Boston College's Eli Carter, Louisville's Damion Lee among the top projected transfers in college basketball this season.

By Chris Johnson
October 21, 2015

Over the coming weeks, SI will reveal its player projections, conference forecasts and national rankings for the 2015-16. These are derived from our statistical projection system, a collaboration between economist Dan Hanner and SI's Luke Winn and Chris Johnson that's now in its second year.

We used our projection model to generate individual stats for every player in each of the top 11 conferences. The individual projections are based on many factors: players' past advanced-statistical performance in the context of more than a decade of D-I player data; the predictive power of recruiting ratings, both on immediate freshman performance and longer-term development; coaches' abilities to develop and maximize talent, as well as their playing-time distribution tendencies; teams' estimated pace of play; and intel from teams on how their rotations will be structured, which helps us better forecast how many minutes and shots will be available to each player.

The fifth reveal of SI's projection-system output focuses on transfers. These are the 100 players that we project to post the highest raw points-per-game figures with new teams this season.

Eli Carter (No. 1) began his college career at Rutgers, then played his last two seasons at Florida before electing to join Boston College as a graduate transfer with immediate eligibility. The Eagles will need Carter to carry a big load this season after losing first team All-ACC guard Olivier Hanlan to the NBA. Our projections expect Carter to raise his scoring output nearly six points per game from the 8.8 PPG he recorded in 2014-15 with the Gators. Louisville beat out Gonzaga and Maryland, among other programs, for Damion Lee (No. 4) after he led the Colonial Athletic Association in points per game last season. The Cardinals could use an infusion of scoring as they try to replace draft picks Terry Rozier and Montrezl Harrell.

Michigan State will hope Eron Harris (No. 13) can help offset the loss of one of the driving forces behind last season’s surprise Final Four run, guard Travis Trice. If Harris can behave off the court—the Spartans suspended him this summer following a drunk driving arrest—he will elevate a talented backcourt that includes national player of the year contender Denzel Valentine. Wichita State returns two of the nation’s top guards, Fred VanVleet and Ron Baker, but the Shockers stand to benefit from Conner Frankamp’s (No. 17) long-range marksmanship once he becomes eligible for the second semester. The former Wichita (Kan.) North High star played limited minutes as a freshman at Kansas but flashed his potential by scoring 12 points in 18 minutes off the bench during an NCAA tournament loss to Stanford.

Seth Allen (No. 21) was one of five players to transfer from Maryland last summer. Our projections expect a dip in points per game from the 13.4 he registered as a sophomore in 2013-14, but the Hokies are looking for Allen to prop up an offense that struggled against ACC competition last season. Another former Terrapins guard, Roddy Peters (No. 27), could help South Florida make strides in the American Athletic Conference during coach Orlando Antigua’s second season in charge.

Rank Name Team Previous Team Projected PPG Last year’s PPG
31 Kyle Davis BYU Utah St. 9.4 9.1
32 Elijah Brown New Mexico Butler 9.4 6.8
33 Josh Fortune Colorado Providence 9.4 8.4
34 Malik Morgan Tulane LSU 9.4 4.4
35 Maurice Watson Creighton Boston University 9.3 13.3
36 Craig Victor LSU Arizona 9.2 3.1
37 Ryan Anderson Arizona Boston College 9.2 14.3
38 Damyean Dotson Houston Oregon 9.2 9.4
39 Charles Cooke Dayton James Madison 9.2 14.3
40 Omari Grier Rutgers Bradley 9.1 7.9

Two Division I transfers—Ryan Anderson (No. 37) and Mark Tollefsen (No. 62), from San Francisco—could serve as effective frontcourt scorers for Arizona in support of center Kaleb Tarczewski. Our projections expect Anderson’s points per game to drop off from his final season at Boston College, but he could be an important contributor for a team trying to overcome the departures of forwards Brandon Ashley, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and Stanley Johnson. Though year two of the post-McBuckets era could be rough for Creighton, look for Maurice Watson (No. 35) to add some scoring and playmaking to a backcourt that loses Austin Chatman, who led the Bluejays in points per game in 2014-15.

Rank Name Team Previous Team Projected PPG Last year’s PPG
41 Cole Huff Creighton Nevada 9.1 12.4
42 Steven Haney Jr. Loyola Marymount UCF 9.1 1.7
43 Mike Thorne Illinois Charlotte 9.1 10.1
44 Kale Abrahamson Drake Northwestern 9.1 3.8
45 Nick Jacobs Georgia Tech Alabama 8.7 8.4
46 Rasheed Sulaimon Maryland Duke 8.6 7.5
47 Jordan Tolbert SMU Texas Tech 8.6 10.7
48 John Egbunu Florida South Florida 8.2 7.4
49 Four McGlynn Rhode Island Towson 8.2 12.0
50 Max Bielfeldt Indiana Michigan 8.2 5.1

Illinois will try to earn its first tourney berth since 2013 without its projected starting point guard, Tracy Abrams, who suffered a torn Achilles tendon. But the Illini also must account for the loss of top frontcourt scorer Nnanna Egwu. Our projections expect Mike Thorne Jr. (No. 43), listed at 6'11" and 270 pounds, to eclipse the 6.5 PPG Egwu contributed in 2014-15. Rasheed Sulaimon (No. 46) could help Maryland make a run at the national championship this season after watching his former Duke teammates cut down the nets in Indianapolis last April.

