College Basketball’s Impact Transfers

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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.

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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.


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.

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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.

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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.

Purdue’s Edey returning to school at NBA draft deadline; Kentucky’s Tshiebwe stays in

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Purdue’s Zach Edey decided it was the right call to go back to school instead of staying in the NBA draft. His predecessor as national player of the year, Kentucky’s Oscar Tshiebwe, is sticking with his pro pursuit.

And Connecticut’s reign as NCAA champion will begin with multiple starters having left for the NBA draft and one returning after flirting with doing the same.

The 7-foot-4 Edey and UConn guard Tristen Newton were among the notable names to announce that they were withdrawing from the draft, the NCAA’s deadline for players who declared as early entrants to pull out and retain their college eligibility.

Edey’s decision came in social media posts from both the center and the Boilermakers program that earned a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament behind Edey, The Associated Press men’s national player of the year.

But Tshiebwe announced late in the afternoon that he would remain in the draft after a college career that included being named the AP national player of the year in 2022.

For the current champions, Newton (10.1 points, 4.7 assists, 4.5 rebounds) is returning after being one of four Huskies to declare for the draft after a run to UConn’s fifth national championship in early April. He scored a game-high 19 points to go with 10 rebounds in the victory over San Diego State in the title game.

The others were Final Four Most Outstanding Player Adama Sanogo, wing Jordan Hawkins and versatile guard Andre Jackson Jr. Sanogo (17.8 points) and Hawkins (16.3) have made it clear they have closed the door on their college careers, while team spokesman Phil Chardis said that Jackson (6.1 points, 5.8 rebounds, 4.6 assists) would remain in the draft.

The Huskies have 247sports’ No. 3-ranked recruiting class for next year to restock the roster, led by McDonald’s All-American point guard Stephon Castle.

The NBA’s withdrawal deadline is June 12, but is moot when it comes to college players returning to school due to the NCAA’s earlier timeline to retain playing eligibility.


TREY ALEXANDER: Creighton gets back a 6-4 guard who averaged 13.6 points and shot 41% from 3-point range in his first full season as a starter.

ADEM BONA: The 6-foot-10 forward and Pac-12 freshman of the year is returning to UCLA after starting 32 games as a rookie and averaging 7.7 points, 5.3 rebounds and 1.7 blocks – with coach Mick Cronin praising his toughness for “competing through multiple injuries for as long as he could” in a statement Wednesday.

EDEY: He averaged 22.3 points, 12.9 rebounds, 2.1 blocks and 1.5 assists while shooting 60.7% from the field. His presence alone helps Purdue be a factor in the Big Ten race.

JOSIAH-JORDAN JAMES: The 6-6 guard went through the NBA G League Combine and had workouts with multiple teams before opting to return to Tennessee for a fifth season alongside teammate Santiago Vescovi.

JUDAH MINTZ: The 6-3 freshman averaged 16.3 points and 4.6 assists for Syracuse, ranking third among Division I freshmen in scoring behind only Alabama’s Brandon Miller and Lamar’s Nate Calmese.

OWLS’ RETURNEES: Florida Atlantic got good news after its surprise Final Four run with the return leading scorers Johnell Davis (13.8) and Alijah Martin (13.4). ESPN first reported their decisions, while Martin later posted a social media statement.

TERRENCE SHANNON JR.: Illinois got a big boost with Shannon announcing his night in a social media post. The 6-6 guard is returning for a fifth college season after averaging 17.2 points.

SPARTANS’ RETURNEES: Michigan State announced that guards Jaden Akins and A.J. Hoggard have withdrawn from the NBA draft. Standout guard Tyson Walker had previously withdrawn in April, setting up Tom Izzo to have five of his top scorers back.


KOBE BROWN: Missouri’s 6-8 swingman opted against returning for a fifth college season after being an AP first-team all-Southeastern Conference pick averaging 15.8 points last season.

JAYLEN CLARK: The third-year UCLA guard averaged 13.0 points and 6.0 rebounds while leading the Pac-12 with 2.6 steals en route to being named Naismith national defensive player of the year. Cronin called him a winner with strong intangibles who made UCLA “a better program because he chose to be a Bruin.”

