The 15 best players in the transfer portal: Version 5.0

Aaron Torres04/21/21


Article written by:On3 imageAaron Torres
<small>(Photo by John E. Moore III/Getty Images)</small>

(Photo by John E. Moore III/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 5.0.

At this point, you know the drill: The following list is basically the best players in the portal, regardless of position, class, school interest whatever. And – as we now enter the six week point of doing these lists – it feels as though the transfer cycle is finally starting to slow down a bit. Sure, there are a few new names to this list from last week (including two in the Top 10) but the good players are also quickly choosing new college homes. Just since we ran Version 4.0 last week, eight different players have committed to new schools, and that’s on top of the dozens of others who’ve made previous lists.

At some point, when all this wraps we’ll do an official “winners” and “losers” list from transfer season, but right now, let’s continue to focus on the 15 best players currently available.

If you missed Version 1.0, Version 2.0, Version 3.0 or Version 4.0 you can catch up on them here.

Here is Version 5.0:

1. Marcus Carr, G, Minnesota

Ranking Last Week: No. 1

We’ve now been doing this list for five weeks, and for five weeks Marcus Carr has held onto the top spot. Don’t expect that to change any time soon.

Carr (as has been very well documented by this point) was second team All-Big Ten, after averaging 19 points and five assists per game last season. And while he has been linked to some colleges (most notably Kentucky) it appears as though he is going to fully test the NBA Draft process before making the decision. Meaning it’s fair to wonder not only if Carr will play college hoops next year, but whether he actually even wants to or not.

Still, until he officially announces that he is staying in the NBA Draft, schools will pursue. The question they have to ask themselves now isn’t about his talent. But how long they’re willing to wait on him.

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

2. Mac McClung, G, Texas Tech

Ranking Last Week: No. 2

Like Carr, it appears as though McClung is planning on testing the NBA Draft process before making a college decision. Meaning that like Carr, it could be a while before we get any clarification on if McClung will play college basketball next season.

Of course if McClung does return to college hoops, just about everyone knows what they’ll get from him at this point. The kid is a certified bucket-getter, who averaged just under 16 points, on his way to second team All-Big 12 honors last season. Yes, you have to take the good with the bad with McClung – and there will be times where he simply takes bad, low percentage shots. But he’s also one of the few players in college hoops that can legitimately carry an entire team on his back to victories against good, Power 6 competition.

Because of that immense talent (as erratic as it sometimes might be) McClung has heard from some of the biggest names in college hoops including Kentucky, Gonzaga and Texas, with the focus of his next stop – as told to KSR – is to pick a school that will get him ready for the NBA.

It’s also worth noting that because McClung has already transferred once and hasn’t graduated yet, he isn’t necessarily immediately eligible under the NCAA’s “one time transfer rule. Since well, it won’t be his first time transferring.

Still, my hunch is that if McClung wants to play college basketball next year, the NCAA wouldn’t make him sit on the sidelines. Therefore, if he does come back to college, expect his recruitment to ramp up in the coming months.

Recruiting Buzz: Will test his NBA options before making a college decision, but has heard from Kentucky, Gonzaga, Texas and others

3. James Akinjo, G, Arizona

Ranking Last Week: N/A

The first new name on this list since last week, Akinjo was – without exaggeration – one of the best point guards in college hoops this past season. He averaged just under 16 points and six assists, while shooting over 42 percent from three-point land in his first season at Arizona. He was also the heart and soul of a Wildcat club that largely overachieved, finishing in fifth place in a Pac-12 that – we now realize – was way better than we gave it credit for during the season.

The question now, is what’s next for Akinjo?

He did put his name into the draft process, but according to Arizona reporter Jason Scheer didn’t get a ton of positive feedback. Which is probably more due to his size (5’10 might be generous) than his skill-set. He could also return to Arizona, although it’s worth noting that he was the only returnee who didn’t show up to new coach Tommy Lloyd’s first workout.

And finally, because he already transferred once (ironically, like McClung, he began his career at Georgetown) it’s still not actually known if he will be eligible next season.

Still, this is a tough, fearless point guard that anyone in college hoops could use.

As I said when he entered the portal, he would be my first call if I were Kentucky.

Recruiting Buzz: Too early to tell

4. Bryce Thompson, G, Kansas

Ranking Last Week: No. 3

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.

At this point, it doesn’t appear as though there are any real “leaders” for Thompson’s services, although the Oklahoma native did seriously consider both Oklahoma and Oklahoma State coming out of high school.

Recruiting Buzz: Too early to tell

5. Adam Miller, G, Illinois

Ranking Last Week: No. 5

It’s been a while since Miller entered the portal, and all signs seem to indicate that his recruitment is coming towards an end. Once he does pull the trigger, one school is getting a dynamic, playmaking guard.

