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Sit-Out Transfers Who Could Make Their Mark in 2019-20

These players have been off the radar for a year, but don't overlook the influence they could have on this college basketball season.
Washington transfer Quade Green Kentucky basketball

In the age of grad transfers, the annual spring market of players looking for new homes has become an especially hot topic to follow. Coaches and fans alike can dream of acquiring immediate, veteran help for the upcoming season, even with the knowledge that historically, not every transfer will ultimately pan out as anticipated.

Sit-out transfers too, can be extremely valuable and even alter a season outlook (just look at Dedric Lawson last season, or the Hauser brothers saga this past spring), and they add a different type of advantage thanks to the fact that they spend a year learning their new team’s system, practicing and getting stronger before taking the court again for real. But the nature of spending a season on the sideline means these players often fall off viewers’ radars until that year is up, when they then have to prove (or re-prove) themselves in a new environment.

As usual, there was a plethora of players who sat out the 2018–19 season and are now in line to see the floor in 2019–20. Not every sit-out transfer will have a big role, but we highlighted 24 players most likely to make a difference for their new team this winter.

Quade Green (Kentucky to Washington)

Green counts as a sit-out transfer, but unless his waiver is approved, he won’t be available for the Huskies until Dec. 17 after leaving Kentucky in midseason. The former five-star recruit will be joining another talented young roster in Seattle. After several departures, including Jaylen Nowell and Matisse Thybulle, Washington brings in a pair of top-10 recruits, Isaiah Stewart and Jaden McDaniels, and four-star guard RaeQuan Battle. With the departure of floor generals Nowell and David Crisp, Green's ballhandling is much needed, and he'll slide into running the offense when he’s eligible as he looks to reset his career after an uneven year-and-a-half at Kentucky. Cutting down on turnovers will be vital after seeing his giveaway rate spike to a rough 30.3% in nine sophomore games.

Ike Obiagu (FSU to Seton Hall)

Obiagu is the key addition to know for a Pirates team that otherwise has a higher percentage of minutes returning than all but two teams from the big six (Power 5 + Big East) conferences. The 7’1” sophomore sat out 2018–19 after transferring from Florida State, and while his freshman scoring average of 2.3 doesn’t stand out, his averages of 2.6 rebounds and 2.1 blocks in just 10.7 minutes per game paint the picture of a potential major impact player defensively. Likewise, while his absurd 20.9% block rate is unsustainable across more playing time (for context, last year’s NCAA leader among qualified players, Stony Brook’s Jeff Otchere, was at 16.3%), it shows Obiagu can be an anchor in the paint for Seton Hall. The 7-footer also comes with some limited starting experience, having opened 14 games for the Seminoles.

Koby McEwen (Utah State to Marquette)

The importance of McEwen to Marquette’s offense grew after the spring transfers of brothers Sam and Joey Hauser, as the Golden Eagles’ top-non Markus Howard options opted to go elsewhere. McEwen should fit right into Marquette’s versatile offense and give Howard some ballhandling help, along with incoming freshman guard Symir Torrence. The 6’4” McEwan averaged 15.6 points, 5.4 rebounds and 3.2 assists as a sophomore for the Aggies, and while his three-point shooting dipped to 32%, he proved capable at 41.6% as a freshman. With Howard drawing much of opposing defenses’ attention, McEwen’s play will be crucial to Marquette’s ceiling.

C.J. Walker (Florida State to Ohio State)

Walker is exactly the kind of piece Ohio State needed after losing two of its lead guards, and he brings two seasons and a full year of starting experience with him. The 6’1” guard played a complementary role on a Florida State team that went to the Elite Eight in 2018, averaging 8.0 points and 2.4 assists while shooting 35.5% from three. He’s expected to split time with highly-regarded freshman D.J. Carton running the point, and will bring a welcome level of experience after the Buckeyes brought in four freshmen in total. This is a team that could be sneaky-good thanks to both the new pieces and returners like Kaleb Wesson, and Walker is a big part of that.

