When Texas Tech squared off with Virginia for the national championship, three of its best players were transfers. Starters Matt Mooney and Tariq Owens joined the Red Raiders as grad transfers, and Brandone Francis, who began his college career at Florida and sat out the 2016–17 season after arriving in Lubbock, came off the bench to star in the title game.
In the current college basketball landscape, transfers have become an important and, in some cases, essential component to building a roster. It’s easier than ever to get an NCAA waiver to avoid sitting out a season, and immediately eligible grad transfers have created a de facto free agency in college hoops for several years now.
The 2018–19 college basketball season ended several weeks ago, but the dust has still yet to settle in terms of NBA draft decisions and transfer movement. There are still a number of chips that haven’t fallen as teams get more clarity on which players will stay in the draft and which ones will return to school. Still, several important transfers have already committed to play elsewhere, and if last year is any indication, they could have a tremendous impact on next season.
Here’s a primer on who the top transfers are, and where they stand as April comes to a close:
Graduate Transfers (eligible to play in 2019–20)
Kerry Blackshear, center, Virginia Tech: Uncommitted
For the past two seasons, Blackshear has been an offensive fulcrum for Virginia Tech as a big who’s comfortable as a facilitator and can create offense himself from the high post. He isn’t elite defensively, but he does a little bit of everything at the offensive end. He’s likely best suited as a secondary or tertiary option in an offense, but players with his skill level and size are useful anywhere in college basketball. Blackshear has been linked to Texas A&M, where former Virginia Tech coach Buzz Williams recently become the head coach, and Kentucky, which visited him last week. Blackshear declared for the NBA draft in addition to entering the transfer portal, but he is widely believed to be returning to school.
Nate Sestina, power forward/center, Bucknell: Committed to Kentucky
Sestina took a major leap as a senior at Bucknell, upping his scoring from 6.5 points to 15.8 and his rebounding from 3.9 to 8.5. At 6'9" and 245 pounds, Sestina, who shot 38% from three last season, can play as a stretch four in a bigger lineup or even a stretch five in a smaller lineup. Sestina gives Kentucky much-needed depth, versatility and experience to a Wildcats frontcourt that could still add a player like Blackshear.
Justin Pierce, forward, William & Mary: Committed to North Carolina
Pierce averaged just shy of 15 points and nine rebounds per game in his last two seasons with the Tribe. His three-point shooting dipped from 41.6% as a sophomore to 32.4% as a junior last season, but at 6'7" he can still provide shooting and length for the Tar Heels next season.
Christian Keeling, guard, Charleston Southern: Committed to North Carolina
Keeling is a high-volume scorer who averaged better than 17 points per game in each of his past three seasons. He shot 38 percent from three in 2018-2019, and he's also adept at handling the ball in the pick-and-roll. Keeling and Pierce could both wind up starting for North Carolina on the wing next season after the departures of Coby White, Kenny Williams and Seventh Woods.
Lamarr Kimble, guard, Saint Joseph’s: Committed to Louisville
Kimble has been inconsistent as a shooter over the course of his career, but he’s capable from the outside and he knows how to score. He averaged 15.6 and 15.5 points per game at St. Joe’s in his past two full seasons (he missed nearly all of 2017–18 with a foot injury). A three-time captain at St. Joe’s, Kimble should slot into the role Christen Cunningham played for the Cardinals last season.
Rayjon Tucker, small forward, Little Rock: Uncommitted
Tucker is another player whose name is in both the NBA draft and the transfer portal. After beginning his career at Florida Gulf Coast, Tucker emerged as a star at Little Rock, where he averaged over 20 points per game while shooting better than 41% from three as a 6'5" wing. He has already visited West Virginia, Auburn and Memphis, and he has visits scheduled at Kansas and Iowa State. Tucker is arguably the most talented transfer on the market this offseason.
