This is now Version 6.0 of the “15 best players in the transfer portal right now” – and I can’t lie to you, the more I do these lists, the more I realize just how wild this transfer stuff is.
First off, everything is moving so fast and furious, that you have guys who enter the portal after I publish a list, then commit just a few days later, before I can even update the list. Like Dylan Disu for example, who left Vanderbilt late Thursday (right after the last list was published) and committed to Texas on Monday, before a new one went up.
But really, the craziness comes from everyone else. Just when you think the portal is slowing down because a guy like Mac McClung pulls his name out of the portal, a new difference-maker enters. Like this week when former five-star center Moussa Cisse decided to leave Memphis and enter the portal.
Point being, good players are still entering the portal, even now, a full month after the season. And until all those players find homes we will continue to update this list.
Now, let’s get to Version 6.0.
1. Marcus Carr, G, Minnesota
Ranking Last Week: No. 1
This is now Version 6.0 and in all six lists Carr has been atop our big board.
By now you know his story: All-Big Ten second team, averaged 19 points per game at Minnesota last year, currently testing the NBA Draft waters, blah, blah, blah. With his college recruitment there had been some early Kentucky buzz, but it seems increasingly like he is going to pursue every possible option before electing to return to college.
Unfortunately, until he officially announces that he is staying in the draft or commits to another school, we have to keep Carr on this list. But there really doesn’t appear to be all that much movement in his recruitment.
Recruiting Buzz: Will test his NBA options before making a college decision
2. Marcus Bagley, F, Arizona State
Ranking Last Week: N/A
Cisse’s addition to the portal is probably the biggest “name” to announce a transfer since our last list, but Bagley is probably the best actual player to enter the portal since then.
The brother of former Duke star Marvin Bagley, Marcus Bagley is more “wing” than big guy like his older bro, but boy oh boy, is he good in that role. A legitimate 6’8 with guard skills, Bagley averaged 11 points and six rebounds on nearly 35 percent three-point shooting in his one season in Tempe, earning some “NBA lottery pick potential” buzz. By the end of the season that cooled off a bit, but there’s still no doubt that the uber-athletic Bagley is a future NBA player.
Because of it, Bagley made the dual-announcement over the weekend that he is both testing the NBA Draft waters, but also entering the transfer portal to consider other college options as well. Should he return to college, I’d expect him to stay on the West Coast, as his uber-tight family is based in Sacramento where his older brother plays.
Recruiting Buzz: Testing the NBA Draft waters, while considering other college options
3. Moussa Cisse, C, Memphis
Ranking Last Week: N/A
While I love just about everything about college basketball and its coverage, the one thing I hate is preseason NBA mock drafts. I understand why they’re done – and it’s no disrespect to the guys who do it – but too often, those boards just basically become a “list of best freshmen entering college basketball” the following season. Think about where say BJ Boston or Jalen Johnson will get drafted, relative to where the “mocks” had them to start the season.
I bring this up to transition into a conversation about Cisse. The idea that he was ever labeled as a one-and-done, potential lottery pick coming out of high school was laughable – anyone who saw him play in high school knew that while he was a hyper-athletic big man, he was really raw. It was unfair to label him a “one-and-done” type kid because – unless he made a monumental jump in his one season at college – there was no way he would be ready for the pros after one season.
Anyway, rant over and even though Cisse didn’t live up to unrealistic hype, it doesn’t change the fact that he will be a really good college basketball player next year. In just 20 minutes played per game last season he averaged six points, six rebounds and 1.5 blocks per game. So imagine what he can do with increased playing time somewhere else – especially on the defensive end.
Cisse is still a little raw defensively, but someone will get an elite rim protector next year, who could develop into an NBA center one day.
Recruiting buzz: Way too early to tell
4. Bryce Thompson, G, Kansas
Ranking Last Week: No. 4
Like Cisse, Thompson was another highly-rated player in the class of 2020 who didn’t work out at his original school. But in Thompson’s case it was more about injuries than anything else, as he played in just 20 of Kansas’s 30 games due to several different limitations.
Still, when he was healthy Thompson was one of the best shooters in the high school class of 2020, so some college program has a chance to add a difference-maker on the wing next season. He probably isn’t an immediate, All-Conference type guy for next season but someone who could definitely develop into that down the road (his path feels ironically similar to former Kansas Jayhawk Quentin Grimes, who transferred to Houston, and by his junior year became a key cog on a Final Four team).
