find first-year players with three years of eligibility remaining that average 15 per game while putting up a 60.3 true-shooting percentage. The advanced numbers love him because of how much of a load he was able to take on with incredibly high usage and efficiency, but it’s worth noting that right now he is a pure scoring guard. To move up to the high-major level, he’s going to need to improve as a passer with vision and as a decision-maker. Still, he’s an athletic guard that should be looking to move up to the high-major level after making the All-MAAC second team.
The Fit: Indeed he did move up to the high-major level as Steve Forbes will bring him on down to Wake Forest. Wake is losing last season’s point guard, Alondes Williams, and Ituka should be able to take on at least some of that load even if he’ll do it as more of a scoring guard. It fills a need, and Ituka profiles as a starter at some point in the ACC.
40. Isaac Likekele | 6-5 guard | graduate | Transferred from Oklahoma State to Ohio State
The Scout: Likekele can fit a need for a team in need of some defense, experience and a ball mover. He’s not a good shooter, so he’s best if there’s shooting around him. He can play multiple positions, from point guard all the way up to power forward in smaller lineups. The dude is a tank, so he can handle bigger players. His intelligence and toughness is what he has always kept him on the floor. He started 110 of 114 games in four years at Oklahoma State, averaging 8.9 points, 3.9 assists, 5.5 rebounds and 1.4 steals per game. Offensively, he can get his feet into the paint because he’ll bulldoze his way there. He plays under the rim and is effective when he’s able to get his shoulders into anyone contesting him at the rim. When he isn’t able to get his body into the defender, he can struggle finishing over length. Most of his baskets come within 15 feet. He’s a good passer and has a good understanding for his abilities and where he fits. He’s not going to try to do too much.
The Fit: Ohio State nosedived down the adjusted defensive efficiency rankings the last two seasons, falling to 111 this past year. That’s why this signing makes sense. Chris Holtmann got himself a stopper who can guard multiple positions and just oozes toughness. Likekele has his limitations but he’s going to guard and play smart basketball. He’ll fit in well with an Ohio State team that already went for offense out of the portal with the additions of Tanner Holden and Sean McNeil.
41. Tyree Appleby | 6-1 guard | graduate | Transferred from Florida to Wake Forest
The Scout: Originally a transfer from Cleveland State, Appleby had a couple of solid years as a starter at Florida. But with a new regime coming in, he decided to hit the portal, where he’s seen as a steady hand at the lead guard spot for potential high-major suitors. He’s not really all that capable of finishing in the paint because of his lack of size, but Appleby is a reliable shooter who ended up taking a ton of tough shots because Florida’s offense often looked like a clogged toilet this past season. He’s better as a shooter from distance than the 35 percent mark would indicate. He also made some strides as a distributor this past year, particularly improving on some of the wild decisions he made in the past and cutting down on the turnovers. Appleby’s not going to be the sexiest option in the portal, but with only a one-year commitment necessary, I would expect him to end up at a high-major as a potential fifth starter or sixth-man type guard.
The Fit: Steve Forbes has built back his guard depth with the additions of Appleby in addition to Jao Ituka. Both could end up starting or one start and one come off the bench if Daivien Williamson decides to return to school. Appleby being gradually better than a year ago would be solid returns, but it’s possible he blows past that. Why is that? Because Forbes seems to have a great eye for finding some hidden gems in the portal. A year ago no one would have ever imagined Alondes Williams would be anywhere close to how good he turned out to be for the Deacs.
42. Dashawn Davis | 6-2 guard | senior | Transferred from Oregon State to Mississippi State
The Scout: With Davis, you’re getting a terrific pick-and-roll distributor who consistently makes the right read out of ball screens and sets his teammates up for success. Unfortunately, success was pretty tough to come by this season with the Beavers, who were the worst high-major team I saw. But that was not Davis’ fault. The only part of Oregon State that really ever worked was the offense, and it was in large part because Davis put pressure on the defense as an attack-oriented guard who can get downhill and make live-dribble passes. He averaged about 11 points and nearly six assists per game with over a 2-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio, leading the Pac-12 in assists per game. A juco recruit out of Trinity Valley in Texas, he was a first-team All-NJCAA All-American in 2021 before he attended Oregon State. He’ll have two years left to play.
The Fit: New coach Chris Jans has long been a proponent of recruiting from the juco ranks, so it’s not surprising that he was familiar with Davis and his game. Expect Davis to step in immediately as the team’s starting point guard, even if the team gets starting guard Iverson Molinar back after he declared for the draft while maintaining his eligibility. Molinar fits well as a terrific scoring combo guard, meaning Davis could really work well to put him into even more advantageous positions.
