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    HomeSportCollege basketball transfer portal rankings: The 76 best available men’s players

    College basketball transfer portal rankings: The 76 best available men’s players

    College basketball’s transfer portal has been open for about a week, and there are more than 900 men’s Division I players who have entered so far. That is a lot of ground for you to cover, so we’re here to point you in the direction of the names you most need to track. Welcome to The Athletic’s transfer portal rankings.

    This is a living, breathing document that will continue to be updated as more players hit the portal and, frankly, as we further evaluate the players already in it. Every day, our conversations with college coaches begin with us asking each other if we’ve begun scouting a certain player. Often, we all admit we simply haven’t had the time yet. The sheer number of players in the portal has required around-the-clock work to get eyes on everybody that is necessary.

    All this happens while there are still teams playing games that matter. They must split time between their postseason runs and evaluating transfer portal options to avoid falling behind. The time period crunch is ridiculous for colleges and players as they try to figure out their futures.

    It’s tough on our end, too. While our goal every year is to create the best, most comprehensive transfer portal scouting product, it takes time to evaluate each player and we haven’t reached everyone yet. If you don’t see a player ranked that you believe should be, be patient. If that player is good enough, we’ll get to them eventually. We began by ranking more than 60 players, and we expect that number to balloon in the coming days.

    Our rules for when a player becomes eligible for the list are simple: Either the player himself must announce he is entering the portal, or his name must actually be in the portal. If you are curious about only the players who have committed or remain available, you can filter for either using one of the search sidebars. Once the player commits, we have and will add a separate section within the player’s write-up with thoughts on how they fit with their new school.

    A few other rankings notes for these are worthing bringing up.

    First, positional scarcity is taken into account. The easiest player type to find in the portal, as you’ll see below, are scoring guards. The hardest types are versatile wings and bigs who can play on both ends of the court. That’s why, for the most part, you will see us rank wings and bigs more favorably.

    Second, years remaining in school play a key role in our rankings. Players with potential to play more than one season for their new school are given a boost.

    Here are The Athletic’s evolving 2024 transfer portal rankings.

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    Ht: 6-7 Wt: 210

    DeVries will likely remain the best player in the portal, and it’s obvious where he’ll be headed. The two-time Missouri Valley Player of the Year is a genuine NBA prospect and a player who keeps improving every year.

    This season, his playmaking in ball screens took an enormous leap. DeVries made a killing as a sophomore running off all sorts of off-ball actions designed to get him open from long range. This season, DeVries became the primary playmaker for a Bulldogs team that won 28 games on their way to making a second straight NCAA Tournament. DeVries crushed it in ball-screens, especially on early drag actions that got him loose for 3. Plus, Drake still used him off the ball with flare and pindown screens, too.

    The combination of DeVries’ dynamic on- and off-ball play made him one of college basketball’s most lethal offensive players. He averaged 21.6 points, 6.7 rebounds and 3.7 assists per game while drilling 36.3 percent of one of the most difficult 3-point shot diets in the country. He drilled 46 percent of his pull-up 3s this season, an absurd percentage. He’s extremely well-rounded and almost impossible to stop.

    Tucker’s father, Darian DeVries, is the reason he played for Drake instead of a high major when he was a four-star, top-100 prospect coming out of high school. Now that Darian is headed to coach West Virginia, the expectation is that Tucker will follow him to Morgantown. — Sam Vecenie

    Ht: 6-7 Wt: 210

    DeVries will likely remain the best player in the portal, and it’s obvious where he’ll be headed. The two-time Missouri Valley Player of the Year is a genuine NBA prospect and a player who keeps improving every year.

    This season, his playmaking in ball screens took an enormous leap. DeVries made a killing as a sophomore running off all sorts of off-ball actions designed to get him open from long range. This season, DeVries became the primary playmaker for a Bulldogs team that won 28 games on their way to making a second straight NCAA Tournament. DeVries crushed it in ball-screens, especially on early drag actions that got him loose for 3. Plus, Drake still used him off the ball with flare and pindown screens, too.

    The combination of DeVries’ dynamic on- and off-ball play made him one of college basketball’s most lethal offensive players. He averaged 21.6 points, 6.7 rebounds and 3.7 assists per game while drilling 36.3 percent of one of the most difficult 3-point shot diets in the country. He drilled 46 percent of his pull-up 3s this season, an absurd percentage. He’s extremely well-rounded and almost impossible to stop.

    Tucker’s father, Darian DeVries, is the reason he played for Drake instead of a high major when he was a four-star, top-100 prospect coming out of high school. Now that Darian is headed to coach West Virginia, the expectation is that Tucker will follow him to Morgantown. — Sam Vecenie

    Ht: 6-1 Wt: 170

    Mack was arguably the most productive freshman guard in the country this season. The Prince George’s County, Md. native averaged 17.2 points, four rebounds, 4.8 assists and 1.3 steals per game, though his 3-point percentage tailed off in the latter stages of Ivy League play. Still, he was a deserved Ivy League Rookie of the Year, and his play at such a young age in what was a strong season for the conference was remarkable.

    The lefty guard can score from all three levels in the pick-and-roll. If he cannot find an easy bucket in transition, he’ll quickly use a ball screen to try to get into the teeth of the defense. He attempted about three shots at the rim per game in halfcourt situations this season, per Synergy, and used an occasional floater or pull-up midrange jumper as a counter. When opponents went under his screens, he comfortably stopped and popped from distance, making about one pull-up 3 per game.

    But Mack is especially appealing for a high-major school because he combines that skill with a strong off-ball game. Harvard used him to attack off the catch a fair amount last season, allowing him to generate spot-up 3s, midrange jumpers or drives all the way to the rim when opponents closed out aggressively. His combination of speed and shake off the dribble is hard to stop once he gets a head of steam.

    On top of all that, Mack can really pass. He’s excellent at drawing defenders to him before hitting his roller with a variety of pocket passes and lobs. He’s comfortable playing off two feet, with a poised, patient style.

    Many scouts see Mack as a potential NBA player, and I bet he’ll make an all-conference team as an upperclassman. Every school in the Washington, D.C. area should be checking in, as should just about everyone nationally. — Sam Vecenie

    Ht: 6-1 Wt: 170

    Mack was arguably the most productive freshman guard in the country this season. The Prince George’s County, Md. native averaged 17.2 points, four rebounds, 4.8 assists and 1.3 steals per game, though his 3-point percentage tailed off in the latter stages of Ivy League play. Still, he was a deserved Ivy League Rookie of the Year, and his play at such a young age in what was a strong season for the conference was remarkable.

    The lefty guard can score from all three levels in the pick-and-roll. If he cannot find an easy bucket in transition, he’ll quickly use a ball screen to try to get into the teeth of the defense. He attempted about three shots at the rim per game in halfcourt situations this season, per Synergy, and used an occasional floater or pull-up midrange jumper as a counter. When opponents went under his screens, he comfortably stopped and popped from distance, making about one pull-up 3 per game.

    But Mack is especially appealing for a high-major school because he combines that skill with a strong off-ball game. Harvard used him to attack off the catch a fair amount last season, allowing him to generate spot-up 3s, midrange jumpers or drives all the way to the rim when opponents closed out aggressively. His combination of speed and shake off the dribble is hard to stop once he gets a head of steam.

