[caption id="attachment_350894" align="aligncenter" width="2560"] (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
It's mid-May, we are currently in Version 8.0 of the "15 best players currently in the transfer portal" and something just struck me as I began to write this piece: My relationship with the portal is basically like that scene in the "Godfather III" where Al Pacino says "Just when I thought I was out, pull suck me right back in."
Seriously, I thought these updates were beginning to come to an end. Most of the marquee players have picked schools at this point, all while a handful still await word on the NBA Draft. When Marcus Carr made his intentions to stay in the draft clear late Monday, I assumed this might be my final update.
Then Tuesday morning rolled around and Remy Martin - one of the best guards in college basketball the last few years - entered the portal. And it made me realize that the portal news might only be beginning. After all, we still have plenty of players of testing the draft process, like we always do this time of year. More importantly, we have a bunch of seniors with an extra year of eligibility. Many of those players probably thought
they were gone this season. But now, after testing the draft waters and seeing an uncertain NBA future, they can now return to college hoops if they want.
Anyway, that's a long winded way of me saying, these updates may go on for a while.
If you missed Version 1.0
you get caught up.
In the meantime, here is Version 8.0:
1. Remy Martin, G, Arizona State
Ranking Last Week: N/A
Marcus Carr officially declared for the NBA Draft on Monday night (or at least we think he did) bringing an end to his run as the top player on this list. And there was a little debate among the panel who puts together this list over who should be No. 1 going forward.
(Ok, I lied. There is no "panel" who puts together this list. It's just me, thinking way too much about transfers, all while occasionally waking up in the middle of the night in a cold sweat screaming things to myself like "Sahvir Wheeler's too low. SAHVIR WHEELER'S TOO LOW!")
Anyway, back to the list, because just when I didn't know who to slot at No. 1, a gift from the transfer Gods presented itself on Tuesday morning: Remy Martin - as mentioned above - put his name in the portal. And he becomes the obvious top player on this list. While it's too early to say anything for sure, it seems as though Martin went through the professional process and didn't like the feedback he got, and is now considering another season of college hoops. Following the disaster that was the 2020-2021 season at Arizona State, it's not surprising that he will look elsewhere.
At this point, Martin's resume speaks for itself, as a two-time Pac-12 first team member who averaged 19 points per game in each of the past two seasons. In the process, he three-point percentage also went up this past season (nearly 35 percent) all while his turnovers went down.
Admittedly, Martin isn't a perfect player - which isn't surprising, considering that he could be coming back for a fifth season of college hoops. He does look for his own shot a little too much, can play out of control at times and does get a little too shot happy. Still, you have to take the good with the bad, and there simply aren't all that many point guards who have produced at the level he has the last few seasons, especially available in the transfer portal this late.
While it's too early to assume anything in his recruitment, my guess is that - after that disastrous season at Arizona State - he will be looking for a place where he can both win and be showcased for the NBA. For teams looking for a game-changing point guard (cough, cough, Kentucky) this should be a no-brainer call.
Recruiting buzz: Too early to tell
2. Marcus Bagley, F, Arizona State
Ranking Last Week: No. 2
Like Martin, Bagley was part of a frustrating and disappointing Arizona State team a season ago. Also like Martin, Bagley wasn't to blame for the Sun Devils shortfall. If anything, he was one of the most surprising freshmen in college hoops last season, going from a player mostly off the NBA's radar to start the year, to a guy who was getting lottery buzz by the Christmas. After he cooled off late, his NBA Draft stock is now more in flux. Most mock drafts have him as an early second round pick.
Still, in a text conversation with KSR late last week
, a member of Bagley's camp told me that right now the focus remains on the NBA Draft. However, should Bagley return to college he'll have no shortage of suitors, with Kentucky, Kansas, Arkansas, USC, LSU and others in the mix.
Unlike his older brother Marvin Bagley, Marcus is more of an elite, two-way wing than low post player, who averaged nearly 11 points and five rebounds per game last season. He also shot 35 percent from behind the three-point line, all with the ability to jump out of the gym at 6'8.
