The 15 best players in the transfer portal: Version 4.0

by:Aaron Torres04/14/21

(Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

It’s Wednesday, and you know what that means, it’s time to update our transfer big board with “The 15 Best Players in the Transfer Portal” Version 4.0.

This is now the fourth week that we’ve done this national big board, and this past week was by far the busiest. Of the 20 players listed last week (yes, I know it says “15 best” but I always add a few extra) 12 committed to other schools. Among the more notable ones were Walker Kessler heading to Auburn and Timmy Allen (as well as Devin Askew) committing to Texas yesterday.

Still, if we’ve learned anything about the transfer portal this off-season it’s that the portal both giveth and taketh away, and there are a bunch of new names on this list, who weren’t in the portal when we did our most recent edition.

Speaking of which, if you want to go back and read our old versions, here are Version 1.0, 2.0 and 3.0.

Now, let’s get to this week’s list:

1. Marcus Carr, G, Minnesota

Ranking Last Week: No. 1 

Forgive us if this is getting repetitive. This is now Version 4.0 of the list – and Marcus Carr has held onto the No. 1 spot in each of them. When you average 19 points and five assists per game in the Big Ten, that tends to happen. Yes, it’s fair to criticize certain elements of his game (he shot just 31 percent from three and can get a little shot happy at times), but he remains the best player in the transfer portal. And would have the biggest impact of everyone on this list should he play college basketball next year.

The question of course is whether he will actually play college hoops next season. While there have been rumblings of him committing (likely to Kentucky) the bottom-line remains that Carr appears willing to pursue any and all professional avenues before making a college commitment.

Recruiting Buzz: Will test his NBA options before making a college decision

2. Mac McClung, G, Texas Tech

Ranking Last Week: N/A 

For the second time in as many seasons, Mac McClung finds himself in the portal. And like last year, he will test his NBA options before committing to a school.

Assuming he does return to college, well, at this point we all know what McClung will bring to his next program. He stands just 6’2 but has elite athletic ability, and few players are better at getting to the line and drawing fouls. Yes, he probably shoots too much, and can – at times – take some really low percentage shots. But there simply just aren’t that many players in college hoops capable of getting buckets like he can.

Again, it appears as though McClung will pursue professional options before choosing a new school.

Recruiting Buzz: Will test his NBA options before making a college decision

3. Bryce Thompson, G, Kansas

Ranking Last Week: N/A

Thompson isn’t just new to this list, but new to the portal, announcing his decision to leave Kansas on Tuesday afternoon. What was the Jayhawks loss will now be some other program’s major gain.

Thompson was a McDonald’s All-American in 2020, and was known as one of the best scorers and shot makers in all of high school basketball in last year’s class. Unfortunately Kansas fans rarely got to see any of Thompson’s talents on display this year, as he missed a bunch of time with a slew of injuries, including a broken hand. Still, assuming he is healthy, Thompson should be an instant starter at any school he chooses, with All-Conference upside if he plays to his potential.

After entering the portal this week it feels too early to speculate where Thompson could end up, although the Oklahoma native did seriously consider both Oklahoma and Oklahoma State coming out of high school.

Recruiting Buzz: Too early to tell

4. Garrison Brooks, F/C, North Carolina

Ranking Last Week: N/A

Once the NCAA gave players an extra year of eligibility it had long been reported that Brooks would consider using his final season somewhere other than North Carolina – and last Friday it became official. The preseason ACC Player of the Year instantly becomes one of the most coveted players in the portal, after averaging 10 points and seven rebounds this past season for the Tar Heels. His stats were actually down from a season ago, in part because of the depth of North Carolina’s frontcourt.

In terms of his game, well, Brooks is about as well-known of a commodity as anyone in the portal. He’s a college veteran, that has played – and produced – at the highest levels of college basketball, so you know exactly what you’re going to get from. He’s not a great athlete, not a rim protector and doesn’t stretch the floor (he attempted just eight three pointers this season) but is a great back to the basket, low post player. If you get him the ball in position he will score, and relentlessly crash the glass. Again, he won’t be a star at the next spot he lands, but will be very, very productive.

Looking at his recruitment, Brooks’ father is an assistant coach at Mississippi State and he actually committed to the Bulldogs out of high school before flipping to North Carolina. Ben Howland’s club as seen as the favorite once again this time around.

Recruiting buzz: Too early to tell, although Mississippi State seems to be the favorite

5. Adam Miller, G, Illinois

Ranking Last Week: No. 4

Miller made his debut on this list last week as one of the more surprising transfer portal entries. Normally players enter the portal for one of three reasons – they’re homesick, aren’t playing much or their team isn’t very good. Well, Miller is from Illinois and started every game for an Illini squad that won the Big Ten tournament title and earned a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament. This is just the new world of college hoops, apparently.