Since deciding to leave Kansas, Thompson’s recruitment has been quiet. An Oklahoma native, many believe that Oklahoma or Oklahoma State have the inside track.
Recruiting buzz: Pretty quiet, but Oklahoma and Oklahoma State seemingly have the inside track
5. Adam Miller, G, Illinois
Ranking Last Week: No. 5
Miller is yet another highly-rated recruit who decided to enter the portal after his freshman year, but his circumstances are different than either Cisse or Thompson’s. In Miller’s case he started every game for a No. 1 seed and legitimate title contender at Illinois. But with another point guard already in place in Champaign (in his case, Andre Curbelo), Miller is now looking for a fresh start somewhere else, with a new role where he can be a primary playmaker.
A 6’4 guard who averaged eight points and 35 percent shooting from three in his one season at Illinois, Miller’s recruitment seems like it’s coming down to the wire. He said on Instagram recently that he plans on committing on May 1st, and it appears that his top choices include LSU, Kentucky and Michigan.
Recruiting buzz: Expected to commit May 1, and likely choosing between LSU, Kentucky and Michigan
6. Tre Mitchell, F/C, UMass
Ranking Last Week: No. 7
Along with Marcus Carr, Mitchell is the only player to make all six of these lists. So yeah, the kid does not seem to be in a hurry to make a decision.
Once he does though, some program will get a difference-making big man down low. A former Top 100 recruit, the 6’9 Mitchell averaged 18.8 points and 7.2 rebounds with over a block and a steal per game.
There have essentially been no recruiting updates with Mitchell in weeks. The last credible one came from Adam Zagoria, who simply said that somewhere in the neighborhood of 75 schools had reached out to Mitchell and his camp. So yeah, your guess is as good as mine.
Recruiting buzz: Who knows
7. Darryl Morsell, G, Maryland
Ranking Last Week: No. 8
Morsell is a player who has already graduated from Maryland and is going through the draft process, so at this point it’s hard to know whether he will actually use his extra year of eligibility or not. But if he does, some team will get one of the toughest guards in college basketball and one of the best perimeter defenders in America.
And that isn’t an exaggeration, as Morsell won the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year last year – again, as a guard. He also averaged nine points and three assists per game in helping the Terps to an NCAA Tournament appearance.
In terms of what’s next, it’s hard to know with Morsell. There was an initial list of suitors that came out a few weeks ago, but again, Morsell appears set to pursue professional options before committing to return to school. The possibility also exists that he could return to Maryland for an additional season.
Recruiting buzz: A long list of suitors, and will also consider a return to Maryland or professional options as well
8. Sahvir Wheeler, G, Georgia
Ranking Last Week: No. 9
When Wheeler decided to leave Georgia last week, we made it clear in this space that he would be a very in-demand transfer and his first list of schools confirmed it. Among the list of schools that have reached out according to ESPN’s Jeff Borzello are Kentucky, Kansas, Texas and Gonzaga.
Put simply, when John Calipari, Bill Self, Chris Beard and Mark Few want you, you know you’re damn good.
Georgia transfer Sahvir Wheeler tells ESPN he’s heard from Kentucky, Kansas, Gonzaga, Oklahoma State, Michigan, LSU, Texas, Oregon State, Stanford, Wichita State. Plans to cut his list in a week or so. Wants to compete for a title. Averaged 14.0 points, led SEC with 7.4 assists.
— Jeff Borzello (@jeffborzello) April 26, 2021
And that’s exactly what Wheeler is, as a playmaking point guard who not only averaged 14 points per game but also 7.4 assists per contest as well, which was fifth in all of college basketball. Wheeler does have some warts; he turns the ball over too much (over four times per game this season) and doesn’t shoot the ball well (22.5 percent). But again, it’s clear by the schools that are interested, that the good outweighs the bad with him.
When Wheeler left, Tom Crean claimed it was to get closer to his Houston-area home, but as Borzello mentioned, it seems as though winning is the most important factor in his upcoming decision.
Recruiting buzz: A loaded list of suitors, with schools near his Houston home seemingly having the edge
9. CJ Fredrick, G, Iowa
Ranking Last Week: No. 10
When Fredrick entered the portal last week, it felt like a foregone conclusion that the 6’3 sharpshooter and former Mr. Basketball in the state of Kentucky would end up a Wildcat – and it still feels that way. Still, it hasn’t stopped other schools from reaching out, as Fredrick has a loaded list of schools interested in his services.
