The Mid-Major side of College Basketball never gets its due & there’s plenty of teams worth noting for making tremendous game-changing additions through the early stretches of the off-season. Whether it comes from the JUCO ranks or D1/D2 ranks, I’ll discuss High-Major winners at some point, but those aren’t hard to spot. It’s the ones below the power conference levels that deserve more dissection. Many teams build their roster from off-season acquisitions — just take a look at Dennis Gates’s Cleveland State roster from last season, a JUCO centric roster that was able to make the NCAA Tournament. Numerous different decisions will be taken into account, including players utilizing the free year of eligibility to stay put.
I’ll be going conference-by-conference to discuss additions & why specific teams should get labeled as winners to this point.
Antonio Daye Jr G, FIU (17.7 PPG, 4.3 RPG, 4.7 APG)
Darius Quisenberry G, Youngstown State (14.9 PPG, 2.9 RPG, 3.1 APG), Antrell Charlton G, Indian River State (11.3 PPG, 8.5 RPG, 6.2 APG)
Rostyslav Novitskyi PF, 2019-20 with Seward (9.3 PPG, 3.4 RPG)
Kyle Neptune, Villanova Assistant Coach
Chuba Ohams, Forward 2019-20 stats (11 PPG, 8.2 RPG)
The most valuable addition the Rams made this off-season was hiring longtime Villanova assistant Kyle Neptune to be the next head men’s Basketball coach in the Bronx — bringing a winning pedigree to the Rams’ program is something that’s long overdue, following a long stretch of a disappointing season. Losing is a major reason Fordham lost names such as Eric Paschall, Nick Honor & Joseph Chartouney to the transfer portal in the past four seasons. Neptune’s quickly establishing a culture to a program that’s finished in the bottom two in the conference each of the past four seasons under Jeff Neubauer.
Neptune’s first order of business was adding do-it-all combo guard Antrell Charlton from Indian River State — last season Charlton was a swiss army knife for the Pioneers. Adding a high-energy player with a versatile skillset to play the sixth man role is vital to a team’s success. Charlton initially looked to be a starting guard for Fordham, but two newcomers via the transfer portal overshadowed his declaration to Fordham.
As mentioned earlier, “other guards” one of the two is former FIU star guard Antonio Daye Jr, the Panthers’ leading scorer & assist-man from last season. Daye chose Fordham over schools like Kansas, Missouri, UNCG & Coastal Carolina. Although Daye is immensely talented, an area of improvement is with his three-point shooting ability, as Daye is only a 27% career shooter from deep.
The second starting guard addition is former Youngstown State superstar Darius Quisenberry, some people’s pick to win Horizon league POTY last season (hint: it was me). The former Penguins’ star guard never got it rolling last season due to an injury, which limited him to only 15 games on the season, including a two-month absence. It was a sight for sore eyes when watching Fordham consistently clank three’s last season, which numbers back up as they shot the ball at the most deficient 26.9% from deep, which finished as one of the worst marks in the country. Quisenberry’s three-point percentage throughout his career isn’t dazzling by any means. Still, in a more balanced offense, which is less reliant on him hunting shots on a vast amount of possessions, we can see more consistency. Regardless, whether the efficiency improves or not, the lethal scoring punch Quisenberry contains could push the Rams ahead in tight games this season.
Steady forward, Chuba Ohams opted to return to the Bronx rather than transferring out, which was mulled upon when he entered the portal. Many schools with better opportunities to make the tournament pursued the fifth-year-senior, but Coach Neptune’s vision was enough to keep the productive forward at home.
JUCO big-man Rostyslav Novitskyi is a wildcard for Fordham — he hasn’t played since 2019-20, which was for Seward Community College as a 9 PPG scorer. After the 2020 campaign, Novitskyi decided to transfer schools & ended up at Monroe CC, but unfortunately, they didn’t compete in a season due to COVID-19. Notitskyi is a high-upside player that fits modern-day Basketball seamlessly due to his floor stretching ability.
Free year returnees:
Jacob Gilyard, G (12.3 PPG, 3.0 RPG, 5.0 APG, 3.6 SPG)
Grant Golden, C (12.7 PPG, 6.0 RPG, 3.5 APG
Nathan Cayo PF, (12.2 PPG, 4.4 RPG)
I’ll keep this portion brief — three of Chris Mooney’s senior’s from last season decided to run it back for the free year of eligibility, off-the-heels of a disappointing season based on lofty expectations. All-time program greats return with Jacob Gilyard on the precipice of absolutely decimating the NCAA all-time steals record, which former Providence guard John Linehan currently holds. Gilyard is also the current holder of Richmond All-Time assists record in a career. The skilled guard looks to rebound on the offensive end after a season with career lows in both field-goal percentage & three-point percentage.
Sixth-year senior & conductor of the Princeton offense, Grant Golden returns next season alongside his frontcourt cohort, Nathan Cayo.
Last year’s leading scorer, Blake Francis, decided to forgo his final season of eligibility & go the pro route — returning three of four senior’s including two all-time greats in the program, makes them a winner.
AMERICA EAST CONFERENCE:
Jahlil Jenkins Fairleigh Dickinson Guard, (16.8 PPG, 2.5 RPG, 3.2 APG)
Elijah Olaniyi Miami Wing, (10.2 PPG, 5.1 RPG)
Anthony Roberts St Bonaventure guard, 2019-20 stats w/Kent State (12.7 PPG, 2.4 RPG, 2.7 APG)
A prolonged COVID pause halted all momentum from Geno Ford’s crew last season, but looking into the future, the Seawolves killed in the portal to this point.
A reunion is set for talented wing Elijah Olaniyi, who spent one season in Coral Gables before opting to finish what he started at Stony Brook. He’ll instantly emerge as an America East player of the year candidate — while trying to build upon his 2019-20 season with the Seawolves, where Olaniyi averaged 18 PPG, earning himself first-team all-conference honors. The sneaky addition of Northeast conference all-timer Jahlil Jenkins is an instrumental addition due to the guard’s lethal scoring punch. Jenkins is a player that’s been through a lot of college hoops, as he scored 1,700 points in four seasons for FDU while also appearing in the NCAA Tournament in 2018.