    On top of all that, Mack can really pass. He’s excellent at drawing defenders to him before hitting his roller with a variety of pocket passes and lobs. He’s comfortable playing off two feet, with a poised, patient style.

    Many scouts see Mack as a potential NBA player, and I bet he’ll make an all-conference team as an upperclassman. Every school in the Washington, D.C. area should be checking in, as should just about everyone nationally. — Sam Vecenie

    Ht: 6-3 Wt: 185

    For a minute this season, it looked like Carlyle might end up as a one-and-done. After missing the first month of the campaign, Carlyle averaged 15.4 points, 3.4 rebounds and 2.8 assists in his first 11 games of the season, including a monster 28-point performance against Arizona where he drilled six 3s and lived at the foul line. Then, the second half of the season happened. In his final 12 games, he averaged just 7.9 points, had more turnovers than assists and shot just 31.7 percent from the field. His shooting from distance fell off a bit and his handle was a bit looser than I’d seen at lower levels, which prevented him from getting into the paint as consistently as someone with his tools should.

    While I don’t think Carlyle is wired to be a true point guard, his demeanor is fantastic. He’s relentless and aggressive in constantly attacking the rim, and while Stanford’s defense was messy, I always thought he was tough and willing to crawl into his opponent’s space. If he gets his pull-up jumper back to where it was to start this season, he can be the kind of three-level collegiate scorer who makes a high-major all-conference team at some point.

    Carlyle is from the Atlanta area and could look to move back south following his trip to the West Coast. — Sam Vecenie

    Ht: 6-3 Wt: 185

    For a minute this season, it looked like Carlyle might end up as a one-and-done. After missing the first month of the campaign, Carlyle averaged 15.4 points, 3.4 rebounds and 2.8 assists in his first 11 games of the season, including a monster 28-point performance against Arizona where he drilled six 3s and lived at the foul line. Then, the second half of the season happened. In his final 12 games, he averaged just 7.9 points, had more turnovers than assists and shot just 31.7 percent from the field. His shooting from distance fell off a bit and his handle was a bit looser than I’d seen at lower levels, which prevented him from getting into the paint as consistently as someone with his tools should.

    While I don’t think Carlyle is wired to be a true point guard, his demeanor is fantastic. He’s relentless and aggressive in constantly attacking the rim, and while Stanford’s defense was messy, I always thought he was tough and willing to crawl into his opponent’s space. If he gets his pull-up jumper back to where it was to start this season, he can be the kind of three-level collegiate scorer who makes a high-major all-conference team at some point.

    Carlyle is from the Atlanta area and could look to move back south following his trip to the West Coast. — Sam Vecenie

    Congue quisque egestas diam in. In nulla posuere sollicitudin aliquam. Penatibus et magnis dis parturient montes nascetur ridiculus. Vulputate enim nulla aliquet porttitor lacus luctus accumsan tortor posuere. Morbi non arcu risus quis varius quam quisque id diam. Fermentum leo vel orci porta non pulvinar.

    — author

    Ht: 6-7 Wt: 205

    The younger brother of Denver Nuggets rookie forward Hunter Tyson, Cade has shown more polish at this age. He won the Missouri Valley Rookie of the Year award in 2022-23 in his first season at Belmont, then improved as a sophomore to earn second-team All-MVC honors. All told, he averaged 16.2 points and 5.9 rebounds per game while shooting 49.3 percent from the field, 46.5 percent from 3 and 85.5 percent from the free-throw line last season.

    Tyson may be the best shooter in the portal, having drilled 44.6 percent of his nearly 300 3-point attempts over his two college seasons. His preparation is superb, he fires with perfect alignment to the rim and generates a beautiful high arc with tremendous rotation on the ball. He should be even more dangerous playing next to better players at a high major next season; he’ll either space the floor for them, or kill opponents from distance when they devote too much attention to drivers.

    But there’s more to Tyson’s game than that of other floor-spacing shooters. Tyson got to the rim by attacking closeouts or finding open areas to cut effectively in Belmont’s offense. He flashed potential as a ballhandler in the MVC, occasionally using ball screens and hand-offs to get downhill to the rim.

    That makes Tyson a ready-made difference-making starter for a high major team, with real potential to elevate to an all-conference level as a senior. He’s not a sieve on defense, and at the very least, his floor-spacing impact on offense will be instantly enormous. — Sam Vecenie

    Ht: 6-7 Wt: 205

    The younger brother of Denver Nuggets rookie forward Hunter Tyson, Cade has shown more polish at this age. He won the Missouri Valley Rookie of the Year award in 2022-23 in his first season at Belmont, then improved as a sophomore to earn second-team All-MVC honors. All told, he averaged 16.2 points and 5.9 rebounds per game while shooting 49.3 percent from the field, 46.5 percent from 3 and 85.5 percent from the free-throw line last season.

    Tyson may be the best shooter in the portal, having drilled 44.6 percent of his nearly 300 3-point attempts over his two college seasons. His preparation is superb, he fires with perfect alignment to the rim and generates a beautiful high arc with tremendous rotation on the ball. He should be even more dangerous playing next to better players at a high major next season; he’ll either space the floor for them, or kill opponents from distance when they devote too much attention to drivers.

    But there’s more to Tyson’s game than that of other floor-spacing shooters. Tyson got to the rim by attacking closeouts or finding open areas to cut effectively in Belmont’s offense. He flashed potential as a ballhandler in the MVC, occasionally using ball screens and hand-offs to get downhill to the rim.

    That makes Tyson a ready-made difference-making starter for a high major team, with real potential to elevate to an all-conference level as a senior. He’s not a sieve on defense, and at the very least, his floor-spacing impact on offense will be instantly enormous. — Sam Vecenie

    Congue quisque egestas diam in. In nulla posuere sollicitudin aliquam. Penatibus et magnis dis parturient montes nascetur ridiculus. Vulputate enim nulla aliquet porttitor lacus luctus accumsan tortor posuere. Morbi non arcu risus quis varius quam quisque id diam. Fermentum leo vel orci porta non pulvinar.

    — author

    Ht: 6-6Wt: 190

    Edwards exploded onto the national stage this season for one of the country’s best mid-major teams. He won the Sun Belt Player of the Year award after averaging 17.2 points while shooting 42.7 percent from the field, 34.3 percent from 3 and 81 percent from the line.

    He was the primary creator for the 32-4 Dukes, playing largely as a big wing initiator next to shooters Noah Friedel and Xavier Brown in the backcourt. Typically, one of the guards brought the ball up the court before getting it to Edwards to begin their sets. Coach Mark Byington had Edwards play out of ball screens for the most part, and Edwards thrived in those settings as a sort of super-charged Swiss army knife who could see over his man and read the defense before making the right play. He throws terrific passes off a live dribble from multiple angles, averaging 3.4 assists per game, before fully taking over late in games. He can dynamically spin to either side and get to his shots, or he can drive all the way to the rim.

