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2017-18 College Basketball Season Preview: Impact Transfers

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Beginning in September and running up until November 10th, the first day of the season, College Basketball Talk will be unveiling the 2017-2018 NBCSports.com college hoops preview package.

MORE: 2017-18 Season Preview Coverage | Conference Previews | Preview Schedule

1. Malik Newman and Sam Cunliffe, Kansas (via Mississippi State and Arizona State): Former McDonald’s All-American Malik Newman is the big name here as he’ll become a major factor shooting the ball for Kansas as a starting guard. If Newman can also handle the ball besides Devonte’ Graham then he’ll elevate his pro stock as well. Cunliffe joins the Jayhawks at semester break as the flashy wing is talented but prone to stretches of inconsistent play.

2. Cameron Johnson, North Carolina (via Pitt): Landing the 6-foot-7 Johnson was a major coup for the Tar Heels as the former Pitt wing is the rare graduate transfer with two years of eligibility remaining. Attempting to replace Justin Jackson’s production for North Carolina, Johnson averaged 11.9 points and 4.5 rebounds per game while shooting 41 percent from three-point range last season. Already familiar with the ACC, Johnson’s addition keeps the Tar Heels firmly near the top of the national rankings.

3. Cane Broome, Cincinnati (via Sacred Heart): Sitting out last season due to NCAA transfer rules, the 6-foot-1 Broome provides a valuable scoring punch to Cincinnati. Top 10 in the nation in scoring at 23.1 points per game during his sophomore season, Broome enters a Bearcat lineup that is talented and experienced as he could be the extra scorer this team needs to make the second weekend of the NCAA tournament.

4. Elijah Brown, McKyle McIntosh and Paul White, Oregon (via New Mexico, Illinois State and Georgetown): Plenty of familiar faces are gone from last season’s Final Four team at Oregon but head coach Dana Altman reloads at multiple spots. Elijah Brown, the son of former NBA head coach Mike Brown, is an experienced player at 6-foot-4 as he should be counted on as one of the team’s leading scorers. The 6-foot-7 McIntosh was a versatile wing forward who was one of Illinois State’s best players last season while former four-star recruit Paul White finally gets to play after sitting out to due injury and transfer rules.

5. Jaaron Simmons and Charles Matthews, Michigan (via Ohio and Kentucky): Simmons put up big numbers at point guard for Ohio the past two seasons as he helps ease the loss for valuable veteran guard Derrick Walton Jr. After barely making a splash during his one season at Kentucky, the 6-foot-6 Matthews sat out last season. The former four-star recruit gives the Wolverines athleticism and versatility.

6. Egor Koulechov and Jalen Hudson, Florida (via Rice and Virginia Tech): Adding the 6-foot-5 Koulechov was huge for Florida after he put up 18.2 points, 8.9 rebounds and 47 percent three-point shooting last season for the Owls. While Koulechov should start immediately the 6-foot-6 Hudson should give a scoring lift from the wing off the bench.

7. Mark Alstork, Illinois (via Wright State): Illinois desperately needed experienced help on the wing to replace Malcolm Hill and Alstork should help after a strong all-around junior season. Putting up 19.0 points, 4.7 rebounds and 3.5 assists per game, Alstork was an all-Horizon League performer who also made 70 three-pointers and shot 84 percent from the free-throw line.

8. Cullen Neal, Saint Mary’s (via Ole Miss): An experienced Saint Mary’s team adds a 1,000-point career scorer in Neal as the 6-foot-4 guard should fit in nicely to help replace guard Joe Rahon. Capable of doing more than just putting up points, Neal won’t asked to be a go-to player on the Gaels and he can also give them some help as a secondary ball handler.

9. Markel Crawford, Ole Miss (via Memphis): Helping offset the loss of Neal at Ole Miss will be the 6-foot-4 Crawford. A consistent and productive scorer and rebounder from the perimeter, Crawford could pair nicely with Deandre Burnett and Terence Davis to form one of the better perimeter trios in the SEC.

