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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.

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.

Big Ten, Big 12, ACC all ban fans from conference tournaments

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March Madness 2020 continues to change due to coronavirus, as the Big Ten, ACC and Big 12 tournaments banned fans the COVID-19 outbreak.

While fans were allowed into the events for Wednesday night’s games, they will be barred from attending the remaining games in both league’s ongoing conference tournaments. The Pac-12 and SEC all played games on Wednesday night and have not yet provided an update on their status moving forward.

Big East commissioner Val Ackerman told reporters that the plan is for fans to be allowed to attend games moving forward — the arena was open to fans for Wednesday night’s games — but that they will evaluate moving forward, adding that she is waiting for input from the city of New York. A source told NBC Sports that the Atlantic 10 is holding a board of directors meeting on Wednesday night and that a decision on what they will be doing moving forward is expected tonight. The American has not yet started their conference tournament.

The ban begins with Thursday’s games. All three conferences allowed fans at the tournaments when they started. But earlier on Wednesday, the NCAA announced that fans wouldn’t be allowed in the 2020 NCAA tournament. It’s sparked a response from many of the nation’s top conferences in the midst of a chaotic postseason stretch.

For the Big Ten, it’s the start of a larger ongoing initiative that bans fans from all remaining winter and spring Big Ten sporting events.

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Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby confirmed the league’s decision to continue the tournament without fans during a press conference on Wednesday.

“Beginning with tomorrow’s tournament games, we will be implementing limited access, he said. “Teams will have access to 125 tickets. AD’s have decided that tickets will go to guest of student athletes.”

The ACC sent out their release late on Wednesday night.

“All games will be played with only essential tournament personnel, limited school administrators and student-athlete guests, broadcast television and credentialed media members present,” the statement read.

MORE ON THE CORONAVIRUS IMPACT ON MARCH MADNESS

The Ivy League already cancelled its conference tournament completely earlier this week. Teams like Chicago State have also cancelled road trips earlier this month. The Big Ten, ACC and Big 12 are just the latest conferences to make decisions based on public health.

“The main priority of the Big Ten Conference is to ensure the safety of our student-athletes, coaches, administrators, fans and media as we continue to monitor all relevant information on the COVID-19 virus on a daily basis,” the Big Ten said.

March Madness 2020 has certainly been turned upside down by coronavirus. Competing in buildings without fans is a new experience for one of America’s most popular sporting events. March Madness is associated with rowdy fanbases at conference tournaments and NCAA tournament games. That won’t be the case in 2020 with public health becoming a growing concern with coronavirus.

Archie Miller compares bracketology to Sesame Street after Indiana’s loss

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Archie Miller isn’t a fan of bracketology.

The science of predicting the NCAA tournament has gained a massive following. Nearly every site that covers college basketball has a bracketologist. It’s even become a hobby for many who follow the sport.

With Indiana hovering close to the bubble, however, Miller is not pleased at how some perceive his team entering next week’s Big Ten tournament.

Indiana lost a tough home game to Wisconsin on Saturday to drop to 9-11 overall in the Big Ten. Many bracketologists have Indiana safely in the field at this point. But it’s perhaps a little too close for comfort for Miller and Hoosier faithful.

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So Miller took time in his postgame press conference to unload on bracketology. Comparing it to children’s television and Sesame Street, Miller didn’t hold back with his thoughts.

Miller makes some sound points regarding his team. Indiana’s earned plenty of quality wins this season. The Big Ten is the deepest conference in the country. Keep in mind, Miller is also facing external pressure to bring a once-proud program back to national prominence.

But Indiana is below .500 in conference play. The Hoosiers are a mediocre 5-10 in Q1 games. Indiana has quality wins but also a lot of missed opportunities. So while Indiana should be in the Field of 68 next Sunday, there’s also a reason they’re in this position.

 

No. 24 Wisconsin rallies to beat Indiana, clinch share of Big Ten title

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BLOOMINGTON, Ind. — Brad Davison and a bunch of Wisconsin players jumped around as the buzzer sounded Saturday, celebrating the end of a five-year Big Ten title drought.

They just wished assistant coach Howard Moore could have been there with them.

Ten months after an automobile accident killed his wife, Jen, and 9-year-old daughter, Jaidyn, and left him with severe burns, Moore was first and foremost in the team’s thoughts after No. 24 Wisconsin beat Indiana 60-56.

