The transfer market has never been a more vital component of college basketball, with nearly every contending program in heated battle to secure the most talented available. No longer are these “castoffs,” but rather coveted “free agents.” It’s hard to compete at the highest levels without them unless you’re rolling out five-stars across the board, but now even among the best on the prep recruiting trail – Kentucky, Oregon, North Carolina – are making sure not to overlook this talent pool.
Here are 15 of the most important transfers for the 2019-20 season.
1. KERRY BLACKSHEAR, JR., Florida (Virginia Tech)
Virginia Tech didn’t just lose Buzz Williams this offseason, the Hokies’ roster lost a ton of talent, too. The 6-foot-10 graduate transfer gives Florida a major boost after he averaged 11.2 points and 6.0 rebounds. He’s an All-American candidate that makes the Gators a legit top-10 team with Final Four aspirations.
2. SHAKUR JUISTON, Oregon (UNLV)
The former junior college standout averaged 15 points per game while shooting 63.9 percent from the field as a junior for the Runnin’ Rebels before missing the bulk of last season with knee surgery, which paved the way for him to head northwest to Eugene and the Ducks. That decision bolsters the case that Oregon is the team to beat in the Pac-12.
3. JUSTIN PIERCE, North Carolina (William & Mary)
Roy Williams and the Tar Heels were hit exceedingly hard by departures – Coby White, Nassir Little, Luke Maye, Cam Johnson, Kenny Williams, Seventh Woods – so landing Pierce as a graduate transfer was a major pickup. The 6-foot-7 guard averaged nearly 15 points in back-to-back seasons, but he’s not just a scorer. Pierce grabbed more than 8 boards per game as a sophomore and junior and averaged 4 assists last season.
4. ADMON GILDER, Gonzaga (Texas A&M)
Another graduate transfer moving on after a coaching change, Gilder gives the ‘Zags some major reinforcement after getting hammered by departures from last year’s Elite Eight squad. The 6-foot-4 guard is a proven scorer and 3-point shooter, nearly hitting 40 percent from distance a year ago for the Aggies. Mark Few has proven his program can withstand high-level attrition, and being able to add guys like Gilder is a reason why.
5. NATE SESTINA, Kentucky (Bucknell)
The 6-foot-9 graduate transfer burst on to the scene last year, nearly tripling his points-per-game from 6.5 as a redshirt sophomore to 15.8 as a redshirt junior. And on the strength of that performance, he’s following in Reid Travis’ path to Lexington, which has suddenly become one of the hottest destinations for grad transfers. Sestina might not be a starter for the Wildcats, but he gives them a scoring, experienced punch in the frontcourt.
6. CHRISTIAN KEELING, North Carolina (Charleston)
Keeling is just a stone-cold scorer. The Charleston graduate transfer has averaged at least 17 points in all three of his collegiate seasons, including 18.7 last year on 46.5 percent shooting (38 percent from 3). He also pulled down 6.9 rebounds per game. He’s a big part of UNC’s reload.
7. CHRIS CLARKE, Texas Tech (Virginia Tech)
Texas Tech utilized graduate transfers all the way to the national title game last season, and Chris Beard will look to do so again this season with Clarke, who was suspended by Virginia Tech all of last season. He’s a capable scorer and rebounder, who presumably has something to prove on the floor. Beard’s track record here suggests he’ll get the best out of him.
8. KOBY MCEWEN, Marquette (Utah State)
The Golden Eagles lost in a major way on the overall transfer ledger with the Hauser brothers departing after last season, but it wasn’t all bad on the transfer wire for Steve Wojciechowski. McEwen, a 6-foot-4 guard, is eligible after sitting out last season following his transfer from Utah State. He’ll be tasked with being an alternate to the dynamic Markus Howard in Marquette’s backcourt after he put up 15 points per game in back-to-back seasons with the Aggies.
9. FRESH KIMBLE, Louisville (St. Joseph’s)
The 6-foot St. Joseph’s transfer averaged 15 points per game in his last two full seasons, and he’ll give Chris Mack a dynamic scorer in the backcourt – though his 3-point shot has been historically shaky.
10. MACIO TEAGUE, Baylor (UNC-Asheville)
Scott Drew’s Bears have the look of a Big 12 title contender, and the high-scoring Teague is a big reason why. He sat out last season after transferring from UNC-Asheville, where he averaged 16.7 points while shooting 42.5 percent from 3-point range as a sophomore.
11. ISAIAH MOSS, Kansas (Iowa)
The 6-foot-5 wing never put up monster numbers in three years at Iowa, but he was a consistent contributor and, perhaps most importantly, increased his 3-point accuracy every season, culminating in a 42.1 mark last year as a junior. He’ll help provide Udoka Azubuike with room to work on offense for the Jayhawks.
12. RASIR BOLTON, Iowa State (Penn State)
Bolton only got clearance from the NCAA last week for immediate eligibility after his transfer from the Nittany Lions, and he’ll immediately not only step into a starting spot for the Cyclones but very well could be their top scoring option following the departure of three players into the NBA from last year’s Big 12 tourney champs who are now looking to make their eighth NCAA tournament in nine years.
13. MARCUS CARR, Minnesota (Pittsburgh)
After leading Pitt in assists and being the Panthers’ third-leading scorer as a freshman, Carr bounced west to Minneapolis, where he’s eligible this season after sitting out last. He averaged 10 points and 4 assists as a freshman in the ACC while shooting 40 percent from the floor.
14. JAMES BOLDEN, Alabama (West Virginia)
Bolden missed the second half of West Virginia’s near-debacle of a season with an injury, and then headed to Tuscaloosa to join first-year Tide coach Nate Oats. Bolden showed some scoring chops with the Mountaineers, and he certainly knows how to defend after three years with Bob Huggins.
15. JAEVIN CUMBERLAND, Cincinnati (Oakland)
Jaevin joins his star cousin Jarron Cumberland in Cincy after averaging 17.2 points last season for Oakland (after never averaging more than 2.7 previously) and shooting nearly 40 percent from 3-point range.