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.

Northwestern beats No. 20 Michigan State in Big Ten opener

Nick King/Lansing State Journal / USA TODAY NETWORK
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EAST LANSING, Mich. – Boo Buie scored 20 points and Northwestern beat No. 20 Michigan State 70-63 on Sunday night in the Big Ten opener for both teams.

Chase Audige added 15 points and Ty Berry had 13 for Northwestern (6-2), which ended a two-game losing streak.

“Needless to say, this was a huge win for us,” coach Chris Collins said. “Coming off our performance in the ACC-Big Ten challenge, where we lost badly on our home floor (to Pittsburgh), I was really pleased with our resolve the past couple days.”

Mady Sossoko and A.J. Hoggard each had 12 points for Michigan State (5-4) and Joey Hauser added 10. The Spartans have lost two in a row, falling to Notre Dame earlier in the week.

Hoggard cut Northwestern’s lead to 64-63 with 46 seconds left. After a timeout, Buie scored on a layup with 23 seconds left.

“We got out-toughed,” Michigan State coach Tom Izzo said.

Northwestern took the lead late in the first half on a layup by Buie and never relinquished it, leading by as many as nine points.

“We put (the loss to Pittsburgh) under the rug,” Buie said. “We turned the page, just like we do with any win or loss. The season is so long you can’t get caught up on one single game. Just like tonight. We’re super happy with the win, but after tonight it’s over. You can’t dwell on things.”

The Wildcats went 21 of 24 on free throws, while the Spartans were 9 of 12.

“I was concerned about a knockout punch early,” Collins said. ‘I knew they would be revved up after the Notre Dame loss. They hit us early and got a seven-point lead, and then we settled down.”

UP NEXT

Northwestern: Hosts Prairie View A&M on Dec. 11

Michigan State: At Penn State on Wednesday night.

Miles, No. 7 Notre Dame women beat No. 3 UConn; Fudd hurt

Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports
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SOUTH BEND, Ind. – Olivia Miles had 21 points and eight rebounds for No. 7 Notre Dame, and UConn star Azzi Fudd suffered a knee injury in a collision with a teammate, as the Fighting Irish handed the third-ranked Huskies their first loss of the season, 74-60 on Sunday.

“I think she’ll be all right,” UConn coach Geno Auriemma said afterwards of Fudd, who went into the day averaging 24.0 points, but finished scoreless on two shots over 13 minutes.

Fudd exited in the final minute of the first quarter after teammate Aaliyah Edwards fell on her. She returned midway through the second period to play four hobbled minutes, but sat the rest of the way as a precaution, according to Auriemma.

Maddy Westbeld had a season-high 17 points and nine rebounds for Notre Dame (7-1), which bounced back from a 74-72 loss to No. 20 Maryland three days earlier.

“I think Thursday’s loss really fueled us today,” Irish coach Niele Ivey said. “We learned a lot from that game. We have incredible scorers on our team, a lot of balance offensively, but it’s our defense that’s gonna win games, so that was our focus the last 48 hours. (The players) took the challenge and came out and played with heart and defensive intensity. I feel like if we can play that way, we can beat anyone in the country.”

Notre Dame shot 56% from the field while limiting the Huskies to 37%.

“We played very badly (Thursday), but we were still two points away,” Miles said, “so it’s kind of scary what we can do when we play really well.”

Led by Miles, the Irish roared to a 41-24 lead by intermission, outscoring the Huskies 30-11 over the final 11 minutes of the first half.

Miles scored 13 of Notre Dame’s 18 first-quarter points, going 6 of 7 from the field. Westbeld provided her scoring punch after averaging 5.2 points over her previous five outings.

Lou Lopez Senechal led UConn (6-1) with 21 points. Edwards added 14.

“We didn’t win the rebound battle and that hurt us,” said Auriemma, whose club was outboarded 39-26 and outscored in the paint. 46-16. “We just didn’t have enough scoring on the court and enough people playing at a real high level to get enough buckets when we needed them.”

The Huskies got as close at 49-44 at the 3:44 mark of the third quarter, but the Irish stretched their lead back to as high as 70-53 at the midway mark of the fourth period.

Notre Dame ended a seven-game head-to-head losing streak against UConn in regular-season play, prevailing for the first time since a triple-overtime decision in March 2013.

BIG PICTURE

UConn: The Huskies faced a top-10 opponent for the fourth time this season, but this one was their first true road game. If Fudd’s injury doesn’t turn out to be serious, UConn ought to still have a chance to do what it’s done for decades: craft a resume that will make them a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament.