Shakur Juiston, power forward, UNLV: Uncommitted
Juiston had this past season cut short due to a knee injury (he’s expected to get that year of eligibility back as a redshirt year), but after transferring to UNLV from junior college, Juiston averaged 14.8 points and 10 rebounds in 2017–18. Some have speculated that Grand Canyon may be a possibility for Juiston because Marvin Menzies, who coached Juiston at UNLV, took an assistant coaching job at GCU this offseason after being fired by the Runnin’ Rebels.
Admon Gilder, shooting guard, Texas A&M: Committed to Gonzaga
Gilder missed last season with a blood clot in his right arm, but he’ll be back this fall. At 6'4", Gilder is a versatile guard who averaged 13.7 and 12.3 points per game the previous two seasons for the Aggies, on top of solid rebounding and assist numbers for an off-ball guard. Gilder is an above-average perimeter shooter who could help just about anybody. Texas Tech, SMU, TCU, Iowa State, Texas and Gonzaga are reportedly on his early list.
Max Hazzard, point guard, UC Irvine: Committed to Arizona
The diminutive Hazzard was the engine for a UC Irvine team that upset Kansas State as a 13-seed in the NCAA tournament this past season. Hazzard scored 12.5 points per game last season as a guard who thrives off the dribble. He’ll immediately add toughness and experience to an Arizona backcourt that will feature five-star recruit Nico Mannion next season.
Sit-out transfers (eligible to play in 2020–21)
Sam Hauser and Joey Hauser, forwards, Marquette: Uncommitted
Possibly the biggest transfer-related story in college basketball is where the Hauser brothers will go after announcing their departures from Marquette. They’ll have to sit a year, but whichever team lands them will get a pair of elite shooters who stretch the floor from the forward spots; Joey Hauser shot 42.5% from three as a freshman this past season and Sam Hauser shot 45.3% as a junior. The brothers are a package deal and are taking visits to Wisconsin, Virginia, Iowa and Michigan State. Because of their shooting prowess, and the fact that Joey has three more years of eligibility left, the Hausers’ decision will have major implications for 2020–21 and beyond.
David Jenkins, point guard, South Dakota State: Uncommitted
Jenkins is a high-volume scorer who’s being heavily recruited on the transfer market. He was overshadowed by Mike Daum at times at South Dakota State, but his 19.7 points per game and 45.3% three-point shooting speak for themselves. The Tacoma, Wash., native’s top seven is as follows: UNLV (where T.J. Otzelberger, his coach at SDSU, took the head job this offseason), Gonzaga, UCLA, Oregon, Washington State, Memphis and South Dakota State (he didn’t rule out returning).
Anthony Duruji, power forward, Louisiana Tech: Committed to Florida
Duruji is a high-level athlete who’s headed to Florida after averaging 12.2 points per game last season as a sophomore. A physical presence who can also hit outside shots, Duruji should benefit greatly from sitting out a year, which will allow him to refine his game and turn his tantalizing athleticism into production in 2020–21.
Jahvon Quinerly, point guard, Villanova: Uncommitted
Quinerly came to Villanova as a coveted prospect whose recruitment was thrown off course by the FBI investigation into college basketball recruiting practices, but he never found a groove after losing out on a starting spot early in the season. Quinerly is a dynamic talent with a testy attitude at point guard, and he should benefit from a change of scenery with three years of eligibility remaining. It’ll take the right coach to unlock Quinerly’s exciting skill set.
LJ Figueroa, shooting guard, St. John’s: Uncommitted
Figueroa is talented scoring guard with two years left of eligibility after playing one season at St. John’s following a season at junior college. He averaged 14.4 points and 6.4 rebounds at St. John’s while shooting 38.3% from three. Western Kentucky, Arkansas, Georgia and Miami are reportedly competing for Figueroa’s services.
Jordan Brown, power forward/center, Nevada: Uncommitted
A host of schools are after the former McDonald’s All-American who struggled in his first season at Nevada. At 6'11", Brown is a moldable player with sky-high upside and three years left to figure it out—if he doesn’t put it together earlier and go to the NBA. Kentucky (which is rumored for almost every big transfer) is a possibility, and new Nevada coach Steve Alford is pushing hard to keep Brown in Reno after replacing Eric Musselman.