“This whole period, this whole year we’ve been thinking about him,” Davison said. “Not a day goes by that we don’t think about him, and obviously this season was dedicated to him. So to go out like this with a regular-season Big Ten championship is crazy.”

Moore’s 13-year-old son, Jerell, suffered minor injuries in the crash that also killed the wrong-way driver who ran into the family’s vehicle. In July, Howard Moore suffered a heart attack and the players haven’t seen him since last summer.

The Badgers assured themselves at least a share of the Big Ten title. Losses by ninth-ranked Maryland and No. 15 Michigan State on Sunday would give Wisconsin the outright title.

“As soon as I can, I am going to take that trophy over to see Howard and let him rub it, and kiss it, and hold it,” coach Greg Gard said. “I cannot be prouder of these three guys that have been through hell and back in the last nine months that we had to face as a team and personally. They’ve stuck together. They’ve been phenomenal. I do not even have words to describe how good they have been.”

All season, Wisconsin players have worn warmup shirts with “4 Moore” on the back. Gard took note of that after this win.

“How ironic that the final difference is four points?” Gard said.

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The Badgers’ achievement this season included a months-long battle with the NCAA over Micah Potter’s eligibility and an uncharacteristic 5-5 start.

Davison’s tiebreaking 3-pointer with 4:05 left gave Wisconsin the lead for good. The Badgers excelled on the other end of the floor, too, holding Indiana to one basket in the final 10 minutes.

Nate Reuvers finished with 17 points and Potter added 14 points and 11 rebounds. Davison made two free throws with 7.1 seconds to seal the win and had 11 points.

Wisconsin (21-10, 14-6) has won eight straight.

Meanwhile, the Hoosiers (19-12, 9-11) lost for the third in four games — and this was one that got away. Indiana broke a 34-34 second-half tie with a 13-5 run and still appeared to be in control after taking a 51-44 lead at the 6:52 mark.

Instead, the Badgers scored 12 straight, forced 12 straight errant shots and never trailed after Davison’s 3. Devonte Green scored all 16 of his points in the first half to lead the Hoosiers.

“They did a great job of being able to claw and hang, and then I thought their front court really finished us off,” Indiana coach Archie Miller said.

Gard found the closing chapter to be fitting.

“That last seven minutes was kind of a microcosm of what we’ve gone through, to fight uphill and find a way to battle back,” he said. “This has been unbelievable — the guts, the heart, the toughness of this group, how they’ve matured. They didn’t have it in November. They have it in March.”

BIG PICTURE

Wisconsin: The Badgers didn’t follow the traditional script. But they dug down late, found a way to continue their recent dominance in the Indiana series and now head into the conference tournament with momentum and confidence.

Indiana: The Hoosiers may have done enough already to make the NCAA Tournament. But a win over another ranked team might have assured them of a spot in the 68-team field. Instead, Miller must wait a few more days to see if he can record his first 20-win season at Indiana.

STAT PACK

Wisconsin: D’Mitrik Trice missed his first six shots and was shut out in the first half but still managed to finish with four points to become the first junior in school history with 1,000 points, 300 assists and 300 steals. He also had five assists and five rebounds. …Reuvers also had seven rebounds. … Aleem Ford had 12 points.

Indiana: Green got a rare start on senior day and made five of his first eight shots. He finished 6 of 17, going 3 of 8 on 3s. … Race Thompson had seven points and 11 rebounds. … Aljami Durham had nine points and Justin Smith had seven.

UP NEXT

Wisconsin: Will make another trip to Indiana for Friday’s quarterfinal round game in the Big Ten Tournament.

Indiana: Must wait for Sunday’s conference games to finish before determining which team and when they will play in the Big Ten tourney at Indianapolis.

Tuesday’s Things to Know: Tennessee stuns No. 6 Kentucky; Rutgers, Michigan State earn notable Big Ten wins

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Super Tuesday captured much of the nation’s attention as the schedule was light on college basketball action. Plenty of notable results still came through.

Tennessee stunned No. 6 Kentucky with a comeback road win at Rupp Arena. And in the Big Ten, Rutgers might have punched its NCAA tournament ticket with a win over No. 9 Maryland. Meanwhile, No. 16 Michigan State stayed hot with its third straight win over a top-20 team at No. 20 Penn State.

1. Tennessee stuns No. 6 Kentucky with second-half comeback road win

The night’s biggest upset belonged to Tennessee.

