Ranking the Top 10 Available Transfers in the 2014 College Basketball Offseason
More than 400 college basketball players left their previous programs during the 2013 offseason. The 2014 transfer numbers are slightly down, but there are still approximately 350 athletes on the move this spring.
Many will leave Division I or settle on another school's bench never to be heard from again, but some can play major roles in whatever new destination they find. Whether a transfer becomes a starter or a key bench piece depends on fit, but talent will usually win out.
Programs like Iowa State and Oregon are proving that multiple vagabonds can form strong, cohesive teams. These 10 players should become solid parts of any program, no matter how major their destination.
10. F Ryan Anderson
Boston College will face a season of heavy flux in 2014-15. Not only does new coach Jim Christian have to hit the ground running in the ACC, but he may also have to do so without his top three scorers. No. 2 scorer and top rebounder Ryan Anderson is one of those departures.
Anderson was an honorable mention All-ACC selection this season after averaging 14.3 points and 7.2 rebounds, setting career highs in field-goal percentage (48.9) and free-throw percentage (73.9) in the process.
Anderson tweeted out dates of visits to Iowa State, Indiana and Arizona. All will come in May, so it appears he is in no hurry to make his decision. He would stand higher on this list if not for a shoulder surgery he will undergo this week. The procedure will render him inactive for four months, and part of his year in residence will be spent rehabbing the shoulder.
9. G/F Brian Williams
Swingman Brian Williams may have been the most athletic player on last season's Oklahoma State team. Considering the company with which he traveled, that's high praise.
Williams had a chance to be a primary weapon for OSU next season with guards Marcus Smart and Markel Brown declaring for the NBA draft. Instead, Williams will graduate in May and use the resultant exemption to play his senior season elsewhere in 2014-15.
Williams started 26 games for the Cowboys last season, averaging 6.2 points and 3.4 rebounds per game on 48.8 percent shooting. He lost his starting role late in the season to sharpshooting guard Phil Forte.
As a freshman back in 2011-12, Williams posted 9.6 PPG, scoring in double figures in 10 of his final 14 games and breaking 20 in four of those. He missed half of his sophomore year with a wrist injury.
The Baton Rouge, La., native is reportedly interested in a move to Louisiana-Lafayette, as reported by Chad Washington of The Daily Advertiser in Lafayette, La.. No other schools have currently surfaced as possible destinations.
8. G Ian Chiles
Former IUPUI guard Ian Chiles isn't a household name among fans, primarily because the Jaguars won all of six games this past season. Coaches, however, can value a 15-PPG scorer no matter how poorly his team performed.
Chiles finished third in the Summit League at 15.8 points per game while shooting 41.9 percent from the floor. As the primary scoring option, he demonstrated an ability to get to the basket even while he struggled to get good three-point looks. Chiles shot 31.4 percent from three-point range, down more than 10 points from his sophomore campaign in 2011-12.
If the 6'1" Louisville native lands on a team where he can be a complementary scorer and defensive pest, his final season of eligibility should be a very productive one.
ESPN's Jeff Goodman tweeted a list of schools Chiles is considering, and it runs the gamut. Potential major-conference contenders like Tennessee, Florida State and Nebraska rub shoulders with also-rans like Texas A&M, Auburn and Missouri. Intriguing mid-majors like Western Kentucky and Louisiana-Lafayette are in the mix, and Iowa State is on Chiles' list because it's seemingly on every transfer's list.
7. G/F Danuel House
The first of two players on this list bolting from the Houston Cougars, swingman Danuel House was a major get when he signed with coach James Dickey in 2012. He was ranked No. 29 on that season's RSCI consensus list, the highest-rated prospect to join the Cougars since hometown center Alton Ford in 2000.
With Dickey stepping down and Houston hiring Kelvin Sampson as his replacement, House and forward TaShawn Thomas have requested releases to transfer. The university denied their requests, according to the Houston Chronicle, forcing the players to pursue an appeal.
UH athletic director Mack Rhoades told the Chronicle's Joseph Duarte, "We were very, very clear that when coach Dickey decided he needed to leave we wouldn't entertain any releases until we hired a new coach and that coach had an opportunity to develop a relationship with our players." Translation: Rhoades remains hopeful that Sampson can successfully convince last season's top two scorers to stay.
House was the 2013 Conference USA Freshman of the Year, and he put up 12.9 PPG over his two seasons in Houston. A talented athlete with a 6'7" frame, House has the physical ability to be a professional wing player, but he'll need a school that can hone his skills and get him greater exposure.
Until he gets his official release, no schools can step forward and contact House—at least, they're not supposed to. Expect his phone to ring frequently once that decision comes.
6. G Kareem Canty
Another year, another point guard bolting from Marshall University's basketball program. DeAndre Kane did fairly well for himself at Iowa State, and now it's Kareem Canty's turn. Finally.
Canty, like the Houston duo mentioned previously, was initially denied a release from his scholarship at Marshall. Coach Tom Herrion was let go, and Canty wanted to follow suit. It took nearly a month of requests and appeals, but MU finally granted Canty his release without restriction on April 11, allowing him to seek a new place to play.
The freshman from Harlem, N.Y., played a whopping 36.7 minutes per game last season, finishing among Conference USA's top five in scoring (16.3 PPG) and assists (5.5 per game). Canty's walked a checkered path, attending four different schools from Phoenix to Florida to Maine. Academic issues ultimately steered him to Marshall, where he sat out 2012-13 as a partial qualifier.
A report from Zach Braziller of the New York Post says that Canty has been contacted by Penn State, Kansas and South Florida, but would prefer to land somewhere close to home. He struggled to find a home in West Virginia, as this column from the Charleston Daily Mail's Chuck McGill details. So, perhaps landing back in New York would be the best thing for a basketball rambler.