Omer Yurtseven (NC State to Georgetown)

Is this the year Georgetown gets back to the NCAAs? The jury is out, but having Yurtseven available certainly won’t hurt the Hoyas’ case. Patrick Ewing brings back four starters, with Yurtseven set to slide in for the lone departing one, center Jessie Govan. We last saw the 7-footer on NC State in 2017–18, when he averaged 13.5 points and 6.7 rebounds while posting a strong 120.2 offensive rating, per kenpom. Yurtseven even knocked down half of his 44 three-point attempts that year, showing he could bring some of the big man perimeter range that left with Govan. But it was two-point offense that was a weak point for the Hoyas last season, and the area that Yurtseven could help improve most.

Malachi Flynn (Washington State to San Diego State)

An underrated name (in terms of both name style points and on-court play) in college basketball two seasons ago, Flynn was solid for a dismal Washington State team in averaging 15.8 points and 4.3 assists and posting the Pac-12’s fourth-best steal percentage. He joins grad transfers KJ Feagin and Yanni Wetzell as new non-freshman faces in the Aztecs’ lineup, and along with Feagin will be the most responsible for helping replace the lost scoring punch of Devin Watson and Jalen McDaniels. San Diego State could make a run at Utah State in the Mountain West if Flynn and its other transfers pan out.

Jamal Johnson (Memphis to Auburn)

A Birmingham native, Johnson moved back closer to home after one year at Memphis, in which he started 27 straight games and averaged 6.9 points and 3.3 rebounds. The 6’4” guard took 70% of his shots from behind the arc at a 33.3% clip, and his willing trigger from three should fit in well with Auburn’s run-and-gun style of play, even if the Tigers dial back the tempo after losing its orchestrators. Johnson ran a bit hot-and-cold from deep as a freshman, but more consistent shooting could give him a sizeable role for a team replacing the starting backcourt duo of Bryce Brown and Jared Harper.

Davion Mitchell (Auburn to Baylor)
MaCio Teague (UNC Asheville to Baylor)

The Bears have a pair of backcourt additions who sat out 2018–19 in Mitchell and Teague, and both will be key to replacing the production lost from the graduated Makai Mason and King McClure. Mitchell played in all 34 games for Auburn two seasons ago but posted modest raw production in his 17.1 minutes per contest, averaging just 3.7 points and 1.9 assists while shooting 28.8% from three. He was a seldom-used offensive option as a freshman for the Tigers but was a capable defender, and he will get a fresh start in Waco. Mitchell’s recent history as a four-star, top-60 recruit suggests plenty of potential.

Teague, meanwhile, comes over from UNC Asheville, where he scored more than 1,000 points and averaged 16 points while shooting 44% from deep across two seasons. Carrying over even some of that perimeter shooting ability will be pivotal to a Baylor team that had the best three-point mark in Big 12 play last season but lost two solid shooters in Mason and McClure.

Kameron McGusty (Oklahoma to Miami)

McGusty, a former top-50 recruit from the 2016 class, had a promising freshman year at Oklahoma, averaging 10.9 points and shooting 35% from three. But he saw his progress stall in Year 2 upon Trae Young’s arrival to the program, as the talented, ball-dominant guard became the focal point of the Sooners’ offense. McGusty now finds himself at Miami as the Hurricanes look to bounce back from their worst season under Jim Larrañaga, and he could team up with star returning guard Chris Lykes in the backcourt. The 5’7” Lykes had to shoulder a lot of the offensive load for Miami last year out of necessity. It’s a burden McGusty can help with, though he’ll have to compete with incoming four-star guards Harlond Beverly and Isaiah Wong for minutes.

Marcus Carr (Pitt to Minnesota)
Payton Willis (Vanderbilt to Minnesota)

The Gophers’ pair of sit-out transfers were especially important after Amir Coffey left for the NBA this spring, leaving rising sophomores Gabe Kalscheur and Daniel Oturu as the lone returning starters. Carr had a good freshman season on a terrible Pitt team, averaging 10 points and posting the second-best assist rate in ACC play. With Coffey and guard Isaiah Washington (who transferred to Iona) both gone, Carr is set to take over running Minnesota’s offense, but he’ll need to cut down on his 23.9% freshman turnover rate. Willis could also garner a starting spot for the Gophers after transferring from Vanderbilt, where the 6’4” guard averaged 5.1 points and 1.4 assists while shooting 35% from three as a sophomore.

