CBB Teams Getting a Boost in 2014-15 from Players You've Forgotten About

Kerry MillerCollege Basketball National AnalystApril 16, 2014

CBB Teams Getting a Boost in 2014-15 from Players You've Forgotten About

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    Orlin Wagner

    In the upcoming seasonIs it November yet?!quite a few college basketball teams will be relying heavily upon transfers who spent the entire 2013-14 season sitting on the bench.

    In all likelihood, these players won't be quite as impactful as Rodney Hood was for Duke this past season after transferring from Mississippi State and spending a season on the sidelines with Coach K. However, there are a lot of important names that most of us have long since forgotten about.

    Pictured above is Angel Rodriguez during his days with Kansas State, but he will likely be the starting point guard for the Miami Hurricanes in November. He is just one of the dozens and dozens of players who changed schools after the 2012-13 season without being granted immediate eligibility to play at their new school.

    If you think it's hard to keep track of players declaring for the NBA draft, coaches moving around, or conference realignment, try staying abreast of transfers.

    Thanks to the never-ceasing work of ESPN's Jeff Goodman, we know there are already well over 300 players attempting to transfer schools this summer. There were more than 500 who did the same last year.

    It's from that latter group that we compiled this list of 10 teams who will benefit the most from players who sat out this past season.

    The following slides are ranked based on how crucial we feel these transfers will be to their respective teams' success in 2014-15.

10. North Carolina State Wolfpack

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    Chris Graythen/Getty Images

    Key transfers (2012-13 team and stats)

    Trevor Lacey (Alabama: 11.3 PPG, 3.8 RPG, 3.2 APG, 1.4 SPG)

     

    It's kind of refreshing to hear that Mark Gottfried is gaining a player for a change.

    Last year, C.J. Leslie and Lorenzo Brown left early for the NBA draft and Rodney Purvis transferred to Connecticut. This year, T.J. Warren is leaving early and Tyler Lewis is transferring to Butler.

    But Lacey just might be the missing piece North Carolina State needs to make the NCAA tournament for a fourth consecutive season. (An incoming recruiting class including Abdul-Malik Abu, Caleb Martin and Cody Martin certainly won't hurt, either.)

    The interesting twist here is that Gottfriedthe former coach at Alabamahas been recruiting Lacey for years. As Lacey told Patrick Claybon of CBS 42:

    He’d been recruiting me since 8th grade, he was actually my first college offer right before Tennessee, he’s just been there since the 8th grade.

    Once he got fired you know, he just kept in touch and was trying to touch base and help me make a good decision as far as college. He actually ended up getting the job right before I made the decision and it was just kinda too late to try to start all over with another coach after I’d already made my decision.

    Now that Gottfried finally got his man, will he be able to win with him?

    There are a lot of outstanding teams in the ACC next season, but a backcourt of Lacey, Cat Barber, Desmond Lee and Ralston Turner will be tough to beat. If Abu is as good as advertised and if Beejay Anya gets into better shape over the summer, the Wolfpack could really surprise a lot of people next year.

9. Connecticut Huskies

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    Grant Halverson/Getty Images

    Key transfers (2012-13 team and stats)

    Rodney Purvis (North Carolina State: 8.3 PPG, 2.4 RPG, 1.3 APG)

     

    Purvis didn't put up jaw-dropping numbers in his one year at NC State, but they at least seem a little better once you recall he was the back-up shooting guard on a team that received a No. 8 seed in the 2013 tournament after opening the year ranked No. 6 in the AP Top 25.

    He averaged 13.0 points per game through the Wolfpack's first four games and had occasional scoring outbursts against Boston College and Wake Forest, averaging 18.0 PPG in four games against those two teams.

    However, like his entire team that season, he never seemed to get into a consistent grooveperhaps because of how much his playing time fluctuated.

    If Ryan Boatright and DeAndre Daniels come back to Connecticut—which is still a pretty big "if" as of Tuesday nightPurvis won't need to average 15 PPG to make a huge impact.

    The fact that he has proven capable of scoring 20 points in any given game, though, will be crucial. Just as Boatright stepped up when teams focused on stopping Shabazz Napier, opposing coaches will be very wary of slacking off of Purvis.

8. Kansas State Wildcats

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    Bob Child

    Key transfers (2012-13 team and stats)

    Justin Edwards (Maine: 16.7 PPG, 5.2 RPG, 3.4 APG, 1.9 SPG)

    Brandon Bolden (Georgetown: five minutes, zero points)

     

    When Kansas State introduced Bolden to the roster, it stretched the truth just a tad:

    "His freshman season at Georgetown, Bolden helped the Hoyas to a 25-7 overall record and a share of the Big East title with a 14-4 conference record."