If he does elect to return to college, expect him to be a legit star, and should enter next season with real buzz as a potential lottery pick in the 2022 NBA Draft. Again, unless he stays in the draft this spring.
Recruiting buzz: Focused on the NBA, but has a long list of college suitors
3. Quincy Guerrier, F, Syracuse
Last Week: No. 4
Upon closer inspection I decided to move Guerrier up a spot on this list, simply because he's a plug and play guy who can step in for any program in America next season and produce. That tends to happen when you enter the portal after averaging nearly 14 points and leading a Sweet 16 team in rebounding per game (8.4 per game). Still, with Syracuse's offense continually evolving more towards “Let Buddy Boeheim do what he wants” and the 2-3 zone seemingly not preparing him for the next level, Guerrier is in the portal and will have an impact somewhere next season.
In terms of his game, with Guerrier, you have to accept the good with the bad.
First, the good: He has the size, length, athleticism and strength of a future NBA wing. At 6’8 he is a fluid athlete who looks the part and plays hard every time out on the floor. But there is the bad, as he’s just not really crazy skilled for a guy with his athleticism. And for a wing with NBA potential everywhere else, he doesn’t shoot the ball particularly well either, hitting just 31 percent of threes this season.
Still, the potential is there and it is reflected by the schools who are recruiting him, which include Kentucky, Alabama, Arkansas, Oregon and others. Now about 10 days into his time in the portal, Adam Zagoria recently tweeted
that Guerrier has already had Zoom calls with Illinois, Memphis and Marquette among others.
Recruiting buzz: Too early to tell
4. Moussa Cisse, C, Memphis
Ranking Last Week: No. 3
Cisse was a Top 10 prospect in the class of 2020 who actually reclassified last summer and remains young for his age. While it remains unfair that he was labeled a "one and done" prospect coming into last season (anyone who saw him play in high school knew he was far from it) he proved to be an elite rim protector in his one season in college hoops, with a still-evolving offensive game.
In terms of production, Cisse did put up really good numbers in limited minutes last season. He averaged six points, six rebounds and 1.5 blocks per game in 20 minutes of play, and it's not hard to imagine what kind of numbers he'll put up with more time on the court.
Put simply, Cisse will enter next year as one of the best rim protectors in college hoops, and it's on whatever staff signs him to develop his offensive game. Still, guys with his size (6'11) and athleticism don't come along very often. And he remains on track to someday play in the NBA. Since entering the portal, his recruitment has remained quiet.
Recruiting buzz: Too early to tell
5. Sahvir Wheeler, G, Georgia
Ranking Last Week: No. 7
Wheeler is another player I elected to move up following further evaluation, as - outside of Martin - he remains the best legitimate point guard option in the transfer portal.
Put simply, Wheeler is a playmaker at point guard, and a guy who - unlike many players in modern basketball - actually makes others around him better. As has been well-documented by now, Wheeler averaged 14 points per game at Georgia and also tallied 7.4 assists per game as well, which was fifth in the country. Like everyone on this list, his game isn't perfect; he turns the ball over too much (over four times per game this season) and doesn’t shoot the ball well (22.5 percent). But it’s clear by the schools that are interested, that the good outweighs the bad with him.
Speaking of those schools, Wheeler is down to four teams in his recruitment: Kentucky, Kansas, LSU and Oklahoma State.
While Kansas was seen as an early leader, Kentucky has picked up major steam in the last few days. His commitment is expected any day now.
Recruiting buzz: Down to Kentucky, Kansas, LSU and Oklahoma State
6. Tre Mitchell, F/C, UMass
Ranking Last Week: No. 6
Congratulations to Tre Mitchell! With Carr off to the NBA, Mitchell is the only player to make all eight of these lists. As they say, "patience is a virtue" and no one in college hoops has more patience than Mitchell, apparently.