Iowa transfer CJ Fredrick tells me that he’s receiving interest from the following programs:
— Jon Rothstein (@JonRothstein) April 21, 2021
And with good reason, since put simply, he is one of the best shooters in all of college basketball. Even in an injury-plagued redshirt sophomore season, Fredrick averaged 7.5 points per game on a staggering 47 percent shooting from behind the three-point arc. That was after averaging 10.2 points per game on 46 percent three-point shooting as a freshman.
Again, all signs point to Kentucky in Frederick’s recruitment. But there’s no word yet on if it will be the Wildcats, or when the news will become official.
Recruiting buzz: Strong Kentucky lean, but has a loaded list of suitors
10. Bryce Hamilton, G, UNLV
Ranking Last Week: No. 11
There are times where a mid-major player has a ton of success, but when he transfers up to a higher level he just can’t get the job done. However, I don’t expect Hamilton to be one of those guys. The kid is a straight bucket-getter, and should be able to get points wherever he goes next season.
Hamilton was one of the best scorers in a better-than-you-realize Mountain West, averaging nearly 18 points per game to go along with six rebounds and three assists as well. And while Hamilton wasn’t a great shooter in 2021 (just 31.3 percent) he has shot as high as 34 percent for a season in his college career. So he’s probably a bit better than the numbers would indicate.
In addition to hitting the portal, Hamilton is also testing the draft waters, so in theory it could be a while before he makes a final decision. A Pasadena, California native, there has been buzz that Hamilton could both commit to a school in the Pac-12 footprint (likely USC) and also some chatter around Arkansas as well. Right now though, there is no public leader.
Recruiting buzz: Testing the draft waters with both Pac-12/USC buzz and Arkansas buzz in his college recruitment
11. Rocket Watts, G, Michigan State
Ranking Last Week: No. 12
I’ve said it since he entered the portal and will keep saying it: I’m a believer in Rocket Watts. As a freshman he played alongside Cassius Winston and thrived, averaging nearly 10 points per game, but saw his numbers dip as he was forced into a point guard role as a sophomore. The kid is a solid playmaker off the ball, but unfortunately Michigan State tried to turn him into a point guard last season. It’s not either side’s fault that it didn’t work, but now Watts has decided to move on.
At this point, Watts has been in the portal for a while and his recruitment reflects that. He was initially linked to Florida State and Louisville, but both schools appear to have filled out their rosters since then. And Jake Weingarten reported that Kentucky had reached out, but that seemed more of a feeling out process, then concrete push to sign him. There has been some DePaul chatter of late behind the scenes also.
But again, after nearly a month in the portal, there really isn’t much “news” to report.
Recruiting buzz: Relatively quiet last few weeks, with DePaul picking up some traction
12. DeVante’ Jones, G, Coastal Carolina
Ranking Last Week: N0. 14
It’s time to give a little love to the mid-major guys, and there were few, anywhere in college hoops last season that were better than Jones. The 6’1 guard who won Sun Belt Player of the Year is simply a playmaker. He averaged 19 points per game to go along with 7.1 rebounds and nearly three assists and three steals per game, all while shooting nearly 37 percent from three.
So yeah, I can’t lie, I’m getting a lot “Carlik Jones” vibes, the player who went from Radford to Louisville and was one of the best players in the ACC last year. I’m not saying Devante’ Jones will be one of the best players in a power conference next season, but I do believe he can be a major contributor.
According to an interview with KSR’s Jack Pilgrim, Jones has already heard from dozens of schools, including Texas, Texas Tech, Arkansas and others. He has also entered his name in the NBA Draft for feedback.
Recruiting buzz: Way too early to tell and will test the NBA Draft waters
13. Rasir Bolton, G, Iowa State
Ranking Last Week: No. 14
Bolton has now played three years of college hoops (one at Penn State, the last two at Iowa State) and the one thing he has been able to do is consistently get buckets. He has averaged double-figures in all three seasons, and to his credit, his game became much more well-rounded this year, as he also averaged nearly four assists per game too. His three-point shooting numbers have decreased through the years, but that might be more of a reflection of playing on bad teams (where he is the focal point of the defense) than it is anything wrong with his play.