Miller is of course a former Top 40 recruit and Illinois Mr. Basketball, who started every single game for No. 1 seed Illinois this year. Yet after a season in which he averaged over eight points per game and shot 35 percent from three, he decided to enter the portal, in an attempt to prove that he is a true playmaking point guard and not someone who should be playing off the ball. With Andre Curbelo in the same class as him in Champaign, that wasn’t going to happen at Illinois.

And while early signs pointed to Kentucky (thanks to an erratic tweet from former Indiana star AJ Guyton) it appears as though Miller’s recruitment is still open, although LSU, Michigan and Kentucky seem to be the three schools that are more linked to him than any others.

Recruiting Buzz: Coming down the homestretch, has been most prominently linked to LSU, Kentucky and Michigan

6. De’Vion Harmon, G, Oklahoma

Ranking Last Week: N/A

Harmon entered the portal, literally minutes after we published last week’s list, so this is the first time he’ll appear here. But once he did enter, Harmon is the exact kind of experienced, veteran guard that every college in America would love to have.

To be blunt, there is no one particular thing that jumps out about how Harmon plays – he is again, just a really good college lead guard. He was a key cog on a Sooners team that was ranked in the Top 25 for most of the season and made the second round of the NCAA Tournament. Unfortunately he couldn’t play for Oklahoma in the Big Dance because of Covid protocols. When he was on the floor though this season, he averaged a very solid 13 points and two assists per game in the rugged Big 12.

Since entering the portal, Harmon has heard from some of the biggest names in college hoops, but there is one more school he is waiting on: According to our own Zack Geoghegan, it’s Kentucky.

While he waits, it appears as though Harmon’s leaders are Texas, Arkansas and Oregon.

Recruiting buzz: Texas, Arkansas and Oregon have been in the most consistent contact

7. Tre Mitchell, F/C, UMass

Ranking Last Week: No. 7 

Shout out to Tre Mitchell, who has been a staple on this list for weeks, yet seems in no real rush of committing. While other players are jumping at spots at their favorite schools, Mitchell’s just kind of doing his own thing.

Still, if there is one player in the entire portal that can be picky, it’s probably him. The 6’9 forward is a former Top 100 recruit who averaged 18.8 points and 7.2 rebounds per game for the Minutemen last year, initially choosing UMass over several power conference schools out of high school. It’s worth noting that he followed his high school coach to UMass – and his high school coach then immediately left UMass after he did. Do with that information what you please.

For as long as Mitchell has been in the portal, there have been no real updates to his recruitment in weeks. Your guess is as good as anyone’s.

Recruiting buzz: Wide open

8. Darryl Morsell, G, Maryland

Ranking Last Week: No. 8

Just about every player on this list is there because of their offensive potential, but for Morsell, it’s the exact opposite. He was, arguably the best perimeter defender in college basketball last year (outside of maybe Baylor’s Davion Mitchell). And that isn’t hyperbole – he was named the Big Ten’s Defensive Player of the Year – as a guard.

So yeah, this dude will bring toughness to any team that will take him next year. The only question is, where will he play?

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 a transfer

9. Sahvir Wheeler, G, Georgia

Ranking Last Week: No. 9

On the one hand, it’s easy to poke at Tom Crean for losing yet another elite player to the portal this off-season (Wheeler was the Dawgs’ leading scorer this season; third-leading scorer Touman Camara also left Athens a few weeks ago). On the other hand, it’s hard to criticize either party too much. Crean claims that Wheeler – who is originally from Texas – wants to be closer to home. And Wheeler mentioned in his official statement on Tuesday that he wants to win at a higher level.

That clearly ain’t happening at Georgia any time soon.

In terms of what he could bring to his next program (Wheeler also declared for the draft – but it’s hard to see much interest there), well, he’s definitely a playmaking point guard. As has been well-documented in the 24 hours since he hit the portal, he led the SEC in assists at 7.4 per game this past season, and was the first player in Georgia history to record a triple double.

It needs to be noted that Wheeler does have his warts too. While he averaged over seven assists per game last season, he also averaged 4.4 turnovers per game, and was just a 24 percent three-point shooter as well. In his defense, a lot of young guards turn the ball over too much. At the same time, it needs to be stated that he isn’t a one-stop problem-solver at the point guard position either.

Still, he will definitely be in-demand in the coming days. If we’re to believe Crean that Wheeler wants to be closer to his Houston home (and not just “get away from Tom Crean”), there are a bunch of Texas schools that would clearly love to have him.

Recruiting buzz: Likely somewhere closer to his Houston home

10. CJ Fredrick, G, Iowa

Ranking Last Week: N/A

My guess is that anyone reading this article is very familiar with Fredrick’s game. He was a key contributor on Iowa’s third-place Big Ten team this season, and did one thing exceptionally well: He shot the crap out of the ball. Fredrick hit a staggering 47 percent of his threes over the course of two seasons at Iowa, and averaged nine points per game overall this season as well.