    One thing worth tracking is that he wasn’t a particularly good finisher this year, making just 49 percent of his shots at the rim, per Synergy. But with TJ Bickerstaff and Jaylen Carey taking up space inside, Edwards did have to deal with at least one help man waiting to slide over at the rim.

    Throw in Edwards’ solid (though not necessarily elite) defense, and he has all the makings of an top quality high-major wing. With Byington leaving James Madison to go to Vanderbilt, one has to wonder if Edwards will follow to get a chance to run the show in the SEC for a season. If he doesn’t, he’ll be a highly sought after player among even the highest-end schools.  — Sam Vecenie

    Ht: 6-6Wt: 190

    Edwards exploded onto the national stage this season for one of the country’s best mid-major teams. He won the Sun Belt Player of the Year award after averaging 17.2 points while shooting 42.7 percent from the field, 34.3 percent from 3 and 81 percent from the line.

    He was the primary creator for the 32-4 Dukes, playing largely as a big wing initiator next to shooters Noah Friedel and Xavier Brown in the backcourt. Typically, one of the guards brought the ball up the court before getting it to Edwards to begin their sets. Coach Mark Byington had Edwards play out of ball screens for the most part, and Edwards thrived in those settings as a sort of super-charged Swiss army knife who could see over his man and read the defense before making the right play. He throws terrific passes off a live dribble from multiple angles, averaging 3.4 assists per game, before fully taking over late in games. He can dynamically spin to either side and get to his shots, or he can drive all the way to the rim.

    One thing worth tracking is that he wasn’t a particularly good finisher this year, making just 49 percent of his shots at the rim, per Synergy. But with TJ Bickerstaff and Jaylen Carey taking up space inside, Edwards did have to deal with at least one help man waiting to slide over at the rim.

    Throw in Edwards’ solid (though not necessarily elite) defense, and he has all the makings of an top quality high-major wing. With Byington leaving James Madison to go to Vanderbilt, one has to wonder if Edwards will follow to get a chance to run the show in the SEC for a season. If he doesn’t, he’ll be a highly sought after player among even the highest-end schools.  — Sam Vecenie

    Wing

    In portal

    James Madison

    Ht: 6-11 Wt: 240

    As one of the most underappreciated defensive players in college basketball, Omoyuri’s name in the portal will spark a frenzy. He has been the catalyst behind Rutgers finishing fourth and sixth in the country, respectively, in KenPom’s adjusted defensive efficiency metric in each of the last two seasons. This season, he swatted 2.9 shots per game in just 27 minutes per night, and while he earned Big Ten All-Defense honors for the season straight season, he should have been among the national semifinalists for the Naismith Defensive Player of the Year award. It is exceptionally hard to finish over his 7-foot-6 wingspan. Whichever team sways him will get an immediate upgrade on that end of the court.

    Omoruyi has been more hit-or-miss on offense, likely due to the way Rutgers used him. I’ve always liked him most as a rim-runner in ball screens who occasionally rolled into quick duck-ins. Omoruyi made 70 percent of his attempts as a roller this season, per Synergy. The Scarlet Knights, however, used him more as a straight post-up big, where he is merely okay. His new team would be wise to deploy him as a screener and diver, or move him to the dunker spot when he’s not involved in the primary action. That way, he can wedge his way into deep seals in the post and be in better position for offensive rebound opportunities, where his length has always been an advantage.

    It’s a bit of a surprise to see Omoruyi depart, as Rutgers has a loaded recruiting class next year led by Ace Bailey and Dylan Harper. If the NBA is Omoruyi’s goal, the only program with more scouting eyes on it than Rutgers will be Duke. While Omoruyi would be a tremendous defensive anchor for a group of highly-talented freshmen to have, it looks like someone else will get him. — Sam Vecenie

    Ht: 6-11 Wt: 240

    As one of the most underappreciated defensive players in college basketball, Omoyuri’s name in the portal will spark a frenzy. He has been the catalyst behind Rutgers finishing fourth and sixth in the country, respectively, in KenPom’s adjusted defensive efficiency metric in each of the last two seasons. This season, he swatted 2.9 shots per game in just 27 minutes per night, and while he earned Big Ten All-Defense honors for the season straight season, he should have been among the national semifinalists for the Naismith Defensive Player of the Year award. It is exceptionally hard to finish over his 7-foot-6 wingspan. Whichever team sways him will get an immediate upgrade on that end of the court.

    Omoruyi has been more hit-or-miss on offense, likely due to the way Rutgers used him. I’ve always liked him most as a rim-runner in ball screens who occasionally rolled into quick duck-ins. Omoruyi made 70 percent of his attempts as a roller this season, per Synergy. The Scarlet Knights, however, used him more as a straight post-up big, where he is merely okay. His new team would be wise to deploy him as a screener and diver, or move him to the dunker spot when he’s not involved in the primary action. That way, he can wedge his way into deep seals in the post and be in better position for offensive rebound opportunities, where his length has always been an advantage.

    It’s a bit of a surprise to see Omoruyi depart, as Rutgers has a loaded recruiting class next year led by Ace Bailey and Dylan Harper. If the NBA is Omoruyi’s goal, the only program with more scouting eyes on it than Rutgers will be Duke. While Omoruyi would be a tremendous defensive anchor for a group of highly-talented freshmen to have, it looks like someone else will get him. — Sam Vecenie

    Congue quisque egestas diam in. In nulla posuere sollicitudin aliquam. Penatibus et magnis dis parturient montes nascetur ridiculus. Vulputate enim nulla aliquet porttitor lacus luctus accumsan tortor posuere. Morbi non arcu risus quis varius quam quisque id diam. Fermentum leo vel orci porta non pulvinar.

    — author

    Ht: 6-1 Wt: 180

    Gillespie will be in high demand after making second-team All-Missouri Valley and the MVC All-Defense team last season. He averaged 17.2 points per game year while shooting 56.1 percent from the field, a ridiculous number for a small guard.

    Gillespie’s game exists at the intersection of speed and touch. He’s a fast guard who loves to play up tempo to get to the rim. Though Belmont’s offense didn’t feature as many ball screens as other schools’, Gillespie is adept at getting downhill on those actions or when taking a dribble hand-off on the move. He uses the threat of his shot to attack closeouts and is an excellent finisher for a small guard, showing an aptitude for adjusting in mid-air with a variety of touch finger rolls and finishes. He made 71.2 percent of shots at the rim this season, per Synergy, one of the highest marks in the country for a guard. And his touch extends beyond the hoop; Gillespie has a nice floater game and can drill pull-up 3s.

    Throw in his high-pressure defense, and Gillespie is a big get for any team in the country. The recent hit rate of players moving from the Missouri Valley to high-major conferences has been extremely high. — Sam Vecenie

    Ht: 6-1 Wt: 180

    Gillespie will be in high demand after making second-team All-Missouri Valley and the MVC All-Defense team last season. He averaged 17.2 points per game year while shooting 56.1 percent from the field, a ridiculous number for a small guard.