43. Landers Nolley | 6-7 wing | senior | Transferred from Memphis to Cincinnati
The Scout: Nolley will be looking for success in his third stop, as he again hits the portal. Last season, Nolley played for Memphis and averaged about 10 points, four rebounds and three assists, but saved his best basketball for the latter part of the season when his role became a bit more clear with Emoni Bates out of the picture. Over a nine-game period after he got back from his knee injury in early February, he averaged 13 points while hitting more 3s and playing more efficient basketball. And of course, back in 2020, Nolley averaged 15.5 points for Virginia Tech on his way to All-Freshman honors in the ACC. Then last year, he was first-team All-AAC and won the NIT MVP award. So Nolley’s track record is much better than what this year indicated. He has enough of a past successful run to where it’s fully believable that he can be a difference-maker for someone out there, even if this year wasn’t his best.
The Fit: Well, Cincinnati desperately needed another wing scorer, and they’ll get just that in Nolley — who will move from one AAC school to another. The Bearcats will be hoping for a rebound after he’s struggled a bit over the last year to play efficient basketball. He shot 38 percent from the field and 32 percent from 3 last year. When he’s right, he can knock down shots and drive off of closeouts. He’s improved a bit as a passer over the last two years, too, even as the shooting has dropped off. He’ll pair with other transfer additions Kalu Ezikpe and Rob Phinisee — all of whom should enter the starting lineup this season — and foster what will hopefully be a more offensively potent grouping than what UC had at its disposal this year.
44. Dre Davis | 6-5 wing | sophomore | Transferred from Louisville to Seton Hall
The Scout: Davis is a hard-playing bulldog who can slot in at either forward spot. He is a little undersized at the 4, but that’s where his skillset fits best. He’s not a great shooter (22.8 percent from 3 for his career), but he gets things done in the paint. He’s best posting up, through traditional post-ups or dribble-downs. He can both score or facilitate with his back to the basket. He has the tools to be a good defender and rebounder. If he were to drop down a level — think A-10 — he could become a really effective player. He averaged 7.4 points and 3.1 rebounds in 23.6 minutes per game over two seasons at Louisville.
The Fit: I love this one. If Davis is going to actualize some of the two-way potential that we’ve seen flashes of at Louisville, playing under Shaheen Holloway is going to give him one of the best chances to do so. He’s switchable in the way Holloway loved from his wings at Saint Peter’s, and plays with the sort of driven toughness that will appeal to the program he’s trying to build. Davis needs to improve his skill level overall on offense, but this is a good spot.
45. Ali Ali | 6-8 forward | senior | Transferred from Akron to Butler
The Scout: The best player on Akron’s NCAA Tournament team this year, Ali is kind of a fascinating talent. He was a second-team All-MAC performer, in large part because of how versatile his game is offensively, averaging 14 points and almost three assists while hitting 41 percent of his 3s. It’s hard to find guys who can handle the ball at this size like he can. He attacks off the bounce, particularly out in semi-transition, with real ease. He can hit crossovers and create shots. But the problem is that once he does that, he has kind of a maddening tendency to throw up wild, hideous-looking attempts that just won’t even come close to flying at the high-major level. Part of that was likely role, and Ali does provide real length at 6-8 to be a piece of a positive defensive situation. Although, you’d probably have to play him next to a killer rebounder at the five, because he’s pretty poor on the glass for someone this big. It’s a unique mix of talents. I’d be a bit worried about him consistently at the high-major level in a slow-it-down, drag-it-out type game consistently, even with the shooting spike this year.
The Fit: Under new coach Thad Matta, Ali should be the team’s starting four man, and he’ll bring a degree of length and skill with some athleticism that the team hasn’t really gotten from that spot in the last few years. Bryce Nze was a three-year starter who was more of a tough, rugged rebounder who could occasionally step out and shoot. Ali will bring a level of dynamism to the wing spots with Simas Lukosius as someone who can grab and go on the break, attack off the bounce and hit shots. He needs to clean up some of the shot selection, but this is a core now that has a real chance to be an NCAA Tournament team with just one more solid frontcourt addition to replace the departed Bryce Golden.
46. Jay Heath | 6-3 guard | junior | Transferred from Arizona State to Georgetown
The Fit: A bucket-getter for a team that needs to get buckets. Heath has averaged double-figures every season of his career at both Arizona State and Boston College. He’s capable off the bounce and hit 43 percent from 3 last season after knocking down 37 percent of his attempts at Boston College. He’ll score for Georgetown and I’d anticipate he is a starter as a combo guard.
