We’re getting down to the stretch run for college basketball teams, and if anything has become obvious this season, it’s that many of the best teams in the country are flawed.
Let’s pretend, for a second, that trades were allowed in college basketball.
If they were, what trades would some of college basketball’s best make?
We have answers.
The major caveat here: These trades have to benefit both teams, and they have to be trades that, in theory, would be accepted. So, for example, no matter how much I want to pretend to send someone like Yante Maten to Kansas, it would never happen with Georgia in the mix for a tournament berth and Mark Fox on the verge of losing his job. The same can be said for someone like Kevin Hervey of UT-Arlington. He’s a senior on a mid-major that has been somewhat disappointing, but he’s also on a team with the talent to win their league.
I know it’s kind of silly to require something that could never possibly happen to be realistic, but it makes the exercise that much more fun. Anyway, here are the trades:
MISSOURI STATE SENDS ALIZE JOHNSON TO KANSAS FOR SAM CUNLIFFE
What Kansas needs this season more than anything is front court depth. In an ideal world, they would currently have Billy Preston on their roster manning the four-spot, but he’s currently hooping in Bosnia. Mitch Lightfoot has been much better than expected, but he’s still not a gut that can go get you a bucket from that spot. Enter Alize Johnson, a 6-foot-9 senior that has averaged a double-double with three-point range for a Missouri State team that is currently outside the top half of the Missouri Valley. He’d be a perfect addition to the front court rotation. With LaGerald Vick, Marcus Garrett and Malik Newman all slated to return next, and with Kansas getting three transfer eligible (Charlie Moore and both of the Lawsons) along with a recruiting class that includes two more perimeter players, Cunliffe seems to be the odd-man out. Bill Self can afford to lose the former four-star recruit to get a player that can help him on the glass and at the four-spot.
ARIZONA SENDS DYLAN SMITH TO FORDHAM FOR JOE CHARTOUNY
The way that this current Arizona team is built, their biggest issue is that there is essentially no possible way for them to get their best defense team on the floor as the same time as their best offensive team. That’s because Dusan Ristic, who has turned into a very important player, is just not a good defender. It’s just something Sean Miller is going to have to deal with. Where that team can be improved, however, is at the point guard spot, where Parker Jackson-Cartwright just isn’t good enough at doing the things that Arizona needs their point guard to do. Enter Joe Chartouny, a 6-foot-3 junior that is one of the nation’s best on-ball defenders, averages 4.5 assists despite playing for one of the nation’s worst offensive teams and who shot 38 percent from three as a sophomore. He can be a pest defensively that will facilitate offense and make opens threes. That’s what Arizona needs at the point.
GEORGIA TECH SENDS BEN LAMMERS TO NORTH CAROLINA FOR ANDREW PLATEK, BRANDON ROBINSON
Roy Williams is one of the few coaches in college hoops that still steadfastly plays two big men together at all times. This problem this year is that doing so means that he is going to have to play at least one freshman center that is not quite ready for this level of basketball yet. This season has been a disappointment from Georgia Tech. They’re not headed for the NCAA tournament, meaning that losing senior Ben Lammers would not derail their season. Sending him to UNC, where he could partner with Luke Maye and Joel Berry II, in exchange for a pair of good young players would be a step in the right direction for the program. With Nassir Little and Coby White joining UNC next season, and Cam Johnson, Kenny Williams and — in theory — Jalek Felton returning, the Heels could spare the pair.
VANDERBILT SENDS JEFF ROBERSON TO KENTUCKY FOR SACHA KILLEYA-JONES
Vandy’s season is more or less caput at this point, but with a loaded recruiting class coming in next season, the ‘Dores should be more than willing to part with their veteran wing in exchange for a former five-star recruit that could use a new start. Killeya-Jones would fit well next to Darius Garland and Simi Shittu — and maybe Romeo Langford — while Roberson would immediately fill a void that Kentucky has for a shooter, a dominant wing scorer and a veteran leader.
TEXAS A&M SENDS J.J. CALDWELL TO MINNESOTA FOR NATE MASON
J.J. Caldwell needs a new start. Things just have not gone well for him since arriving at Texas A&M, from being ruled ineligible as a freshman to getting suspended and benched this season. The Aggies, however, still need to find some kind of leadership and playmaking at the point guard spot, and Mason can be that guy. Minnesota has collapsed in on itself since the Reggie Lynch ordeal, and Mason is an all-Big Ten player that needs a new home.
DUKE SENDS MARQUES BOLDEN, JORDAN GOLDWIRE TO WASHINGTON STATE FOR MALACHI FLYNN
Bolden is another guy that could badly use a chance to start things over, and he would get just that in Pullman. Goldwire is never going to play major minutes at Duke, although he could see them at Wazzu. Flynn, on the other hand, is a sneaky-good sophomore point guard that would provide a defensive spark, better shooting and some playmaking at the lead guard spot. It would also allow Duke to play with different lineup constructions without costing them anything more than a big man that has fallen out of favor.