Winners and losers of college basketball's transfer season

ByJeff Borzello ESPN logo
Thursday, July 16, 2020

The transfer market heated up a couple of weeks earlier than usual this spring due to the coronavirus-shortened season, and it slowed down a bit earlier, too. There are still a handful of notable transfers in the portal, and there will always be late additions during the summer, but for the most part, the dust has settled on the 2019-20 transfer season after more than 1,000 names entered the portal. Several teams quickly rebuilt their rosters, while others saw a slew of unforeseen departures.

Who were the winners and losers during the past few months of transfers?


Texas Tech: Chris Beard has landed key transfers in each of the past two years, but he might have had his best group yet this spring. He received commitments from Mac McClung (Georgetown) and Marcus Santos-Silva (VCU), both of whom are hoping to be eligible to play immediately, and also picked up Wichita State transfer Jamarius Burton as a sit-out option. Santos-Silva graduated from VCU earlier this month, so he should be good to go immediately, while McClung is hoping for a waiver. Both McClung and Santos-Silva would be two of the top 10 immediately eligible transfers and would likely start right away for the Red Raiders.

Arkansas: Eric Musselman rebuilt Nevada almost exclusively through transfers, and while the high school talent level at Arkansas is going to be higher, he's still relying heavily on the portal to get the Razorbacks back to the NCAA tournament. This spring, Arkansas landed three graduate transfers, all of whom will battle for a strong job right off the bat. Jalen Tate (Northern Kentucky) has great size and versatility and will replace Jimmy Whitt as the big playmaker on the perimeter. Justin Smith (Indiana) started 32 games last season for the Hoosiers, while well-traveled scorer Vance Jackson adds size and shooting to the perimeter.

Minnesota: If things go right in terms of waivers, the Golden Gophers could ignite their NCAA tournament hopes via the transfer market. The only one of the three incoming transfers guaranteed to play immediately is Western Michigan grad transfer Brandon Johnson, and he's coming off a breakout season where he averaged 15.4 points and 8.1 rebounds. Richard Pitino also landed two players who might have to sit out: 7-footer Liam Robbins (Drake) and versatile 6-foot-6 guard Both Gach (Utah). Both would start immediately if eligible.

Kentucky: After losing nearly everyone from last season's rotation, John Calipari will welcome in his usual highly ranked recruiting class -- but he also dipped into the transfer pool. Former Creighton point guard Davion Mintz will provide experience and depth in the backcourt, while Wake Forest transfer Olivier Sarr could be the difference between a preseason top-20 team and a preseason top-five team. The All-ACC big man was arguably the best transfer on the market this spring and is hoping for a waiver to play right away. Jacob Toppin, Obi's brother, will sit out next season after transferring from Rhode Island.

Gonzaga: Mark Few has the likely preseason No. 1 team in the country and the favorite to win the national championship, assuming his three NBA early entries return to Spokane. But the Bulldogs went into the spring needing backcourt depth and insurance for this season and an elite point guard to take the court with what could be a great 2021 recruiting class. The Zags got both. Aaron Cook (Southern Illinois) solved the first issue as a grad transfer, and then Few landed Florida transfer Andrew Nembhard, one of the best sit-out transfers all spring. Nembhard will be a key piece in 2021-22.

Louisville: The Cardinals struck early in transfer season but landed the best graduate transfer all spring in Radford guard Carlik Jones. Jones was the Big South Player of the Year last season and will be expected to start in the backcourt alongside David Johnson next season in Louisville. Chris Mack also went out and landed another impact perimeter piece in All-WCC guard Charles Minlend, who finished the season on a tear and provides strength and toughness in the backcourt.

Memphis: Penny Hardaway isn't bringing in the No. 1 recruiting class in the country next season, but the Tigers could go from a borderline NCAA tournament team to a preseason top-20 group ifLanders Nolley(Virginia Tech) and DeAndre Williams (Evansville) get waivers. Nolley was one of the best transfers all spring after averaging 15.5 points in the ACC, while Williams is a versatile, talented forward who had some huge games in nonconference. Both players would be immediate starters.

