The Top Ten Transfers in the ACC for 2023-24

On3 imageby:Jamie Shaw10/17/23


It is ACC week here at On3, as we keep the content rolling with the 2023-24 basketball season previews. Over 1,800 players entered the men’s college basketball transfer portal this off-season. Fourteen of the 15 teams in the ACC brought in players from the portal this offseason. Duke was the only team who did not.

In fact, only Boston College and Miami brought in less than two transfers. The other 12 teams in the ACC brought in multiple players through the portal. Forty-seven in total for the conference. NC State led the way with six transfer additions this off-season. Georgia Tech followed the Wolfpack with five, and Clemson, North Carolina, and Virginia each brought in four players via the transfer portal. There are a lot of variables that take place when transitioning schools, systems, and leagues. But, many times, a transfer is brought in for a specific need, and both parties are on the same page when the commitment is made.

Here, I take a look at the transfers in the ACC this season. This list is not of the best player or the highest upside player; it is based on the potential impact of the player. A big factor I looked at is how big of an impact the player will have on his program’s season. Could the player be an x-factor in a program finishing in the bottom third or top third? Will this player playing up to expectations make the difference in a program finishing with a winning record? A player’s impact on the league, on their team, their talent, and more were taken into account.

The talent of the transfers in the ACC was deep. Players like Ishmael Leggett (Pittsburgh), Tyzhaun Claude (Georgia Tech), and Jordan Minor (Virignia) are sure to have varying degrees of impact this season, but they were on the outside looking in of this exercise.

Let’s take a look at the ten impact transfers in the ACC for the upcoming season.

1. Jr. F Harrison Ingram, UNC

From: Stanford
Height/Weight: 6-7/235
2022-23 Stats: 32 Starts, 10.5 points, 5.8 rebounds, 3.p7 assists

The Buzz: The luxury of Harrison Ingram is you can do a lot of things with him. As a three or a four, his best attribute might be his initiation. This could help alongside a young point guard (Elliot Cadeau) and an adept scoring guard (RJ Davis). Ingram has always been at his best with the ball in his hands and making decisions. Ingram is a smart defender; he understands angles and help side. If he is to play some four, you want to see some switchability from him, which he is capable of. He has a strong frame and good length. Ingram is an intriguing piece with versatility and unselfish play. This is a big year for UNC and head coach Hubert Davis. They built a roster for this season that, on paper, fits. For them to meet expectations and get the Tar Heels back on track, Ingram will need to be good. Not necessarily the star but the piece that connects the stars together.

2. Jr. F Matthew Cleveland, Florida State

From: Florida State
Height/Weight: 6-7/210
2022-23 Stats: 30 Starts, 13.8 points, 7.4 rebounds, 1.8 assists, 44.5% FG

The Buzz: Matthew Cleveland will step into the four-man role that first-team All-ACC and second-round NBA Draft pick Jordan Miller vacated. That four-man spot was a versatile one that did some initiation on offense and defended multiple positions on defense. Last season, Miller shot 35.2 percent from three and finished with an assist-to-turnover ratio slightly above two to one. Cleveland also shot 35.0 percent from three but finished with a negative assist to turnover. Cleveland is a former five-star recruit, a McDonald’s All-American. He is a high IQ player, at his best, cutting off the ball and straight-line driving the rim in the halfcourt. He did not have much help around him at Florida State last season, as the Seminoles went through its worst season in over 20 years. While it will be difficult to replicate what Miller did, Cleveland is his own player and can put his own spin on the position. Miami also lost ACC Player of the Year Isaiah Wong, yet expectations for this season are high. Cleveland will need to take another step forward for those expectations to be met. 

3. So. G JJ Starling, Syracuse

From: Notre Dame
Height/Weight: 6-4/205
2022-23 Stats: 24 Starts, 11.2 points, 2.8 rebounds, 1.1 assists

The Buzz: Last year was a tough one for JJ Starling as Notre Dame limped through Mike Brey’s final season on the sideline. On the bright side, he was able to gain valuable experience with a lot of minutes played. The New York native decided in the off-season to transfer to Syracuse. This brought a lot of expectations, as he will pair with returning guard Judah Mintz, who returned after withdrawing his name from the NBA Draft, in Red Autry’s first season as the head coach. Starling is a strong guard. He is comfortable on the ball in the half-court, and he is confident as a scorer. As a freshman, he was not efficient at either. That said, a change of scenery in a familiar environment could be good for Starling. He is a year older, and the former McDonald’s All-American is a talented basketball player. As he becomes more efficient, how quickly can he and Mintz find their cohesion? There is a lot of juice in this backcourt, which is bringing some pre-season excitement around the program. In order for the Orange to live up to some of the hype, Starling will need to take that step. 