Shooting guard Anthony Roberts enters the fold after a season that was limited to three games as he suffered a season-derailing injury — back in 2019-20, Roberts was an efficient double-digit scorer for Kent State. Geno Ford adds three pivotal transfers into the fold for next season that’ll make his team a top-end America East squad.
Osayi Osifo Florida Forward,: (1.9 PPG, 2.5 RPG)
Jordan Davis MTSU Guard, (11 PPG, 3.6 RPG, 2.1 APG)
Tommy Bruner, USC Upstate (13.6 PPG, 2.8 RPG, 4.0 APG)
Gyasi Powell, Davis & Elkins (16.4 PPG)
The Dolphins off-season kicked off with the firing of head coach Tony Jasick following a rough seven-season stretch, where he accumulated a ghastly 95-123 record (43%), pieced together with an even worse 42-60 conference record (41%). AD Alex Ricker-Gilbert didn’t have to look too far on the coaching trail, as he hired an intra-state guy, poaching Florida assistant Jordan Mincy. The former Gators’ assistant quickly made his mark on the recruiting trail by adding Florida transfer Osayi Osifo, the Dolphins starting center next season.
Mincy also hauled in two starting-caliber guards, in the form of MTSU transfer Jordan Davis & USC Upstate transfer Tommy Bruner. Both add experience & leadership, paired with double-digit scoring ability. Efficiency is an area of improvement for both because shooting 40% from the field & 30% from deep doesn’t typically lead to wins, but the talent is evident. Another incoming guard is D2 transfer Gyasi Powell, a 16 PPG scorer Davis & Elkins during his freshman campaign. The first off-season for Coach Mincy’s era’ at Jacksonville is off to a fantastic start.
Koby McEwen G/Wing, Marquette (10.2 PPG, 3.6 RPG, 3.2 APG)
Jamison Overton Wing, Utah Valley (15.6 PPG, 4.2 RPG, 2.2 APG)
Randy Rahe added one of the more experienced players in the transfer portal by hauling in soon-to-be sixth year senior Koby McEwen, who’s played 118 career games, and started 113 between four years at Utah State & Marquette. McEwen’s past two seasons at Marquette were inconsistent but flashed high-level scoring ability, as he produced five 20+ point outbursts in the Big East. Adding that caliber of a scorer in the Big Sky is a game-changer & McEwen will instantly be a contender for All-Conference first-team.
The other addition is another player who spent time in the same state, adding Jamison Overton from Orem, where he attended Utah Valley. Overton flashes phenomenal vertical leaping ability & pure athleticism, paired with being a versatile piece on the defensive end. There are strides to be made from the three-point line & foul line, but Overton uses his elite athleticism to get baskets.
Dru Kuxhausen Guard, McNeese State (11.8 PPG, 2.3 RPG, 1.6 APG)
Dalton Knecht Wing, Northeastern CC (23.9 PPG, 7.5 RPG, 2.0 APG)
I spoke in-depth about these two comings in for Coach Smiley next season, but I’ll add a brief synopsis here:
Kuxhausen’s one of the best three-point shooters in the country the past two seasons for McNeese in the Southland, sporting an astonishingly high 45% in 2019-20.
The addition of talented Junior College wing Dalton Knecht is one of my favorite additions from either the JUCO transfer market or the Transfer Portal market. Knecht was a top-five scorer in all of JUCO hoops in his Sophomore season. He’s a true three-level scorer, making a dangerous trio of Bodie Hume, Knecht & Daylen Kountz, as the Bears look poised to make scoreboards malfunction with their elite scoring next season.
Isaiah Wilkins G/Wing, (1.9 PPG, 1.7 RPG)
Jordan Perkins Guard, (5.6 PPG, 3.7 RPG, 4.2 APG)
Michael Christmas Forward, James Madison (6.0 PPG, 3.5 RPG)
D’Avian Houston Guard, Charleston (2.3 PPG, 1.4 RPG)
The Lancers went 12-17 this past season but appeared in the CBI, where they fell in the quarterfinals to Pepperdine. The off-season kicked off on a rough note when leading scorer from last season, point guard Juan Munoz entered the transfer portal — he later ended up committing to Hawaii.
The past few weeks, as we progressed further into the off-season, Coach Aldrich hauled in a prominent player in the Big South by getting former Virginia Tech/Wake Forest guard Isaiah Wilkins to commit. The Winston-Salem native is a defensive anchor that’ll instantly become one of the elite defensive players in the conference while also providing high energy & is capable of drilling a jumper. His vertical leaping ability is the downside of the soon-to-be senior’s game, but getting a well-rounded defensive menace is significant in the Big South. Michael Christmas is a prototypical stretch-four and uses his strong frame to drive at the basket, making him a difficult player to game-plan to for opposing defenses. Last season, Christmas played a significant role for the James Madison Dukes, the regular season CAA champs. Jordan Perkins, a steady do-it-all point guard that’ll bring an intriguing skill set to the table & D’Avian Houston is coming in from the College of Charleston as a bench point guard next season.
The Lancers return a majority of their roster from last season & with the incoming group of transfers, It should be an improved season.
Juan Munoz PG, Longwood
Jerome Desrosiers Forward, Princeton (Ivy didn’t play 2020)
Kamaka Hepa Forward, Texas (Injured 2020)
Amaro Lado Guard, College of Southern Idaho
Samuta Avea, Forward (opt-out 2020)
Coach Ganot hauls in a loaded transfer class headlined by point guard of the future with Longwood transfer Juan Munoz, who averaged double-figures in scoring this past season for the Lancers — with the loss of Justin Webster, that makes Munoz vital to next seasons success. Next to him, Amaro Lado from College of Southern Idaho is a sharpshooter from deep & will make an instant impact for the Rainbow Warriors. The duo of incoming stretch-forwards, Kamaka Hepa & Jerome Desrosiers will fill minutes, while adding a versatile skillset to the floor.