    Gillespie’s game exists at the intersection of speed and touch. He’s a fast guard who loves to play up tempo to get to the rim. Though Belmont’s offense didn’t feature as many ball screens as other schools’, Gillespie is adept at getting downhill on those actions or when taking a dribble hand-off on the move. He uses the threat of his shot to attack closeouts and is an excellent finisher for a small guard, showing an aptitude for adjusting in mid-air with a variety of touch finger rolls and finishes. He made 71.2 percent of shots at the rim this season, per Synergy, one of the highest marks in the country for a guard. And his touch extends beyond the hoop; Gillespie has a nice floater game and can drill pull-up 3s.

    Throw in his high-pressure defense, and Gillespie is a big get for any team in the country. The recent hit rate of players moving from the Missouri Valley to high-major conferences has been extremely high. — Sam Vecenie

    One of the best guards in the portal is off to Maryland, as Terps coach Kevin Willard makes a second big-time backcourt investment after first securing Virginia Tech scorer Rodney Rice. Gillespie is more ready to play immediately and will step into the role vacated by the graduating Jahmir Young. Maryland desperately needed more depth in its backcourt even after securing Rice, as role player Jahari Long was the only holdover likely to receive guard minutes next season. (Sophomore Chance Stephens may be back as well, but he’s still recovering from a serious knee injury suffered last summer.) Honestly, the Terps have room to add even more to their backcourt.

    Locking in Gillespie, likely with a sizable NIL deal, is a great start to an incredibly important 2024-25 season for Willard in College Park. I bet Gillespie makes an All-Big 10 team at some point in the next two seasons. — Sam Vecenie

    Guard

    In portal

    Belmont

    Maryland Terrapins

    Ht: 6-4Wt: 185

    The Summit League Player of the Year is a big addition to the portal after a second consecutive monster season for South Dakota State. Mayo is a big-time scorer, averaging 18.8 points, 5.8 rebounds and 3.5 assists this season while shooting 46.6 percent from the field, 39.1 percent from 3 and 82.8 percent from the line. He orchestrated the show for a team that made the NCAA Tournament and won the Summit League this year.

    Mayo is a real pull-up threat across the court. His 35-percent mark on 144 3-point attempts doesn’t seem wild, but he got there on insanely difficult attempts that, by and large, he had to create himself. Only 10 players in college basketball took more pull-up 3-point attempts per game than Mayo, and he finished eighth among the 25 highest-volume pull-up 3-point shooters in percentage. Because he’s constantly probing and a threat to get his shot off from any spot, defenders have to stay attached to him, which makes him an effective driver. He was an awesome finisher in the Summit League, making 61.4 percent of his halfcourt shot attempts at the rim, and has a nice floater as well.

    His middling results against top competition are worth noting. He made 5-of-13 shots for 11 points against Kansas State, had eight turnovers in a game against UCF and struggled in a game against Alabama as a sophomore. But he did play well in the team’s NCAA Tournament game against arguably the country’s best defense in Iowa State, going for 19 points on 11 shots.

    Mayo is a legitimate difference-maker and automatic starter at the high-major level, with some all-conference upside next year in the right spot. — Sam Vecenie

    Ht: 6-4Wt: 185

    The Summit League Player of the Year is a big addition to the portal after a second consecutive monster season for South Dakota State. Mayo is a big-time scorer, averaging 18.8 points, 5.8 rebounds and 3.5 assists this season while shooting 46.6 percent from the field, 39.1 percent from 3 and 82.8 percent from the line. He orchestrated the show for a team that made the NCAA Tournament and won the Summit League this year.

    Mayo is a real pull-up threat across the court. His 35-percent mark on 144 3-point attempts doesn’t seem wild, but he got there on insanely difficult attempts that, by and large, he had to create himself. Only 10 players in college basketball took more pull-up 3-point attempts per game than Mayo, and he finished eighth among the 25 highest-volume pull-up 3-point shooters in percentage. Because he’s constantly probing and a threat to get his shot off from any spot, defenders have to stay attached to him, which makes him an effective driver. He was an awesome finisher in the Summit League, making 61.4 percent of his halfcourt shot attempts at the rim, and has a nice floater as well.

    His middling results against top competition are worth noting. He made 5-of-13 shots for 11 points against Kansas State, had eight turnovers in a game against UCF and struggled in a game against Alabama as a sophomore. But he did play well in the team’s NCAA Tournament game against arguably the country’s best defense in Iowa State, going for 19 points on 11 shots.

    Mayo is a legitimate difference-maker and automatic starter at the high-major level, with some all-conference upside next year in the right spot. — Sam Vecenie

    Guard

    In portal

    South Dakota State

    Ht: 6-11 Wt: 245

    A top-40 recruit in the 2023 recruiting class, Garrison showed a ton of flashes in his only season with the Cowboys. The most promising ones were on defense, where Garrison is an athletic shot blocker whose length really plays up. He can block shots with both hands and improved his positioning in drop pick-and-roll coverage throughout the season. While he played a role in Oklahoma State having one of the Big 12’s worst defenses, he, like the team’s other bigs, was often hung out to dry by guards failing to stay in front of anyone. With more experience and in a more structured scheme, I expect Garrison to become a serious impact defender.

    On offense, Garrison’s range doesn’t extend far beyond finishing around the rim. However, I liked him most in ball-screens, where he showcased his mobility and created a great target for his guards with well-timed rolls. Garrison also flashed serious passing chops in hand-offs and give-and-gos with his guards, as well as in short rolls and the pivot. He needs to improve as a post-up player; he seemed to have trouble getting a foothold on the block at times. But Garrison made about 77 percent of his shots at the rim this year, and it was all those low-efficiency hook shots and midrange post jumpers that dragged his overall field goal percentage down to 57 percent.

    Still, he averaged 7.5 points, 5.3 rebounds and 1.5 blocks per game in a loaded Big 12 that featured a ton of great bigs. I’d bet on him being an excellent multi-year starter for even the highest-level programs in the country, with all-conference upside as an upperclassman.  — Sam Vecenie

    Ht: 6-11 Wt: 245

    A top-40 recruit in the 2023 recruiting class, Garrison showed a ton of flashes in his only season with the Cowboys. The most promising ones were on defense, where Garrison is an athletic shot blocker whose length really plays up. He can block shots with both hands and improved his positioning in drop pick-and-roll coverage throughout the season. While he played a role in Oklahoma State having one of the Big 12’s worst defenses, he, like the team’s other bigs, was often hung out to dry by guards failing to stay in front of anyone. With more experience and in a more structured scheme, I expect Garrison to become a serious impact defender.

    On offense, Garrison’s range doesn’t extend far beyond finishing around the rim. However, I liked him most in ball-screens, where he showcased his mobility and created a great target for his guards with well-timed rolls. Garrison also flashed serious passing chops in hand-offs and give-and-gos with his guards, as well as in short rolls and the pivot. He needs to improve as a post-up player; he seemed to have trouble getting a foothold on the block at times. But Garrison made about 77 percent of his shots at the rim this year, and it was all those low-efficiency hook shots and midrange post jumpers that dragged his overall field goal percentage down to 57 percent.