BRICE SENSABAUGH: The Ohio State freshman averaged 16.3 points and 5.4 rebounds in 31 games before missing his final two in the Big Ten Tournament due to a knee injury. He’s a potential first-round prospect.

TSHIEBWE: The 6-9, 260-pound forward is a tough interior presence who led the country in rebounds for two straight seasons (15.1 in 2022, 13.7 in 2023) while racking up 48 double-doubles. But he faces an uncertain next stop and is projected at best as a second-round prospect.

North Carolina transfer Caleb Love commits to Arizona

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Caleb Love is now headed to Arizona.

The North Carolina transfer tweeted, less than a month after decommitting from Michigan, that he will play next season with the Wildcats.

“Caleb is a tremendously talented guard who has significant experience playing college basketball at a high level,” Arizona coach Tommy Lloyd said in a statement. “We look forward to helping Caleb grow his game at Arizona. And as we near the completion of the roster for the upcoming season, we feel great about how everything has come together. Now it’s time for the real work to start.”

A 6-foot-4 guard, Love averaged 14.6 points and 3.3 assists in three seasons at North Carolina. He averaged 17.6 points in seven NCAA Tournament games, helping lead the Tar Heels to the 2022 national championship game.

Love entered the transfer portal after leading North Carolina with 73 3-pointers as a junior and initially committed to Michigan. He decommitted from the Wolverines earlier this month, reportedly due to an admissions issue involving academic credits.

Love narrowed his transfer targets to three schools before choosing to play at Arizona over Gonzaga and Texas.

Love will likely start on a team that will have dynamic perimeter players, including Pelle Larsson, Kylan Boswell and Alabama transfer Jaden Bradley.

Biden celebrates LSU women’s and UConn men’s basketball teams at separate White House events


WASHINGTON – All of the past drama and sore feelings associated with Louisiana State’s invitation to the White House were seemingly forgotten or set aside Friday as President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden welcomed the championship women’s basketball team to the mansion with smiles, hugs and lavish praise all around.

The visit had once appeared in jeopardy after Jill Biden suggested that the losing Iowa team be invited, too. But none of that was mentioned as both Bidens heralded the players for their performance and the way they have helped advance women’s sports.

“Folks, we witnessed history,” the president said. “In this team, we saw hope, we saw pride and we saw purpose. It matters.”

The ceremony was halted for about 10 minutes after forward Sa’Myah Smith appeared to collapse as she and her teammates stood behind Biden. A wheelchair was brought in and coach Kim Mulkey assured the audience that Smith was fine.

LSU said in a statement that Smith felt overheated, nauseous and thought she might faint. She was evaluated by LSU and White House medical staff and was later able to rejoin the team. “She is feeling well, in good spirits, and will undergo further evaluation once back in Baton Rouge,” the LSU statement said.

Since the passage of Title IX in 1972, Biden said, more than half of all college students are women, and there are now 10 times more female athletes in college and high school. He said most sports stories are still about men, and that that needs to change.

Title IX prohibits discrimination based on sex in federally funded education programs and activities.

“Folks, we need to support women sports, not just during the championship run but during the entire year,” President Biden said.

After the Tigers beat Iowa for the NCAA title in April in a game the first lady attended, she caused an uproar by suggesting that the Hawkeyes also come to the White House.

LSU star Angel Reese called the idea “A JOKE” and said she would prefer to visit with former President Barack Obama and his wife, Michelle, instead. The LSU team largely is Black, while Iowa’s top player, Caitlin Clark, is white, as are most of her teammates.

Nothing came of Jill Biden’s idea and the White House only invited the Tigers. Reese ultimately said she would not skip the White House visit. She and co-captain Emily Ward presented team jerseys bearing the number “46” to Biden and the first lady. Hugs were exchanged.

Jill Biden also lavished praise on the team, saying the players showed “what it means to be a champion.”

“In this room, I see the absolute best of the best,” she said, adding that watching them play was “pure magic.”

