Scott Phillips

Joshua Christopher stuns recruiting world by picking Arizona State over Michigan

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Joshua Christopher stunned the college basketball recruiting world Monday night.

The five-star Class of 2020 shooting guard committed to Arizona State over Michigan with a late-night announcement.

Many in college basketball assumed the 6-foot-5 Christopher was heading to Ann Arbor. The 247 Sports Crystal Ball had Michigan as the 91 percent favorite among 11 recruiting analysts. But Christopher did the (practically) unthinkable and pledged to the Sun Devils.

According to Eli Boettger, Christopher represents the biggest recruiting flip of a top-10 recruit since 247 Sports started its Crystal Ball recruiting predictor. For reference, Andrew Wiggins, from the Class of 2013, is on that list. So the California native staying out west and playing in the Pac-12 is one of the biggest recruiting surprises of the last decade.

With Christopher, Arizona State adds one of the most complete scorers in the 2020 class. Not many freshmen are three-level scorers physically mature enough to thrive right away. At 215 pounds, armed with an array of scoring moves, Christopher checks some notable boxes. The No. 11 overall prospect in the Class 2020, Christopher should make an impact right away.

The addition of Joshua Christopher makes the Sun Devils an intriguing potential preseason top-25 team. Romello White and Remy Martin are both testing the 2020 NBA draft waters. But if both (or even one) returns, Arizona State has a fleet of dangerous weapons at its disposal.

Alonzo Verge, Kimani Lawrence and Taeshon Cherry are a talented core expected to return. The addition of Christopher means another likely double-figure scorer. He helps offset the loss of Rob Edwards. Getting Martin and/or White back would just be the icing on the cake. Head coach Bobby Hurley would be running back mostly the same roster as last season. Except a potential one-and-done prospect is replacing Edwards in the lineup.

That’s the type of team who could make serious noise in the Pac-12. Between the addition of five-star wing Ziare Williams to Stanford and Christopher’s commitment to Arizona State, it’s been a huge week for the Pac-12.

College basketball’s best available transfers

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College basketball’s best available transfers have plenty to offer.

Among the group left there is scoring, size and proven production. Some players are going to higher levels after thriving at mid-major schools. There’s also a chance for a fresh start for talented players who couldn’t figure things out at their first stop.

Here’s a look at the college basketball’s best transfers.

Landers Nolley II, Virginia Tech

Bursting on the ACC scene this season, Nolley provided instant scoring pop for the Hokies. Nolley dropped 30 in his first college game against Clemson. From there, the wing proved himself to be a reliable high-major scorer. The redshirt freshman tapered off at the end of the season. He ended up at 15.5 points, 5.8 rebounds and 2.4 assists a game. But he’s a weapon as a scorer that any team would love to add. Nolley recently named his top 11 schools. Alabama, Georgetown, Maryland, Memphis, N.C. State, Ole Miss, Oregon, Seton Hall, TCU, Texas Tech, UConn all made the cut.

D.J. Carton, Ohio State

This promising former high-end four-star prospect left the Buckeyes mid-season. The explosive left-hander was off to a strong start. Carton put up 10.4 points, 3.0 assists and 2.8 rebounds per game. Then the freshman left the team for mental health reasons. Removing himself from the team late January, Carton never returned to basketball. Now, he’s one of the best available transfers. Shooting 40 percent from three-point range, Carton can get to the rack or knock down shots. High-major programs from all over have checked in on Carton. The Iowa native has plenty of options.

Johnny Juzang, Kentucky

After reclassifying to join the Wildcats a year early last May, Juzang is already exiting for another program. The freshman is a former high-end four-star prospect. The 6-foot-6 Juzang brings size and shooting to his next destination. Although he never properly cracked Kentucky’s lineup, Juzang worked his way into a respectable role. The freshman averaged 12.3 minutes per contest and 2.9 points and 1.9 rebounds per game. Arizona, Notre Dame, Oregon, Texas Tech, UCLA and Villanova are among Juzang’s top six. It’s not often that a Kentucky player is one of college basketball’s best transfers.

Jamarius Burton, Wichita State

The sophomore put together a strong all-around season for the Shockers. Burton put up 10.3 points, 3.5 rebounds and 3.4 assists per game while shooting a respectable 38 percent from three-point range. The versatile perimeter threat can play multiple spots and often bullies his opponents with physicality. Burton became one of Wichita State’s go-to players by the end of the season. Burton is down to Marquette, Seton Hall, Texas Tech and Xavier.

