The transfer portal’s top pioneer, Eric Mussleman, continues to overhaul his roster with transfers. Multiple Razorbacks join the list of Southeastern conference players that appear to be positioned for notable roles next season.
1.) Walker Kessler, 7’1 245, C, Auburn
North Carolina 2020-21 stats 4.4 PPG, 3.2 RPG
After being a heralded recruit in the 2020 class, Kessler didn’t get featured much in Chapel Hill. Sitting behind Garrison Brooks, Day’Ron Sharpe, and Armando Bacot led many to forget the top player in the 2020-21 class. Following the transfer to Auburn, the skilled 7-footer brings a different post-play dynamic that’ll make the defense respect the inside play on a three-point heavy Tigers team. Bruce Pearl’s team fell off the radar off the heels of a self-imposed postseason ban, but expectations are lofty in 2021-22.
2.) Kellan Grady 6’5 205, SG, Kentucky
Davidson 2020-21 stats: 17.1 PPG, 4.6 RPG, 2.4 APG
Nobody incoming SEC player accomplished more than Grady did during his Davidson career, eclipsing over 2,000 points while taking Davidson dancing in 2017-18. Grady brings a few elements Kentucky’s been yearning for — an experienced player that can take over shooting-wise. In last year’s catastrophe of a season, two significant problems were the team’s youth and lack of shooting. Last year will be a one-off poor season for the Wildcats, adding Grady reaffirms the Wildcats return to championship-caliber hoops.
3.) Justin Powell, 6’6 200, G, Tennessee
Auburn 2020-21 stats: 10.1 PPG, 6.1 RPG, 4.7 APG
In the early days of the 2020-21 season, attention came in regarding Sharife Cooper’s lack of eligibility early on, which forced Auburn’s hand on self-imposing a postseason ban. Despite Cooper not being eligible early on, fellow freshman Justin Powell flashed lights-out shooting ability nailing 19-43 threes on the season. Once the calendar switched from 2020 to 2021, Prospect, KY’s own, only played one game following a severe concussion. In Tennessee’s lackluster season, it became abundantly clear the Vols lacked shooting ability. Powell perfectly fills the void for Rick Barnes, whose team only shot 33 percent from the perimeter. Powell’s versatility allows him to play a secondary playmaker role behind top-ten recruit Kennedy Chandler.
4.) Adam Miller, 6’3 180, G, LSU
Illinois 2020-21 stats: 8.3 PPG
Will Wade’s staff had an arduous task of replacing Cam Thomas, Javonte Smart, and Trendon Watford, a trio that combined 62.3 of LSU’s 81.3 PPG. LSU made a strong addition hauling Miller to replenish the losses — the sharpshooting lefty played a lesser role than hoped for as Ayo Dosunmu, Andre Curbelo handled ball-handling duties. In Wade’s four years in Baton Rouge, one player averaged 15+ PPG or better in each — Miller will continue the trend.
5.) Chris Lykes, 5’7 160, G, Arkansas
Lykes starred in Coral Gables from 2016-2020; however, injuries kept the 5-foot-7 guard sidelined for 30 games the past two seasons. Looking for a change of scenery brought Lykes to Fayetteville, where a starting role awaits after Jalen Tate, Desi Sills, and Moses Moody departed. Coach Mussleman’s rich history regarding transfers thriving under his tutelage, whether at Nevada or Arkansas, Muss gets the most out of transfers. If healthy, the speedy Lykes brings a different dynamic from his lethal three-point, mid-range shooting prowess.
6.) Wendell Green, 5’11 170, PG, Auburn
Eastern Kentucky 2020-21 stats: 15.8 PPG, 3.4 RPG, 5.0 APG
Detroit-born Wendell Green received two high-major offers (DePaul, TCU), eventually landing at Eastern Kentucky. Green quickly flashed elite playmaking ability, savvy passing, and underrated scoring ability that made it evident he’ll be a dominant force in College Basketball, leading EKU to a 22-win season for the first time since 2013-14. Green’s a near carbon-copy of outgoing Auburn guard Sharife Cooper — both undersized guards that make jaw-dropping passes on a nightly basis. Bruce Pearl loves having facilitating guards at the helm, Jared Harper, J’Von McCormack, Sharife Cooper, leading up to Wendell Green Jr.