Austin Butler Wing, Holy Cross (16.1 PPG, 8.8 RPG, 1.2 APG)
Clyde Trapp Guard, Clemson (7.3 PPG, 5.5 RPG, 2.5 APG)
Musa Jallow Guard/Wing Ohio State (2.9 PPG, 2.2 RPG)
Robert Braswell Forward, Syracuse (3.8 PPG, 1.8 RPG)
Coach Ron Sanchez 49ers were an extremely Jekyll-and-hyde team last season, finishing off the disappointing campaign with a 9-16 record — including losses to D2’s Belmont Abbey & finished off the season going 0-8 in the final month. The lack of scoring ability outside of Jahmir Young continued to plague the Niners, but by adding a proven, 16 PPG scorer in Austin Butler from Holy Cross & longtime Clemson guard Clyde Trapp.
One of the other key pieces entering is Musa Jallow, a versatile defensive chess-piece who’ll play perfectly in Ron Sanchez’s deliberate style he learned as a Tony Bennett understudy. Robert Braswell from Syracuse is the fourth transfer in the loaded haul by the 49ers coaching staff, a potential starting frontcourt member next season.
Seth Pinkney Center, Quinnipiac (8.0 PPG, 4.8 RPG, 3.2 BPG)
Clevon Brown Forward, Vandy (3.4 PPG, 2.9 RPG)
Denver Jones Guard, Garden City (19.1 PPG, 3.2 RPG, 4.1 APG)
Victor Hart Wing, Miami Dade (11.4 PPG, 6.8 RPG)
Aquan Smart Guard, Maryland (1.0 PPG)
Three of the Panthers top five scorers from last season all departed (Antonio Daye, Fordham, Dimon Carrigan, West Virginia, Radshad Davis (Pro)
I still see this off-season as a major win despite losing three key pieces from last season. Coach Ballard did an impeccable job of putting this roster together — adding a high-upside 7’1 center with Seth Pinkney from Quinnipiac could prove to be a steal for the Panthers. Last season, Pinkney produced in a variety of ways for QU, using his 7’1 frame, paired with high-level athleticism to be a pesky defender all across the floor, but was a very efficient scorer, mainly a dunker/super close to the basket role. There’s untapped offensive potential in Pinkney’s game.
Denver Jones, a JUCO guard from Garden City, burst onto the scene in his lone season in Junior College — averaging 19.1 PPG, 3.2 RPG & 4.1 APG. Jones scored nearly 20 PPG on high-end efficiency, as he posted a field-goal-percentage slash line of 47-40-90, ever so close to the illustrious 50-40-90 line. The 6’4 combo guard should step into the fold as the Panthers’ leading scorer next season, with the departure of Antonio Daye. His backcourt cohort, Aquan Smart, a transfer from Maryland, is oozing with potential, utilizing his speed & toughness to create baskets for himself. The stat line for the Evanston native isn’t nearly indicative of the talent level shown off when he had the opportunity.
The former four-star recruit in the class of 2016, Clevon Brown, comes over from Vanderbilt after four & a half seasons of being a consistent piece on the defensive end — blocking 102 shots throughout his college career. Another forward entering the fold is Miami Dade’s, Victor Hart. Last season didn’t go the same way his freshman campaign did, where the athletic combo-forward averaged 17 PPG while shooting a significantly better 37% from outside. Hart’s numbers took a noticeable knock, dropping his overall point total to 11.4 PPG & shot 16% worse from deep at an unflattering 21% from range — I’d expect an improved overall season from Hart next season at FIU.
Jeremy Ballard put together a talented crew together this off-season.
Colonial Athletic Association:
Takal Molson Guard, Seton Hall (5.3 PPG, 2.9 RPG)
Charles Falden G/Wing, Winthrop (10.3 PPG, 2.6 RPG)
Tyree Ihenacho PG, North Dakota (8.7 PPG, 5.7 RPG, 4.1 APG)
Alonzo Sule Forward, Texas State (7.8 PPG, 3.2 RPG)
With narrow expectations entering last season, James Madison & Coach Mark Byington won the conference regular-season title. However, they got depleted heading into the most important stretch of the season due to Conference POTY Matt Lewis suffering a torn ACL in February. It still builds positive momentum for the program, but now with Lewis headed to the pro ranks, new faces must step into the fold right away.
There’s A tremendous incoming guard trio of Takal Molson from Seton Hall entering the fold as a scorer, Charles Falden as a high-end two-way player & a do-it-all style point guard, Tyree Ihenacho.
The addition of Seton Hall transfer Takal Molson could be a major win for Coach Byington. In 2018-19, he averaged 16 PPG for Canisius but didn’t play in 2019-20, in compliance with the NCAA transfer rules & struggled mightily for the Pirates in 2021. If Molson can regain the form he showed off in the MAAC, the Dukes will once again boast one of the better pure scorers in the conference.
For his career, Charles Falden is shooting a dazzling 40% from deep throughout his four-season run for the Eagles, pairing that with above-average athleticism makes this. a key addition for the Dukes.
My favorite transfer addition in this grouping is North Dakota transfer Tyree Ihenacho. This do-it-all playmaking guard flashes onto the scene in a Summit League filled with guard talent, such as Max Abmas, Brandon McKissic & Jase Townsend. While North Dakota couldn’t find its footing last season, one bright spot was the production from Ihenacho, when he averaged 8.7 PPG, 5.7 RPG & 4.1 APG. Efficient scoring, foul-shooting & limiting turnovers are three pivotal points for the talented sophomore guard to evaluate for his game to take the next step in the CAA.