47. Jarkel Joiner | 6-1 guard | graduate | Transferred from Ole Miss to NC State
The Scout: Joiner is a combo guard who can provide some scoring pop. He led a bad Ole Miss team in scoring (13.2 points per game). He’s got some burst, and when he gets hot, he can be dangerous from the mid-range because he has a lot of lift in his jumper. It’s sometimes hard for guys with his type of shot to shoot with much range, but he did make 35 3s in 22 games this year at a 34 percent clip. On a better team, those efficiency numbers might go up. He is an 81.6 percent free-throw shooter for his career. Joiner also has the athleticism to be disruptive on the defensive end. He’s only 6-1 but looks and plays bigger than his height. With one year left to play, he’ll likely get some looks from high-majors looking for quickness and scoring on the perimeter.
The Fit: Kevin Keatts has always liked to pressure and create turnovers, and his most recent team was his worst yet in those areas. In Joiner, he lands a guard capable of helping in those areas and who can also bolster the offense. Joiner is going from one bottom-of-the-pack high-major to another, so we’ll see if he’s able to elevate NC State at all. He was a key contributor on a decent Ole Miss squad his first year in Oxford when the Rebels went 10-8 in the SEC and made the NIT in 2021.
48. Jermaine Couisnard | 6-4 wing | graduate | Transferred from South Carolina to Oregon
The Scout: Essentially a three-year starter at South Carolina, Couisnard is an older, powerful 6-foot-4 wing who does a little bit of everything. He averaged 12 points, three rebounds and three assists. He’s a good driver and can make good reads, but was probably a bit overextended at South Carolina in terms of his responsibilities — sometimes initiating the offense. He takes 3-pointers at volume and has improved enough to where he’s passable and defenders should close out on him — a scheme that can actually generate open spot looks for him could see him spike up over 35 percent. He’s a physical defender. Basically, you can kind of sell yourself on Couisnard being a tough, do-it-all starting wing at the high-major level for good teams. Expect him to end up at a strong location.
The Fit: Oregon needs to improve defensively and also needed a guard after losing De’Vion Harmon (to transfer) and Jacob Young (to graduation). Will Richardson is also testing the NBA Draft waters, so it’s possible Oregon loses him as well. Enter Couisnard. He joins Colorado transfer Keeshawn Barthelemy, incoming freshman Dior Johnson and juco shooting guard Tyrone Williams to give the Ducks some perimeter depth. As mentioned above, Couisnard shot a higher volume of 3s than his percentages suggest he should, but maybe Dana Altman figures out a way to bump up those efficiency numbers. If there’s a coach to get a guy there, it’s Altman. He had a similar effect two years ago on Eugene Omoruyi, who went from a career 23 percent 3-point shooter to making 41 3s at a 37.6 percent clip in his one season at Oregon.
49. Jake Stephens | 7-0 center | senior | Transferred from VMI to Chattanooga
The Scout: Stephens is a big, lumbering center who is strangely one of the best 3-point shooters in the country. He made 74 3s this season at a 49 percent clip. The shooting is real. He’s also a career 80.1 percent free-throw shooter who averaged 19.6 points, nine rebounds and two blocks per game as a senior. VMI used him in the top middle third, where he’d hit backdoor cutters. He can score in the low post, but everything is methodical. He struggles when you run a double team at him because he’s slow to react. He’s a good fit for teams that run a lot of pick-and-pop actions or use their bigs in the pinch post. Defensively against teams with good guards, he could be a liability in pick-and-roll coverage. His skill is impressive, but he’s probably been playing at the right level in a good mid-major league.
The Fit: Stephens is an analytics darling, and he’ll follow his coach at VMI, Dan Earl, to Chattanooga. He’ll give the Mocs the presence on the interior that their NCAA Tournament team lacked, in addition to being an elite shooter from the perimeter, allowing them to play a similarly well-spaced offensive scheme. If Chattanooga gets Malachi Smith to return, the team will have the two best players in the SoCon next season and could even sniff votes for the Top 25 at some point in the year. That would be an exceptionally dangerous team, and one that has a genuine chance at an at-large bid.
50. Elijah Harkless | 6-3 guard | Graduate | Transferred from Oklahoma to UNLV
The Scout: Harkless is a defensive stopper who was one of the better perimeter defenders in the Big 12 the last two years. Oklahoma’s defense was six points per 100 possessions better with him on the floor, per hooplens.com. He has no problem guarding up against bigger wings or checking guards his size. You know he’s going to battle. He’s a high-motor player who is a streaky scorer. He’s capable of slashing and making the occasional 3. He made a career-best 32 3s this season and shoots 33.2 percent from deep for his career. After transferring from Cal State Northridge in 2020, he proved can be a starter on a good team at the high-major level, averaging 9.1 points, 4.7 rebounds, two assists and 1.6 steals in two seasons with the Sooners. He is coming off a knee injury that ended his season in late February.
