College Basketball’s Impact Transfers

AP Photo/Robert Franklin

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.

Colorado State sorry for ‘Russia’ chant at Ukrainian player

Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

FORT COLLINS, Colo. – Colorado State has apologized for a group of fans who chanted “Russia” at a player on an opposing team who is from Ukraine during Saturday’s game.

Utah State’s Max Shulga is from Kyiv and was shooting free throws when TV cameras picked up the chant from the student section during the game in Fort Collins, Colorado.

Russia invaded Ukraine nearly a year ago.

“On behalf of Colorado State, we apologize to the student-athlete and Utah State. This is a violation of our steadfast belief in the Mountain West Sportsmanship Policy and University Principles of Community,” Colorado State said in a statement.

“Every participant, student, and fan should feel welcomed in our venues, and for something like this to have occurred is unacceptable at Colorado State.”

Utah State beat CSU 88-79.

Duke edges North Carolina 63-57 behind Roach, Lively

Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports

DURHAM, N.C. — Jeremy Roach scored 20 points, Dereck Lively II had career highs of eight blocks and 14 rebounds and Duke defeated North Carolina 63-57.

Kyle Filipowski added 14 points and Tyrese Proctor 11 for the Blue Devils (17-6, 8-4 ACC), who won their third straight and beat the Tar Heels (15-8, 7-5) for the first time in three meetings, including in last year’s Final Four in the NCAA Tournament.

North Carolina’s Armando Bacot had 14 points and 10 rebounds for his 63rd career double-double, extending his own program record, Leaky Black had 13 points and 10 rebounds, Caleb Love added 12 points and RJ Davis 11.

Roach scored eight of Duke’s final 10 points, including the last four after Lively’s tiebreaking dunk with 1:35 to go. North Carolina missed its last five shots, including a trio of 3-point tries in the final minute.

The Blue Devils’ six-point winning margin matched their largest lead.

Neither team reached 40% shooting but Duke outscored North Carolina 20-2 off fast breaks and was 11 of 15 at the free-throw line to only 2 of 3 for the Tar Heels.

The stat sheet was fairly even at halftime when Duke led 33-32 except for one telling stat, a 16-0 advantage for the Blue Devils on fast-break points as they scored repeatedly off transition.

A 14-5 run erased a seven-point North Carolina lead — the Tar Heels’ largest — and put Duke in front 26-24 with just under four minutes left in the half. A Proctor 3-pointer broke the fourth tie before Bacot cut it to the one-point margin at the break. Bacot had 12 points in the first half. Roach had 10.

The game matched two men who played in this rivalry and are now leading the programs they played for: first-year Duke coach Jon Scheyer and Hubert Davis, in his second year for North Carolina.

The teams will meet again in their regular-season finale at Chapel Hill on March 4. Duke plays at No. 23 Miami on Monday. North Carolina is at Wake Forest on Tuesday.

No. 13 Iowa State rolls past eighth-ranked Kansas 68-53

Reese Strickland-USA TODAY Sports

AMES, Iowa – Jaren Holmes scored all 15 of his points in the second half as No. 13 Iowa State rolled past No. 8 Kansas 68-53 on Saturday.

Osun Osunniyi added 13 for the Cyclones (16-6, 7-3 Big 12), who stayed within at least a game of front-running Texas in the conference standings. Tamin Lipsey added eight rebounds and 10 assists.

“Today, we came out and played desperate,” Holmes said.

Jalen Wilson led the Jayhawks (18-5, 6-4) with 26 points for his sixth straight game with at least 20. No other Kansas player had more than 8 points.

“It’s not a formula for success for us,” Jayhawks coach Bill Self said. “We need balance from our starting five. If one guy feels like he’s got to go do it all on his own, it crashes the offense.”

The Cyclones led for all but 1:14 of the game, building a 34-16 scoring edge in the paint. Kansas struggled early, making just two of their first 10 shots and committing 11 turnovers in the first 20 minutes.

Iowa State shot 46% for the game.

“From the beginning, we gave them some easy buckets,” Wilson said. “That’s something we’ve struggled with (defensively) … the easiest way to get comfortable is easy buckets, layups, stuff like that.”