“Every basket was pure joy and I kept thinking about how far women’s sports have come,” the first lady added, noting that she grew up before Title IX was passed. “We’ve made so much progress and we still have so much more work to do.”

The president added that “the way in which women’s sports has come along is just incredible. It’s really neat to see, since I’ve got four granddaughters.”

After Smith was helped to a wheelchair, Mulkey told the audience the player was OK.

“As you can see, we leave our mark where we go,” Mulkey joked. “Sa’Myah is fine. She’s kind of, right now, embarrassed.”

A few members of Congress and Biden aides past and present with Louisiana roots dropped what they were doing to attend the East Room event, including White House budget director Shalanda Young. Young is in the thick of negotiations with House Republicans to reach a deal by the middle of next week to stave off what would be a globally calamitous U.S. financial default if the U.S. can no longer borrow the money it needs to pay its bills.

The president, who wore a necktie in the shade of LSU’s purple, said Young, who grew up in Baton Rouge, told him, “I’m leaving the talks to be here.” Rep. Garret Graves, one of the House GOP negotiators, also attended.

Biden closed sports Friday by changing to a blue tie and welcoming the UConn’s men’s championship team for its own celebration. The Huskies won their fifth national title by defeating San Diego State, 76-59, in April.

“Congratulations to the whole UConn nation,” he said.

Marquette’s Prosper says he will stay in draft rather than returning to school

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MILWAUKEE — Olivier-Maxence Prosper announced he is keeping his name under NBA draft consideration rather than returning to Marquette.

The 6-foot-8 forward announced his decision.

“Thank you Marquette nation, my coaches, my teammates and support staff for embracing me from day one,” Prosper said in an Instagram post. “My time at Marquette has been incredible. With that being said, I will remain in the 2023 NBA Draft. I’m excited for what comes next. On to the next chapter…”

Prosper had announced last month he was entering the draft. He still could have returned to school and maintained his college eligibility by withdrawing from the draft by May 31. Prosper’s announcement indicates he instead is going ahead with his plans to turn pro.

Prosper averaged 12.5 points and 4.7 rebounds last season while helping Marquette go 29-7 and win the Big East’s regular-season and tournament titles. Marquette’s season ended with a 69-60 loss to Michigan State in the NCAA Tournament’s round of 32.

He played two seasons at Marquette after transferring from Clemson, where he spent one season.

Kansas’ Kevin McCullar Jr. returning for last season of eligibility

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Kevin McCullar Jr. said that he will return to Kansas for his final year of eligibility, likely rounding out a roster that could make the Jayhawks the preseason No. 1 next season.

McCullar transferred from Texas Tech to Kansas for last season, when he started 33 of 34 games and averaged 10.7 points and 7.0 rebounds. He was also among the nation’s leaders in steals, and along with being selected to the Big 12’s all-defensive team, the 6-foot-6 forward was a semifinalist for the Naismith Defensive Player of the Year award.

“To be able to play in front of the best fans in the country; to play for the best coach in the nation, I truly believe we have the pieces to hang another banner in the Phog,” McCullar said in announcing his return.

Along with McCullar, the Jayhawks return starters Dajuan Harris Jr. and K.J. Adams from a team that went 28–8, won the Big 12 regular-season title and was a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament, where it lost to Arkansas in the second round.

Perhaps more importantly, the Jayhawks landed Michigan transfer Hunter Dickinson, widely considered the best player in the portal, to anchor a lineup that was missing a true big man. They also grabbed former five-star prospect Arterio Morris, who left Texas, and Towson’s Nick Timberlake, who emerged last season as one of the best 3-point shooters in the country.

The Jayhawks also have an elite recruiting class arriving that is headlined by five-star recruit Elmarko Jackson.

McCullar declared for the draft but, after getting feedback from scouts, decided to return. He was a redshirt senior last season, but he has another year of eligibility because part of his career was played during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“This is a big day for Kansas basketball,” Jayhawks coach Bill Self said. “Kevin is not only a terrific player but a terrific teammate. He fit in so well in year one and we’re excited about what he’ll do with our program from a leadership standpoint.”