The Volunteers used an impressive second-half comeback to beat No. 6 Kentucky, 81-73, at Rupp Arena.

Tennessee was down by as many as 17 points. Trailing by 11 at the half, it looked like the Wildcats were completely in control. Riding an eight-game winning streak entering Tuesday night, Kentucky was a team peaking at just the right time before the postseason began. Now, after another puzzling loss to an unranked team at home this season, we just have additional question marks about how good (and consistent) this Wildcats team might actually be.

John Fulkerson deserves a massive amount of credit for Tennessee’s win. Soundly outplaying Kentucky’s talented group of big men, Fulkerson finished with 27 points and and six rebounds on 10-for-15 shooting. Fulkerson was tough to guard one-on-one and his established presence inside helped Josiah Jordan-James (16 points), Yves Pons (15 points) and Jordan Bowden (11 points) all get going.

Kentucky looked disjointed at times during the second half as they completely derailed after a promising start. Tyrese Maxey had a solid night with 21 points. But Maxey didn’t have a lot of consistent help. Immanuel Quickley (14 points on 4-for-14 shooting) and Nick Richards (12 points) both had issues scoring in the half court. And Kentucky’s bench only accounted for a handful of points as nobody else stepped up.

In the grand scheme of things, this outcome probably doesn’t have many direct implications on the NCAA tournament. Tennessee still has to likely win the SEC tournament to even sniff the NCAA tournament. And Kentucky was always going to have a difficult time catching up to the current projected No. 1 seeds — barring an unforeseen collapse.

The biggest takeaway here is that Kentucky is still capable of mental lapses against mediocre teams that can cost them games.

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2. Rutgers earns its biggest win of the season over No. 9 Maryland

The Scarlet Knights might be dancing for the first time since 1991.

Rutgers earned its biggest win of the season with a decisive 78-67 win over No. 9 Maryland. A No. 11 seed in CBT’s latest Bracketology, Rutgers was stuck in last-four-byes status before Tuesday night’s win. Losing four of five entering Tuesday, Steve Pikell’s club needed to stop its recent freefall. But with another high-quality Q1 home win, the Scarlet Knights should breath a little easier entering the home stretch.

Jacob Young (17 points), Montez Mathis (15 points) and Geo Baker (11 points) led a balanced effort for Rutgers. Shooting an efficient 7-for-16 from three-point range, the Scarlet Knights limited themselves to seven turnovers on offense.

Maryland’s cold shooting also didn’t hurt. The Terps couldn’t buy a bucket from deep, going 6-for-32 from the floor. Besides for Anthony Cowan Jr. (19 points) and a late solid stretch from Jalen Smith (16 points), Maryland’s offense had a mediocre evening.

Now that Rutgers has secured this victory, its Big Ten finale against Purdue this weekend won’t be a dreaded must-win bubble-versus-bubble game. And with Purdue winning at Iowa on Tuesday night, the Boilermakers should enter that game with plenty of confidence. Obviously, the Scarlet Knights would like to win that one and keep momentum going into the Big Ten Tournament. But now that doesn’t feel like a must-win for Rutgers as much as it did before.

But the Rutgers court storm on Tuesday was well-deserved for its long-suffering fanbase. This is a season that fans of that program have waited decades for.

CBT Bracketology

3. No. 16 Michigan State rallies to get past No. 20 Penn State

Izzo in March…

Michigan State continued its late-season surge with an impressive comeback road win over Penn State. Trailing by 15 at the half, the Spartans scored as many points the first 10 minutes of the second half (31) as they had in the entire first half. With Maryland’s loss to Rutgers, Michigan State is now tied with the Terps for the Big Ten conference lead with both teams at 13-6.

Xavier Tillman Sr. put together a monster double-double of 23 points and 15 rebounds. Senior point guard Cassius Winston chipped in an efficient 14 points and seven assists. Perhaps most importantly, Michigan State’s defense showed up in the second half.

After Penn State blitzed the Spartans in the first half with 10 three-pointers, Michigan State didn’t allow a triple during the second half.

Michigan State now has four straight wins with three straight victories coming against top-20 teams. The last two of those wins came on the road.

Although Michigan State was sluggish at times during the season after being ranked No. 1 this preseason, this is currently one of the most dangerous teams in college basketball. The Spartans will get yet another ranked matchup in their regular-season finale when they host Ohio State this weekend.