USC: Andy Enfield hit the transfer market hard this spring, landing five players, three of whom will be eligible right away next season. The three graduate transfers are Isaiah White (Utah Valley), Chevez Goodwin (Wofford) and Tahj Eaddy (Santa Clara). White and Goodwin will help the Mobley brothers in the frontcourt, while Eaddy will hope to regain his sophomore-year form when he averaged 15.0 points. The Trojans also landed Big West Defensive Player of the Year Joshua Morgan, a 6-foot-11 center from Long Beach State who still has three years to play, and Rice transfer Drew Peterson.

Oregon: Dana Altman always seems to have something up his sleeve in the spring and summer, and this year was no different. The Ducks landed playmaking guard Amauri Hardy from UNLV and are also hoping for a waiver for St. John's transfer LJ Figueroa, one of the most underrated scorers in the country. Former St. Peter's guard Aaron Estrada is one to watch in 2021-22.

Ole Miss: The Rebels losing double-figure scorer Blake Hinson in June puts a damper on the spring, but Kermit Davis landed two of the best graduate transfers in former Arizona State big man Romello White and first-team All-MAAC wing Dimencio Vaughn from Rider. Both players should slot into the starting lineup right away. White is a double-double machine, while Vaughn is versatile and can make shots from the perimeter. Robert Allen (Samford) will sit out next season.

Nebraska: Fred Hoiberg is no stranger to the transfer market, and he went out and landed a couple more pieces this spring. Former Western Illinois guard Kobe Webster is a graduate transfer and will bring his 17.1 points and 3.6 assists right away, while Pittsburgh transfer Trey McGowens will have to sit out but was a double-figure scorer as a sophomore. They also picked up Division II transfer Trevor Lakes, one of the best 3-point shooters in the country. It would have been an even better spring had Wisconsin transfer Kobe King not left the program last month for personal reasons.

Rhode Island: Dave Cox lost Tyrese Martin to UConn but bounced back with a number of potential impact players. Jalen Carey (Syracuse), Makhi Mitchell (Maryland) and Makhel Mitchell (Maryland) all had varying levels of hype coming out of high school but failed to live up to it at their previous stops. Charlotte transfer Malik Martin and Towson transfer Allen Betrand are two sit-out transfers who were productive last season.

BYU: It was a good spring for Mark Pope, despite bidding farewell to three senior starters. The Cougars beat out the likes of Kentucky and Texas Tech for 7-foot-3 Purdue big man Matt Haarms, one of the best graduate transfers all spring. They then finished strong by landing Brandon Averette from Utah Valley, where he averaged 12.8 points last season.

Bowling Green: Michael Huger didn't land anyone spectacular on the market, but he was able to keep Justin Turner after the first-team All-MAC guard entered his name into the portal. Turner seemed like a sure thing to leave but ultimately decided to stay with the Falcons rather than go to Missouri, Marquette or Iowa State. It's a huge coup for Huger, and Bowling Green will once again compete for a MAC title.

Marquette: After being on the losing end of the transfer market last season when the Hauser brothers departed, Steve Wojciechowski went out and made a splash. The headliner is D.J. Carton, a former top-50 recruit who played a key role at Ohio State before taking a leave of absence with a month left in the season. Carton received a waiver to play immediately. The Golden Eagles also landed Gardner-Webb transfer Jose Perez, a big, productive guard.

Michigan: Not getting Purdue transfer Nojel Eastern into school was a hit for the Wolverines' depth, but Juwan Howard still added two veteran guards in Mike Smith (Columbia) and Chaundee Brown (Wake Forest). Smith averaged 22.8 points and 4.5 assists and should start right away, while Brown was a productive wing in the ACC and could apply for a waiver to play right away.

DePaul:There were several ins and outs for Dave Leitao this spring, but he completely transformed his starting lineup and rotation and improved the Blue Demons' chances of being competitive in the Big East. Three graduate transfers are entering the fold: Fort Wayne's Brian Patrick (11.1 PPG), Monmouth's Ray Salnave (14.5 PPG) and Manhattan's Pauly Paulicap (10.4 PPG). But the most promising of the newcomers is All-Missouri Valley guard Javon Freeman-Liberty (19.0 PPG), who is expected to apply for a waiver to play immediately.