Texas State transfer Alonzo Sule, a mastermind of finding his way around defenders using his elite post-presence & footwork, will step into the fold to replace Michael Christmas, who transferred to Longwood. Sule adds energy & started all 25 games for Texas State, who won the regular-season Sun Belt title.
John Meeks Forward, Bucknell (25.3 PPG, 6.8 RPG, 2.3 APG, only six games)
Charles Lampten Center, Dawson (10.1 PPG, 8.7 RPG)
Fah’Mir Ali Point Guard, Radford (10.6 PPG, 2.7 RPG, 3.8 APG)
Pat Kelsey, Head Coach
It’s tough to label a team that lost its two starting guards, Zep Jasper (Auburn) & Brevin Galloway (Boston College), as a winner, but following Earl Grant’s hiring by Boston College, I’m not sure the Cougs off-season could have gone better. They hired Pat Kelsey, an absolute home-run for the job CofC, hiring a guy that won 66% of his games as a division one head coach at Winthrop.
On the player side of the token, Kelsey & staff conducted an absolute heist when snagging Bucknell transfer John Meeks from the portal. The stretch-four averaged an eye-popping 25.3 PPG in only six games, which is the main reason every high-major team didn’t pursue him in the country because of the smaller sample size. I wouldn’t be surprised if Meeks continued his momentum from 2020-21 to be one of the prestigious in the country next season & ended up hoisting the CAA POTY award for the 2022 season. His partner in the frontcourt, mammoth of a human being, Charles Lampten from Dawson Community College. Lampten’s 6’11, but has a wingspan ranging up to an unbelievably huge 7’6, pairing him with elite NBA players, notably Anthony Davis & Joel Embiid. Last season for the Buccaneers, Lampten averaged a near double-double while being a top-three shot-blocker in all NJCAA Hoops.
Coach Kelsey got a front-row look at Radford transfer Fah’Mir Ali from the opposing sidelines last season. In those two meetings, Ali dropped 37 total points, including a high of 23 in the first meeting — with the loss of Zep Jasper, being able to haul in a young point guard like Ali was what the doctor ordered.
The new Charleston staff dove deep into the portal to find two contributors for next season — adding D2 transfer Dalton Bolon from West Liberty, a lights out shooter from deep (43%) & dropped 34 points in a game. The other is a D3 transfer from U of Dallas, Dimitrius Underwood, who displays high-end athleticism & strength as a big-bodied 6’4 guard.
Rasheem Dunn Point Guard, St John’s (9.4 PPG, 2.9 RPG, 4.0 APG)
Ferron Flavors guard, Oklahoma State (3.4 PPG)
Mattia Acunzo Forward, Toledo (5.9 PPG, 3.8 RPG)
Michael Green III, PG, Bryant (16 PPG, 3.7 RPG, 3.7 APG)
Matt Mayers Forward, Hutchinson (17.8 PPG, 9.4 RPG)
Justin Winston Forward, St Bonaventure (2019-20 stats: 8.7 PPG, 3.4 RPG)
Brandon Stone Forward, La Salle (1.3 PPG, 1.8 RPG)
Year one of Robert Morris’s time in the Horizon League didn’t plan, as they became the worst team in the conference last season. They lose top scorer A.J. Bramah to the transfer portal but added seven critical pieces from the transfer market.
The backcourt duo of defensive anchor Rasheem Dunn & a speedy guard that’s wired to score with Bryant transfer Michael Green, who scored 16 ppg last season, sets up the strength of the RMU roster next season. Next two those two, three-time transfer Ferron Flavors Jr looks to rebound next season after his forgettable season at Oklahoma State, but you can’t forget Flavors shot 44% from deep with Cal Baptist in 2019-20.
A double-Double machine, Matt Mayers, coming in from Hutchinson Community College in Kansas, where he averaged 17.8 PPG & 9.4 RPG last season, leading his team in both categories. Toledo transfer Mattia Acunzo has immensely high offensive potential due to his versatility, as he legitimately can play three different positions. Look for Acunzo to take more of a scoring workload next season & could average close to double-figures for RMU. Both Justin Winston & Brandon Stone are both high-upside forwards for Andy Toole to work with the next few seasons.
It’s pretty evident that RMU won’t finish last in the Horizon next season with their vastly improved roster.
Nate Jack Guard, FSU
Broc Finstuen Guard, Pacific (11.2 PPG)
Torrey Patton, Forward (14.7 PPG, 8.0 RPG)
Craig Beaudion, Guard (9.3 PPG, 3.3 APG)
Dennis Gates runs it back next season with the announcement from first-team All-Horizon 2021 player, Torrey Patton that he would be returning for the extra season of eligibility, putting him with lead guard Craig Beaudion as players coming back for next season. The Vikings hauled in sharpshooter Nate Jack from FSU & Steady do-it-all G/Wing, Broc Finstuen from Pacific.
Tyson Jolly Wing, SMU (9.3 PPG, 4.8 RPG)
Elijah Joiner Point Guard, Tulsa (11.3 PPG, 4.2 RPG, 4.0 APG)
When Rick Pitino made his long-awaited return to College Basketball, everyone knew that he’d be able to recruit at a top-notch level. SMU transfer Tyson Jolly is one of many newcomers, a lights-out shooter from outside, who didn’t have an ideal 2020-21 season because of an injury, but back in 2019-20, Jolly scored 14.5 PPG for the Mustangs. The other newcomers are another former AAC player & it’s Elijah Joiner, who’s set to replace Asante Gist at the point guard spot for the Gaels next season.
Dimencio Vaughn Wing, Ole Miss
Mervin James Forward, Jacksonville
Sedrick Altman, Pepperdine
Last season was a transition period for Kevin Baggett’s crew, as Stevie Jordan, Fred Scott & Dimencio Vaughn all left the program for other ventures. The Broncs ended up going 6-18 & lost in the quarterfinals of the MAAC tournament to Saint Peter’s. You may notice, I listed Dimencio Vaughn in the list of players that moved on last season. Yes, that’s accurate; Vaughn spent 2016-20 playing for Rider before using his grad year to move onto Ole Miss. Now, this off-season, Vaughn returns to the school where he averaged 15 PPG & 6.6 RPG back in 2019-20.