4. Jr. G Hunter Sallis, Wake Forest

From: Gonzaga
Height/Weight: 6-5/185
2022-23 Stats: 37 Games, 4.5 points, 2.2 rebounds, 1.4 assists, 46,6% FG

The Buzz: During Steve Forbes’ time at Wake Forest, he has seen a lot of success with transfers who underperformed at previous stops. It started two years ago with ACC Player of the Year Alondes Williams. Last year, Tyree Appleby was first-team All-ACC. This year, Hunter Sallis is the player that steps into the role. Sallis is an explosive guard and a former McDonald’s All-American; he simply could not find his footing at Gonzaga. At his best, Sallis is comfortable on the ball and attacking the rim. There is a defensive upside, and there is some combo guard capability. For the last two years, Wake Forest has also been knocking at the door of the NCAA Tournament, finishing both years just on the outside looking in. This year has continued optimism from inside the facility. For the Deacons to break through that threshold, Sallis will need to take his step into the spotlight.

5. Jr. F Andrew Rohde, Virginia

From: St. Thomas
Height/Weight: 6-6/185
2022-23 Stats: 31 Starts, 17.1 points, 3.7 rebounds, 3.6 assists, 1.7 steals, 44.8% FG

The Buzz: Andrew Rohde steps into a role for a Virginia team that returns only one starter. Rohde, the Summit League Rookie of the Year and a first-team All-Summit performer last season, is a versatile wing. On paper, his skill set fits the system that Tony Bennett runs. He is an instinctive defender with good length. Offensively, he can make plays, distribute the ball to the right spots, and create opportunities. While the expectation is not for Rohde to have to replicate what he did at St. Thomas, he will still need to take a step up in his game. Tighten up the shooting and become a more efficient scorer. Rohde’s processing should be a good fit alongside Reece Beekman, the team’s projected point guard. Rohde brings good versatility to the table and is someone looking to take a step from year one to year two. Can he elevate his game while also bringing out the best in his other teammates?

6. RS-Jr. F Zack Austin, Pittsburgh

From: High Point
Height/Weight: 6-7/205
2022-23 Stats: 26 Starts, 14.1 points, 5.4 rebounds, 1.3 assists, 1.1 steals, 2.1 blocks

The Buzz: Zack Austin brings a lot of length and athletic explosion to the table. Immediately, you hope the defense translates. Austin brings high-level versatility on that end with quick twitch and anticipation. He can guard the ball, get in the passing lanes, and protect the rim from the weak side. This versatility should allow him to toggle comfortably between the three and four on that end. Offensively, Austin knows who he is. He is at his best in transition and when attacking the basket in straight lines. He has burst and a purpose in the attack. The jump shot has improved, and while he has more confidence in the shot that the results have shown, there is touch there, and he should be able to maximize his efficiency in a more structured setting. Austin has sneaky potential here to be a breakout-type player. Pittsburgh lost a lot from last year’s NCAA Tournament team. If Jeff Capel is to sustain that type of success, Austin will need to step into his role and produce.

7. So. F Tre White, Louisville

From: USC
Height/Weight: 6-7/205
2022-23 Stats: 29 Starts, 9.0 points, 5.1 rebounds, 47.4% FG

The Buzz: Tre White transferred to Louisville after one season at USC, which saw him start 29 games and earn first-team Pac-12 All-Freshman honors. White finished top five in both scoring and rebounding for the NCAA Tournament team. He steps into a Louisville program that needs a go-to player. White, a former top-50 recruit, has a lot of talent. The confident wing is a capable scorer, an aggressive slasher, and a better shooter than he showed last season. The Louisville program is looking to take a step forward this season, and the opportunity for White should be readily available as he is expected to be a central figure in that progress.

