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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.

Tennessee survives scare from No. 15-seed Colgate

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Tennessee survived a scare from No. 15 seed Colgate as the Volunteers claimed a 77-70 win on Friday afternoon in a South Region NCAA tournament first-round game in Columbus.

The Volunteers led by 12 at the half and by as many as 14 points in the second half before Colgate responded with a furious push to take a 52-50 lead with under 12 minutes left. But Tennessee responded with scoring from a variety of sources to regain the advantage and close out the game.

Admiral Schofield (19 points) buried back-to-back three-pointers when it was a one-possession game to put this game out of reach for Tennessee. Jordan Bone (16 points), Jordan Bowden (14 points) and Lamonte Turner (13 points) also finished in double-figures while All-American Grant Williams (nine points, eight rebounds) had a quiet game.

Playing most of Friday without leading scorer and Patriot League Player of the Year Rapolas Ivanauskas (vision issues; 0 points, 0-for-4 shooting), Colgate (24-11) gave Tennessee a legitimate scare during its first NCAA tournament appearance in 23 years. Conference tournament title-game hero Jordan Burns had another great day shooting from the perimeter as he finished with 32 points on 8-for-13 three-point shooting.

Colgate was 15-for-29 from distance as a team on Friday as treys kept them in the game. Junior forward Will Rayman (10 points) and freshman guard Tucker Richardson (10 points) also finished in double-figures for the Raiders.

Tennessee advances to face No. 10 seed Iowa on Sunday in a second-round matchup in Columbus. The Vols will need to play much better in order to get past Iowa as the Hawkeyes used hot second-half shooting to get past No. 7 seed Cincinnati.

Williams had an off-day and wasn’t putting up his normal production, but it’s a positive sign for Tennessee that its guards all stepped up to contribute double-figures.

NCAA Tournament 2019: Instant Analysis South Region

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The South Region is led by some top seeds who were bounced early in the NCAA tournament last season as Virginia and Tennessee look to redeem themselves after strong seasons.

The South Region is led by No. 1 seed Virginia. Following last season’s stunning loss to No. 16 seed UMBC in the first round, the Cavaliers will get a chance to redeem themselves against No. 16 seed Gardner-Webb, the champions of the Big South.

The No. 8/9 matchup is a matchup between SEC and Big 12 as Ole Miss and Oklahoma battle. The Rebels were one of the most pleasant surprises of any team in the field this season while Oklahoma has won some games down the stretch to earn another bid.

Wisconsin draws the No. 5 seed as the Ethan Happ-led Badgers get a major test in No. 12 seed and Pac-12 Tournament champion Oregon. Although the Ducks struggled during the regular season — particularly after the loss of star freshman Bol Bol — they’re a dangerous team with two recent wins over Washington.

ANALYSIS: East | South | West | Midwest

The No. 4 seed is Kansas State as they are still hoping to get senior forward Dean Wade (foot) healthy enough to play in the NCAA tournament after he missed all of last season’s Elite Eight run for the Wildcats. They’ll face No. 13 seed UC Irvine, the champions of the Big West.

Defending champion Villanova drew no favors from the committee with the No. 6 seed. There hasn’t been a No. 6 seed in the Final Four since 1992 as the Wildcats will have an uphill battle to make the Final Four for the third time in four years. They draw No. 11 seed Saint Mary’s as the Gaels gained a lot of momentum in winning the WCC title over No. 1 seed Gonzaga.

Earning a surprising share of the Big Ten regular-season title this season, Purdue draws the No. 3 seed as they get a tough first-round opponent in No. 14 seed Old Dominion.

The committee also didn’t help No. 7 seed Cincinnati as the Bearcats had an impressive showing in an AAC title-game win over Houston on Sunday. The Bearcats will face No. 10 seed Iowa in a clash of styles and tempo.

After falling short in the SEC tournament title game, No. 2 seed Tennessee gets a matchup with No. 15 seed Colgate — a program making its first NCAA tournament appearance in 23 years. Although the Raiders feature the Patriot League Player of the Year in forward Rapolas Ivanauskas, they’ll face one of the best frontcourts in the tournament with the Vols’ veteran combo of Grant Williams and Admiral Schofield.

Wednesday’s Things to Know: N.C. State ends Clemson’s NCAA hopes; Colgate makes NCAAs for first time in 23 years

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Wednesday was a slower night for Championship Week as only one autobid was decided and a lot of conference tournaments getting into key matchups beginning on Thursday. But the bubble still had some important movement while the night’s only autobid has a fun story to follow for the next week. 

N.C. State stuns Clemson with wild ACC tournament comeback

Two bubble teams collided in the ACC tournament second round on Wednesday afternoon as N.C. State rallied to knock out Clemson. Trailing by 16 at the half, the Wolfpack stormed back to win as the Tigers went over 10 minutes without a field goal in the second half. Markell Johnson hit two free throws with 2.6 seconds left to give N.C. State the win on what some considered a controversial late foul call.

But N.C. State’s comeback is secondary to the impact this game has on the bubble.

With both of these teams clinging for their at-large lives, the Wolfpack extended their season while Clemson is likely going to be left out of the Field of 68. The win for N.C. State is also nice, but they might still have work to do when they get a crack at No. 1 Virginia on Thursday.

CBT’s Rob Dauster has more on both of these teams in the latest edition of Bubble Banter.

Colgate makes first NCAA tournament appearance in 23 years

Wednesday night’s only autobid went to the Patriot League as Colgate outlasted Bucknell to earn its first NCAA tournament appearance since 1996.