North Alabama transfer Mervin James added 14.4 PPG & 7.2 RPG for the Lions, who made it to the A-SUN title last season. James adds a versatile stretch-four skillset into the fold for Rider next season, a similar prototype to what Fred Scott was for Rider. The final newcomer is Sederick Altman from Pepperdine, a guard that’s mainly an athletic slasher & defender.
The Broncos should content within the top-three of the MAAC next season with their totally revamped roster.
Myron Gordon Wing, Samford (15.6 PPG, 3.2 RPG, 1.7 APG)
Samari Curtis Guard, Evansville (As of now, has to redshirt) (10.1 PPG, 2.4RPG)
Brenton Mills Guard, Binghamton (13.9 PPG, 3.1 RPG, 1.9 APG)
Joe Reece Forward, Old Dominion
Gabe O’Neal Forward, Kent State
Free yeah returnees:
Daeqwon Plowden, Forward (13.4 PPG, 7.8 RPG)
Trey Diggs, Wing (11.5 PPG, 4.3 RPG)
Last season there was, lofty expectations for the Falcons once Justin Turner announced his intentions to return to the program. Still, they never got on a groove for a multitude of reasons, including COVID issues. BGSU finished at a disappointing 13-9 mark, while one of the program’s all-timers in Justin Turner moves onto the professional scene, but they’ve had a big off-season during a very pivotal point for the program.
Coach Huger hauled in Myron Gordon from Samford, a 15 PPG scoring-athletic-wing for next season, paired with Binghamton sharpshooting guard Brenton Mills, a 40% shooter from deep for a bad Binghamton team last season. The real wildcard is two-time-transfer Samari Curtis from Evansville, who’s entering his redshirt junior season in 2021-22. Curtis redshirted his true freshman season & only played six games before he entered his name in the portal in the early half of the 2019-20 season. Curtis has already sat out nearly two entire seasons, but it’ll be telling to see how the NCAA waiver committee handles this situation. I’d envision he’s eligible to play next season. The new rule passed last month about a “one-time transfer exception” rules Curtis ineligible for next season.
North Carolina Central:
Kris Monroe Forward, Providence (1.1 PPG)
Ja’Darius Harris, Eastern Florida State College (10.6 PPG)
Samuel Keita Center, Salt Lake CC (4.4 PPG, 3.3 RPG)
Dontavius King Forward, Charleston (5.4 PPG, 3.1 RPG)
Asanti Price Guard, Barton CC (12.4 PPG, 3.7 RPG, 2.3 APG)
Levelle Moton’s Eagles had made three consecutive NCAA tournaments but got ravaged by COVID pauses & COVID sidelining players last season, only allowing them to muster a 5-9 record for the season. These five additions are all set to play key roles if NC Central can get into another NCAA Tournament by adding some frontcourt pieces with Kris Monroe from Providence, Samuel Keita from SLCC & Dontavius King from Charleston. All three of those players are high-upside players, especially Dontavius King from Charleston, who showed a ton of flashes last season.
The two incoming JUCO guards could be what guides this team through the MEAC. Asanti Price began his career at Georgia Tech for one season — later moving onto Barton CC for his sophomore campaign. Price is oozing with potential due to his combination of athleticism & shooting ability, and he’s poised to be a prestigious MEAC scorer. The other guard, similarly to Price, is a “D1 bounceback” player, that’s Ja’Darius Harris, who began his career playing for UT-Martin, and spent last season at Eastern Florida State College. Harris is a speedy guard, who displays a perfect finger-roll off the glass when he gets rolling to the basket, and can shoot the ball from outside consistently.
David Muoka Center, Lamar (5.4 PPG, 6.8 RPG, 2.9 BPG)
Victor Iwuakor Forward, Oklahoma (2.9 PPG, 2.6 RPG)
Jordan McCabe Guard, WVU (2.2 PPG, 1.1 RPG, 1.4 APG)
Justin Webster Guard, Hawaii
Royce Hamm Forward, Texas
Joshua Baker Guard, Hutchinson (14 PPG)
Donovan Williams Wing, Texas
Kevin Kruger, Head Coach
The first offseason of the Kevin Kruger era’ is off to a smoldering hot start, as he lost a majority of last year’s disappointing roster to the portal but vastly improved the team. You add an elite shooter in Josh Baker from Hutch, two capable lead guards with Jordan McCabe & Justin Webster, but Webster is a high-level, efficient scorer into the fold for the Runnin Rebels. One of the nation’s top shot-blockers last season comes in from Lamar by adding David Muoka & three more high-major transfers that could serve major roles next season.
Jaelen House Guard, Arizona State (5.3 PPG, 2.0 RPG)
Jamal Mashburn Jr Guard, Minnesota (8.2 PPG)
K.J. Jenkins Guard, Kilgore (15.8 PPG)
Taryn Todd Wing, TCU (4.5 PPG)
Gethro Muscadin Center, Kansas
Jay Allen-Tovar, Salt Lake (10.6 PPG, 6.5 RPG)
Richard Pitino, Head Coach
Last season was an utter embarrassment for a storied Lobos program, going an astoundingly horrific 6-16 & 2-15 in conference games last season. New Mexico had the worst field goal percentage, three-point percentage, worst free-throw percentage & highest turnover rate of all-Mountain West teams. It’s no surprise when looking deeper as to why the team struggled. Coach Pitino knew what the problems were and added shooters. Jamal Mashburn Jr followed his coach to New Mexico. K.J. Jenkins shot 47% from deep last season for Kilgore, making him one of the top shooters in JUCO Hoops. The two sneaky additions are TCU wing Taryn Todd coming into the fold after a promising redshirt freshman season for the Horned Frogs & feisty on-ball defender Jaelen House from Arizona State. The Lobos won’t be a tournament team this season but won’t be the worst team in the conference for the foreseeable future.