Darious Hall (Arkansas to DePaul)

Hall played a limited role for Arkansas as a freshman, seeing 14.8 minutes per game and averaging 5.1 points and 2.2 rebounds, but he showed flashes of why he could be an important piece for DePaul this year. The athletic 6’6” small forward will bring versatility to Dave Leitao’s lineup and could be an impact player defensively and on the boards, and his sample-size shooting numbers as a freshman were promising. Hall shot 53.1% on twos and 40.6% on 32 three-point attempts and has since had an entire year of being able to work on his shot.

Prentiss Nixon (Colorado State to Iowa State)

Nixon came to Ames after three seasons at Colorado State, where he starred as a ball-dominant shooting guard who sometimes struggled with efficiency. The 6’2” Nixon averaged 16.1 points as a junior and was a knockdown free throw shooter at 84.3%, but he connected on just 39% of twos and 32.8% of threes. A good spot-up shooter, Nixon won’t be asked to carry the Cyclones offense the way he did with the Rams—though there’s plenty of opportunity given all the production that Iowa State lost. Sharing a backcourt with Tyrese Haliburton and Penn State transfer Rasir Bolton will only help.

Austin Reaves (Wichita State to Oklahoma)

A sharpshooter in spot minutes as a freshman at Wichita State, Reaves grew nicely into a larger supporting role as a sophomore before transferring out. He’s made 45.2% of his career 182 three-point attempts and was among the very best in the country on spot-up attempts in 2017-18, which should be an immediate boost for an Oklahoma team that was one of the Big 12’s worst from behind the arc last season. Reaves will now be expected to take the next step in an even bigger role in Norman, and the guard says he’s added 20 pounds of muscle while sitting out.

Dachon Burke Jr. (Robert Morris to Nebraska)

Though he hasn’t yet suited up for the Cornhuskers, Burke will be one of the only familiar faces to Nebraska fans this November due to the simple fact that he was even on the roster in 2018-19. The firing of Tim Miles and hiring of Fred Hoiberg has generated an almost entirely new roster in Lincoln, with Thorir Thorbjarnarson being the only player who saw minutes returning. Burke, however, also stuck around, but will now have to gel with a completely different group of players than the ones he practiced with last season. As a sophomore at Robert Morris, Burke averaged 17.6 points and 5.8 rebounds, but he’ll have to adapt to the big step up from the Northeast conference to the Big Ten. More of a slasher than a perimeter shooter (50% of his shots as a sophomore came at the rim, per Hoop-Math), Burke will look to become a capable scoring option for Hoiberg’s Nebraska.

Jacob Young (Texas to Rutgers)

Young arrived in Piscataway at as good a time as ever in recent memory, as the Scarlet Knights posted their most encouraging season yet since joining the Big Ten despite only totaling seven league wins. And while leading scorer and rebounder Eugene Omoruyi transferred out, Rutgers brought back the majority of its rotation and now adds Young to the mix. The Houston native was a productive role player in two seasons for Texas, averaging 6.2 points in 16.8 minutes, and the former four-star recruit flashed his potential down the stretch back in 2017–18, including a 29-point outburst against Texas Tech in the Big 12 tournament.

Zane Martin (Towson to New Mexico)

A hard-nosed scorer who dropped 30 or more points three times in a 10-game span as a sophomore, Martin will likely slide into a starting role for the Lobos after averaging 19.8 points two years ago for Towson. The 6’4” guard made a big sophomore leap for the Tigers, becoming a dominant offensive option and shooting 37% from the arc and 45% overall. Martin’s transition game (he graded out in the 81st percentile in points per possession in transition in 2017-18, per Synergy Sports data) should translate to New Mexico as well, as the Lobos played at the 15th-fastest tempo in the nation in their second season under coach Paul Weir.