Trey Wertz, Santa Clara

Wertz doesn’t have a lot of notoriety. But 58 coaches contacted Wertz’s family the first seven hours he was in the transfer portal. The sophomore is one of the hottest names in recruiting. According to a report from the Charlotte Observer, Wertz is down to Arizona, Butler, North Carolina, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Oklahoma and Virginia. For two seasons, Wertz consistently put up strong numbers for the Broncos. A tall guard at 6-foot-4, Wertz put up numbers across the board. He’s a double-figure scorer (11.9 ppg) who also distributes (3.9 apg) and helps on the glass (3.5 rpg). This season saw Wertz improve to a 40 percent three-point shooter.

Luther Muhammad, Ohio State

Starting 56 games for the Buckeyes the past two seasons, Muhammad is one of the more experienced transfers. The two-way guard is a tough perimeter defender capable of locking down opposing guards. Muhammad can also go on scoring flurries if he gets hot from the perimeter. Consistency has been the issue. Take Ohio State’s games against Maryland this season as an example. In a win, Muhammad poured in 22 points and hit four three-pointers. In a loss, the sophomore went scoreless in 24 minutes. Sometimes, it’s hard to guess which version of Muhammad will show up. Muhammad is down eight schools. Alabama, Arizona State, Auburn, Georgia, New Mexico, Seton Hall, UCLA and West Virginia are involved.

Holland Woods, Portland State

This first-team all-Big Sky performer is highly productive. The 6-foot-1 point guard averaged 30-plus minutes in all three seasons with the Vikings. Woods did plenty when he was on the floor. Averaging 17.7 points and 5.2 assists per game as a junior, Woods is a dynamic threat with the ball in his hands. Perimeter shooting is the big problem. Woods has never been over 30 percent in his career. But with over 1,300 points and 500 assists in his college career, Woods should be able to come in and help right away. Woods could return to Portland State but he’s also considering Arizona State, Gonzaga, Oregon State and New Mexico State.

Cam Mack, Nebraska

In his only season at Nebraska, the 6-foot-2 guard showed his all-around ability. Mack put up 12.0 points, 6.4 assists and 4.5 rebounds per game. He has the only triple-double in Cornhuskers history — which came in a win over Purdue. Off-the-court issues are why Mack finds himself lower on this list. Nebraska suspended the sophomore multiple times during the season. Mack also put his name in the 2020 NBA draft process — but he’s maintaining his college eligibility. If Mack ends up staying in college, he’s talented enough to be a major force.

David DeJulius, Michigan

DeJulius entered the transfer portal just days ago after a promising sophomore campaign. The Wolverines relied on DeJulius as a key reserve guard who averaged 7.0 points and 1.5 assists per game in 20 minutes a contest. It was expected DeJulius would compete for a starting spot with the departure of Zavier Simpson. That won’t be the case now. It could be that DeJulius wants a chance to be a starter elsewhere. He’s a capable shooter who can put up points at the highest level. Even if DeJulius doesn’t improve at running an offense, he should help someone looking for perimeter pop and experience.

Joshua Morgan, Long Beach State

Morgan is the ultimate upside play among the best available transfers. The 6-foot-11 center was the Big West’s Defensive Player of the Year as a freshman. After putting up modest numbers in high school, Morgan added 18 pounds and showed he could compete with the big boys. Morgan averaged 8.4 points, 6.1 rebounds and 2.5 blocks per game. Ranking 13th in the nation in blocks, Morgan’s defensive presence at the rim is unique among available transfers. And with three years of eligibility left, there’s a lot of time to tap in Morgan’s upside. Morgan scored in double-figures against Arizona, UCLA, USC last season. Now, all three of those schools are among the many high-majors in pursuit.

Creighton lands Duke transfer Alex O’Connell

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Creighton got a commitment from Duke transfer Alex O’Connell on Wednesday.

The junior guard announced his decision on Twitter. O’Connell spent the past three seasons as a role player with the Blue Devils. The former top-75 consensus recruit might finally have a chance to earn consistent minutes. This will be a fresh start for O’Connell in the Big East.

O’Connell received, at most, 14 minutes per game at Duke. That came as a sophomore. O’Connell never cracked the main Duke lineup because talented freshmen often took opening spots. This past season, O’Connell lost confidence as a perimeter shooter. The 6-foot-6 wing put up 5.5 points and 2.2 rebounds per contest in 13.3 minutes of action per game. But O’Connell’s shooting numbers dipped. He was only at 40 percent from the floor and 27 percent from three-point range. That’s a huge drop from the 48 percent he shot from three as a freshman.

With Creighton, O’Connell gets a new opportunity. And his addition to the Bluejays could be an interesting fit. In head coach Greg McDermott’s offense, O’Connell could see a lot of open perimeter looks. Creighton often has a number of floor-spacing options on the floor. That should enable O’Connell to step in and play his part right away. If O’Connell can find his confidence again, he’s another dangerous weapon to space the floor with.