Missouri Valley Conference:
Donovan Clay Forward, Valpo (10.1 PPG, 5.5 RPG)
Jaylen Minnett Guard, IUPUI (16.4 PPG)
Gaige Prim, Forward (16.7 PPG, 9.1 RPG)
Missouri State finished in the upper-half of the Valley standings last season as they finished the season going 17-7, losing to Drake in the MVC Tournament on a Joe Yesufu buzzer beater. The Bears had a sneaky offseason to this point, because last seasons leading rebounder & 2nd leading scorer, Gaige Prim returns to the fold for the free year of eligibility. Prim could open the season being the 2021-22 preseason Missouri Valley player of the year. The two transfers newcomers, Jaylen Minnett, one of the all-time top scorers IUPUI history comes in to add a much needed scoring punch from the guard position. The other is Donovan Clay from Valpo, a versatile defensive chess piece that Dana Ford can move around.
Ohio Valley Conference:
Murray State Racers:
Trae Hannibal Guard, South Carolina (6.0 PPG, 3.2 RPG, 2.0 APG)
Elijah Farr Forward, Olney Central (16.3 PPG, 7.0 RPG)
Carter Collins Guard, Davidson (10.3 PPG, 3.8 RPG, 2.7 APG)
Damiree Burns Forward, Southern (9.3 PPG, 5.0 RPG)
Coach McMahon did a phenomenal job this offseason to snare four players that’ll play roles on a team capable of making the NCAA tournament & winning games in the tournament. Chico Carter, who started last season, transferred to South Carolina, so in the returning half of the trade, high-potential, future-star Trae Hannibal came over for Carter. When you watch Hannibal, you see a high-flying athlete at the guard position, with immense shooting potential once he gets more comfortable taking more shots from outside. Next to Hannibal & returnee Tevin Brown is Carter Collins from Davidson, an efficient left-handed combo guard. There won’t be much better frontcourt trio’s in all of Mid-Major Hoops than Hannibal-Collins-Brown.
Elijah Farr is a fun piece to pair with K.J. Williams in the starting five next season as another big who displays tremendous shooting prowess & a knack for scoring. Farr averaged 16.3 PPG & 7 RPG for Olney Central Community College last season while shooting 38% from outside the three-point arc. The other forward addition is Damiree (D.J.) Burns from Southern — an athletic forward that only played six games last season before an injury derailed his season.
The Racers will be my team to beat in the Ohio Valley Conference next season; this team could be an elite shooting team, with guys who show effort on both ends of the floor for Coach McMahon.
Kenny Cooper Guard, Western Kentucky
Jalen Dupree Forward, Samford
Dedric Boyd, Illinois State
Christian Brown Wing, Georgia
Kassim Nicholsen Forward, UAB
Emmanuel Dowuona Forward, Purdue
David Acosta Cloud Country, Forward
Tennessee State went a dreadful 4-19 last season, including a 3-17 record in OVC play for a conference that was down compared to most seasons. Four proven mid-major players (Cooper, Dupree, Boyd & Nicholsen) will add experience & talent to the starting lineup while adding some immense-upside high-majors players like Christian Brown & Emmanuel Dowuona. I wouldn’t expect Tennessee State to contend in the top-three of the league with names like Belmont, Murray State & Morehead State, but certainly worth mentioning here.
Tyler Brelsford Guard, George Washington (4.4 PPG, 2.5 RPG, 1.1 APG)
Greg Calixte Forward, George Mason (1.7 PPG, 1.9 RPG)
Ben Callahan-Gold Wing, Tulane
Grant Coleman Forward, Milwaukee (5.1 PPG, 2.8 RPG)
Adham Eleeda Guard, Northern Kentucky (5.0 PPG, 2.4 RPG)
Hall Elisais Center (10.3 PPG, 7.6 RPG, 2.5 BPG)
Peter Kiss Wing, (16.6 PPG, 6.5 RPG, 3.2 APG)
The foundation of Jared Grasso’s team consists of getting transfers to play pivotal roles in the program, a skill learned from his days in the 2010s when Grasso served as Tim Cluess’s lead Assistant at Iona. We saw last season that Grasso had a plethora of players from JUCO/other D1’s that put the Bulldogs in a position to contend for an NEC championship.
The Bulldogs were a fantastic shooting team from deep last season, but that’s something Jared Grasso & staff wanted to continue adding in the off-season. The trio of Brelsford, Coleman & Eleeda all shot 35% from deep last season on relatively high volume, while Callahan-Gold is a 6’7 wing shooter that only played four games last season for Tulane.
Both Peter Kiss & Hall Elisias return for their final seasons of eligibility, Kiss led the Bulldogs in scoring last season, and Elisais led in RPG & BPG.
Jack Ferguson Guard (12.5 PPG, 4.6 RPG)
Overall, the Patriot League doesn’t add many transfers, making this section brief. Fergurson boasted the country’s best offensive rating & three-point percentage last season for the Raiders & mulled a transfer before opting to return to Colgate.
Gerald Liddell Forward, Texas (2.1 PPG, 1.7 RPG)
Michael Barber Forward, Southwest Mississippi State (12.5 PPG, 7.6 RPG)
Isaiah Range Guard, Tarleton State (Opt-out 2020-21)
Christian McCray Wing, Cal State Fullerton (1 game played 2020-21)
It was only a matter of time before longtime NBA player Mo Williams would be able to haul in recruits, whether it be from the portal or High School ranks. Every player wants to play in the NBA, and Mo Williams can tell players, “Hey, I played 12 years in the league, I have a ring on a team where I played with LeBron” Not many coaches in College Basketball are able to say that. Adding a former top-50 recruit with Gerald Liddell from Texas could be a turning point for the program.
