Rotnei Clarke is the poster child for the success a transfer can have.
There are a lot of variables stacked against the transfer in college sports.
Not only does the transfer run the risk of finding out the grass is not always greener on the other side, but the fact that their head coaches and conferences can limit which schools he can transfer to and coupled with the fact that, in most cases, the NCAA steals a year of his athletic life, makes the decision fraught with peril. There is no guarantee of success, which makes any immediate impression on his new team all the more remarkable.
During this college basketball season, several players have contributed to making their new teams better. Either the players have continued the efficient play they established at their former schools or they have developed new-found skills that have made them more valuable on the basketball court. Thanks to their contributions, their new teams are better for having them on the roster, making them deserving of special recognition.
It is the hope of improving their basketball lives and having an impact on their new teams that keeps the transfer alive in spite of the rules that can and do harm him.
Aaric Murray is one of the transfers who has made an impact on his new school.
If you wanted to make the argument that these honorable mention players deserve a legitimate ranking on the list, I would be the last one to disagree with you; but as of right now, honorable mention is as far as these three players go.
Aaric Murray, West Virginia University, Formerly of La Salle University
Junior center Aaric Murray is the leading scorer for the West Virginia Volunteers this season, clocking in at 10.6 points per game as he posts an effective field-goal percentage of 50.9 percent and a true shooting percentage of 54.6 percent. He is also chipping in 7.5 rebounds per game as he has already found his place among the Volunteers.
Larry Drew II, University of California at Los Angeles, Formerly of the University of North Carolina
There is always a place in sports for players who excel at one dimension of their respective sports, and this is no different for point guard Larry Drew II, who is excelling in one area and not being terrible in any area as he provides value to his new team.
For the season, Drew is averaging 8.1 assists per game and is responsible for 46.6 percent of UCLA's 294 assists, both incredible numbers for a player who looked like he did not belong in college basketball during most of his time at UNC. Drew has also limited his turnovers, only averaging 1.6 turnovers per game, making him the most effective he has ever been.
Alex Oriakhi has rediscovered his form since putting on a Missouri Tigers uniform.
Senior forward Alex Oriakhi's decision to transfer to the University of Missouri was mutually beneficial to both player and university on a couple of levels. The Missouri Tigers basketball team acquired a valuable piece to their roster puzzle, and ensured themselves that if they did poorly this season, it would not be because of lack of production from the forward spot.
More importantly, the transfer to Missouri allowed Oriakhi to be reunited with a long-lost friend: rebounding.
You see, rebounding and Oriahki had fallen out of touch with each other last season. After seeing each other 8.7 times per game during the 2010-11 season, their number of visits dropped precipitously to 4.8 times per contest over the course of the 2011-12 season. Anyone who has ever lost touch with a good friend can imagine how painful that must have been for Oriakhi.
Thankfully, this season has seen the two reunite and re-establish their relationship. Oriakhi is once again receiving visits from rebounding to the tune of 8.7 times per game. In addition to his regained rebounding prowess, Oriakhi is posting career-highs in points per game (10.2) and true shooting percentage (58.4 percent).
Let us hope that going forward, Oriakhi and rebounding never have another falling out.
Ryan Harrow has shaken off a slow start to be a contributing player for the Kentucky Wildcats.
Point guard Ryan Harrow's first year with the University of Kentucky could not have gotten off to a worse start. First, he was limited by flu-like symptoms that kept him off the court for a significant length of time. Then, Harrow had to leave the team temporarily to deal with family issues. All told, Harrow's first five games were a complete wash, and his next four contests saw him be completely ineffective.
It was not until Kentucky's contest against Lipscomb where the college basketball world first gained a glimpse of the remarkable player Harrow is capable of being on any given night. In that game, Harrow scored in double figures for the first time this season, netting 12 points on 6 of 13 shooting. While not remarkable in and of itself, using that game as a starting point, Harrow has entirely put his early season woes behind him.
Counting that game, and the five successive ones after that, Harrow has been on a tear, averaging 16.2 points per game, which has been powered by an effective field-goal percentage of 54.4 percent and a true shooting percentage of 56.3 percent, marking Harrow as a player who can be an efficient scorer.
Harrow still has not shown any elite ability to create shots for his teammates while avoiding turnovers, as evidenced by his 23 assists and 13 turnovers over his most recent six-game stretch, but so far, Harrow has been a good return on investment for the Kentucky basketball team.
How he continues to develop as a point guard will definitely be worth keeping an eye on as the college basketball season progresses.
Desmar Jackson has been an excellent player for Southern Illionis this season.
Southern Illinois, as a team, is not having such a great start to the college basketball season. Their record currently sits at 8-8 overall, with just a 1-4 record in conference play. Based on their level of play, the team will be lucky to see the postseason. However, senior guard Desmar Jackson is not letting the failures of the team overly affect his own production this season.
Jackson is on pace to set a career-high in points per game with an average of 16.8 points scored per contest, which happens to be 4.0 points per game higher than the second-leading scorer for the Salukis. As with the other players on this list, Jackson is able to handle a heavy offensive workload without sacrificing too much efficiency. His effective field-goal percentage of 51.0 percent and true shooting percentage of 54.3 percent are certainly nothing to sneeze at.