    Really? Did Nnamdi Amilo also help Connecticut to its national championship this year? Because at least Amilo scored two points in the five minutes that he played during the season.

    That's not meant as a knock on Bolden, because I suspect he'll play considerably more than five minutes this season for Bruce Weber as the only player on the roster taller than 6'9". I just find it comical that someone actually wrote that sentence in a press release without once noting his lack of playing time at Georgetown.

    Edwards, however, played and scored a lot for Maine. Against Florida State, he had 19 points, 12 rebounds and five assists. Against Florida Gulf Coast—during the season in which FGC became "Dunk City"—Edwards posted 27 points, 11 rebounds, five assists and three steals.

    We'll see if he can carry that success with him from the America East to the Big 12, but watching Edwards and Marcus Foster coexist in the Wildcats' backcourt should be a lot of fun.

7. Miami Hurricanes

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    John Rieger-USA TODAY Sports

    Key transfers (2012-13 team and stats)

    Sheldon McClellan (Texas: 13.5 PPG, 3.9 RPG)

    Angel Rodriguez (Kansas State: 11.4 PPG, 5.2 APG, 2.1 RPG, 1.5 SPG)

     

    Texas has basically become a breeding ground for guards who shoot a lot but don't shoot very well. Between A.J. Abrams, J'Covan Brown, Javan Felix, Julien Lewis and Isaiah Taylor, the Longhorns have featured a guard—consistently and for the past decade—who attempts at least 10 shots per game, while making maybe 40 percent of them.

    The weird thing about all of those guards is that they have been great free-throw shooters. Putting the ball into the basket during the course of play, however, has always been a struggle. 

    McClellan was no different, averaging 10.5 field-goal attempts per game in 2012-13, while shooting just 38.2 percent from the field. He's great at freebies, though, having made 83.3 percent of his one-point attempts two years ago.

    Rodriguez didn't come from Texas, but his shooting numbers are extremely similar. He averaged 9.7 field-goal attempts per game, shot 36.1 percent from the field and was an 82.6 percent free-throw shooter.

    It will be very interesting to see how they play together at Miami, and whether ACC play will treat their shooting percentages better than the Big 12 did.

    If anyone knows how to get the most out of slashing guards who aren't prolific three-point shooters, though, it's Jim Larranaga.

    Tony Skinn averaged 9.9 field-goal attempts per game and shot 39.6 percent in the year that George Mason advanced to the Final Four. And Shane Larkin was a 36.0 percent shooter the season before his breakout year that nearly propelled Miami to a No. 1 seed two years ago.

6. Gonzaga Bulldogs

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    Joe Robbins/Getty Images

    Key transfers (2012-13 team and stats)

    Kyle Wiltjer (Kentucky: 10.2 PPG, 4.2 RPG, 1.5 APG)

     

    Way back in 2011, Kentucky landed the No. 1 power forward (Anthony Davis), the No. 1 small forward (Michael Kidd-Gilchrist) and the No. 1 point guard (Marquis Teague) in that year's recruiting class. All three immediately became starters and huge contributors as the Wildcats won it all in April 2012. Davis and Kidd-Gilchrist went No. 1 and No. 2 in the draft that June, and Teague was taken 29th overall.

    But there was a fourth member of that recruiting class. A man named Kyle Wiltjer, who was rated as the No. 5 power forward and had an overall rating slightly better than that of Michael Carter-Williams, Nick Johnson and Branden Dawson.

    Because Terrence Jones and Doron Lamb came back for a sophomore season, there was no room in the starting lineup for a 6'10" three-point shooter who would have been the focal point of pretty much any other frontcourt in the country.

    Wiltjer returned for a second year at Kentucky and got a good number of minutes as a sophomore, but he was never quite able to become "The Man," as John Calipari reloaded with another ridiculous recruiting class and added transfers Ryan Harrow and Julius Mays.

    At Gonzaga, Wiltjer will finally get his chance to shine. Remember how important Ryan Kelly became to Duke's success by the time he graduated? That's almost the floor for our expectations for Wiltjer.

    Quite the opposite of Kentucky's annual offseason bulk up, the Bulldogs are losing a lot this summer with Sam Dower, David Stockton and Drew Barham all graduating.

    They'll still be in great shape, though. Wiltjer joins an already solid core of Prezmek Karnowski, Gary Bell Jr. and Kevin Pangos. Time will tell who the team's fifth starter will beprobably Kyle Dranginisbut 2014-15 Gonzaga is shaping up to be a team that will shoot the lights out on most nights.