    Still, he averaged 7.5 points, 5.3 rebounds and 1.5 blocks per game in a loaded Big 12 that featured a ton of great bigs. I’d bet on him being an excellent multi-year starter for even the highest-level programs in the country, with all-conference upside as an upperclassman.  — Sam Vecenie

    Center

    In portal

    Oklahoma State

    Ht: 6-6 Wt: 200

    Johnson is a talented two-way wing whose potential to break out got stunted within the vortex of USC’s lost season. His season doesn’t look all that bad on its face, as he averaged 10.9 points, 4.6 rebounds and 3.3 assists while winning All-Defense team honors in the Pac-12 for the second consecutive campaign. But Johnson seemed like a prime candidate to emerge as a star coming into the year, and he instead fell back into his defensive-oriented secondary role amid all of the Trojans’ ballhandlers.

    Johnson started the year strongly and ended it with a flurry, too. In his first 13 games, Johnson averaged nearly 12 points, five rebounds and 3.5 assists per game. In his final eight games, which included five Trojan wins, Johnson averaged 12.9 points, 5.3 rebounds, three assists and 3.3 steals while posting shooting marks of 50 percent from the field, 45 percent from 3 and 75 from the free-throw line. The problem was his play during USC’s catastrophic run in the middle of the season, where seemingly everything went wrong for everyone on the team.

    A team captain the last two years, Johnson is a leader who profiles well as a floor-lifter or a ceiling raiser for any program. His game will scale to the absolute best teams because his defense travels and he processes the game at a superb level. He should be a starter and Defensive Player of the Year candidate in a high-major league next year, and if he becomes a more consistent shooter, he’s a definite all-conference player who could emerge as a late first-round pick in the 2025 NBA Draft. — Sam Vecenie

    Ht: 6-6 Wt: 200

    Johnson is a talented two-way wing whose potential to break out got stunted within the vortex of USC’s lost season. His season doesn’t look all that bad on its face, as he averaged 10.9 points, 4.6 rebounds and 3.3 assists while winning All-Defense team honors in the Pac-12 for the second consecutive campaign. But Johnson seemed like a prime candidate to emerge as a star coming into the year, and he instead fell back into his defensive-oriented secondary role amid all of the Trojans’ ballhandlers.

    Johnson started the year strongly and ended it with a flurry, too. In his first 13 games, Johnson averaged nearly 12 points, five rebounds and 3.5 assists per game. In his final eight games, which included five Trojan wins, Johnson averaged 12.9 points, 5.3 rebounds, three assists and 3.3 steals while posting shooting marks of 50 percent from the field, 45 percent from 3 and 75 from the free-throw line. The problem was his play during USC’s catastrophic run in the middle of the season, where seemingly everything went wrong for everyone on the team.

    A team captain the last two years, Johnson is a leader who profiles well as a floor-lifter or a ceiling raiser for any program. His game will scale to the absolute best teams because his defense travels and he processes the game at a superb level. He should be a starter and Defensive Player of the Year candidate in a high-major league next year, and if he becomes a more consistent shooter, he’s a definite all-conference player who could emerge as a late first-round pick in the 2025 NBA Draft. — Sam Vecenie

    Ht: 6-5 Wt: 215

    Jimerson has seemingly been around forever, but he was a medical redshirt for the 2019-20 season and was then granted an extra year of eligibility due to the COVID-19 pandemic, so his eligibility didn’t begin ticking until his “junior” season in 2021-22.  Because of that — and the Billikens firing head coach Travis Ford — Jimerson, one of the country’s best shooters, is available for the taking. He’s averaged 15.4 points per game over the last three seasons at Saint Louis and has earned All-Atlantic-10 honors each season.

    Jimerson has made 39.5 percent of his nearly 800 3-point attempts as a collegiate, and to say his shot diet was difficult is an understatement. His form is about as simple as it gets, with a pristine release out of a set shot that, frankly, you’re surprised ever misses. He’s a threat in transition as a trailer and when spotting up and out of relocations, with range extending far beyond the NBA 3-point line. But he did most of his damage running through a bevy of pindown, flare and baseline off-ball screens designed to get him open to fire. His shot motion is versatile enough to function using different forms of footwork. Over the years, he’s grown more adept at using the threat of his shot to attack the rim.

    Any program whose offensive scheme features lots of off-ball movement to generate 3s should call Jimerson. Connecticut, in particular, should be calling him off the hook. — Sam Vecenie

    Ht: 6-5 Wt: 215

    Jimerson has seemingly been around forever, but he was a medical redshirt for the 2019-20 season and was then granted an extra year of eligibility due to the COVID-19 pandemic, so his eligibility didn’t begin ticking until his “junior” season in 2021-22.  Because of that — and the Billikens firing head coach Travis Ford — Jimerson, one of the country’s best shooters, is available for the taking. He’s averaged 15.4 points per game over the last three seasons at Saint Louis and has earned All-Atlantic-10 honors each season.

    Jimerson has made 39.5 percent of his nearly 800 3-point attempts as a collegiate, and to say his shot diet was difficult is an understatement. His form is about as simple as it gets, with a pristine release out of a set shot that, frankly, you’re surprised ever misses. He’s a threat in transition as a trailer and when spotting up and out of relocations, with range extending far beyond the NBA 3-point line. But he did most of his damage running through a bevy of pindown, flare and baseline off-ball screens designed to get him open to fire. His shot motion is versatile enough to function using different forms of footwork. Over the years, he’s grown more adept at using the threat of his shot to attack the rim.

    Any program whose offensive scheme features lots of off-ball movement to generate 3s should call Jimerson. Connecticut, in particular, should be calling him off the hook. — Sam Vecenie

    Ht: 7-1 Wt: 250

    Raynaud is a big-time addition to the portal. The second-team All-Pac-12 honoree and league’s Most Improved Player averaged 15.5 points, 9.6 rebounds and two assists per game while shooting 56.7 percent from the field. His frame filled out over the summer, allowing him to play with more force to move players around while still maintaining his mobility for his size.

    More importantly, he’s one of the rarest types of players to enter the portal. In general, finding high-major bigs to transfer is harder than finding wings and guards. Finding real 7-footers is even harder. Finding ones with terrific perimeter games who can pick-and-pop, hit the occasional trail 3 on the break and are adept at running all sorts of dribble-hand-off actions is even harder than that.

    Still, Raynaud thrives most around the basket. He can catch and score on the move in pick-and-rolls, secure dump-offs passes to finish with ease and operate as a sharp post player using sweet hooks shots with either hand. His game fits in almost every offensive scheme.

    His defense is a question. His team will need to primarily deploy a drop scheme to keep him in the paint, as he’s not mobile enough to guard in space. He’s not quite the rim protector or shot contester that he should be given his size. But he has the tools to become more solid on that end in the right situation.

    Regardless, Raynaud crushes the glass and has significant offensive versatility. He’ll be among the most popular players in the portal.

    — Sam Vecenie

    Ht: 7-1 Wt: 250

    Raynaud is a big-time addition to the portal. The second-team All-Pac-12 honoree and league’s Most Improved Player averaged 15.5 points, 9.6 rebounds and two assists per game while shooting 56.7 percent from the field. His frame filled out over the summer, allowing him to play with more force to move players around while still maintaining his mobility for his size.

    More importantly, he’s one of the rarest types of players to enter the portal. In general, finding high-major bigs to transfer is harder than finding wings and guards. Finding real 7-footers is even harder. Finding ones with terrific perimeter games who can pick-and-pop, hit the occasional trail 3 on the break and are adept at running all sorts of dribble-hand-off actions is even harder than that.