8. GR G Joe Girard, Clemson

From: Syracuse
Height/Weight: 6-2/190
2022-23 Stats: 32 Starts, 16.4 points, 2.8 rebounds, 3.0 assists, 38.1% 3P

The Buzz: There are some quiet expectations building for Clemson and head coach Brad Brownell this season. Coming off a year that saw them finish 23-11 and get Hunter Tyson drafted, the Tigers return with expectations. Landing Joe Girard, along with other factors, is a reason for the optimism. Girard, who played four seasons and started 123 games at Syracuse, has scored 1,652 career points while knocking down 297 threes. He has finished top five in the ACC each of the last two seasons in three-pointers made and three-point field goal percentage. Throughout his career, Girard has also averaged 3.6 assists and 1.3 steals. He will be able to slide into a secondary play-maker role this season alongside returning senior point guard Chase Hunter. He will also have the luxury of playing with an interior presence like PJ Hall and beside a reputable versatile perimeter defender in Jack Clark. This is his fifth year, his final season, and the pieces are in place for a strong finish. Will his transition to Clemson be as seamless as expected?

9. GR G DJ Horne, NC State

From: Arizona State
Height/Weight: 6-1/175
2022-23 Stats: 34 Starts, 12.5 points, 3.4 rebounds, 2.4 assists, 1.1 steals, 35.5% 3P

The Buzz: While NC State may have lost its two best players, Terquavion Smith and Jarkel Joiner, they gained experienced pieces and a good bit of depth. One of the central pieces in the Wolfpack’s off-season overhaul was Arizona State grad transfer DJ Horne. Horne, who grew up in Cary, North Carolina, less than ten miles from NC State’s campus, was the second-leading scorer for an NCAA Tournament team last season. In total, Horne has scored 1,446 points and knocked down 253 threes during his collegiate career. He will be asked to step into a combo guard role for the Wolfpack this season. Horne finished top-20 in the Pac-12 last season in points, assists, and steals. While he does not have the sizzle that Smith or Joiner had, he certainly has the experience. And with that experience, he has seen production. For NC State to build on their NCAA Tournament bid last season, Horne will need to be good.

10. GR G Cormac Ryan, UNC

From: Notre Dame
Height/Weight: 6-5/195
2022-23 Stats: 32 Starts, 12.3 points, 4.0 rebounds, 2.5 assists, 1.3 steals, 34.4% 3P

The Buzz: As a team, UNC shot 31.2 percent from three last season, which Sports Reference calls the 312th overall in Division 1. The Tar Heels return RJ Davis, who was their top shooter 36.2 percent on 63 makes. This off-season, Hubert Davis went out and got shooting. That has been headlined by bringing in Cormac Ryan from Notre Dame. Ryan, a grad transfer who started at Stanford and spent his last two seasons at Notre Dame, has knocked down 212 threes in his career. The 6-foot-5 wing has made 36.4 percent of his 448 three-point attempts while at Notre Dame, including 40.7 percent just two seasons ago. While the numbers are not staggering, when you turn on the film, it can be. Ryan has a quick release with good balance. He is very adept at shooting off movement, which should play well alongside noted passers like Elliot Cadeau and Harrison Ingram. Hubert Davis has rebooted his team for year three, and a central piece in early expectations is the play and the shooting of Cormac Ryan. 

Multi-Time Transfers

Two players in the ACC could have significant potential this season if granted eligibility from the NCAA. Wake Forest center Efton Reid and Florida State guard Primo Spears are awaiting an appeal to the NCAA as both are non-graduated two-time transfers. If granted eligibility, both players should play a significant role this season.

Other Transfers to Watch

GR C Jordan Minor (Virginia), So. F Chance Westry (Syracuse), So. C Kebba Njie (Notre Dame), GR F Jack Clark (Clemson), Jr. G Claudell Harris (Boston College), GR G Josh Nickelberry (Florida State), So. G Skyy Clark (Louisville), GR G Michael O’Connell (NC State), Jr. F Ben Middlebrooks (NC State), GR C Tyzhaun Claude (Georgia Tech), Jr. G Ishmael Leggett (Pittsburgh), Jr. G Kevin Miller (Wake Forest), GR F Mekhi Long (Virginia Tech). So. F Tyler Nickel (Virginia Tech)