10. Caleb and Cody Martin, Nevada (via N.C. State): These twins should set in and be a big part of the Nevada rotation immediately this season as head coach Eric Musselman has done well with transfers so far. While Caleb was the more productive of the 6-foot-7 forwards at N.C. State, Cody was a 42-percent three-point shooter as a sophomore.

11. Randy Onwuasor and Jeremy Combs, LSU (via Southern Utah and North Texas): New LSU head coach Will Wade acted quickly to secure some scoring help by landing Onwuasor, the nation’s fifth-leading scorer last season. Putting up 23.6 points per game, Onwuasor should help right away. Combs was also a double-figure scorer at North Texas before an ankle injury derailed his season.

12. Daniel Giddens, Alabama (via Ohio State): Alabama could be a surprise team this season as the 6-foot-11 big man could be main reason why. A former top-50 recruit who wasn’t particularly effective during his one season at Ohio State, Giddens has had a year off to develop and add strength as he’ll be a key member of the Crimson Tide frontcourt.

OTHER NAMES TO KNOW

Akoy Agau and Jimmy Whitt, SMU (via Georgetown and Arkansas): The 6-foot-8 Agau should get immediate minutes in the frontcourt while the 6-foot-3 Whitt is a former four-star recruit with three seasons left.

Lamonte Bearden, Dwight Coleby and Darius Thompson, Western Kentucky (via Buffalo, Kansas and Virginia): Rick Stansbury was hoping this group would complement five-star center Mitchell Robinson but it’s still a very talented group on its own. All three bring NCAA tournament experience.

Jeff Beverly, Hans Brase and Zoran Talley, Iowa State (via UTSA, Princeton and Old Dominion): Thin in the frontcourt last season, Iowa State brought in three double-figure scorers from lower levels in the hopes of finding help. The 6-foot-9 Brase could be the most stable if he’s fully healthy from a torn ACL.

Justin Bibbins, Utah (via Long Beach State): The 5-foot-8 guard earned All-Big West honors a season ago as he brings more stability at point guard for Utah.

Isaac Copeland, Duby Okeke and James Palmer Jr., Nebraska (via Georgetown, Winthrop and Miami): Nebraska is hoping for a turnaround with help from this group. Copeland is a former top-30 recruit while Okeke set the Winthrop blocks record. Palmer should help as a two-way wing.

James Daniel III, Tennessee (via Howard): College basketball’s leading scorer at 27.1 points per game two years ago, the 6-foot-0 Daniel gets one final season to prove himself for a team that needs his scoring.

Allerik Freeman and Sam Hunt, N.C. State (via Baylor and North Carolina A&T): New head coach Kevin Keatts has been aggressive on the transfer market as he brought in these two experienced guards to play right away.

Austin Grandstaff, Marin Maric and Max Strus, DePaul (via Oklahoma, Northern Illinois and Lewis): DePaul got help on the wing with Grandstaff, a potentially elite shooter, and Strus, an athletic Division II All-American. Maric is an experienced graduate transfer big man who should play right away.

Kory Holden, South Carolina (via Delaware): The loss of Sindarius Thornwell and P.J. Dozier means that Holden will have to step up and produce right away. The 6-foot-1 guard averaged 17.7 points per game as a sophomore two years ago.

Kaleb Johnson, Creighton (via Syracuse): The loss of Maurice Watson means there is a place for the former Syracuse guard as the 6-foot-3 Johnson brings stability alongside Marcus Foster and Khyri Thomas.

Jordan Johnson, UNLV (via Milwaukee): One of the nation’s leaders in assists at 8.1 per game during the 2015-16 season, Johnson has some intriguing weapons to play with at UNLV like McDonald’s All-American Brandon McCoy.

Nigel Johnson, Virginia (via Rutgers): Virginia desperately needed veteran experience on the perimeter as they get a double-figure scorer (11.3 points per game) who can also help on the defensive end.