Jalen Harris (Louisiana Tech to Nevada)

Not to be confused with the Jalen Harris on Arkansas, this Harris committed to current Razorbacks coach Eric Musselman back when he coached Nevada, then stuck with the program after Musselman took the job in Fayetteville. The Wolf Pack had become a haven for transfers under their former coach, and that will hold true in their first year under Steve Alford. Harris should have a lot to offer after sitting out for a season-and-a-half; he left Louisiana Tech in mid-December back in 2017–18, after averaging 12.2 points in 38 career games. The 6’5” guard will likely slide into a starting spot for Nevada and could prove to be a reliable, if not top, offensive option for Alford, especially if he can bring along his perimeter game more after shooting 32.1% from deep in 109 career tries to date.

Lance Thomas (Louisville to Memphis)

All eyes in Memphis are on the Tigers’ star-studded, seven-man freshman class, which ranked No. 1 in the nation, but Penny Hardaway’s team is going to need some experience to go along with all that youth. A former four-star prospect himself, Thomas has only 12 career appearances to his name, but spending a year at a Power 5 school like Louisville and then another on the sidelines learning Hardaway’s system surely was beneficial. A versatile forward, the 6’8” Thomas could provide some perimeter touch as well for the Tigers. And with three years of eligibility remaining, he figures to be a building block for Memphis well beyond 2019–20.

Micah Potter (Ohio State to Wisconsin)

The rare in-conference transfer, Potter swapped Big Ten red jerseys when he went from Columbus to Madison. He won’t be eligible until the end of the first semester in December, but when he does take the court, Potter will be valued, as Wisconsin needs frontcourt depth in a big way after losing not just longtime standout center Ethan Happ, but Khalil Iverson and Charlie Thomas as well. Potter averaged 4.1 points in back-to-back years for the Buckeyes, posting solid rebounding rates in limited time. Greg Gard will be searching for someone to step up down low alongside junior Nate Reuvers, and Potter should have a chance to be that guy.

Payton Dastrup (BYU to Oregon State)

Dastrup is an interesting one. The 6’10” big man was a four-star recruit way back in the 2014 class, but a mission with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints delayed his college career at BYU. He eventually played two seasons for the Cougars, averaging just 2.4 points across 55 spot appearances and never living up to his prospect billing. After sitting out a year following the denial of his waiver request to play immediately at Oregon State, Dastrup is now 23 years old and still has two seasons of NCAA eligibility remaining. Whether he ever becomes an impact player at the collegiate level, only time will tell.

Denzel Mahoney (Southeast Missouri State to Creighton)

Mahoney was an OVC star two seasons ago, when he averaged 19.3 points and 5.1 rebounds per game while shooting 40.9% from three for Southeast Missouri State. Once he’s eligible in December, he should bring a scoring punch in a supporting role to Creighton, though there’s there’s always a question about the adjustment in going from a lower-level conference to one like the Big East. In the 6’4” Mahoney’s favor is that unlike grad transfers, he spent the last season getting up to speed in practice, and he posted good efficiency and perimeter shooting numbers with a low turnover rate in his two years with the Redhawks.

Sam Cunliffe (Kansas to Evansville)

Cunliffe has a long journey in college basketball already, despite only logging 25 career games in three years. A top-40 recruit back in 2016, he was one of Arizona State’s highest-rated commitments ever but left the Sun Devils after just 10 freshman games that same year. He landed at powerhouse Kansas, but after sitting out the first semester he struggled to see the court, let alone time at his preferred position of point guard. After his limited minutes all but evaporated down the stretch, he transferred again, this time settling on Evansville of the Missouri Valley Conference. The Purple Aces will offer plenty of opportunity for Cunliffe—who has two years of eligibility remaining—to reset his career, and his small sample size-numbers at ASU (9.5 points, 40.5% three-point shooting in 25 minutes per game) suggest the potential to be a major impact player in the MVC.