Unfortunately, Fredrick’s past season was also marred with injury problems, as he missed six games overall and was limited to 13 minutes in the Hawkeyes’ NCAA Tournament loss.

A Kentucky native, he has been linked to Kentucky weeks before hitting the portal. At this point, it’d be shocking if he chose anyone other than the Wildcats.

Recruiting buzz: A heavy Kentucky lean

11. Bryce Hamilton, G, UNLV

Ranking Last Week: No. 11

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. Rocket Watts, G, Michigan State

Ranking Last Week: No. 10

I’ve said it since he entered the portal and will keep saying it: 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, he is a great playmaker off the ball. To Michigan State and Watts’ credit they tried to make it work at the point guard spot last season, and it simply didn’t go as planned. Now we know who Watts is as a player and where he’s best suited.

At this point, it’s basically impossible to peg Watts’ 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.

Right now, it’s really hard to guess where he’ll end up.

Recruiting buzz: No clear frontrunners

13. DeVante’ Jones, G, Coastal Carolina

Ranking Last Week: N/A

It’s time to give a little love to the mid-major guys, and there were few, anywhere in college hoops last season that were better than Jones. The 6’1 guard who won Sun Belt Player of the Year is simply a playmaker. He averaged 19 points per game to go along with 7.1 rebounds and nearly three assists and three steals per game, all while shooting nearly 37 percent from three.

Can’t lie, I’m getting a lot “Carlik Jones” vibes, the player who went from Radford to Louisville and was one of the best players in the ACC last year. I’m not saying Jones will be one of the best players in a power conference next seas9h, but I do believe he can be a major contributor.

According to an interview with KSR’s Jack Pilgrim, Jones has already heard from dozens of schools, including Texas, Texas Tech, Arkansas and others. He has also entered his name in the NBA Draft for feedback.

Recruiting buzz: Way too early to tell and will test the NBA Draft waters

14. Rasir Bolton, G, Iowa State

Ranking Last Week: No. 17 

Bolton has now played three years of college hoops (one at Penn State, the last two at Iowa State) and the one thing he has been able to do is consistently get buckets. He has averaged double-figures in all three seasons in college hoops, and to his credit, his game became much more well-rounded this year, as he also averaged nearly four assists per game too.

Just about the only concern with Bolton is his three-point shooting, which has decreased every season he’s been in college. Still, that might be more of a reflection of him being the focal point of opposing team’s defensive schemes than anything else. Should he get on a half-decent team (Iowa State went 2-22 this year and 0-18 in the Big 12) with half decent teammates, I’d expect those shooting numbers to improve. Even if the scoring might go down a bit.

Bolton’s recruitment has been quiet since he decided to leave Ames.

Recruiting buzz: Way too early to tell

15. Kerr Kriisa, G, Arizona

Ranking Last Week: N/A

Other than Akinjo, Kriisa is the only other Arizona player to enter the transfer portal since Sean Miller’s firing. Yet unlike Akinjo, Kriisa attended new coach Tommy Lloyd’s first workout and has openly said he’d consider a return to Arizona. The fact that his lead recruiter – assistant coach Jack Murphy – was retained by Lloyd can’t hurt either.

The point I’m trying to get at, is that it’s totally fair to wonder if Kriisa will actually stay in the portal much longer. But as long as he is in there, he’ll remain one of the better guards available.

A 6’2 guard who is originally from Estonia (and actually named after Arizona legend Steve Kerr), Kriisa , is a true play-maker off the dribble, who can get into the paint and either find teammates or get his own buckets down low. Unfortunately because of NCAA issues he didn’t play all that much this year, averaging just 5.5 points per game in eight games played.

Still, he was a Top 100 player after committing to Arizona last year and has a long, international background, playing in some of the biggest FIBA events overseas in Europe. He is going to be a really good college point next season – my assumption, at Arizona.

UPDATE: Less than an hour after this article went to print, ESPN reported Kriisa would return to Arizona

Five more names to know:

Five others to watch:

16. Jacob Young, G, Rutgers

17. Henry Coleman, C, Duke

18. Emmanuel Miller, F, Texas A&M

19. Jalen Pickett, G, Siena

20. Daejon Davis, G, Stanford

Players who’ve committed since Version 4.0 last week:

Garrison Brooks, F/C, North Carolina (committed to Mississippi State)

Marcus Williams, G, Wyoming (committed to Texas A&M)

DJ Jeffries, F, Memphis (committed to Mississippi State)

Christian Bishop, F, Creighton (committed to Texas)

Brady Manek, F, Oklahoma (committed to North Carolina)

Myles Johnson, F/C, Rutgers (committed to UCLA)

Jaemyn Brakefield, F, Duke (committed to Ole Miss)

Oumar Ballo, F, Gonzaga (committed to Arizona)

Players who committed prior to last week:

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)

Loading comments...