Marcus Lee, Cal (via Kentucky): The former McDonald’s All-American will spend his final season at Cal after sitting out last season and three seasons at Kentucky. The bouncy 6-foot-11 forward will finally get consistent minutes.

Kendrick Nunn, Oakland (via Illinois): The 6-foot-3 guard averaged 15.5 points and 5.0 rebounds as a junior before transferring after running into legal problems. He joins an Oakland team with NCAA aspirations.

Dylan Osetkowski, Texas (via Tulane): Adding physicality and experience to the Texas frontcourt, the 6-foot-9 Osetkowski was an effective player at Tulane before drawing good reviews for his play in practice last season.

Kassius Robertson, Missouri (via Canisius): Another weapon to help Michael Porter Jr., this 6-foot-3 grad transfer guard shot over 40 percent from three-point range while averaging 15.1 points per game his last two seasons.

Derryck Thornton Jr., USC (via Duke): An up-and-down true freshman season at Duke had Thornton seeking a new home as he’ll be a solid addition to a deep USC rotation as a backup point guard.

Geno Thorpe, Syracuse (via South Florida): Syracuse once again dips into the graduate transfer market as Thorpe should be counted on to score after averaging 15.1 points and 4.6 assists per game last season.

Devin Watson, San Diego State (via San Francisco): The Aztecs have had problems scoring the past few years and the 6-foot-1 Watson should help in that department after putting up 20 points per game as a sophomore at San Francisco.

Duane Wilson, Texas A&M (via Marquette): Desperately needing stability at point guard, the Aggies brought in the veteran grad transfer point guard who logged plenty of minutes the past three seasons.

Bubbles brewing with season on horizon

Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports
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INDIANAPOLIS — With the coronavirus pandemic already forcing changes for college basketball, a bubble may be brewing in Indianapolis.

Indiana Sports Corp. released a 16-page proposal Friday that calls for turning the city convention center’s exhibition halls and meeting rooms into basketball courts and locker rooms. There would be expansive safety measures and daily COVID-19 testing.

The all-inclusive price starts at $90,000 per team and would cover 20 hotel rooms per traveling party, testing, daily food vouchers ranging from $30-$50 and the cost of game officials. Sports Corp. President Ryan Vaughn said the price depends on what offerings teams or leagues choose.

“The interest has been high,” Vaughn said. “I think as conferences figure out what conference and non-conference schedules are going to look like, we’re we’re a very good option for folks. I would tell you we’ve had conversations with the power six conferences, mid-majors, it’s really kind of all over the Division I spectrum.”

Small wonder: The NCAA this week announced teams could start ramping up workouts Monday, with preseason practices set to begin Oct. 14. Season openers, however, were pushed back to Nov. 25 amid wide-ranging uncertainty about campus safety and team travel in the pandemic.

There is already scrambling going on and some of the marquee early-season tournaments have already been impacted.

The Maui Invitational will be moved from Hawaii to Asheville, North Carolina, with dates still to be determined and organizers clear that everyone involved “will be in a bubble environment that limits their movement and interaction outside the venue.” The Batttle 4 Atlantis has been canceled. The Cancun Challenge will be held in Melbourne, Florida, not Mexico.

More changes almost certainly will be coming, including what to do with the ACC-Big Ten Challenge.

“I think we’re past the guesswork on whether we play 20 conference games or more than that,” Purdue coach Matt Painter said Friday. “We’re trying to get everybody set like in terms of MTEs (multi-team events), figuring out when to play the ACC-Big Ten challenge.”

Painter, who was part of the NCAA committee that recommended how to start the season, noted part of the uncertainty stems from differing protocols imposed by campus, city and state officials.

In Indianapolis, Vaughn believes the convention center, nearby hotels, restaurants and downtown businesses, many within walking distance of the venue, could safely accommodate up to 24 teams. The 745,000-square foot facility would feature six basketball courts and two competition courts.