Sophomore guard Jordan Burns erupted for a career-high 35 points during a night in which the Raiders’ best player, Rapolas Ivanauskas, was battling foul trouble. Ivanauskas, the Patriot League Player of the Year, finished with 14 points and eight rebounds while junior Will Rayman finished with 18 points and seven rebounds.

While Colgate isn’t projected to be any sort of major threat as a likely No. 15 seed, they have a fun story as a program with minimal success since the mid-’90s. Learn more about the Raiders with our in-depth look here.

TCU, St. John’s survive the bubble (for at least another day)

The only other bubble teams to play outside of the Clemson/N.C. State matchup on Wednesday was TCU in the Big 12 tournament and St. John’s in the Big East tournament.

Holding off Oklahoma State to advance, the Horned Frogs avoided a potentially disastrous loss as Kouat Noi tallied a team-high 20 points in the victory. TCU advances to face No. 1 seed Kansas State in the Big 12 quarterfinals on Thursday, as the Wildcats will likely be without senior forward Dean Wade (foot).

St. John’s finally got the best of DePaul with a win in Madison Square Garden after the Blue Demons swept the regular-season series. Shamorie Ponds, Mustapha Heron and Justin Simon all had 18 points each to pace the Red Storm as Simon also deserves credit for slowing down DePaul star Max Strus (14 points, 4-for-12 shooting). St. John’s could gain more at-large credibility tomorrow with a matchup against Marquette in the Big East quarterfinals.

CBT’s Rob Dauster examines more on St. John’s and TCU’s bubble cases in Bubble Banter.

Introducing Cinderella: Colgate makes NCAA tournament for first time in 23 years

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Colgate is heading to the NCAA tournament for the first time in 23 years after defeating Bucknell for a 94-80 home win. The program’s first NCAA trip since back-to-back appearances in 1995 and 1996, the Raiders will enter the NCAA tournament riding an impressive 11-game winning streak.

On Wednesday night, sophomore Jordan Burns was the hero for Colgate as he finished with a career-high 35 points on a blistering 6-for-9 performance from three-point range. With Patriot League Player of the Year Rapolas Ivanauskas (14 points, eight rebounds) battling foul trouble, Burns and junior forward Will Rayman (18 points, seven rebounds) stepped up to put the game away after Bucknell made an early second-half run.

CONFERENCE: Patriot League

COACH: Matt Langel

RECORD: 24-10, 13-5 in the Patriot League

RATINGS:

  • KENPOM: 133
  • NET: 135

PROJECTED SEED: Colgate projects as a No. 15 seed in our latest NBC Sports bracket. Although the Raiders are riding a recent winning streak, they don’t have great metrics nor any notable wins.

NAMES YOU NEED TO KNOW: Patriot League Player of the Year Rapolas Ivanauskas (16.5 ppg, 7.9 rpg) is a double-double threat who can also extend the floor with 43 percent three-point shooting. The former Northwestern transfer has been a revelation at Colgate as the junior is finally healthy after two years of shoulder issues. Sophomore Jordan Burns (15.1 ppg, 5.8 apg, 3.2 rpg) is another notable threat at lead guard while junior forward Will Rayman (13.0 ppg, 6.5 rpg, 1.5 apg) is the team’s third double-figure scorer.

BIG WINS, BAD LOSSES: Going 0-4 against Q1 and Q2 teams this season, Colgate’s two best wins of the season are home wins over Bucknell. The Raiders lost to Syracuse, Penn State, USF and Pitt — all by double-digits. With three Q4 losses to Boston (228), Loyola-Maryland (280) and Navy (281) the Raiders are also susceptible to some duds against bad teams.

STATS YOU NEED TO KNOW: One of the hotter teams entering the 2019 NCAA tournament, Colgate has won 11 straight games. Three-point shooting will be the key for the Raiders to stay with a top seed as they’re a very good 38.6 percent as a team on the season (19th in the nation). Defensively, Colgate is No. 203 in KenPom adjusted defensive efficiency, so the Raiders will almost assuredly need a hot-shooting night to win in the tournament.

HOW DO I KNOW YOU?: Colgate doesn’t have a lot of men’s basketball notoriety but the program did produce NBA veteran big man Adonal Foyle — as he helped the Raiders to back-to-back NCAA tournament appearances in 1995 and ’96. U.S. Congressman Antonio Delgado (New York’s 19th congressional district) is also a men’s basketball alum of Colgate who played from 1995 through 1999.

FINAL THOUGHT: This is what Championship Week and March Madness is all about. Even though Colgate is likely to get bounced in the opening round, seeing the Raiders make their first NCAA tournament appearance in 23 years is a really fun storyline. And with Ivanauskas, Burns and Rayman all retaining eligibility after this season, this could be a nice building-block for Colgate heading into what could be another great year next season.

VIDEO: Colgate’s Austin Tillotson hits half-court game-winner

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With just one ranked team playing, Sunday’s schedule paled in comparison to what we were treated to Saturday. However, Loyola (MD) and Colgate combined to put forth one of the more thrilling finishes in college basketball this season.

Needing an extra five minutes to determine a winner, Colgate guard Austin Tillotson capped his “Senior Day” with a half-court shot as time expired to give the Raiders a 93-90 overtime win. Tillotson’s shot came just 2.9 seconds after Loyola’s Andre Walker tied the game at 90 with a three-pointer of his own.

Walker initially dribbled past the three-point line before circling back to release the shot that could have forced a second overtime. Tillotson had other ideas however, and his shot keeps Colgate (9-7 Patriot League; tied for 4th) in the running to host a game in next month’s Patriot League tournament.

Video courtesy of Campus Insiders