In all seriousness however, once Mitchell does commit, some program will get a difference-making big man down low. A former Top 100 recruit, the 6’9 Mitchell averaged 18.8 points and 7.2 rebounds with over a block and a steal per game for the Minutemen last year. He initially chose UMass over a handful of Power 6 schools, so it's not like he snuck up on anyone either. He has been a well-known commodity dating back to his high school days.
In terms of what's next, well, there have essentially been no recruiting updates with Mitchell in weeks. For a minute LSU quietly picked up some buzz behind the scenes, but after they took a commitment from five-star high school center Efton Reid last week, it's hard to know if they're still in the picture. The last real, credible report came from Adam Zagoria
back in March - MARCH!!! - who simply said that somewhere in the neighborhood of 75 schools had reached out to Mitchell and his camp.
Recruiting buzz: Who knows
7. KD Johnson, G, Georgia
Ranking Last Week: N/A
While former Georgia guard Sahvir Wheeler's commitment could come any day, Johnson, Wheeler's backcourt mate this season, is new to the portal within the last 24 hours. And the news is especially crippling for Georgia, as the Bulldogs top five scorers (and seven of its top eight last season) have decided to leave the program this off-season.
Not great, Tom Crean. Not great.
Putting aside that Crean will likely end up as one of the worst power conference hires in decades when its all said and done in Athens, Johnson can really play. A powerfully built 6'1 combo guard, he was the Bulldogs' second leading scorer last season as a freshman, scoring 13.1 points per game, and in the process, earning All-SEC Freshman team honors. He also shot nearly 39 percent from beyond the three-point arc and had four 20-point games. Again, as a freshman in the SEC.
Some team will get a really good player, with plenty of upside.
8. Bryce Thompson, G, Kansas
Ranking Last Week: No. 5
Thompson has been on this list for several weeks now, so there really isn’t all that much to add or report. A former McDonald’s All-American, Thompson is an elite shooter. But he was also slowed by injuries at Kansas this year, playing in just 20 of 30 games.
Therefore, what we’re really betting on is that he gets healthy and finds a fit with his particular skill-set. He probably isn’t an immediate, All-Conference type guy for next season but someone who could definitely develop into that down the road. If anything, his path feels weirdly similar to former Kansas Jayhawk Quentin Grimes, who transferred to Houston, and by his junior year became a key cog on a Final Four team.
Since deciding to leave Kansas, Thompson’s recruitment has been quiet. An Oklahoma native, many believe that Oklahoma or Oklahoma State have the inside track.
Recruiting buzz: Pretty quiet, but Oklahoma and Oklahoma State seem like the favorites
9. Darryl Morsell, G, Maryland
Ranking Last Week: No. 8
Morsell is a player who has already graduated from Maryland and is going through the draft process, so at this point it’s hard to know whether he will actually use his extra year of eligibility or not. But if he does, some team will get one of the toughest guards in college basketball and one of the best perimeter defenders in America.
And that isn’t an exaggeration, as Morsell won the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year last year – again, as a guard. He also averaged nine points and three assists per game in helping the Terps to a second round NCAA Tournament appearance.
In terms of what’s next, it’s hard to know with Morsell. There was an initial list of suitors that came out a few weeks ago, but again, Morsell appears set to pursue professional options before committing to return to school. The possibility also exists that he could return to Maryland for an additional season.
Recruiting buzz: A long list of suitors, and will also consider a return to Maryland or professional options as well
10. Jordan Brown, F, Arizona
Ranking Last Week: N/A
With three years of college basketball complete, and as many as three more years to go, it has already been a long, winding road for Jordan Brown in this sport.
A former McDonald's All-American, Brown was the signature recruiting win for Eric Musselman at Nevada. But after a disappointing freshman campaign and Musselman's departure for Arkansas, Brown decided to transfer. He sat out the 2019-2020 season, and then played last year at Arizona. Following Sean Miller's firing earlier this spring he is now in the portal for a second time in three off-seasons.
At this point the shine of being a former McDonald's All-American has worn off, but Brown did show last season at Arizona that he can be a serviceable big man for a good team in college hoops. He averaged 9.4 points and 5.2 rebounds in just 19 minutes played per game last year for the Wildcats, and again, is a big body that can give minutes and play a role on any team in the country.