And really, that last part is what will be interesting about Bolton’s next stop: He has proven that he can be really good on a bad team, but is he just a “good stats, bad team” guy or can he contribute to winning?
We’ll find out, as Bolton seems set to make his college choice soon. Arkansas is the perceived leader in his recruitment.
Recruiting buzz: Arkansas appears to be the leader in his recruitment
14. Jacob Young, G, Rutgers
Ranking Last Week: “Five more names to know”
Young has been in the “other guys to watch” category for weeks. But with a few players bumping out of the portal in recent days, he moves up to No. 14. I’m sure he’s flattered by such an incredible honor (yes, I’m totally being sarcastic).
At 23-years-old and with five years of college basketball under his belt, we know what Young is at this point: Just a really, solid college basketball player. He was the starting point guard on a Rutgers squad that made its first NCAA Tournament since 1991 this past season, averaging 14.1 points and 3.4 assists per game. To his credit, he also vastly improved his three-point shooting (getting it up to 37 percent in 2021) as well.
Again, he’s a really solid college basketball player, but because of his age, it’s hard to know what his next move will be. He is looking into his pro options, and considering he will be 24 by the start of next season, might decide to just skip his final year of college hoops altogether. If he does return to college ball, the possibility exists that he could return to Texas, where he began his college career.
Recruiting buzz: Considering professional options before looking at possibility of returning to college
15. Henry Coleman, F, Duke
Ranking Last Week: “Five more names to know”
Coleman is a former Top 60 recruit, who – like Jaemyn Brakefield, who was on this list for weeks – simply got caught in a numbers game at Duke last season. As a 6’7 guy who is more “undersized power forward” than “true wing” he got stuck behind Matthew Hurt, Jalen Johnson and others and never really got the chance to show much this season. And with highly-touted recruits Paolo Banchero and AJ Griffin coming to Durham next season, there was no real path to playing time for him next year as well.
Still, there is a place for someone of Coleman’s size, toughness and athleticism on a good college hoops team. Originally from Virginia, Coleman chose the Blue Devils over both Virginia and Virginia Tech. It seems like both could be legitimate options for him next season.
Players who’ve made decisions since Version 5.0 last week:
Mac McClung, G, Texas Tech (will test NBA Draft waters, but if he returns to college it will be at Texas Tech)
James Akinjo, G, Arizona (committed to Baylor)
De’Vion Harmon, G, Oklahoma (committed to Oregon)
Kerr Kriisa, G, Arizona (withdrew from the portal and will return to Arizona)
Players who’ve appeared on this list and committed prior to last week:
Walker Kessler, F/C, North Carolina (committed to Auburn)
Justin Powell, G, Auburn (committed to Tennessee)
Timmy Allen, G/F, Utah (committed to Texas)
Kellan Grady, G, Davidson (committed to Kentucky)
Fatts Russell, G, Rhode Island (committed to Maryland)
Garrison Brooks, F/C, North Carolina (committed to Mississippi State)
Marcus Williams, G, Wyoming (committed to Texas A&M)
Matt Bradley, G, Cal (committed to San Diego State)
Micah Peavy, F, Texas Tech (committed to TCU)
Khristian Lander, G, Indiana (returning to Indiana)
Boogie Ellis, G, Memphis (committed to USC)
Armaan Franklin, G, Indiana (committed to Virginia)
Noah Locke, G, Florida (committed to Louisville)
Liam Robbins, C, Minnesota (committed to Vanderbilt)
Xavier Pinson, G, Missouri (committed to LSU)
DJ Jeffries, F, Memphis (committed to Mississippi State)
Earl Timberlake, G/F, Miami (committed to Memphis)
Kadary Richmond, G, Syracuse (committed to Seton Hall)
Christian Bishop, F, Creighton (committed to Texas)
Qudus Wahab, C, Georgetown (committed to Maryland)
Chris Lykes, G, Miami (committed to Arkansas)
Au’Diese Toney, G, Pitt (committed to Arkansas)
Nimari Burnett, G, Texas Tech (committed to Alabama)
Brady Manek, F, Oklahoma (committed to North Carolina)
Myles Johnson, F/C, Rutgers (committed to UCLA)
Xavier Johnson, G, Pitt (committed to Indiana)
Stanley Umude, F, South Dakota (committed to Arkansas)
Jaemyn Brakefield, F, Duke (committed to Ole Miss)
Oumar Ballo, F, Gonzaga (committed to Arizona)