Wichita State: The most notable mass exodus this spring came at Wichita State, where six players departed in a fairly short span. A seventh, Morris Udeze, opted to return to the Shockers after initially exploring a transfer. Gregg Marshall saw double-figure scorers Erik Stevenson (Washington) and Jamarius Burton (Texas Tech) leave, while impact reserve Grant Sherfield headed west to Nevada. Noah Fernandes, DeAntoni Gordon and Asbjorn Midtgaard rounded out the departures. On the plus side, Wichita State brought in UConn grad transfer Alterique Gilbert.

Georgetown: The Hoyas' transfers were spread out over the course of six months, but it severely hampers Patrick Ewing's roster moving forward. James Akinjo, the Big East Freshman of the Year in 2019, left after seven games. Josh LeBlanc, Galen Alexander and Myron Gardner all followed shortly after. Then Mac McClung, who averaged 15.7 points, left in May after testing the NBA draft waters. McClung ended up at Texas Tech, and now Ewing no longer has either half of what was supposed to be his backcourt of the future in Akinjo and McClung.

Stony Brook: It was a brutal spring for Geno Ford, who saw his three best players leave the program. Elijah Olaniyi, a first-team all-league guard who averaged 18.0 points, went to Miami; second-team all-league guard Andrew Garcia committed to Georgia; and prolific outside shooter Makale Foreman went to California. That doesn't include Jeff Otchere, an elite shot-blocker, who ended up at UTRGV.

Kansas State: It hasn't been a great first half of 2020 for Bruce Weber. The Wildcats went 3-15 in Big 12 play, lost two starters to graduation, then saw six players exit due to transfer. The biggest name of the bunch is Cartier Diarra, who has been a key piece for Kansas State the past few years but will play at Virginia Tech for his final season.

Wake Forest: The Demon Deacons were busy on the transfer market, both with incomings and outgoings -- mostly because of the coaching change that saw Steve Forbes replace Danny Manning in Winston-Salem. On the balance, though, the personnel took a slight hit. Double-figure scorer Chaundee Brown (Michigan) and All-ACC big man Olivier Sarr (Kentucky) were among the departures, followed by reserves Sharone Wright and Michael Wynn. Three grads entered the fold in Ian DuBose (Houston Baptist), Jonah Antonio (UNLV) and Jalen Johnson (Tennessee), while Daivien Williamson (East Tennessee State) and Isaiah Wilkins (Virginia Tech) will sit out.

Purdue: Matt Painter isn't a huge fan of transfers, and he made that pretty clear earlier this spring -- shortly after Matt Haarms and Nojel Eastern left the Boilermakers. Haarms ended up at BYU, while Eastern is back on the market after originally committing to Michigan. Both players were very inconsistent during their time in West Lafayette, but that's a lot of starts heading out the door.

UNLV: TJ Otzelberger is looking to put his stamp on the program entering Year 2, so it's not a surprise there was some attrition. But the losses of Amauri Hardy (Oregon), Jonah Antonio (Wake Forest) and Donnie Tillman (New Mexico State) are notable nonetheless.

Ivy League: It happens every spring, but the Ivy League was crushed by graduate transfers this year -- and it wasn't a surprise. The league doesn't allow players who redshirt to spend a fifth year at an Ivy League school, meaning players are forced to go elsewhere for their final season if they ever missed a season because of injury. That's how Seth Towns (Ohio State), Bryce Aiken (Seton Hall), Jordan Bruner (Alabama), Mike Smith (Michigan), Patrick Tape (Duke) and Ryan Betley (California) ended up leaving the league in the span of a couple of months.

Pittsburgh: The Panthers have made strides in Jeff Capel's two years at the helm, but they are losing two starters earlier than expected -- or Capel could have had all five starters returning from last season. Ryan Murphy took his shooting ability to Tulane, while Trey McGowens left after two seasons for Nebraska. Miami (Ohio) transfer Nike Sibande should make an impact for Pitt when eligible, though.