New to the portal, there are no leaders for his services. It's also worth noting that because he has already transferred once, Brown would need a waiver to be eligible next season.
Recruiting buzz: Too early to tell
11. Bryce Hamilton, G, UNLV
Ranking Last Week: No. 10
There are times where a mid-major player has a ton of success, but when he transfers up to a higher level he just can’t get the job done. However, I don’t expect Hamilton to be one of those guys. The kid is a straight bucket-getter, and should be able to get points wherever he goes next season.
Hamilton was one of the best scorers in a better-than-you-realize Mountain West, averaging nearly 18 points per game to go along with six rebounds and three assists as well. And while Hamilton wasn’t a great shooter in 2021 (just 31.3 percent) he has shot as high as 34 percent for a season in his college career. So he’s probably a bit better than the numbers would indicate.
In addition to hitting the portal, Hamilton is also testing the draft waters, so in theory it could be a while before he makes a final decision. A Pasadena, California native, there has been buzz that Hamilton could both commit to a school in the Pac-12 footprint and also some chatter around Arkansas as well. Right now though, there is seemingly no clearly leader.
Recruiting buzz: Testing the draft waters with both Pac-12 and Arkansas buzz in his college recruitment.
12. Rocket Watts, G, Michigan State
Ranking Last Week: No. 11
Rocket Watts has been in the portal for well over a month now. So I’ll try to be quick with this update, since there is no real, actual “update” to speak of.
Watts is a true combo guard, a player who thrived playing alongside Cassius Winston as a freshman in 2019-2020, when he averaged nearly 10 points per game, but saw his numbers dip as he was forced into a point guard role as a sophomore. The kid is a solid playmaker off the ball, but unfortunately Michigan State tried to turn him into a point guard last season. It’s not either side’s fault that it didn’t work, but now Watts has decided to move on.
Because he’s been in the portal so long, it’s hard to know what exactly the hold up is in his recruitment. He was initially linked to Florida State and Louisville, but both schools appear to have filled out their rosters since then. And Jake Weingarten reported that Kentucky had reached out, but that seemed more of a feeling out process, then concrete push to sign him. There has been some DePaul chatter of late behind the scenes also.
Recruiting buzz: Relatively quiet last few weeks
13. Jacob Young, G, Rutgers
Ranking Last Week: No. 14
At 23-years-old and with five years of college basketball under his belt, we know what Young is at this point: Just a really, solid college basketball player. He was the starting point guard on a Rutgers squad that made its first NCAA Tournament since 1991 this past season, averaging 14.1 points and 3.4 assists per game. To his credit, he also vastly improved his three-point shooting (getting it up to 37 percent in 2021) as well.
Again, he’s a really solid college basketball player, but because of his age, it’s hard to know what his next move will be. He is looking into his pro options, and considering he will be 24 by the start of next season, might decide to just skip his final year of college hoops altogether. If he does return to college ball, he should be in demand. He might not be able to take your team to the “next level” but he can help just about any program in America.
Recruiting buzz: Considering professional options before looking at possibility of returning to college
14. Aaron Cook, G, Gonzaga
Ranking Last Week: 14
Cook’s placement on this list probably shows just how shallow the transfer pool is beginning to get. Had he entered the portal right around the time we did Version No. 2 or 3 of this list, he might not have made it all. Now he’s in the Top 15, as a guy who would be a solid role player for a high-major team, but probably best-suited for the mid-major level.
Cook actually began his career at the mid-major level, averaging 15 points per game at Southern Illinois in 2019-2020. Then as a grad transfer elected to head to Gonzaga last year, where he was expected to be a primary back-up for Joel Ayayi and Jalen Suggs. Once Andrew Nembhard got eligible however, that role diminished, as he averaged just 4.2 points per game on the season.
With his extra year of eligibility, Cook will look for another new home. Again, his best spot would probably be at the mid-major level.
