With first semester grades being posted throughout the land, some college basketball programs are about to get a nice present for the holiday season. This select group of talented transfers (or players coming off a suspension) should have a profound effect on their respective teams during league play.
Josh Selby, G, Kansas
The well-documented suspension of this top five recruit has ended after nine games. While many of us are amazed he is eligible after accepting improper benefits, the reality moving forward is that Bill Self has an uber-talented scoring guard to add to an already loaded lineup. Kansas currently ranks fifth in the country in points and number one in assists and shooting percentage, so it will be interesting to see how Selby changes the chemistry of the Jayhawks.
Jio Fontan, G, USC
The Fordham transfer could have a huge impact on the Pac-10 race. Fontan averaged 15.3 points and 4.7 assists as a freshman on his way to making the A-10 All-Rookie team. Trojans’ coach Kevin O’Neill has already said that the former St. Anthony (N.J.) star is USC’s best player. Fontan will add a needed perimeter threat for the Trojans, and he should form a solid inside/outside combo with big man and leading scorer Nikola Vucevic.
Renardo Sidney (F/C) and Dee Bost (G), Mississippi State
The much-awaited debut of Sidney is finally here, and the 2009 McDonald’s All-American will have a major presence in the low post once he battles through conditioning issues from not playing games for almost two years. Bost should be back for the start of league play after serving a suspension for missing the deadline to withdraw from the NBA Draft. His statline in 2009 (13 ppg, 5.2 apg, 4.4 rpg, 1.4 spg) was very impressive. With Sidney and Bost joining leading scorer Ravern Johnson, the Bulldogs will be the prohibitive favorite in the struggling SEC West.
Jeronne Maymon, F, Tennessee
The Marquette transfer was the two-time Wisconsin state player of the year in high school, but he left Buzz Williams’ squad after just nine games in 2009. Maymon joins a talented Vols squad that already has wins over Big East powerhouses Villanova and Pittsburgh, but also had an uninspired home loss to Oakland. The burly forward should add some needed toughness and rebounding to Bruce Pearl’s deep bench.
Drew Gordon, F, New Mexico
The UCLA transfer left Westwood after just six games of his sophomore season, when he was averaging an impressive 11.2 points, 5.3 rebounds and 2 blocks per game. The Lobos’ leading rebounder is currently 6-5 guard Phillip McDonald, so Gordon’s inside presence will be a very welcome addition for coach Steve Alford. New Mexico is off to a nice start this season, but they will face a tough challenge in a stacked Mountain West Conference.
Olek Czyz, F, Nevada
The Duke transfer returns to Reno where he won two Nevada state titles in high school. The former top-100 recruit did not play much in Durham, but he should bolster a Wolf Pack club that has struggled mightily this season. Coach Davis Carter needs Czyz to help rebuild a talent base that has not recovered since losing NBA draft choices Luke Babbitt and Armon Johnson from last year’s squad.
Gregory Echenique, C, Creighton
The native Venezuelan should give coach Greg McDermott another solid post option, along with fellow big man Kenny Lawson. Echenique transferred from Rutgers after seven games of his sophomore season and was averaging 12.6 points, 7.7 rebounds and 2.3 blocks at the time. The Bluejays have had a mediocre start to the season, but they should be bolstered by Echenique’s post presence. Creighton hopes he can be the difference maker as they challenge the MVC favorite, Wichita State, for the league crown.
Mike Holmes, F, Coastal Carolina
The South Carolina transfer played his first game back against an SEC foe, and he contributed a double-double (14 points and 10 rebounds in 24 minutes) to help beat LSU in overtime. It was the Chanticleers first win over a “BCS” opponent in 17 years. By adding the low post presence of Holmes to stud scorer Desmond Holloway and forward Chad Gray, coach Cliff Ellis looks to have the formula to win the Big South and take his fourth school to the NCAA Tournament.