Although O’Connell never got going with Duke, he has a chance to finish his college career on a high note. And with Creighton coming off a Big East title, Alex O’Connell could be a strong fit as they try to stay among the league’s top teams.

Maryland’s Jalen Smith declares for NBA draft

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Jalen Smith is leaving Maryland for the 2020 NBA Draft.

The sophomore forward known as “Stix” announced his decision on Tuesday.

Over the last month of the season, not many players in college basketball were more productive than the 6-foot-10 sophomore. Smith put up 15.5 points, 10.5 rebounds and 2.4 block per game. Shooting 53 percent from the field and 36 percent from three-point range, Smith was efficient as well. With 60 blocks and 30 made threes this season, Smith was the only player in college hoops with that distinction.

Somehow, in Big Ten conference play, Smith accumulated even better overall numbers. In the deepest and toughest league in the country, Smith averaged 16.8 points, 11.0 rebounds and 2.4 blocks per game in Big Ten contests. Smith’s field goal percentages also increased to 56 percent from the field and 41 percent from three-point range. It’s a big reason why Maryland was one of the Big Ten’s regular season champions.

The Big Ten production Smith showcased is exactly the reason many peg him as a first-round pick. Smith is the coveted prospect who can erase shots at the rim while also being skilled enough to stretch the floor from three. It’s also a strong sign that Smith increased his production as a sophomore. Freshman season, Smith was a solid contributor for Maryland. The team also had veteran big man Bruno Fernando as the team’s go-to option in the post. But with Fernando gone this season, Smith stepped up his production and became a force.

Currently projected as the No. 19 overall pick in the first round of CBT’s latest 2020 NBA mock draft, Jalen Smith could work his way into the lottery with a strong pre-draft process. Not many players in the draft can erase shots and shoot threes and Smith also has a proven track record of being successful for two college seasons.

College basketball’s top available graduate transfers

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Graduate transfers are a huge part of college basketball recruiting.

Grabbing a college-ready player who can come in and be productive right away is a common practice for some teams. And with recruiting getting hectic this offseason thanks to the COVID-19 outbreak, graduate transfers look like an even safer option since college coaches can easily watch last season’s game film as other recruits can’t visit campus.

Here’s a look at the top ten available graduate transfers left this offseason. All ten of these players should be able to come in and contribute right away next season.

Matt Haarms, Purdue

The 7-foot-3 center surprised many with his decision to transfer. Haarms became one of the most coveted graduate transfers in college hoops. The main reason? The past three years, Haarms averaged at least two blocks per game. He’s a two-year starter in the middle for a successful Big Ten program. Finding immediate help with rim protection isn’t common on the graduate transfer market. Particularly from a big man who also averaged around nine points per game and shot above 52 percent the past two seasons. Over 20 schools have already reached out to Haarms since he entered the transfer portal. It’ll be fascinating to see Haarms in a new situation.

Bryce Aiken, Harvard

Aiken will close out his injury-plagued career at the highest level. This comes after a successful stint at Harvard where Aiken was a two-time first-team All-Ivy selection. As a junior last season, Aiken put up 22.2 points, 2.9 rebounds and 2.6 assists per game. This season, Aiken missed all but seven games due to a foot injury. Health will be a factor for Aiken. Across the past three college seasons he’s only played 39 total games. But Aiken’s a former consensus top-100 recruit and a dynamic playmaker at lead guard. He should be able to step in and become an impact player right away. Aiken has been linked to Iowa State, Maryland, Michigan and Seton Hall.

Justin Turner, Bowling Green

A two-time first-team All-MAC selection, Turner is the best pure scorer among graduate transfers. Turner put up 18.8 points, 4.6 rebounds and 2.5 assists per game last season. He’s a 36 percent three-point shooter who can create shots on his own. The 6-foot-4 guard should be able to handle high-major competition right away. Turner had a 26-point outburst on LSU early in the season. Iowa State, Marquette and Missouri are the three schools left on Turner’s list. Returning to Bowling Green is also an option.

Jordan Bruner, Yale

Bruner is down to Alabama, Baylor and Maryland. The 6-foot-9 big man was a double-double threat every game the past two seasons. Bruner made first-team All-Ivy status by putting up 10.9 points and 9.2 rebounds per game this season. The junior had an impressive three-game double-double stretch mid-season against UMass, Clemson and North Carolina. Bruner also shows intriguing skill at 32 percent from three-point range and 3.8 assists per game.

Jalen Tate, Northern Kentucky

The 6-foot-6 Tate is the premier two-way wing left among grad transfers. He’s reigning Horizon League Defensive Player of the Year. Tate improved on offense enough the past two seasons to also become a consistent double-figure scoring threat. Tate put up 13.9 points, 5.4 rebounds and 3.6 assists per game last season. High-majors have shown interest in Tate, including Arkansas, Cincinnati (where former coach John Brennan is now head coach), Penn State, Virginia Tech and Wichita State.