Iowa State was up 33-21 at the break.

Holmes missed all four shots in the first half, but after getting sick at halftime, he helped the Cyclones stretched the lead to 42-31 early in the second half with a 3-pointer and layup.

“I felt a little nauseous the whole day,” he said. “I’ve been dealing with some sickness over the past week and a half.”


Kansas: The Jayhawks dropped to 3-4 during a stretch in which six of its seven opponents were ranked. The lone unranked foe was Kentucky. … Kansas committed a season-high 20 turnovers Saturday. … The loss to Iowa State was Self’s first in five meetings with second-year Iowa State coach T.J. Otzelberger.

Iowa State: Improved to 12-0 at home this season and 5-0 in the Big 12. It was also the Cyclones’ fifth win over a top-10 opponent in the past two seasons.


Kansas: Hosts No. 10 Texas on Monday.

Iowa State: Travels to West Virginia on Wednesday.

Bishop helps No. 10 Texas rally past No. 7 Kansas State, 69-66

Scott Sewell-USA TODAY Sports

MANHATTAN, Kan. – Christian Bishop was as frustrated as anyone in a Texas jersey in the first half Saturday. He’d been held without a point by Kansas State and, not surprisingly, the No. 10 Longhorns were facing a double-digit deficit on the road.

Maybe that’s why he punctuated every bucket in the second half with a fist pump.

Bishop poured in 14 points after the break to lead the Longhorns’ comeback, including the go-ahead lay-in with 37 seconds to go, and the new Big 12 leaders held on for a 69-66 victory over the No. 7 Wildcats on Saturday.

“Christian’s been working really hard over the last couple of games to get him back to the level he was playing four or five games ago,” interim Texas coach Rodney Terry said. “He really came out and rebounded and gave our team an incredible lift the way he played the second half.”

Red-hot guard Sir’Jabari Rice also had 14 points and 10 rebounds for the Longhorns, and it was his two free throws with nine seconds left that forced the Wildcats into needing a 3-pointer to send the game to overtime.

After a quick timeout, the Wildcats’ Ismael Massoud got an open look from the wing but came up well short of the basket, allowing the Longhorns to hold on for their fifth win over a Top 25 team this season.

Tyrese Hunter and Marcus Carr added 10 points apiece for Texas (19-4, 8-2), which took over sole possession of first place in the rough-and-tumble Big 12 by avenging its overtime loss to the Wildcats (18-5, 6-4) early last month.

“Our league, we don’t have any bad teams,” Terry said. “To come in on a home court against a top-10 team and have this kind of performance, I’ll stack it up with one of the best wins I’ve been part of in 30 years of coaching.”

Keyontae Johnson struggled through foul trouble but still had 16 points to lead the Wildcats, who have lost back-to-back games for the first time this season. Desi Sills scored 11 points and Markquis Nowell had 10, but he also had six turnovers, including one with less than a minute to go and Kansas State down by one.

“I don’t want to wash this one. I want to live with this one for 36 hours,” Wildcats coach Jerome Tang said. “Everybody in our arena did our job except the coaches and players on the floor.”

Kansas State and Texas played one of the most entertaining games of the season in Austin, when they went bucket-for-bucket through regulation and into overtime. The Wildcats eventually escaped with a 116-103 victory.

Early on Saturday, Texas looked as if it would struggle to score half as much.

With the Wildcats clamping down on the perimeter, the Longhorns kept throwing the ball away, and at one point had seven turnovers against just five made shots. They also went a stretch of more than 7 minutes with just one field goal.

Kansas State took advantage of their offensive malaise.

Despite the sure-handed Nowell’s turnover trouble, and leading scorer Johnson picking up his third foul with 5 1/2 minutes left in the half, the Wildcats steadily built a lead. It reached as many as 14 before Texas made three free throws in the final second to get within 36-25 heading to the locker room.

It was the spark the Longhorns needed: They made their first six shots of the second half, and their run spanning the break eventually reached 17-4 while getting them within 40-39 with 15 minutes left in the game.