7.) Oscar Tshiebwe 6’9 260, F, Kentucky
West Virginia 2020-21 stats: 8.5 PPG, 7.8 RPG (Ten games)
Following a stellar freshman season, Tshiebwe and former teammate Derek Culver had the potential of a Tim Duncan/David Robinson front-court tandem. That dream was short-lived as Tshiebwe only played nine games before entering the transfer portal after his numbers dipped across the board. Tshiebwe landing in Lexington became an obvious fit from the jump — Coach Cal’s added a transfer big-man each of the past three seasons (Reid Travis, Nate Sestina, Olivier Sarr), but Tshiebwe brings a different dynamic, a powerful player with unlimited upside.
8.) Phlandrous Fleming Jr, 6’4 200, G, Florida
Charleston Southern 2020-21 stats: 20.1 PPG, 7.4 RPG, 2.3 APG
Fleming had a storied career at Charleston Southern, earning Big South DPOY honors twice, first-team all-conference honors the same amount of times, but the Buccaneers didn’t make the NCAA Tournament in those four seasons. Fleming’s last season on campus didn’t go as planned, only winning three games the entire year; however, every good book has a storybook finish, and for Fleming, that followed suit. — On February 22nd, Fleming drilled a game-winning jumper vaulting Charleston Southern to a one-point victory over Presbyterian. That ended up being the season’s final game because of a positive COVID-test sidelining Barclay Radebaugh’s squad for the Big South tournament. Still, it couldn’t have ended in a better fashion for a program great. The Gators are tough to rank until Keyontae Johnson’s status gets announced.
9.) Tari Eason, 6’8 220, F, LSU
Cincinnati 2020-21 stats: 7.3 PPG, 5.9 RPG
I’ll reiterate the sentiments I made on the MakingTheMadness podcast “Eason makes playing defense look fun.” The way Eason flys around the floor, causing constant disruptions to opposing offenses, changes games in a winning way. Will Wade’s style at LSU is running in transition, trying to score in the 80-point range. The defense has been optional for the Tigers. By adding Eason, Coach Wade aims to bring a solid defensive unit this season, with the offensive punch being less lethal.
10.) Marcus Williams, 6’2 180, G, Texas A&M
Wyoming 2020-21 stats: 14.8 PPG, 4.3 APG
Turnovers and lack of shooting from guards plagued the first two years of the Buzz Williams era in College Station. Wyoming transfer Marcus Williams finally gives the Aggies a guard that can go score late in the game, as it’s been a post-oriented team with Josh Nebo and Eman Miller leading the scoring charge. It’s a young Texas A&M squad, but the duo between five-star phenom Manny Obaski and Williams could lead to some unexpected victories.
11.) Garrison Brooks, 6’10 240, C, Mississippi State
North Carolina 2020-21 stats: 10.2 PPG, 6.9 RPG
Brooks scoring dipped from 16.8 points to 10.2 last season, which isn’t surprising based on North Carolina’s surplus of post players. Brooks joined his father, George, an assistant on Ben Howland’s staff for his final season of eligibility. Brooks is lower on the list because of the roster construction — aside from the incoming Brooks, returning is Tolu Smith, a similar player. If those two play together, that could limit each other’s production and be a floor-spacing nightmare, which is vital these days in basketball.
12.) Nimari Burnett, 6’4 195, G, Alabama
Texas Tech 2020-21 stats: 5.3 PPG
Entering College, the expectations for Burnett coming out of Chicago were sky-high, earning McDonald’s All-American honors, hailing a top-30 ranking per 247sports. However, the season never got on track for Burnett at Texas Tech. He only played in 12 games before leaving the program, but he showed his defensive ability compiling a 5.8 defensive box-plus-minus. There’s far more in the offensive toolkit than showed during his lone season in Lubbock, headed to a fast-paced offensive system that Nate Oats employs should benefit Burnett.
LIAM ROBBINS (VANDY) ZEP JASPER (AUBURN), BRANDON MCKISSIC (FLORIDA), STANLEY UMUDE (ARKANSAS), JAE’MYN BRAKEFIELD (OLE MISS), NOAH GURLEY (FURMAN), AU’DIESE TONEY (ARKANSAS)