NEW YORK, NEW YORK – MARCH 14: Davion Mintz #1 of the Creighton Bluejays is defended by Kyle Castlin #2 of the Xavier Musketeers in the second half during the Quarterfinals of the 2019 Big East men’s basketball tournament at Madison Square Garden on March 14, 2019 in New York City. (Photo by Steven Ryan/Getty Images)

Davion Mintz, Creighton

Mintz sat out this past season with injury. He likely fell out of the starting picture following breakthrough Creighton’s Big East title season. Starting 79 games his first three seasons, Mintz is a consistent backcourt rotation piece at the high-major level. As a junior, the 6-foot-3 Mintz averaged 9.7 points, 3.0 assists and 3.0 rebounds per game. Mintz only announced his transfer four days ago, so a recruiting list hasn’t become available yet. Expect Mintz to hear from a large number of suitors.

Amauri Hardy, UNLV

Consistent scoring is what the 6-foot-2 Hardy brings to the table. A double-figure bucket-getter for the Runnin’ Rebels the past two seasons, Hardy can fill it up. As a junior, Hardy scored 14.5 points and dished out 3.3 assists per game as a third-team all-league selection. Hardy can play both backcourt spots and that’s part of his appeal. But Hardy could seek a situation where he plays with the ball in his hands. Hardy maintains a large list of high-major suitors at this point in the process as he hasn’t cut a list.

Mike Smith, Columbia

Leading the Ivy League in scoring last season, Smith is one of the top microwave scoring graduate transfers. Smith put up 22.8 points, 4.5 assists and 4.1 rebounds last season for the Lions. Smith had to do it all on a very bad team. That didn’t slow him down from big games against tough competition. Smith tallied double-figures against Wake Forest, Virginia and St. John’s in non-conference play. He averaged 36 points per game in two contests against Harvard and dropped 37 on Yale the final time he played them. Smith will struggle to adapt defensively thanks to his generously-listed 5-foot-11 size. But he’s capable of putting up points or running an offense. Michigan, Northwestern and Seton Hall remain seriously involved.

Rapolas Ivanauskas, Colgate

This former Patriot League Player of the Year is a hot recent name to enter the transfer portal. Ivanauskas just entered a few days ago. According to Brian Snow of 247 Sports, Cincinnati, Dayton, Georgetown and Maryland have all reached out. A former Northwestern recruit who thrived at Colgate, the 6-foot-10 Ivanauskas put up 13.1 points and 7.6 rebounds per game. Ivanauskas shot 43 percent from three-point range two seasons ago and brings a solid perimeter-shooting element to his game.

Charles Minlend, San Francisco

A known scorer, Minlend leaves the Dons after leading the team in points this past season. Averaging 14.4 points and 4.7 rebounds per game, the 6-foot-4 Minlend can do tons of damage off the dribble. Minlend scored in double-figures in all three games against Gonzaga last season (twice scoring 20-plus) while also going for double-figures in all three games against Pac-12 competition. Minlend has a long list of high-major schools in pursuit.

Duke’s Cassius Stanley enters 2020 NBA Draft

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Cassius Stanley is entering the 2020 NBA Draft after an explosive freshman season at Duke.

Stanley officially announced his decision to turn pro on Tuesday. Although Stanley wasn’t the most highly-touted among the star-studded Blue Devil freshman class, he made perhaps the biggest splash among the group.

Other five-star talents like Vernon Carey Jr. and Matthew Hurt were expected to be major contributors for Duke this season. Stanley’s consistent scoring proved he was better than the high-end four-star rating he had coming out of high school.

The 6-foot-6 wing had some of the most explosive dunks in college basketball this season. For the season, Stanley averaged 12.6 points and 4.9 rebounds per game. Stanley also proved himself a capable shooter at 47 percent from the floor and 36 percent shooting from distance.

A potential first-round pick because of his athleticism and size, Stanley will be fascinating to track during the draft process. CBT’s Rob Dauster currently has Stanley as the No. 31 overall pick in the first round of the latest NBC Sports 2020 NBA mock draft. If Stanley can prove that his shooting wasn’t a fluke then he could rise up draft boards. But Cassius Stanley also hasn’t proven himself as a standout defender or capable of shooting off the dribble — two areas he’ll need to address.

Duke has already lost sophomore point guard Tre Jones to the 2020 NBA Draft. The Blue Devils are expected to lose a handful of other freshmen as Carey Jr. and Hurt are both expected to at least test the waters of the draft process.