Anyone entering the convention center would undergo saliva-based rapid response testing, which would be sent to a third-party lab for results. Others venues could be added, too, potentially with more fans, if the case numbers decline.

If there is a taker, the event also could serve as a dry run for the 2021 Final Four, also slated for Indy.

“It’s not going to hurt,” Vaughn said. “I can tell you all the planning we’re doing right now is the same for a Final Four that’s been scheduled here for any other year. But it would be nice to have this experience under our belt to see if it can be done.”

Maui Invitational moving to North Carolina during pandemic

Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports
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ASHEVILLE, N.C. — The Maui Invitational is moving to the mainland during the coronavirus pandemic.

One of the premier preseason tournaments on the college basketball schedule, the Maui Invitational will be played at the Harrah’s Cherokee Center in downtown Asheville, North Carolina.

Dates for the tournament announced Friday have yet to be finalized. The NCAA announced Wednesday that the college basketball season will begin Nov. 25.

This year’s Maui Invitational field includes Alabama, Davidson, Indiana, North Carolina, Providence, Stanford, Texas and UNLV.

All teams, staff, officials, and personnel will be in a bubble environment that limits their movement and interaction outside the venue.

Burton eligible at Texas Tech after 2 seasons at Wichita State

Peter G. Aiken-USA TODAY Sports
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LUBBOCK, Texas — Junior guard Jamarius Burton has been granted a waiver from the NCAA that makes him eligible to play this season for Texas Tech after starting 52 games the past two seasons for Wichita State.

Texas Tech coach Chris Beard announced the waiver Thursday, which came five months after Burton signed with the Big 12 team.

Burton has two seasons of eligibility remaining, as well as a redshirt season he could utilize. He averaged 10.3 points and 3.4 assists per game as a sophomore at Wichita State, where he played 67 games overall.

Burton is from Charlotte. He helped lead Independence High School to a 31-1 record and the North Carolina Class 4A state championship as a senior there.

NCAA season set to open day before Thanksgiving

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The NCAA men’s and women’s basketball season will begin on Nov. 25, the day before Thanksgiving.

The Division I Council voted Wednesday to push the start date back from the originally scheduled Nov. 10 as one of several precautions against the spread of coronavirus.

The later start date coincides with the decision most schools made to send students home from Thanksgiving until January out of concern about a potential late-fall and early-winter flareup of COVID-19. Closed campuses could serve as a quasi bubble for players and provide a window for non-conference games.

The maximum number of regular-season games has been reduced from 31 to 27. The minimum number of games for consideration for the NCAA Tournament was cut from 25 to 13.

Teams can start preseason practices Oct. 14 but will be allowed to work out 12 hours per week beginning Monday.

No scrimmages against other teams or exhibitions are allowed.

In other action, the council voted to extend the recruiting dead period for all sports through Dec. 31. In-person recruiting is not allowed during a dead period, though phone calls and other correspondence are allowed.

The men’s and women’s basketball oversight committees had jointly recommended a start date of Nov. 21, which would have allowed for games to be played on the weekend before Thanksgiving. The council opted not to do that to avoid a conflict with regular-season football games.

The council is scheduled to meet again Oct. 13-14 and could delay the start date and change other pieces of the basketball framework if circumstances surrounding the virus warrant.

UConn’s Tyrese Martin granted waiver to play this season

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STORRS, Conn. — UConn swingman Tyrese Martin, who transferred from Rhode Island in April, has been granted a waiver that will allow him to play for the Huskies this season.

The 6-foot-6 junior averaged 12.8 points and 7.1 rebounds and started every game last season for URI, where he was recruited by current UConn coach Dan Hurley.

NCAA rules require undergraduate transfers to sit out a season, but the organization has been more lenient in granting waivers during the pandemic.

Martin, 21, is expected to compete for playing time at UConn on the wing as both a guard and small forward.