The other three are more wildcards; Barber had a successful Junior College season in 2020-21 but only played Ten games. Barber should be able to carve out a substantial role, while Range & McCray didn’t play this season.
Ques Glover Point Guard, Florida (2.5 PPG)
Cooper Kaifes Wing, Loyola-Chicago (2.0 PPG)
Jermaine Marshall Forward, Akron (Redshirt)
Bucky McMillian had an arduous task on his hands when taking over the Samford job, but he’s hauled in some pivotal pieces for a future run in the SOCON in one full offseason. Ques Glover is a defensive ace & high-level athlete that could replicate the success of all-time program great Josh Sharkey. A sneaky addition on the wing is Cooper Kaifes, coming in from Loyola Chicago, where he spent three seasons playing for the Ramblers. As a freshman, Kaifes shot 46% from deep & looks to reclaim the form he showed in 2018-19.
I’ll preface this by saying the Southland conference as a whole lost a ton this offseason due to Stephen F. Austin, Abilene Christian, Sam Houston State & Lamar departing for greener pastures in the WAC.
Robby Robinson Forward, Nevada (1.0 PPG, 3.4 RPG)
Daniel Sackey Guard, Valpo (5.3 PPG, 2.6 RPG, 3.9 APG)
DeSean Allen-Eikens Wing, North Dakota (Five games in 2020)
Simeon Kirkland Forward, UAB (1.5 PPG, 1.7 RPG)
Tyson Jackson Forward, MTSU (3.0 PPG, 2.3 RPG)
Derek St. Hilaire, Guard (12.3 PPG)
Troy Green, Guard (15.4 PPG, 5.6 RPG, 2.5 APG)
Of what’s left of a ravaged Southland conference, the Privateers of New Orleans had a fantastic off-season. The top-two scorers from last season’s team, St Hilaire & Green, both opted to utilize their free year while adding transfers to fill in the rest of the roster. Adding a bounceback candidate in DeSean Allen-Eikens from North Dakota could pay dividends for Coach Slessinger; Allen-Eikens averaged 13.8 PPG during his freshman campaign but struggled due to injures this season & transferred after only playing in five games.
Big-men Robby Robinson & Simeon Kirkland will have a consistent role as high-level defenders for UNO next season. At the same time, the other two incoming transfers, Tyson Jackson & Daniel Sackey, are both wildcards.
Trey Phipps Guard, Oklahoma (2.6 PPG)
Issac McBride Guard, Vanderbilt (4.7 PPG)
Paul Mills’s Eagles had a historical March run, which nearly resulted in even deeper history, but Max Abmas’s jumper barely rimmed out to give Arkansas the win in the Sweet 16. That’s the run that could carry a program recruiting-wise for years to come, and Head Coach Paul Mills stayed put, despite his name appearing in some rumors for an upgraded job. The reason ORU was so effective last season is a result of their lethal three-point shooting. Coach Mills solidified that further this offseason by adding two high-major transfers that can light it up from deep, in Trey Phipps & Issac McBride.
Mike Almonacy Guard (12.7 PPG, 4.3 RPG, 2.9 APG)
Justin Forrest Guard, (13.2 PPG, 3.4 RPG, 2.6 APG)
The Mountaineers went on an impressive & unexpected run through the Sun Belt tournament to notch four wins in four days, to make their first NCAA tournament in 20 seasons, where they even won a game in the first four. The two-star scorers from last season, Mike Almonacy & Justin Forrest, announced their intentions to utilize the extra year of eligibility to run it back next season.
Alden Parham Point Guard, VMI (18.4 PPG, 3.9 RPG, 4.0 APG)
Charles Manning Guard, LSU (Only appeared in six games in 2020)
Marshall Kearing Forward, State College of Florida (11.2 PPG, 8.4 RPG)
Emmanuel Littles Forward, North Alabama (9.4 PPG, 9.9 RPG)
Tyrell Jones Guard, Auburn (Seven games in 2020)
Diante Smith Wing, TCU (four games in 2020)
Javon Franklin Forward, Auburn (1.3 PPG, 1.6 RPG)
Lance Thomas Forward, Memphis (2.1 PPG, 2.1 RPG)
Jay Jay Chandler G/Wing, Texas A&M (8.2 PPG, 2.5 RPG)
Kayo Goncalves, Forward (9.9 PPG, 5.9 RPG)
The three guarantees in life: Death, Taxes & Richie Riley making moves in the transfer portal. He & his phenomenal staff added nine total transfers, five coming from High-Major programs, but the most notable addition is Greg ‘Alden’ Parham from VMI — he’s a crafty point guard that can score from anywhere on the floor & will now show off some of his skills that were shadowed by VMI’s intricate styles of play (Princeton offense/zone defense)
The issue for the Jaguars last season was defense, most notably low-post defense, and now coming in is elite JUCO shot-blocker named Marshall Kearing & a double-double machine from North Alabama, Emmanuel Littles.
The other guards to eye on are Charles Manning from LSU, an absolute bucket getter that fell out of favor with LSU this season but is a creative wing scorer & Tyrell ‘Turbo’ Jones, a former four-star recruit entering the fold for South Alabama. Hands down the Sun Belt early season favorites.
Taeshon Cherry Forward, Arizona State (Seven games in 2020)
Aiden Igiehon Forward, Louisville (Five games in 2020)
Yvan Ouedraogo Forward, Nebraska (3.4 PPG, 3.7 RPG)
Holland Woods Point Guard, Arizona State (6.7 PPG, 2.2 RPG, 1.9 APG)
Walter Ellis Guard, Bucknell (8.8 PPG, 3.8 RPG)
Sean Miller-Moore, Wing
In his first year as the Antelopes head coach, Bryce Drew made the NCAA tournament and now adds a loaded transfer class for his second season. Headlined by two transfers from a nearby neighbor, Arizona State, adding former top-50 recruit Taeshon Cherry, a player oozing with talent, never figured it out at Arizona State. And Point Guard Holland Woods, the former Portland State star, averaged 17.7 PPG two seasons ago.