Notre Dame: The Irish, coming back from that loss at the buzzer to Maryland, showed that Thursday’s outcome may just be a blip on their promising season. Notre Dame matched last season’s win over No. 3 North Carolina State for the highest-ranked team it has beaten in its third year under Ivey.

UP NEXT

UConn: The Huskies host Princeton on Thursday before visiting Maryland next Sunday.

Notre Dame: The Irish have a couple apparent mismatches coming up as they visit Lafayette (2-7) on Thursday and host Merrimack (1-6) on Saturday.

Brink leads No. 2 Stanford women over No. 23 Gonzaga 84-63

Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports
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STANFORD, Calif. – Gonzaga may be rolling out an injury-depleted roster, but the Bulldogs nevertheless left a lasting impression on their West Coast rival in Stanford.

And that leads the Cardinal to wonder if the two power programs might meet again on college basketball’s biggest stage come March.

“This is a team that is a Top-25 team,” Hall of Fame Stanford coach Tara VanDerveer said. “I think if we can do it, they’re going to be in Seattle (for the NCAA Tournament).”

Cameron Brink had 14 points and a season-high 16 rebounds and Brooke Demetre made a career-high five 3s and scored 17 points, leading second-ranked Stanford past No. 23 Gonzaga 84-63 on Sunday.

The Cardinal (10-1) have now won five straight games after falling to top-ranked South Carolina in overtime on Nov. 20.

“I kind of call Brooke my secret weapon,” VanDerveer said. “She is a really special young lady, and when you have both Cam out there and Brooke, it’s a two-headed monster.”

“She has one of the highest releases I’ve ever seen, one of the quickest releases,” Brink said of Demetre. “She can shoot it, and we’ve always had confidence in her.”

Hannah Jump hit four 3s and scored 14 points, and Haley Jones had 12 points for Stanford.

Short-handed Gonzaga (7-2), limited to seven players because of illness and injuries, had won three in a row.

The Zags kept the pressure on Stanford early in the game, thanks to a 20-point first half from Kaylynne Truong.

Truong shot 4 of 9 from deep and finished with a career-high 22 points.

Brynna Maxwell contributed 19 points. Yvonne Ejim, Gonzaga’s leading scorer, was held to two points in the first three quarters but added six points in the fourth.

“We try to focus on a leading scorer and try to limit them,” VanDerveer said. “But you can’t just focus on (Ejim) because they’ve got Truong, they’ve got Maxwell. . I think we did a much better job (on defense) in the second half.”

STAT OF THE GAME

The Cardinal were able to pull away due to a strong game from beyond the arc, making 15 3-pointers on 15 of 28 (53.6%) shooting. A season-high eight different Stanford players made a 3, led by Demetre’s five and Jump’s four.

BIG PICTURE

Gonzaga: Lost its fourth straight in the series with Stanford and dropped to 1-7 on the Cardinal’s home floor. The Zags haven’t won any matchups since a 79-73 victory at home on Dec. 2, 2018. … Despite playing short-handed, Gonzaga did not yield an easy win to its higher-ranked opponent, trailing by just one point after the first quarter before fading in the second half.

Stanford: Held a 37-23 rebounding advantage. … This win marked the beginning of a crucial stretch in the Cardinal’s season. Stanford’s next two games come against Tennessee – receiving votes in The Associated Press Top 25 poll – and No. 13 Creighton, followed by the start of Pac-12 Conference play against rival California on Dec. 23.

UP NEXT

Gonzaga: The Bulldogs return to McCarthey Athletic Center to start a five-game homestand, starting with a Tuesday matchup vs. Queens University of Charlotte.

Stanford: After a two-week break for final exams, the Cardinal will continue their seven-game homestand vs. Tennessee on Dec. 18.

Top-ranked Houston grinds out 53-48 win over Saint Mary’s

Chris Jones-USA TODAY Sports
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FORT WORTH, Texas – J’Wan Roberts scored 15 points, Marcus Sasser added 13 and top-ranked Houston held on to beat Saint Mary’s 53-48 on Saturday night.

The Cougars (8-0) won twice in their first week as the No. 1 team since the final poll of the 1982-83 regular season, when Clyde Drexler and Hakeem Olajuwon led high-flying Phi Slama Jama.

Logan Johnson scored 17 points and Aidan Mahaney had 14 for the Gaels (6-3), who lost their third in a row following a 6-0 start.

Houston was the favorite to win it all in the second of three consecutive trips to the Final Four nearly 40 years ago, but lost to Jim Valvano and North Carolina State in one of the iconic championship games.