The Fit: He joins Kevin Kruger at UNLV after playing at Oklahoma in 2020-21 under Kruger’s father, Lon. He’ll immediately be one of the best perimeter defenders in the Mountain West, and he should step into an increased offensive role in a league a bit more commensurate with his skillset on that end at this stage. If he can add continued improvement to the jumper, his ceiling is absolutely that of an All-MWC player this season.
51. Franck Kepnang | 6-11 center | junior | Transferred from Oregon to Washington
The Scout: Kepnang is massive and a project worth taking the chance on for a program that values rim protection. He still has three years of eligibility left, and his back-to-the-basket game could continue to develop. His strength is definitely blocking shots. He tries to swat everything in his vicinity and averaged 3.7 blocks per 40 minutes in two seasons at Oregon. He can be a liability in pick-and-roll coverage. Dana Altman simply put him in drop coverage and then hoped whoever he was guarding couldn’t make pick-and-pop 3s. Offensively, he’s raw but has a decent right-handed jump hook. He runs the floor hard and can get up and down pretty well for someone his size.
The Fit: The thing Kepnang does well will fit really well at Washington. He’s a terrific rim protector with great length and strength on the interior, which is exactly what Mike Hopkins and Washington needs from its 2-3 zone. He’s really the only true center on the roster currently that isn’t a former walk-on, so Kepnang should be expected to step in and play a big role for the Huskies immediately in what is an absolutely critical season for Hopkins as he looks to turn the momentum of the program around a bit.
52. Jalen Graham | 6-9 forward | senior | Transferred from Arizona State to Arkansas
The Scout: Graham really improved throughout the course of last season. The numbers look a bit pedestrian at 9.9 points and 4.6 rebounds, but look at his trajectory and you’ll see why there is some enthusiasm for him. In the final 17 games of Arizona State’s season, Graham averaged 13.5 points, six rebounds and 2.5 assists. He was the team’s focal point during its strongest run this year, which is why he was rewarded second-team All-Pac-12 honors by the coaches. But there are some worries here about how scalable he is to a winning situation given his game. He’s not a particularly efficient finisher at the rim and he doesn’t shoot well from the perimeter. He gets most of his offense on post-ups and out of weird little push-shots, floaters and turnaround mini-hooks with either hand. He’s a tough shot specialist, almost who can get you a reasonable efficiency look on the block pretty regularly. He’ll need to improve his all-around game in order to make an impact on a winning team.
The Fit: Graham is headed to Arkansas along with Makhel and Makhi Mitchell and the aforementioned Brazile, an overhaul of the team’s frontcourt. Honestly, this one doesn’t make a ton of sense on paper. Graham is a mid-post scorer joining an offense that doesn’t really love to post. They like ball screens and use their bigs more to short-roll and pass or drive. With Nick Smith and Anthony Black coming in this season, I don’t see the offense going away from them in ball-screen situations to go more toward mid-post play. I see Graham more as the team’s sixth man, a change of pace offensively against backup bigs when the team doesn’t have its bigs in. But yeah, both for team and for player, this probably would not have been my first choice.
53. Eric Gaines | 6-2 guard | junior | Transferred from LSU to UAB
The Scout: This one is all about defense. Gaines is aggressive and disruptive at the point of attack. His hands are lightning quick, and he flies around passing lanes looking for ways to deflect balls and get steals. He averaged 2.1 steals per game this year, which was third in the SEC. The advanced numbers liked him a bit more than the rest of LSU’s guards, as LSU’s performance was a bit better with him on the court despite his real offensive concerns. Gaines is basically a non-shooter, but his ability to pressure the rim and create transition opportunities is at least somewhat helpful. Gaines is a good high-major role player, and if the shooting comes around at some point (he’s consistently made free throws throughout his career), he might be a legit Power 6 starting guard next to a shot-maker.
The Fit: Gaines thrived in a system where he was able to take chances, and he’s found a place where that will be rewarded. He’ll likely replace UAB guard Quan Jackson, who finished fifth in steals rate this past season. Gaines nearly had an identical steal rate, and he might be able to bump that number up playing against lower competition. Some of his offensive limitations at the SEC might also not be as big a deal playing at a lower level. Andy Kennedy lets his guards attack, and Gaines is the type of player who could thrive in his system.
(Top photo of Efton Reid: Ben Solomon / NCAA Photos via Getty Images)