The Lopes do lose both Alessandro Lever & Asbjorn Mitgaard but add in Aidan Igiehon & Yvan Ouedraogo to try supplanting the minutes & production of their two stars from last season.
Sam Houston State
Savion Flagg Forward, Texas A&M (8.8 PPG, 4.5 RPG)
Kuba Karwowski Center, Utah State
JD Ray Guard, NOC Tonkawa (16.3 PPG, 3.6 RPG, 5.7 APG)
DeMarkus Lampley, Guard (14.6 PPG)
Typically, on a list of this type, I wouldn’t include a team that lost two of their top three scorers to the transfer portal, but two of the additions Jason Hooten made could be absolute game-changers. Savion Flagg was a proven double-digit scorer at the SEC level for Texas A&M and will replace Zach Nutall as the team star player. JD Ray from NOC Tonkawa slides seamlessly into the role of a lead guard, a role he’s very accustomed to during his time in the JUCO ranks. Despite being a small guard, Ray doesn’t let his size hinder his game — he plays far bigger than his 5’10 frame.
Demarkus Lampley announced his intentions to return for the extra year of eligibility, off the heels of an impressive season for the sharpshooting guard.
Jordyn Adams Guard, Austin Peay (9.4 PPG)
Xavier Ball Forward, John A. Logan (13 PPG, 4.3 RPG)
Kasen Harrison (Kind of? transferred to LA Tech verbally, but decided to return to Lamar)
Alvin Brooks, Head Coach
Lamar made a home run hire by getting an alumnus who was long overdue for another head coaching opportunity. Brooks hadn’t been the head coach of a team since the late 1990s as the Houston Cougars lead-man, and that’s where he also spent the last 11 seasons as the associate head coach.
The guard duo of Jordyn Adams should be able to rebound & find his freshman season form. Kasen Harrison could be a lethal combination in the rejuvenated WAC next season. Adams struggled with injures & inconsistency last season but averaged 18 PPG in 2019-20 for Austin Peay. The third newcomer, Xavier Ball, was an absolute steal for this Cardinals staff — for a John A. Logan team with seven players headed to the D1 ranks next season, one that fell severely under the radar was the 6’7 sniper, Xavier Ball.
West Coast Conference:
Terrell Brown Forward, Pittsburgh (2.5 PPG, 2.7 RPG)
Jase Townsend Guard, Denver (19.2 PPG, 4.2 RPG, 2.2 APG)
Bryce Monroe Guard, Sam Houston State (10.1 PPG)
Marcellus Earlington Forward, St John’s (6.8 PPG, 4.1 RPG)
Josh Parrish, Guard
The Toreros finished off two rough seasons in a row; however, there’s reason to be optimistic with the transfers coming into the fold for Sam Scholl next season. You get a 19 PPG scorer from Denver in point guard Jase Townsend & an undersized guard that can score in bunches, Bryce Monroe from Sam Houston. The two incoming forwards, Terrell Brown & Marcellus Earlington, are both experienced in playing a lot of minutes at high-major programs. Earlington is a player that could sneak his way onto the All-West Coast Conference team next season — he displays a perfect modern-day playstyle with size & shooting ability from deep.
San Diego is going to sneak up on people’s radars next season, not a top-of-the-conference team, but a team that’ll send shivers down the spine of upper-tier WCC teams.
Cam Shelton Guard, Northern Arizona (19.2 PPG, 5.9 RPG, 4.2 APG)
Alex Merkviladze Forward, Cal State Northridge (10 PPG, 7 RPG)
Kwane Marble Wing, Wyoming (9.5 PPG, 4.1 RPG)
Eli Scott, Forward (18 PPG, 8.2 RPG)
The hands-down winner from the West Coast Conference this offseason is Stan Johnson’s Loyola Marymount Lions. After a long hiatus from relevancy, LMU is back in a position where they can get the national spotlight. Not to the extent of the Hank Gathers & Bo Kimble days, but can this team make the tournament? Absolutely, here’s why: Eli Scott, an all-time great program, is returning for his final season & brings along a close friend, former high-school teammate Cameron Shelton from NAU. Shelton burst onto the scene in his junior season for the Lumberjacks, as he closed out the season averaging 19.2 PPG, 5.9 RPG, 4.2 APG, earning himself first-team Big Sky honors.
The other two transfers are names that won’t jump off the page to the average fan, but if you’re an LMU fan, both Kwane Marble & Alex Merkviladze are on the precipice of becoming big-time players. Marble is a wing coming in from Wyoming and was incredibly efficient on low-volume in his two seasons in Laramie, but Stan Johnson will get the most out of the talented junior wing. Merkviladze will be a longtime professional player with how seamlessly he fits into today’s version of Basketball — fluid athleticism, high-level shooting from deep & active rebounder. Loyola Marymount should be discussed in the “NCAA Tournament bubble discussion” entering next season.
PJ Pipes Guard, Green Bay (14.5 PPG, 4.2 RPG, 3.0 APG)
Parker Braun Forward, Missouri (2.8 PPG, 1.5 RPG)
Danilo Djuricic Forward, Harvard (2019-20 stats: 6.1 PPG, 4.3 RPG)
Josip Vrankic, Forward (15.2 PPG, 8.2 RPG)
The Broncos found themselves in a transition phase last season after getting ravaged in the transfer portal. Despite all the losses, Coach Sendek churned out another solid season & returns the leading scorer from last season, as 15 PPG scorer Josip Vrankic opted to utilize his extra year of eligibility. The good news continued, UWGB transfer P.J. Pipes announced his commitment to Santa Clara. Pipes concluded his Green Bay career with a career-best season, scoring the most points-per-game by far in his career at 14.5 PPG. Pipes is a sniper from outside & led the country in free-throw percentage last season at 95% from the charity stripe. Djuricic & Braun both add depth, size & shooting to the Santa Clara roster next season.