Coach Kelvin Sampson’s first top-ranked team is coming off trips to the Final Four and Elite Eight the past two seasons.

For the third straight year, the postseason path will start at Dickie’s Arena, where Sampson likes to bring his team during the regular season as prep for the American Athletic Conference tourney.

This victory in the Battleground 2k22 series improved the Cougars to 9-0 in the arena near downtown Fort Worth, where they have won AAC tournament titles each of the past two years.

Saint Mary’s whittled a 12-point deficit to a single possession when Mahaney hit a 3, and he made it a three-point game again at 46-43 with another from long range.

Roberts answered by backing down for a short jump hook before Sasser converted a three-point play to put the Cougars up 51-43.

Houston broke a 17-all tie with a 14-3 run to finish the first half, with Saint Mary’s going 1 of 11 from the field in that stretch against the vaunted Cougars defense. Both teams shot 37%.

BIG PICTURE

Saint Mary’s: Facing the No. 1 team isn’t foreign to the Gaels, who play in the West Coast Conference with Gonzaga. St. Mary’s is 2-7 against the Zags when they have the top ranking, with one of the victories coming last season.

Houston: The Cougars had no trouble in their debut with the No. 1 ranking, blowing out Norfolk State 100-52 at home Tuesday. A disciplined and tournament-tested opponent for the second game was just the threat Sampson’s club figured it could be.

UP NEXT

Saint Mary’s: Missouri State at home Wednesday.

Houston: North Florida at home Tuesday.

Clowney, No. 11 Alabama recover to beat South Dakota St

Gary Cosby Jr.-USA TODAY Sports
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TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – Freshman Noah Clowney’s breakout game – 22 points, nine rebounds, four assists and a steal – helped No. 11 Alabama recover from blowing a 20-point lead and beat South Dakota State 78-65 on Saturday night.

Clowney shot 8 of 17, including 5 of 12 on 3s, in his highest-scoring game of the season.

“We’ve encouraged him to shoot it, I’m glad he did,” Alabama coach Nate Oats said. “His senior year of high school, he started out pretty poorly from 3 then shot it 40% after that, so I kind of referenced that.”

Alabama (7-1) led 37-17 with 6 1/2 minutes left in the first half. South Dakota State (3-6) rallied to go ahead 51-50 on Alex Arians’ 3-pointer with 11 1/2 minutes remaining.

Nimari Burnett’s foul shot a minute later put the Crimson Tide ahead for good at 54-53. Alabama used a 9-0 run to pull away.

Mark Sears scored 19 points and Brandon Miller had 16 points and nine rebounds for the Crimson Tide

Alabama made 14 of its first 26 shots to build a big lead before it slipped away.

“I’m not going to call them mature, we still have some room to grow,” Oats said. “Our guys have to understand, no matter who we’re playing, even if their record isn’t great, they’re Division I basketball players, they’re good teams. Last year, we had issues with this going down the road.”

Charlie Easley and Arians each scored 17 points for the Jackrabbits. Zeke Mayo added 12 points and Matt Dentlinger contributed nine rebounds.

BIG PICTURE

Sears continues to be a force at home for Alabama. In Alabama’s last three home games – wins over Liberty, Jacksonville State and South Dakota State – he has scored 22, 18 and 19 points, making at least three 3-pointers in all three games. Alabama’s next home game comes against a Memphis team that already has two wins over SEC competition.

SECOND HALF SPRING

South Dakota State coach Eric Henderson noticed that in Alabama’s first two home games, Longwood and Liberty both trailed by fewer than 10 points at halftime before losing by 21 and 36 points, respectively. He viewed the first five minutes of the second half as critical in both instances, seeing an Alabama team using the home environment to its advantage.

Henderson stressed to his team that it had to win those five minutes to have a chance. Down 42-35 at the break, it did, and ultimately took the lead.

“They really increase the pressure, they try to play a little faster, they get downhill and they really spray it,” Henderson said. “I thought we were getting some 50-50 balls, I thought we were playing with some confidence. There’s been a lot of schools to come in here and have a good first half and it ends up being a 30- or 40-point game.”

UP NEXT

South Dakota State stays on the road to face Montana on Tuesday.

Alabama takes a weeklong break before its second game against the current No. 1 team in the nation, this time a road game against Houston on Saturday. The Crimson Tide beat former No. 1 North Carolina in its first shot at the top-ranked team, winning 103-101 in four overtimes on Nov. 27.