    Still, Raynaud thrives most around the basket. He can catch and score on the move in pick-and-rolls, secure dump-offs passes to finish with ease and operate as a sharp post player using sweet hooks shots with either hand. His game fits in almost every offensive scheme.

    His defense is a question. His team will need to primarily deploy a drop scheme to keep him in the paint, as he’s not mobile enough to guard in space. He’s not quite the rim protector or shot contester that he should be given his size. But he has the tools to become more solid on that end in the right situation.

    Regardless, Raynaud crushes the glass and has significant offensive versatility. He’ll be among the most popular players in the portal.

    — Sam Vecenie

    Ht: 5-11 Wt: 175

    McDaniel looked like one of the most dynamic guards in the Big Ten to start the season, averaging 19 points and five assists while shooting 45 percent from the field and 39 percent from 3 in Michigan’s first 13 games. His blow-by speed is real, his handle is tight and he can go from slow to fast in an instant. He was a reliable shooter off the catch last season (41 percent on catch-and-shoot 3s, per Synergy), so he can play as the lead ball-handler or next to another on-ball player.

    However, McDaniel tailed off late, averaging just 13.5 points and 4.3 assists in his final 13 game while shooting 37.1 percent from the field. Unsurprisingly, his slump came as the team faced better talent in the Big Ten. It also featured a bizarre six-game, road-only suspension in order to focus on classwork, which hindered his rhythm.

    But McDaniel showed enough in big games to buy into his upside. He had 33 points against Oregon and 26 points against St. John’s. His 33-point, eight-rebound, five-assist performance against Florida was ridiculous. When he got hot, there weren’t many players in the country more fun to watch.

    He’s a clear starting guard at the High Major level with all-conference upside if he finds a scheme that lets him get up and down. — Sam Vecenie

    Ht: 5-11 Wt: 175

    McDaniel looked like one of the most dynamic guards in the Big Ten to start the season, averaging 19 points and five assists while shooting 45 percent from the field and 39 percent from 3 in Michigan’s first 13 games. His blow-by speed is real, his handle is tight and he can go from slow to fast in an instant. He was a reliable shooter off the catch last season (41 percent on catch-and-shoot 3s, per Synergy), so he can play as the lead ball-handler or next to another on-ball player.

    However, McDaniel tailed off late, averaging just 13.5 points and 4.3 assists in his final 13 game while shooting 37.1 percent from the field. Unsurprisingly, his slump came as the team faced better talent in the Big Ten. It also featured a bizarre six-game, road-only suspension in order to focus on classwork, which hindered his rhythm.

    But McDaniel showed enough in big games to buy into his upside. He had 33 points against Oregon and 26 points against St. John’s. His 33-point, eight-rebound, five-assist performance against Florida was ridiculous. When he got hot, there weren’t many players in the country more fun to watch.

    He’s a clear starting guard at the High Major level with all-conference upside if he finds a scheme that lets him get up and down. — Sam Vecenie

    Ht: 6-10 Wt: 265

    A former top-40 recruit from high school powerhouse Link Academy in Missouri, Reed had a solid freshman season as a defensive difference-maker off the bench before stepping into the starting role during the Wolverines’ disastrous 2023-24 season.

    A strong, 260-pound big with quick feet and a high feel for the game, the idea was for Reed to play effectively in the post and defend. His performance this season was mixed, but it’s hard to say how much was his fault. He made more than 51 percent of his shot attempts on the block, per Synergy, and he crashed the offensive glass well to create second chances. But Reed isn’t a good leaper, so he didn’t get a ton of dunks and was contested or blocked more often on dump-offs or put-back attempts than a typical big. Additionally, because Michigan’s spacing was so bad, he was often crowded by defenders, resulting in a number of turnovers. His hands at times betrayed him, and he’d fumble easy catches.

    The key to Reed’s future is his defense. He moves well in space on the perimeter in switch situations, and he has strong instincts around the rim when contesting shots. Those attributes made an impact for Michigan as a freshman, when the team’s scheme and connectivity was much better as a whole. This season, he was forced to hold the system up, and the team’s rough perimeter and help defense often put him in difficult spots. If Reed’s defensive drop-off ends up simply being due to the Wolverines’ utterly catastrophic situation, he should be a high-major starter next season. — Sam Vecenie

    Ht: 6-10 Wt: 265

    A former top-40 recruit from high school powerhouse Link Academy in Missouri, Reed had a solid freshman season as a defensive difference-maker off the bench before stepping into the starting role during the Wolverines’ disastrous 2023-24 season.

    A strong, 260-pound big with quick feet and a high feel for the game, the idea was for Reed to play effectively in the post and defend. His performance this season was mixed, but it’s hard to say how much was his fault. He made more than 51 percent of his shot attempts on the block, per Synergy, and he crashed the offensive glass well to create second chances. But Reed isn’t a good leaper, so he didn’t get a ton of dunks and was contested or blocked more often on dump-offs or put-back attempts than a typical big. Additionally, because Michigan’s spacing was so bad, he was often crowded by defenders, resulting in a number of turnovers. His hands at times betrayed him, and he’d fumble easy catches.

    The key to Reed’s future is his defense. He moves well in space on the perimeter in switch situations, and he has strong instincts around the rim when contesting shots. Those attributes made an impact for Michigan as a freshman, when the team’s scheme and connectivity was much better as a whole. This season, he was forced to hold the system up, and the team’s rough perimeter and help defense often put him in difficult spots. If Reed’s defensive drop-off ends up simply being due to the Wolverines’ utterly catastrophic situation, he should be a high-major starter next season. — Sam Vecenie

    Ht: 6-10 Wt: 240

    It took Huntley-Hatfield a while to become a productive college player, but the former five-star prospect has started to come into his own by focusing more on the game’s little things. Twenty five percent of Huntley-Hatfield’s shots in his first season at Tennessee were jumpers, per Synergy. That figure dropped to 22 percent in his sophomore season at Louisville and just 15 percent last season. The result: Huntley-Hatfield’s true shooting mark improved to an above-average 60.6 percent despite him upping his volume and becoming a bigger part of the offense.

    Overall, Huntley-Hatfield averaged 12.9 points and 8.4 rebounds per game, posting eight double-doubles. Almost 60 percent of his shots came at the rim, per Synergy, and he made those at a 68 percent clip despite playing on a team with zero floor-spacing. He was a good pick-and-roll big who found soft spots in the defense, created second chances via crashing the offensive glass hard and showed an ability to take advantage in some post-up situations — though his new team should probably dial those opportunities back. He had some fun flashes as a driver from the top of the key and even made a couple of spot-up 3s.

