Austin Nichols will be a critical addition at Virginia
This isn’t a new concept for any who has followed college basketball in recent years, but transfers can change the entire complexion of a season.
Just ask Syracuse. The Orange had been hurting from the departure of three key players and then late in the summer they added a proven scorer from Nebraska.
Or Gonzaga. The Bulldogs lost most of their key players from an NCAA Tournament squad, but Mark Few should be in the field again thanks to new arrivals from Cal, Washington and Missouri. The biggest name, though, might be Austin Nichols. He’s a potential All-America talent who leaves an uneven Memphis program for an ACC contender at Virginia.
Coaches often complain about the free agent nature of college basketball now. And it’s true that some teams have had their rosters disrupted by grad transfers and other departures, but at the same time, many coaches rely on the transfer market to continue to produce consistent results.
Here are the 15 that will shape the season.
All 2016-17 predictions and a preview of every team and conference can be found in the Athlon Sports 2016-17 Preview Magazine, available in our online store and on newsstands everywhere.
Canyon Barry, G/F, Florida (from Charleston)
The son of NBA Hall of Famer Rick Barry, Canyon Barry arrives at Florida after averaging 19.7 points per game in an injury-shortened final season at Charleston. Barry will look to be more efficient at Florida after averaging 16.1 shots from the field per game, making 40.2 percent last season.
Marcus Foster, G, Creighton (from Kansas State)
Lightly recruited out of Texas, Foster quickly emerged as a star in the Big 12, averaging 15.5 points and 2.5 assists as a freshman at Kansas State. His second year in Manhattan was rocky, and he was eventually dismissed from the team at the end of the season. After sitting out a year, he’ll team with Mo Watson to lead a formidable backcourt at Creighton.
L.G. Gill, F, Maryland (from Duquesne)
Gill has 42 starts under his belt and fills at least some of the gap left by the departures of Jake Layman, Rasheed Sulaimon and Robert Carter Jr. Gill averaged 10.1 points and 6.5 rebounds during his final and best season at Duquesne.
Manu Lecomte, G, Baylor (From Miami)
Lecomte, who averaged 7.8 points per game in two seasons at Miami, can get to the rim and hit shots from the outside. He converted 45.6 percent of his attempts from 3 as a sophomore.
Jordan Mathews, G, Gonzaga (from Cal)
In June, Mathews became the final addition to the parade of transfers heading to Gonzaga. The shooting guard averaged 13.5 points per game his last two seasons at Cal and will be eligible right away. Mathews will add 3-point shooting to the Zags. He shot 42.7 percent from the arc the last two years.
Cullen Neal, G, Ole Miss (from New Mexico)
Playing for his father Craig at New Mexico, Neal drew intense scrutiny. When the coach’s son averages 11 shots per game and shoots 35.0 percent from the field — and the team fails to go to the NCAA Tournament — the temperature is going to be hot. Neal lands at a place that has succeeded with transfers and loves freewheeling 3-point shooters.
Josh Newkirk, G, Indiana (from Pitt)
Newkirk averaged under 20 minutes per game in two seasons at Pittsburgh, but he’ll have a huge role to fill for the Hoosiers, stepping in for Yogi Ferrell. Newkirk had a 2-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio with the Panthers, and his speed brings an interesting dimension to a team that usually likes to push the pace.
Austin Nichols, F, Virginia (from Memphis)
In getting Nichols for his junior and possibly senior year, Virginia will be able to replace Anthony Gill and Mike Tobey in the frontcourt with arguably the best transfer available. Nichols averaged 13.3 points, 6.1 rebounds and 3.4 blocks per game in his final season at Memphis.
Semi Ojeleye, F, SMU (from Duke)
Ojeleye was part of a three-man recruiting class at Duke along with Jabari Parker (No. 2 pick in the 2014 NBA Draft) and current Blue Devil Matt Jones. Ojeleye played 23 games in less than in two seasons at Duke, but he’ll be expected to lead SMU’s frontcourt after sitting out last season. SMU will need the 6'8", 235-pound junior to step into the void left by Jordan Tolbert and Markus Kennedy.
Eric Paschall, F, Villanova (from Fordham)
Paschall averaged 15.9 points and 5.5 rebounds per game in 2014-15 as the A-10 Rookie of the Year at Fordham. He attempted more than 13 shots per game from the field with the Rams, something that won’t happen as he joins a loaded Villanova team coming off the national championship. Still, the 6'7", 260-pound forward will carve out a niche on Jay Wright’s team.
Rodney Pryor, G/F Georgetown (from Robert Morris)
Moving up from the Northeast Conference to the Big East might not be the smoothest transition. Pryor, though, was immediately productive at Robert Morris, averaging 15.6 points and 4.7 rebounds as a freshman and 18.0 points and 8.0 rebounds as a sophomore.
Kyle Washington, F, Cincinnati (from NC State)
Washington started 43 games in two seasons at NC State, averaging 5.8 points. Cincinnati will offer him a bigger chance to contribute. He’ll step in for Octavius Ellis, who averaged better than nine points and seven rebounds in each of his final two seasons with the Bearcats.
Andrew White, G, Syracuse (from Nebraska)
Syracuse got a major boost late in the summer with the arrival of 6’7’’ guard Andrew White, a graduate transfer from Nebraska. White averaged 16.6 points per game on nearly 12 shots per game. He hit 87-of-211 (41.2 percent) of his 3s in his first full season — he started his career at Kansas from 2012-14.
Johnathan Williams, F, Gonzaga (from Missouri)
Gonzaga’s frontcourt sustained two major losses in Domantas Sabonis and Kyle Wiltjer. Williams won’t replicate either’s skill set, but he will be an impact player on both the offensive and defensive glass. Williams averaged 11.9 points and 7.1 rebounds per game in his final season at Missouri.
Nigel Williams-Goss, G, Gonzaga (from Washington)
Williams-Goss was a four-star point guard coming out of Findlay (Nev.) Prep when he signed with Washington in 2013. He averaged 14.5 points, 5.1 assists and 4.5 rebounds per game in two seasons with the Huskies. He joins a Gonzaga team that is headed toward its 19th straight NCAA Tournament.