5. USC Trojans

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    Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

    Key transfers (2012-13 team and stats)

    Katin Reinhardt (UNLV: 10.1 PPG, 2.5 APG, 2.0 RPG)

    Darion Clark (Charlotte: 6.2 PPG, 4.6 RPG)

     

    The Trojans might be the most schizophrenic team in the country. Over the past four seasons, their record in Pac-12 play has gone from 10-8 to 1-17 to 9-9 to this past season's dreadful 2-16.

    Based on that trajectory, I suppose they're headed for an 8-10 record this year?

    Either way, there's pretty much nowhere to go but up. They have an overall record of 31-65 since the start of the 2011-12 season.

    Reinhardt could really help USC start moving in the right direction.

    As ESPN's Eamonn Brennan wrote when it happened, Reinhardt's decision to transfer never really made any sense. He received a ton of playing time as a freshman at UNLV and took more shots than anyone except for Anthony Bennett. Why leave a high-quality program like UNLV for a struggling program like USC?

    (Of the six leading scorers for UNLV's 2012-13 team, Anthony Marshall might end up being the only one to graduate as a Rebel. Reinhardt, Bryce Dejean-Jones and Mike Moser all transferred, Bennett left for the NBA after one year and Khem Birch may do the same after two years at UNLV. Dave Rice is a great recruiter, but even John Calipari seems to be better than Rice at convincing guys to stick around.)

    UNLV's loss is USC's gain. Reinhardt will join senior Trojan Byron Wesley to form one of the best starting backcourts in the conference. If Reinhardt can become more of a point guardwhich was evidently his reasoning for wanting to leave UNLVthey could be an extremely dangerous duo.

    Clark will also be a key addition for USC. With 7'2" Omar Oraby and 7'0" D.J. Haley graduating, there's not a single Trojan left on the roster who averaged better than 0.4 blocks per game last season. Clark is hardly a block machine, but he did average 1.4 blocks per 40 minutes at Charlotte in 2012-13.

    Clark is also a quality rebounder, having averaged 10.5 boards per 40 minutes during his time with the 49ers. With 6'5" Wesley serving as the only returning Trojan who averaged better than 4.5 rebounds per game last year, Clark figures to be a crucial part of the rotation.

4. Hofstra Pride

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    Patrick Semansky

    Key transfers (2012-13 team and stats)

    Juan'ya Green (Niagara: 16.5 PPG, 4.9 APG, 4.0 RPG, 1.9 SPG)

    Ameen Tanksley (Niagara: 11.3 PPG, 6.0 RPG, 1.2 APG, 1.1 SPG)

    Brian Bernardi (SMU: 3.5 PPG, 1.0 RPG)

     

    One thing I'll never understand or accept about transfers is that coaches can switch schools all they want, but players are usually required to sit out a year if they do the same.

    Joe Mihalich was the head coach at Niagara for more than a decade before accepting the head coaching job at Hofstra before the 2013-14 season. Two of his best players at Niagara decided to follow him, but had to sit out this past season.

    (If you were wondering why Niagara's Antoine Mason suddenly came out of nowhere to nearly lead the nation in scoring, it's because Green and Tanksley combined to average 22.7 field-goal attempts per game for Niagara in 2012-13. Somebody had to pick up that slack.)

    With those two high-scoring guards in the mix and an additional year of experience for freshmen Jamall Robinson and Chris Jenkins, Hofstra could immediately transform from a 10-win team to a Colonial champion.

    And that doesn't even include the potential impact of Bernardi.

    Bernardi struggled to get playing time for the Mustangs two years ago, and he knew it wasn't going to get any better as they beefed up for the switch from C-USA to the AAC. He saw the writing on the wall and decided to transfer closer to home.

    When he did get the chance to play, he was pretty good. Bernardi was a 41.8 percent three-point shooter and scored 20 points in a game against Furman. With more consistent playing time, he could become a real asset for the Pride.

3. Colorado State Rams

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    Dave Weaver-USA TODAY Sports

    Key transfers (2012-13 team and stats)

    Dantiel Daniels (Southern Illinois: 7.7 PPG, 3.2 RPG, 0.9 BPG, 0.8 SPG)

    Stanton Kidd (North Carolina Central: 14.5 PPG, 6.9 RPG, 1.0 APG, 1.0 SPG)

     

    First off, let's point out the state of affairs in the Mountain West conference.

    San Diego State is losing Xavier Thames and Josh Davis. New Mexico is losing Cameron Bairstow and Kendall Williams. Those were four of the most important players for the two teams in the conference that actually made the 2014 NCAA tournament.

    The Aztecs have a very strong incoming recruiting class incoming, but it could take a year or two before those players are ready to make an impact.