For good measure, Jackson is also grabbing 6.1 rebounds per game, as he helps out the Salukis in multiple ways, even though the team's record does not accurately reflect all the productivity he is providing.
Will Clyburn has been a very dependable player for Iowa State this year.
Guard Will Clyburn has only played two years of Division-I basketball, but in those two years, Clyburn has established himself as the kind of player who can be a go-to scorer, without sacrificing his offensive efficiency, in addition to being a consistent rebounding threat. Those two talents just happen to be the two he is providing for the Iowa State Cyclones this season, too.
Currently, Clyburn is leading the Cyclones in scoring with 14.3 points per game, which has been powered by his effective field-goal percentage of 49.4 percent and his true shooting percentage of 55.0 percent. In addition, Clyburn is second on the team with 7.5 rebounds per game, making him the most valuable member of the Cyclones team this season as he has led the Cyclones to an 11-4 overall record.
If Clyburn is interested in making himself an even more efficient scoring threat, the only advice I can give him is to cut down on his three-point attempts. He is only shooting a lowly 28.3 percent on three-pointers this season, and even with the bonus of making a three-pointer, it is doing damage to his field-goal percentages. Clyburn is shooting 52.8 percent on two-pointers while managing just a 42.5 effective field-goal percentage on three-pointers.
Still, he is having one very valuable season for his new team.
Mark Lyons has quickly established himself as the Arizona Wildcat's leading scorer.
After spending the last two seasons as Xavier University's second-leading scorer, only Tu Holloway edged him in scoring, guard Mark Lyons has quickly established himself as the leading scorer for the seventh-ranked Arizona Wildcats. So far this season, Lyons has averaged 14.6 points per game, which would definitely qualify him as being an impact player.
Not only is Lyons carrying the heaviest burden of the Wildcats offense on his shoulders, but he is doing so while at the same time being an efficient scorer, meaning he is not just a volume scorer. Through 16 games, Lyons has posted an effective field-goal percentage of 51.5 percent and a true shooting percentage of 58.1 percent.
The difference between his effective field-goal percentage and his true shooting percentage is a testament to his ability to both get to the foul line and convert once he arrives there. His 41.7 free throw rate is a number any go-to scorer would be proud.
Without Lyons on the roster, it is hard to envision Arizona having been so successful this season as he is now giving the Wildcats all the excellent shooting the team needs. The only thing the team could ask of Lyons is to be a little more judicious with his decision-making, but that is a request every player on the team could ask since Arizona players have combined for 231 assists and 226 turnovers for the season.
Eric Wise has quickly jumped into a leading scorer role for USC.
Do not blame forward Eric Wise for the recent firing of University of Southern California head coach Kevin O'Neill. Wise has been, by far, the most productive player on USC's basketball team this year, leading the team with an average of 11.2 points per game. Without him, the Trojans, heaven forbid, would be even worse than their 7-10 record suggests they are now.
While we are playing the "no blame game," do not blame Wise for the fact that his points per game average this season represents a decline of 4.4 points per game from his last season playing for UC Irvine. Wise's decrease in his scoring average is the result of going from playing on one of the most up-tempo teams in the nation to one that plays basketball at a snail's pace and seems to fear, more than anything, scoring more than 70 points and also attempting 3.4 fewer shots per game.
In fact, Wise has never been more efficient as an offensive player so it would seem that he is benefiting from playing at a slower place and maximizing the limited number of shot attempts he does get per game. For this season, Wise has posted an effective field-goal percentage of 55.6 percent and a true shooting percentage of 58.5 percent, both career-highs.
One would be hard pressed to find a player who is doing more with his shooting opportunities than Wise has done this season.
Rotnei Clarke is one of the most efficient shooters in college basketball.
The University of Arkansas's loss was definitely Butler University's gain as guard Rotnei Clarke has stepped right into a Bulldogs uniform and continued the ultra-efficient way in which he plays basketball. One can almost be forgiven for seeing how comfortable Clarke has been for the Butler Bulldogs, and think he has been playing for the team for the last four seasons instead of just the last 16 contests.
Clarke is displaying excellent marksmanship from three-point range, converting on 44.4 percent of his three-point attempts. His ability to shoot so well from deep is the number one reason why he has been able to post an effective field-goal percentage of 55.7 percent. Due to his style of play, Clarke will never get to the free-throw line often, witness his lackluster 14.2 free-throw rate, which is why his true shooting percentage of 57.7 percent is not much higher than his effective field-goal percentage.
Even so, when you can shoot as well as Clarke does from three-point range, it might be asking too much for you to get to the free-throw line often as well. In fact, Clarke is shooting so well from three-point range, that he is outpacing his field-goal percentage on two-pointers, which sits at 37.1 percent. Maybe, he should do away with two-point attempts completely.
Here's hoping that Clarke recovers quickly from his gruesome neck injury so we can once again marvel at his pinpoint shooting accuracy.