Regardless, now that he’s in the portal, Miller is – and should be – one of the most coveted players available, as a guy who is a former 35 recruit nationally that is a solidly built combo guard and was productive in his one year at Illinois. He averaged 8.3 points and shot nearly 35 percent from three-point land.

There are no definitive favorites in Miller’s recruitment, although he has been working out with Kentucky commit Bryce Hopkins in recent weeks. Michigan is also believed to be in the mix as well.

Recruiting buzz: Too early to tell, although Kentucky and Michigan appear to be early favorites

6. Marcus Williams, G, Wyoming

Ranking Last Week: N/A

Williams is a perfect example of why it’s hard not to feel bad for mid-major coaches. Williams was essentially not recruited by anyone out of high school, committing to coach Jeff Linder at Northern Colorado. When Linder left for Wyoming Williams followed him – and turned into one of the best freshmen anywhere in college basketball next year.

Now, he’s gone and almost certainly headed for a high-major. Unfortunately, that’s just the way the game is now for mid-major programs.

Alright, now that I’m officially off my soap box, let’s talk about Williams’ game, because there is a reason he is so high on this list and will be so coveted by college coaches. He’s a lead, playmaking guard, that averaged nearly 15 points and four assists last season, on his way to earning Mountain West Freshman of the Year. That included five 20 point games, and a 30 point game – again, as a freshman in one of the 10 best leagues in college hoops.

Williams just entered the portal Monday, so it’s hard to speculate where he’ll end up. But he will be really good wherever he lands.

Recruiting buzz: Too early to tell

7. Tre Mitchell, F, UMass

Ranking Last Week: N/A

We’ve done four versions of this big board and Mitchell has been on all four, so there is no need to go too deep here. What you need to know is that he was basically a high-major kid playing at the mid-major level these past two seasons, as a former Top 100 recruit with power conference offers, who followed his high school coach to Amherst. There he balled out, including this past season, where he averaged 18.8 points and 7.2 rebounds per game this season before electing to hit the portal.

(I’ve mentioned it before, but, for your own record keeping purposes, his high school coach left shortly after he hit the portal – so do with that information as you please)

As for his recruitment, there is no real buzz to speak of. Adam Zagoria reported weeks ago that “over 75 schools” had reached out, there has been no real update since then.

Recruiting buzz: No real updates of late to speak of

8. Darryl Morsell, G, Maryland

Ranking Last Week: No. 9 

Morsell has one skill that separates him from everyone on this list – and honestly just about everyone in college basketball. that skill is “defense.” But it’s a skill that every single team in college basketball can use, and there might not have been a better perimeter defender (outside of Baylor’s Davion Mitchell) in college basketball last year. And that isn’t hyperbole – he was named the Big Ten’s Defensive Player of the Year – as a guard.

So yeah, Morsell isn’t a guy that will get you 30 points per game (he averaged just nine points per game and shot just 25 percent from three) but will immediately bring toughness and defensive intensity to any school he plays for. Again, there isn’t a program in college hoops that couldn’t use that guy.

In terms of “what’s next” well, that’s where it’s pretty wide open. ESPN’s Jeff Borzello put out a list of schools that Morsell is considering, but he has also said that he will test the NBA Draft waters. He also hasn’t ruled out the idea of returning to Maryland

Basically, he’s wide open.

Recruiting buzz: A long list of suitors who will also consider a return to Maryland or professional options in addition to the NBA

9. DJ Jeffries, F, Memphis

Ranking Last Week: No. 13 

It’s been a winding few years for Jeffries, who once committed to Kentucky, then decommitted when Penny Hardaway got the Memphis job – and has now decided to transfer after two seasons with the Tigers.

And while his Memphis career didn’t go as planned, it’s not totally his fault. Jeffries was on his way to a breakout freshman season, averaging nearly 11 points per game last year, before a season ending injury. This year he came back, but didn’t seem to have the same level of athleticism or fluidity of a year ago, but still managed to averaged 9.9 per game.

Still, some team is going to buy low on a big, athletic wing, with an NBA body and skill-set, that just hasn’t quite figured things out at the college level yet.

There are no real updates on Jeffries’ recruitment, although there is some speculation he will return to his home state of Mississippi and play for Ben Howland’s Mississippi State Bulldogs.

Recruiting Buzz: Too early to tell

10. Rocket Watts, G, Michigan State

Ranking Last Week: No. 16

I said it last week and I’ll say it again: I’m a believer in Rocket Watts. As a freshman he played alongside Cassius Winston and thrived, averaging nearly 10 points per game, but saw his numbers dip as he was forced into a point guard role as a sophomore. Put simply, I believe that as long as he isn’t forced into a point guard role, he will thrive at his next school.