“There were points in the second half we did get rushed,” Nowell said, “and it led to turnovers and fast-break points.”

Rice’s 3-pointer a few minutes later gave Texas its first lead since the opening minutes. And when the Wildcats went on a nearly 5-minute scoring drought, Bishop began to assert control, the Creighton transfer scoring 11 points over a 6-minute stretch and punctuating each of them with a roar and a fist pump.

Just like their first meeting Jan. 3, though, the rematch Saturday was destined to go down to the wire.

“There’s no blowouts in our league,” Tang said.


Texas could do nothing right in the first half and nothing wrong in the second, shooting 57% from the floor over the final 20 minutes. Most of the success came in the paint; the Longhorns were just 4 of 16 from the 3-point arc.

Kansas State couldn’t overcome 19 turnovers, including six by Nowell, who had 36 points, nine assists and eight rebounds when the teams met in Austin. He had just six rebounds and three assists on Saturday.


Texas heads down Interstate 70 to face eighth-ranked Kansas on Monday night.

Kansas State wraps its homestand against No. 15 TCU on Tuesday night.

James leads No. 2 Tennessee over No. 25 Auburn, 46-43

Caitie McMekin/News Sentinel / USA TODAY NETWORK

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – Josiah-Jordan James scored 15 points and 14 rebounds to lead No. 2 Tennessee to a 46-43 victory over No. 25 Auburn on Saturday in a game in which every point was difficult and nothing flowed.

“Both teams played as hard as they could,” said Tennessee coach Rick Barnes. “Every possession was a grind.”

The Volunteers (19-4, 8-2 Southeastern Conference) shot just 27% from the field and 9.5% from the 3-point line. They were recovering from a Wednesday loss to Florida in which they shot 28%.

Tennessee had a 47-42 edge on the boards and 15-8 on the offensive glass.

“A game like this shows a lot of character,” said James. “I knew coming in (rebounding) was what I’d be called to do. I had to use the body God’s given me.”

“Both teams did a fantastic job,” said Auburn coach Bruce Pearl. “To hold Tennessee to 27% … It doesn’t get any better than that.”

“I don’t think there’s a more physical league in the country,” said Barnes.

The Tigers (17-6, 7-3) were led by Johni Broome with 11 points and nine rebounds and K.D. Johnson off the bench with 10 points. Auburn managed only 24% from the field and 11% from the 3-point line.

Jaylin Williams made two free throws with 2:47 to play cut Tennessee’s lead to 40-38. Santiago Vescovi hit his first 3-pointer of the game and got a four-point play out of it for a 44-38 lead. A 3-pointer by Wendell Green Jr. cut the advantage to 44-41 with 30 seconds left.

A turnover on the inbounds play gave Auburn the ball with 23 seconds to play. Broome got a tip-in to make it a one-point game, and Zakai Zeigler made two free throws.

Green’s last-second 3-point to tie clanked out.

“At the end, Wendell Green got the shot off and got fouled,” said Pearl. “Nothing got called.”

Auburn scored eight straight points to start the game. Tennessee followed with a six-point run and an eight-point spurt early in the second half. Those were the longest runs of the game.


Tennessee was in the No. 2 spot in the poll for two days before falling at Florida. Under Barnes, the Vols now have 25 wins over teams ranked in the Top 25. . Auburn had been clinging to the elite at No. 25 this week. The Tigers have been ranked as high as No. 11, coming in the fifth week of the season.


Since statistics started being kept in 1999-2000, Tennessee is on pace to be the all-time leader in field-goal percentage defense (.348; Stanford, 1999-2000, is second .352) and 3-point defense (.225; Norfolk State, 2004-05, is second .253). . Through 22 games, the similarities between last year’s Vols point guard Kennedy Chandler (now with the Memphis Grizzlies) and this year’s Ziegler are striking (points per game: Chandler 13.5, Ziegler 11.4; rebounds: 3.0, 3.0; assists: 4.95, 5.05).


Auburn: The Tigers will host Texas A&M on Tuesday night.

Tennessee: The Vols will tackle in-state rival Vanderbilt in Nashville on Wednesday.