5. F TaShawn Thomas
Houston power forward TaShawn Thomas is in the same boat as teammate Danuel House. Both want to leave UH after the resignation of coach James Dickey, and the school is highly reluctant to let either walk until they have a chance to meet with new bench boss Kelvin Sampson.
Thomas, a 6'8", 240-pound rising senior, will be just as popular as House if the pair's appeal process works out in their favor. Thomas was named to the American Athletic Conference's All-Conference second team in 2013-14 after racking an impressive line of 15.4 points, 8.1 rebounds, 1.2 steals and 2.7 blocks per game while shooting 59.1 percent from the floor.
Before that, Thomas nearly averaged a double-double (16.9 points, 9.8 rebounds) in 2012-13, UH's final season of Conference USA competition.
The Killeen, Texas, native posted nine double-doubles as a junior, including against eventual Sweet 16 teams Stanford and Louisville. His low-post skills will be in demand all over the country.
4. F M.J. Rhett
A 10.9-PPG scoring average in the Ohio Valley Conference doesn't usually put a player on the national radar. When that player is a 6'8", 235-pound graduate transfer who also pulled 9.1 rebounds per game, major-conference coaches and fans alike will take notice.
Former Tennessee State forward M.J. Rhett finished fifth in the OVC with that rebounding average mentioned above, and he also added a block per game for good measure. Optimism should be reined in slightly by his 3.3 fouls per game and seven disqualifications, but Rhett is the kind of post player who can fit in well on a team with an interior opening.
In an interview with SB Nation blog State of the U, Rhett named North Carolina, Miami, USC, Ole Miss and Tennessee as the top schools on his list. Scout.com's Ole Miss Spirit reported (subscription required) that Rhett "felt like [he] was at home" when he visited the school this past weekend.
Apparently, the feelings are no longer so warm and fuzzy about Tennessee, as Ben Frederickson of GoVolsXtra.com reported on Monday (subscription required) that Rhett has crossed UT off his list.
With its sizable frontcourt depth, North Carolina doesn't seem to have a major need for a player like Rhett, unless Roy Williams decides to indulge Rhett's desire to be a face-up forward, which he discussed with State of the U.
SOTU also indicated that Rhett plans to visit Miami before making his decision, which should come the weekend of April 26.
UPDATE: Jeff Goodman is now reporting that UConn is also entering the Rhett sweepstakes.
3. F Sean Obi
While M.J. Rhett is garnering attention because he's a double-double threat who can play immediately, former Rice forward Sean Obi is popular because once he sits out his year in residence, he'll have three seasons of eligibility left.
The 6'9", 265-pound native of Nigeria averaged 11.4 points and led Conference USA at 9.3 rebounds per game as a freshman. Only Kentucky's Julius Randle averaged more boards per game among freshmen in 2013-14. According to StatSheet.com, Obi ranked third in the nation with a 30.2 defensive rebounding percentage.
Obi's list of schools is short but academically distinguished. He visited Vandy last week, per Jeff Goodman, and will stop by Duke this week. Teddy Greenstein of the Chicago Tribune also names Northwestern and Virginia as schools in the hunt for Obi's services. Two of these four schools can offer immediate playing time. No points for guessing which ones.
When former VCU associate head coach Mike Rhoades was hired as Rice's new head man, Obi praised his hunger to Joseph Duarte of the Houston Chronicle. Apparently, that hunger wasn't enough to keep Obi in town.
2. G Matt Carlino
Another player who will be immediately eligible when he chooses a new destination, ex-BYU point guard Matt Carlino will provide someone with a veteran floor general with postseason experience.
During his two-plus seasons in Provo, Carlino never averaged less than 11.5 points, three rebounds, 4.3 assists and 1.4 steals per game. He started 56 of 61 games as a freshman and sophomore but was made the team's sixth man midway through his junior campaign.
Coming off the bench didn't slow Carlino down much, as he still scored 15 or more points off the bench seven times. Portland alone surrendered 55 points in its two meetings with Carlino.
Per the omnipresent Jeff Goodman, schools like Oklahoma State, Purdue, UCLA, Pitt and Memphis contacted Carlino immediately, and others may be involved by now. OSU, Memphis and UCLA all lost their starting point guards to the pros, while Purdue's Ronnie Johnson elected to transfer.
Carlino heading to UCLA would be an interesting twist, because he left there midway through the 2010-11 season after becoming a primary whipping boy for the Bruins' resident locker-room cancer Reeves Nelson. Sports Illustrated's George Dohrmann detailed Carlino's woes in his 2012 special report on UCLA's decay under Ben Howland.
1. G Eron Harris
The Big 12 Conference put seven teams in the 2014 NCAA tournament, so there was much balling being done in that league. One of the conference's most productive players, however, did his work for a school that ended up in the NIT.
Guard Eron Harris asked for his release from West Virginia after a sophomore season that saw him rank fourth in the Big 12 at 17.3 PPG and third in both free-throw (85.6) and three-point percentage (42.2). Despite that scoring touch, he was still only named an honorable mention all-conference selection.
In the statement linked above, the 6'3" Indianapolis native said, "I have enjoyed my time at West Virginia University the past two years, but I want to transfer closer to home. [...] I want to be closer to my family, especially being around my little brother.”
Indiana schools like Purdue, Butler, Notre Dame and Indiana were immediately linked with Harris, while other reports name schools like Michigan—per MLive writer Nick Baumgartner—and Ohio State, according to Larry Phillips of the Mansfield News Journal.