Speaking of a “next school” we got a little update on that this week, as Stock Riser’s Jake Weingarten says that Kentucky has reached out, while Louisville – which got a commitment from Noah Locke this weekend – has backed off. Other schools such as LSU, UConn and others have reached out as well.

Recruiting buzz: Kentucky the latest team to get in the mix for Watts

11. Bryce Hamilton, G, UNLV

Ranking Last Week: N/A

While there are sometimes strange reasons for a player to enter the transfer portal, Hamilton’s decision makes perfect sense. Had he stayed at UNLV, he would have been set to play for his third different coach in four seasons. Instead he has now hit the portal and will have an opportunity to get a fresh start, likely at a higher level of play.

And whoever gets him will get a three-level scorer, who averaged 18 points per game on his way to All-Mountain West honors last season. While he didn’t shoot the ball great from beyond the arc this year (31.9 percent) it’s worth noting that he shot closer to 34 percent in the 2019-2020 season.

Again, Hamilton is a really good college basketball player, and the list of schools recruiting him reflects it. It includes some of the best programs in college hoops, including Kansas, Kentucky and UConn.

Recruiting buzz: Has heard from some of the biggest names in college basketball, including Kansas, Kentucky and UConn

12. Christian Bishop, F, Creighton

Ranking Last Week: No. 18

Another transfer portal entry that was truly shocking last week, Bishop was the starting center on a Creighton team that made the Sweet 16 this past season. He averaged 11 points and 6.4 rebounds per game, and as a non-shooter, it appeared to be the perfect role for him.

Several schools have reached out to Bishop, including Arkansas, Minnesota and Missouri.

Recruiting buzz: A number of schools involved

13. Brady Manek, F, Oklahoma

Ranking Last Week: N/A

How long has Brady Manek been in college? He actually began his career playing alongside Trae Young, which feels like a lifetime ago. However, with the NCAA giving out an extra year of eligibility, he has decided to use a fifth-year outside of Norman.

At this point you know exactly what you’re going to get from Manek: He’s a skilled, 6’9 forward with real three-point range that averaged 10.8 points on 38 percent three-point shooting. And that 11 point per game average is actually down from his junior season when he averaged 14.4.

Put simply, Manek is just a really good college player, who will versatility to someone’s roster next year. Arkansas is among the many schools who’ve reached out.

Recruiting buzz: Arkansas among many schools to reach out

14. Myles Johnson, C, Rutgers

Ranking Last Week: N/A

Johnson is just another really good college basketball player, who was a multi-year starter at Rutgers. He isn’t very athletic, but at a legitimate 6’11 he is just a bull in the paint, and averaged eight points and eight rebounds per game for an NCAA Tournament team.

In terms of his recruitment, well, this is pretty cool: After graduating from Rutgers in three years, he announced last week that he has been accepted to UCLA’s engineering program.

It appears as though the Bruins are the leader in the clubhouse for his services.

Recruiting buzz: UCLA lean

15. Jaemyn Brakefield, F, Duke

Ranking Last Week: No. 20

Brakefield is a former Top 50 recruit who got buried behind both Jalen Johnson and Matt Hurt this year, but when Johnson quit the team saw his minutes increase. And he delivered, including a memorable 11-point performance against Virginia. Unfortunately it wasn’t sustainable down the stretch.

Still, as an athletic, 6’8 left, Brakefield will find a home somewhere and thrive. He is a really good 3-4 college player at the high-major level.

Originally from Mississippi, early recruiting buzz was that Ole Miss had the edge.

Recruiting buzz: Too early to tell, but Ole Miss seemingly has an edge

Five others to watch:

16. Oumar Ballo, C, Gonzaga

17. Rasir Bolton, G, Iowa State

18. Jacob Young, G, Rutgers

19. Jalen Pickett, G, Siena

20. Daejon Davis, G, Stanford

Previous players on this list who’ve committed:

Walker Kessler, F/C, North Carolina (committed to Auburn)

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)

Matt Bradley, G, Cal (committed to San Diego State)

Micah Peavy, F, Texas Tech (committed to TCU)

Khristian Lander, G, Indiana (returning to Indiana)

Boogie Ellis, G, Memphis (committed to USC)

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)

Earl Timberlake, G/F, Miami (committed to Memphis)

Kadary Richmond, G, Syracuse (committed to Seton Hall)

Qudus Wahab, C, Georgetown (committed to Maryland)

Chris Lykes, G, Miami (committed to Arkansas)

Au’Diese Toney, G, Pitt (committed to Arkansas)

Nimari Burnett, G, Texas Tech (committed to Alabama)

Xavier Johnson, G, Pitt (committed to Indiana)

Stanley Umude, F, South Dakota (committed to Arkansas)

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