    I understand why people stopped watching Louisville. The Cardinals were a rough viewing experience with an offense that made little sense. But just as most stopped paying attention, Huntley-Hatfield started to meet some of evaluators’ early lofty expectations. Over his last 18 games this season, Huntley-Hatfield averaged 15.8 points per game. If he continues on that positive trajectory, he might be more than a starting-level big. — Sam Vecenie

    Ht: 6-10 Wt: 240

    It took Huntley-Hatfield a while to become a productive college player, but the former five-star prospect has started to come into his own by focusing more on the game’s little things. Twenty five percent of Huntley-Hatfield’s shots in his first season at Tennessee were jumpers, per Synergy. That figure dropped to 22 percent in his sophomore season at Louisville and just 15 percent last season. The result: Huntley-Hatfield’s true shooting mark improved to an above-average 60.6 percent despite him upping his volume and becoming a bigger part of the offense.

    Overall, Huntley-Hatfield averaged 12.9 points and 8.4 rebounds per game, posting eight double-doubles. Almost 60 percent of his shots came at the rim, per Synergy, and he made those at a 68 percent clip despite playing on a team with zero floor-spacing. He was a good pick-and-roll big who found soft spots in the defense, created second chances via crashing the offensive glass hard and showed an ability to take advantage in some post-up situations — though his new team should probably dial those opportunities back. He had some fun flashes as a driver from the top of the key and even made a couple of spot-up 3s.

    I understand why people stopped watching Louisville. The Cardinals were a rough viewing experience with an offense that made little sense. But just as most stopped paying attention, Huntley-Hatfield started to meet some of evaluators’ early lofty expectations. Over his last 18 games this season, Huntley-Hatfield averaged 15.8 points per game. If he continues on that positive trajectory, he might be more than a starting-level big. — Sam Vecenie

    Center

    In portal

    Louisville

    We already saw one Northern Colorado transfer take college hoops by storm this season in Tennessee’s Dalton Knecht. Now, Thomas is hitting the portal, and he’s also a strong candidate to shine at a high major.

    The 6-foot-7 wing started his career at Loyola Chicago, but didn’t get much playing time and relocated to Greeley, Co. to jump start his career. It was a good choice. Thomas exploded this season, earning first-team All-Big Sky honors while averaging 19.7 points, 9.8 rebounds, 4.2 assists, 1.9 steals and almost a block per game. He shot 47.2 percent from the field, 33 percent on more than six 3-point attempts per game and nearly 87 percent at the free-throw line.

    The sheer versatility of Thomas’ attack was most impressive. He could grab a defensive rebound, start the break in transition and become an immediate pull-up threat from 25 feet out. If that shot wasn’t available, he’d attack off the bounce and use his powerful 6-7 frame to get all the way to the rim. In halfcourt situations, he was somewhat successful in ball screens — though his decision-making still has room to improve — and thrived posting up mismatches on the block.

    A few coaches have raised concerns when I ask about Thomas’ game scaling up to the high-major level. Much of his offensive success can be attributed to physical advantages he had over other Big Sky players. But it’s hard to find transfer options with Thomas’ size, athleticism, touch and playmaking instincts. I think he’s a high-major starter somewhere next year, and might be more than that if he continues to grow as a shooter. — Sam Vecenie

    We already saw one Northern Colorado transfer take college hoops by storm this season in Tennessee’s Dalton Knecht. Now, Thomas is hitting the portal, and he’s also a strong candidate to shine at a high major.

    The 6-foot-7 wing started his career at Loyola Chicago, but didn’t get much playing time and relocated to Greeley, Co. to jump start his career. It was a good choice. Thomas exploded this season, earning first-team All-Big Sky honors while averaging 19.7 points, 9.8 rebounds, 4.2 assists, 1.9 steals and almost a block per game. He shot 47.2 percent from the field, 33 percent on more than six 3-point attempts per game and nearly 87 percent at the free-throw line.

    The sheer versatility of Thomas’ attack was most impressive. He could grab a defensive rebound, start the break in transition and become an immediate pull-up threat from 25 feet out. If that shot wasn’t available, he’d attack off the bounce and use his powerful 6-7 frame to get all the way to the rim. In halfcourt situations, he was somewhat successful in ball screens — though his decision-making still has room to improve — and thrived posting up mismatches on the block.

    A few coaches have raised concerns when I ask about Thomas’ game scaling up to the high-major level. Much of his offensive success can be attributed to physical advantages he had over other Big Sky players. But it’s hard to find transfer options with Thomas’ size, athleticism, touch and playmaking instincts. I think he’s a high-major starter somewhere next year, and might be more than that if he continues to grow as a shooter. — Sam Vecenie

    Wing

    In portal

    Northern Colorado

    Ht: 6-6Wt: 205

    A two-year starter at Colorado, Hadley originally started his career at Northeastern before going to the junior college level for a season and then reappearing at Colorado. He’s one of those players that does a lot of things well, and it wouldn’t be unfair to call him a glue guy.

    Most of his offense comes at the rim, whether via running out in transition, attacking post mismatches as a big 2-guard, cutting backdoor or driving closeouts. He crashes the glass and is a solid screener. He doesn’t take many bad shots, which is how he ended up averaging 11.6 points on only 7.3 field goal attempts per game with an impressive 63.7 true-shooting percentage.

    Beyond that, Hadley is a good passer who unselfishly made the right play for star teammates K.J. Simpson and Tristan da Silva last season. He takes on tough defensive assignments and is sharp positionally off the ball, always seeming to be in the right place.

    There are so many teams across the country that could use a player like Hadley. He probably won’t make an All-Conference team unless he improves as a shooter, but he is the kind of player that just helps teams win. — Sam Vecenie

    Ht: 6-6Wt: 205

    A two-year starter at Colorado, Hadley originally started his career at Northeastern before going to the junior college level for a season and then reappearing at Colorado. He’s one of those players that does a lot of things well, and it wouldn’t be unfair to call him a glue guy.

    Most of his offense comes at the rim, whether via running out in transition, attacking post mismatches as a big 2-guard, cutting backdoor or driving closeouts. He crashes the glass and is a solid screener. He doesn’t take many bad shots, which is how he ended up averaging 11.6 points on only 7.3 field goal attempts per game with an impressive 63.7 true-shooting percentage.

    Beyond that, Hadley is a good passer who unselfishly made the right play for star teammates K.J. Simpson and Tristan da Silva last season. He takes on tough defensive assignments and is sharp positionally off the ball, always seeming to be in the right place.

    There are so many teams across the country that could use a player like Hadley. He probably won’t make an All-Conference team unless he improves as a shooter, but he is the kind of player that just helps teams win. — Sam Vecenie

    Ht: 6-1 Wt: 195

    A multi-year starter at Virginia Tech, Pedulla has been extremely productive running the show as the team’s primary lead guard. He has a tight, crafty handle, and while he’s not overly shifty, he stays on balance and changes speeds effectively to get into the teeth of the defense.

    He’s especially good at leveraging his ability to score at all three levels. Defenses have to be cognizant of his step-back and midrange pull-up jumpers, as well as him stopping on a dime for floaters. He can get into his step-back in a variety of ways: behind-the-legs dribbles, crossovers and more. He hasn’t made a particularly high percentage off the catch but clearly has good touch and may improve in that area in a more manageable offensive role.

    It often felt like he was asked to do too much at Virginia Tech. With M.J. Collins having a poor season and teammates Hunter Cattoor and Tyler Nickel serving more as floor-spacers, Pedulla was often the sole driver of the offense. That did allow him to earn a third-team All-ACC berth with averages of 16.4 points, 4.3 rebounds, and 4.6 assists per game, but he also committed 3.3 turnovers a contest. To me, his miscues were more a function of his offensive responsibilities than any skill deficiency.

