Mark Lyons, Alex Oriakhi among 10 biggest impact transfers
Quality high school recruiting remains the lifeblood of top Division I programs, but sometimes a transfer can be the quickest path for adding needed talent. As last season showed with players like Royce White (Iowa State), Arnett Moultrie (Mississippi State), Mike Moser (UNLV), Carlon Brown (Colorado) and Brady Heslip (Baylor), providing a kid with a fresh opportunity can reap significant dividends.
We should be saying the same thing next spring, as the 2012-13 transfer class is fairly deep with possible impact players. Here's a look at 10 of the best possible program fits (second semester-eligible transfers have asterisks):
Clarke made 42 percent of his 653 three-point attempts in three seasons at Arkansas and, with incoming freshman sniper Kellen Dunham, should provide Butler with an enormous dose of perimeter competence it completely lacked last season. Having legit shooters to spread the floor should also allow returning bigs Khyle Marshall and Andrew Smith to be much more productive inside. The Bulldogs should be back in the top 25 this season in their Horizon League swan song.
The former George Mason standout excelled in practices last year with the Cardinals and will add some badly needed offensive potency to the backcourt of what should be a top-five team in the preseason poll. The Cards just will have to make sure Hancock can get healthy (shoulder issue) and doesn't
Staten showed flashes of excellence in his only season at Dayton, and what better coach than Bob Huggins to keep the gifted lead guard disciplined? And what's a point guard's best friend? How about a rugged scoring and rebounding big man. That's what the 'Eers should get from La Salle expat Murray, whose 6-foot-10 frame should help ease the loss of standout Kevin Jones.
The Tigers are very underrated right now as far as early top-25 polls go. They lost a good amount from last season's surprise package, but landed productive former UConn big Oriakhi to pair with Laurence Bowers, who is returning from injury. Mizzou should be much more formidable defensively in the interior. Now add highly touted wing Brown (Oregon) to Phil Pressey, Michael Dixon and transfers Keion Bell (Pepperdine) and Earnest Ross (Auburn) and you have a lot more size and combinations to try.
Once again, the Wildcats reeled in a massive freshman class, headlined by defensive force Nerlens Noel, but the ultimate success of the Cats in John Calipari's dribble drive attack may depend on Harrow (N.C. State) and Mays (Wright State) providing lead guard competence and a welcome dose of shooting. In last season's media guide, Calipari said of Harrow: "Ryan should be in the best position of any point guard I have ever coached because he's got a year to be tutored without the pressure of having to play." If that's true, the Cats have a legit chance to repeat as national champs.
You'll be excused if you didn't watch a lot of Pac-12 games the last couple of seasons, let alone Arizona State games, so you may not realize how solid a player the Golden Eagles landed on a no-wait transfer. With Darius Johnson-Odom and Jae Crowder gone, Lockett should provide much-needed perimeter scoring and rebounding. He refined his stroke from the arc last season, as well.
With the return of Mike Moser, the signing of local freshman Anthony Bennett, and the arrival of Pitt transfer Birch, the Rebels have one of the most loaded frontcourts in the nation. It will be interesting to see how smoothly Birch fits in after early-season rotations are set in Dave Rice's up-tempo attack, but he has potential, for sure. Throw in USC transfer guard Bryce Jones into the mix as an extra scorer, too.
What was the one thing the Rams lacked last season? Size. Enter the 6-foot-10 Iverson, by way of Minnesota. With a bunch of starters returning from last season's NCAA team, new head coach Larry Eustachy should have plenty to work with in Fort Collins to double up on NCAA bids.
The Wildcats are a reverse Colorado State, endowed with a lot of very promising size and rather thin in the backcourt behind Nick Johnson. Enter Lyons, who gets a fresh start after a productive-yet-disappointing season for Xavier that was marred by a two-game suspension for the #ZipEmUp brawl with Cincinnati. He should step in and fill an immediate void in Tucson.
Another team that needed size to go with high-quality perimeter players, the Aztecs lured Johnson from Virginia back to his home state and also brought in skinny St. John's transfer Dwayne Polee and Utah wing J.J. O'Brien. If you're sensing a trend here, yes, the Mountain West should be terrific this season.