    Elsewhere, UNLV lost leading scorer Bryce Dejean-Joneswho is graduating and transferring to Iowa StateKevin Olekaibe is a departing senior and Khem Birch is still on the fence about whether or not to forgo his senior year for the NBA.

    The MWC may very well be a battle between Boise State and Colorado State next season. These two transfers (and Louisville-transfer Chane Behanan) will be the reason the Rams come out on top.

    Kidd played one season at NC Central after playing two years of JuCo ball at South Plains College. To date, he has excelled everywhere he has been. In 2011-12, he averaged 11.9 PPG and 6.3 RPG for the 36-0 Texans. In his first game at a D-I program, he had 22 points and nine rebounds in 40 minutes against Wichita State.

    Daniels wasn't anywhere near as fantastic in his time with the Salukis, but for a team already returning its four leading scorers and adding two other great transfers, he'll be a crucial player coming off the bench for the Rams.

    Not everyone can score 20 points per game, but having that seventh man who can play 15-20 minutes per game—without hurting you—can really be the difference between an above-average season and an excellent one.

2. Alabama Crimson Tide

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    Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

    Key transfers (2012-13 team and stats)

    Michael Kessens (Longwood: 13.7 PPG, 8.8 RPG, 1.4 APG, 1.3 BPG, 1.2 SPG)

    Ricky Tarrant (Tulane: 15.7 PPG, 3.6 APG, 2.8 RPG, 1.3 SPG)

     

    You simply never know what you're going to get when a player transfers from a program like Longwood.

    In his one season with the Lancers, Kessens put up solid numbers. However, they appear to be rather artificially inflated.

    In games against Central Penn and South Virginia (neither of which are D-I programs), Kessens had a combined total of 34 points and 28 rebounds. In the season finale against VMIwell known for playing absurdly high-scoring gamesKessens had 36 points and 16 rebounds in a losing effort.

    Against "real" schools, though, he was considerably less valuable. Longwood played two ranked opponents during the 2012-13 season (Creighton and Georgetown), and Kessens had a total of 12 points and nine rebounds while committing 10 fouls and seven turnovers. He was held scoreless against VCU and scored just four points in the previous game against Seton Hall.

    Does Kessens simply shine against inferior opposition, or was his supporting cast so helpless against quality teams that he couldn't accomplish anything? I would guess it's something in between, and that he can be a reliable source of production for Alabama—if he cuts down on fouls and turnovers.

    Tarrant, on the other hand, might just be the highest-scoring transfer this season. Based on his two years of scoring at Tulane, he could somewhat effortlessly replace the scoring gap (18.5 PPG) left behind by Trevor Releford's graduation.

    These two guys and incoming recruits Justin Coleman and Riley Norris most likely won't be enough to help Alabama bypass either Florida or Kentucky at the top of the SEC standings, but the Crimson Tide could absolutely claim that No. 3 spot in the standings that seems to be up for grabs every single year.

1. Illinois Fighting Illini

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    USA TODAY Sports

    Key transfers (2012-13 team and stats)

    Aaron Cosby (Seton Hall: 12.6 PPG, 3.0 APG, 2.5 RPG)

    Darius Paul (Western Michigan: 10.4 PPG, 5.7 RPG, 1.7 APG)

    Ahmad Starks (Oregon State: 10.4 PPG, 2.3 APG, 2.0 RPG, 1.0 SPG)

     

    A lot of teams are adding one impactful transfer who had to sit out one season. A handful of schools are getting a pair of potential difference makers. But Illinois takes the cake for quantity of quality pick ups, as these three players can help propel Illinois back to the top half of the B1G standings in no time.

    Both Cosby (40.0 percent in 2012-13) and Starks (39.5 percent) are excellent three-point shooterssomething Illinois desperately lacked this past season. Tracy Abrams and Rayvonte Rice each attempted well over 100 triples, but both are also considerably worse than 30 percent three-point shooters in their collegiate careers.

    Adding those two gunners from Oregon State and Seton Hall will allow Abrams and Rice to stick to the slashing-to-the-rim style of play in which they excel.

    Paul isn't a huge guy, but he is a great offensive rebounder.

    Two years ago, Paul ranked 80th in the nation in offensive rebounding percentage at 12.8 percent (according to KenPom.com). Nnanna Egwu (10.0 percent) was the only regular on the Illini who had a rate higher than 7.5 percent last season, so Paul's presence in the paint figures to be a welcome one.

    If these three guys remotely live up to their potential, Illinois may not only improve upon last year's disappointing 20-15 record, they could absolutely get back to the Sweet 16 for the first time since 2005.

     

    Kerry Miller covers college basketball for Bleacher Report. You can follow him on Twitter @kerrancejames.