Sterling Gibbs (No. 9) was UConn’s highest-profile addition on the transfer market this off-season, but don’t overlook Shonn Miller (No. 51). The 6'7" forward finished second in the Ivy League in points per game in 2014-15, and he’ll give the Huskies an interior scoring option to supplement Amida Brimah. Iowa State’s track record of integrating transfers is well documented. This season’s key addition, Deonte Burton (No. 53), should excel under new coach Steve Prohm, but he won’t be eligible until December.

Rank Name Team Previous Team Projected PPG Last year’s PPG
61 Korey Billbury VCU Oral Roberts 7.4 14.4
62 Mark Tollefsen Arizona San Francisco 7.3 14.0
63 Kamari Murphy Miami FL Oklahoma St. 7.3 6.1
64 Brendyn Taylor Santa Clara USC 7.1 1.1
65 Zach LeDay Virginia Tech South Florida 7.0 3.5
66 Alex Mitola George Washington Dartmouth 6.9 12.4
67 Sterling Smith Pittsburgh Coppin St. 6.9 14.1
68 Arthur Edwards Alabama New Mexico 6.9 3.9
69 Jernard Jarreau Tulane Washington 6.8 5.1
70 Tomasz Gielo Mississippi Liberty 6.5 12.0

One of the biggest questions facing new VCU coach Will Wade is how the Rams will replace senior guards Treveon Graham and Briante Weber. Korey Billbury (No. 61), who ranked fifth in the Summit League in points per game last season, could provide a backcourt scoring alternative to junior JeQuan Lewis and senior Melvin Johnson. While our projections expect Miami to lean heavily on Sheldon McClellan and Angel Rodriguez for offense, Kamari Murphy (No. 63) can complement the two guards by scoring inside.

Rank Name Team Previous Team Projected PPG Last year’s PPG
71 Angel Nunez South Florida Gonzaga 6.5 2.7
72 Shawn Smith Nevada Marshall 6.5 12.0
73 Rene Castro Duquesne Butler 6.5 3.3
74 Lew Evans Utah St. Tulsa 6.5 5.3
75 Ray Barreno Portland Tulane 6.5 0.3
76 Stephen Domingo California Georgetown 6.1 0.5
77 Marshall Wood Richmond Virginia Tech 6.0 4.0
78 Semi Ojeleye SMU Duke 5.9 3.0
79 James White Georgia Tech Arkansas Little Rock 5.9 11.9
80 Nick Banyard Illinois St. New Mexico 5.9 1.7

The addition of a pair of five-star recruits (Jaylen Brown and Ivan Rabb) moved Cal onto the short list of contenders for the Pac-12 championship. Yet the Golden Bears will also be counting on Stephen Domingo (No. 76), a former four-star recruit from the Bay Area who played sparingly in two seasons at Georgetown. Semi Ojeleye (No. 78) was marginalized in a crowded rotation at Duke, but he’ll give SMU a frontcourt scoring option to go with standout power forward Markus Kennedy and Texas Tech transfer Jordan Tolbert (47).

Rank Name Team Previous Team Projected PPG Last year’s PPG
81 Alonzo Nelson-Ododa Pittsburgh Richmond 5.7 6.6
82 Akoy Agau Georgetown Louisville 5.6 0.0
83 Conor Clifford Washington St. UC Irvine 5.6 2.5
84 Devon Thomas Texas Tech Missouri St. 5.6 3.2
85 Shane Rector Utah St. Missouri 5.6 0.5
86 Willy Kouassi Arkansas Kennesaw St. 5.6 4.6
87 Pat Birt Tulsa Illinois Chicago 5.5 6.3
88 Anthony Collins Texas A&M South Florida 5.5 7.1
89 Graham Woodward Drake Penn St. 5.4 2.8
90 Sergej Vucetic Evansville Nebraska 5.3 0.6

Anthony Collins (No. 88) was the top backcourt scorer and playmaker on South Florida’s last tourney team (2012). While our projections expect his points per game to fall in College Station this season, Collins will bolster a strong perimeter rotation that also features senior Alex Caruso and sophomore Alex Robinson. Washington State must improve defensively to make progress in the Pac-12 in coach Ernie Kent’s second season, but Conor Clifford (No. 83) can give the Cougars some interior offense to assist projected top scorer Josh Hawkinson.

Rank Name Team Previous Team Projected PPG Last year’s PPG
91 Shaquille Cleare Texas Maryland 5.2 3.0
92 Leo Vincent Southern Illinois Sacred Heart 5.1 6.4
93 Ike Nwamu UNLV Mercer 4.8 15.1
94 Jamal Aytes BYU UNLV 4.8 2.8
95 Jordan Gathers Butler St. Bonaventure 4.7 8.2
96 Valentine Izundu Washington St. Houston 4.7 0.0
97 A.J. Davis UCF Tennessee 4.6 1.3
98 Ben Carter UNLV Oregon 4.6 2.5
99 Rafael Maia Pittsburgh Brown 4.0 9.9
100 Johnny Zuppardo Mississippi St. Arkansas St. 3.8 1.3

Ike Nwamu (No. 93)—who scored 11 points off the bench to help No. 14 seed Mercer slay No. 3 seed Duke in the 2014 tourney—and Ben Carter (No. 98) are two of three Division I transfers (Jerome Seagears, No. 55, is the other) expected to help UNLV compete with San Diego State and Boise State for the Mountain West title. New Texas coach Shaka Smart will have center Cameron Ridley and power forward Connor Lammert to anchor the frontcourt, but our projections expect Shaquille Cleare (91) to contribute more than five points per game.

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