Recruiting buzz: Too early to tell
15. EJ Onu, C, Shawnee State
Ranking Last Week: 15
Let’s end this list on a fun note, with a guy that everyone – including high-major coaches – are just now learning about.
Onu entered the portal two weeks ago, as a 6’11 center who averaged 16.9 points, 8.1 rebounds and 4.5 blocks at NAIA school Shawnee State last season. In the process, he won his conference’s Player of the Year award, and a third-straight Defensive Player of the Year award in league play as well.
Now, with an extra year of eligibility Onu will test himself at the highest level of college hoops. ESPN’s Jonathan Givony reports that he has already heard from Texas Tech, Indiana, Ohio State and LSU and is also considering the NBA Draft as well.
So, assuming that he plays college hoops, can a guy jump from NAIA to the high-major level of Division I college hoops and have a major impact? Who knows. But dudes that are 6’11 with 7’6 wingspans don’t grow on trees.
Recruiting buzz: Has heard from Texas Tech, Indiana, Ohio State and LSU and is also testing the NBA Draft waters.
Players who’ve made decisions since Version 7.0 last week:
Marcus Carr, G, Minnesota (will pursue professional options)
CJ Fredrick, G, Iowa (committed to Kentucky)
Izaiah Brockington, G, Penn State (committed to Iowa State)
Players who’ve appeared on this list and committed prior to last week:
Walker Kessler, F/C, North Carolina (committed to Auburn)
Mac McClung, G, Texas Tech (testing the waters, but will play at Texas Tech if he returns to college)
Justin Powell, G, Auburn (committed to Tennessee)
Timmy Allen, G/F, Utah (committed to Texas)
Kellan Grady, G, Davidson (committed to Kentucky)
Fatts Russell, G, Rhode Island (committed to Maryland)
James Akinjo, G, Arizona (committed to Baylor)
Dylan Disu, F, Vanderbilt (committed to Texas)
Garrison Brooks, F/C, North Carolina (committed to Mississippi State)
Marcus Williams, G, Wyoming (committed to Texas A&M)
Matt Bradley, G, Cal (committed to San Diego State)
Micah Peavy, F, Texas Tech (committed to TCU)
Adam Miller, G, Illinois (committed to LSU)
Khristian Lander, G, Indiana (returning to Indiana)
Boogie Ellis, G, Memphis (committed to USC)
Kyler Edwards, G, Texas Tech (committed to Houston)
Armaan Franklin, G, Indiana (committed to Virginia)
Noah Locke, G, Florida (committed to Louisville)
Liam Robbins, C, Minnesota (committed to Vanderbilt)
Xavier Pinson, G, Missouri (committed to LSU)
DJ Jeffries, F, Memphis (committed to Mississippi State)
Earl Timberlake, G/F, Miami (committed to Memphis)
Kadary Richmond, G, Syracuse (committed to Seton Hall)
Christian Bishop, F, Creighton (committed to Texas)
De’Vion Harmon, G, Oklahoma (committed to Oregon)
Qudus Wahab, C, Georgetown (committed to Maryland)
DeVante’ Jones, G, Coastal Carolina (committed to Michigan)
Chris Lykes, G, Miami (committed to Arkansas)
Au’Diese Toney, G, Pitt (committed to Arkansas)
Nimari Burnett, G, Texas Tech (committed to Alabama)
Brady Manek, F, Oklahoma (committed to North Carolina)
Myles Johnson, F/C, Rutgers (committed to UCLA)
Xavier Johnson, G, Pitt (committed to Indiana)
Stanley Umude, F, South Dakota (committed to Arkansas)
Jaemyn Brakefield, F, Duke (committed to Ole Miss)
Kerr Kriisa, G, Arizona (withdrew from the portal and will return to Arizona)
Rasir Bolton, G, Iowa State (committed to Gonzaga)
Oumar Ballo, F, Gonzaga (committed to Arizona)
Devin Askew, G, Kentucky (committed to Texas)
Henry Coleman, F, Duke (committed to Texas A&M)