    Pedulla plays with confidence and is a genuine high-major starting point guard. Ideally, he’d be paired with a strong, bigger combo guard who can generate rim pressure and set Pedulla up for more open catch-and-shoot 3s. But there are many other teams that could use a battle-tested, older, two-year starting ACC floor-general.
    — Sam Vecenie

    Ht: 6-1 Wt: 195

    A multi-year starter at Virginia Tech, Pedulla has been extremely productive running the show as the team’s primary lead guard. He has a tight, crafty handle, and while he’s not overly shifty, he stays on balance and changes speeds effectively to get into the teeth of the defense.

    He’s especially good at leveraging his ability to score at all three levels. Defenses have to be cognizant of his step-back and midrange pull-up jumpers, as well as him stopping on a dime for floaters. He can get into his step-back in a variety of ways: behind-the-legs dribbles, crossovers and more. He hasn’t made a particularly high percentage off the catch but clearly has good touch and may improve in that area in a more manageable offensive role.

    It often felt like he was asked to do too much at Virginia Tech. With M.J. Collins having a poor season and teammates Hunter Cattoor and Tyler Nickel serving more as floor-spacers, Pedulla was often the sole driver of the offense. That did allow him to earn a third-team All-ACC berth with averages of 16.4 points, 4.3 rebounds, and 4.6 assists per game, but he also committed 3.3 turnovers a contest. To me, his miscues were more a function of his offensive responsibilities than any skill deficiency.

    Pedulla plays with confidence and is a genuine high-major starting point guard. Ideally, he’d be paired with a strong, bigger combo guard who can generate rim pressure and set Pedulla up for more open catch-and-shoot 3s. But there are many other teams that could use a battle-tested, older, two-year starting ACC floor-general.
    — Sam Vecenie

    Guard

    In portal

    Virginia Tech

    Ht: 6-2 Wt: 184

    Johnson struggled to find playing time in his first two seasons at Ohio State, but has blossomed into a quality high-major starting point guard at South Carolina. This season, he took another solid step forward, averaging 14.1 points, four rebounds and three assists per game in the Gamecocks’ breakout season under Lamont Paris.

    Johnson is an aggressive, attack-oriented guard who can play on or off the ball. He shared lead ballhandling responsibilities with Ta’Lon Cooper, serving as more of a scorer than a distributor. He generated offense primarily through a combination of ball screens and spot ups, though he was also the Gamecocks’ main option when sets broke down late in the shot clock.

    While Johnson generally knocks down his catch-and-shoot attempts when open and can get medium-percentage looks when necessary, I don’t think he can consistently create high-efficiency shots on his own. Johnson finished just 48.1 percent of his attempts at the rim and made just 26.2 percent of his pull-up 3s. He’d be better served as an off ball player who uses the threat of his jumper to attack closeouts and get into the teeth of the defense.

    Johnson is undeniably a high-major starter who can help any number of teams. He’s proven to be an experienced, steady older hand and has played in a lot of tough games in the SEC. He may even make another all-conference team. But he has enough flaws to where his new team can’t expect its offense to thrive if he’s the main cog. — Sam Vecenie

    Ht: 6-2 Wt: 184

    Johnson struggled to find playing time in his first two seasons at Ohio State, but has blossomed into a quality high-major starting point guard at South Carolina. This season, he took another solid step forward, averaging 14.1 points, four rebounds and three assists per game in the Gamecocks’ breakout season under Lamont Paris.

    Johnson is an aggressive, attack-oriented guard who can play on or off the ball. He shared lead ballhandling responsibilities with Ta’Lon Cooper, serving as more of a scorer than a distributor. He generated offense primarily through a combination of ball screens and spot ups, though he was also the Gamecocks’ main option when sets broke down late in the shot clock.

    While Johnson generally knocks down his catch-and-shoot attempts when open and can get medium-percentage looks when necessary, I don’t think he can consistently create high-efficiency shots on his own. Johnson finished just 48.1 percent of his attempts at the rim and made just 26.2 percent of his pull-up 3s. He’d be better served as an off ball player who uses the threat of his jumper to attack closeouts and get into the teeth of the defense.

    Johnson is undeniably a high-major starter who can help any number of teams. He’s proven to be an experienced, steady older hand and has played in a lot of tough games in the SEC. He may even make another all-conference team. But he has enough flaws to where his new team can’t expect its offense to thrive if he’s the main cog. — Sam Vecenie

    Guard

    In portal

    South Carolina

    Ht: 6-8 Wt: 211

    Three years after transferring from Iowa State when then-coach Steve Prohm was fired, Dunbar had a big-time breakout season for the Pride in 2023-24, earning second-team All-CAA honors after averaging nearly 18 points and seven rebounds per game.

    A long wing scorer, Dunbar’s shot-making will be his signature skill for a high major. Over the last two seasons, Dubar has drilled 40.1 percent of his nearly 300 3-point attempts, a terrific number for a chiseled 6-foot-7, 215-pound wing. His mechanics off the catch feature a funky load into the shooting motion from the left side, but the jumper undeniably falls. He would be an ideal floor-spacer for teams whose wings drift back and forth from the wings to the corners off the ball. While his uncommon left-side load up causes issues with his pull-up jumper, he can attack the rim on straight-line drives and is an effective finisher using his strength and balance through contact.

    Dunbar made himself an even more valuable option by being especially effective in Hofstra’s games against high-major competition. He dropped 24 points on Duke while drilling seven 3s, scored 23 against St. John’s, notched 17 points against a good UNLV team, tallied 18 against a strong Princeton team and averaged 19.5 points over his two games against NCAA Tournament-bound Charleston.

    He’s a high-major starter next season, and his game should scale up due to his shot-making ability. — Sam Vecenie

    Ht: 6-8 Wt: 211

    Three years after transferring from Iowa State when then-coach Steve Prohm was fired, Dunbar had a big-time breakout season for the Pride in 2023-24, earning second-team All-CAA honors after averaging nearly 18 points and seven rebounds per game.

    A long wing scorer, Dunbar’s shot-making will be his signature skill for a high major. Over the last two seasons, Dubar has drilled 40.1 percent of his nearly 300 3-point attempts, a terrific number for a chiseled 6-foot-7, 215-pound wing. His mechanics off the catch feature a funky load into the shooting motion from the left side, but the jumper undeniably falls. He would be an ideal floor-spacer for teams whose wings drift back and forth from the wings to the corners off the ball. While his uncommon left-side load up causes issues with his pull-up jumper, he can attack the rim on straight-line drives and is an effective finisher using his strength and balance through contact.

    Dunbar made himself an even more valuable option by being especially effective in Hofstra’s games against high-major competition. He dropped 24 points on Duke while drilling seven 3s, scored 23 against St. John’s, notched 17 points against a good UNLV team, tallied 18 against a strong Princeton team and averaged 19.5 points over his two games against NCAA Tournament-bound Charleston.

    He’s a high-major starter next season, and his game should scale up due to his shot-making ability. — Sam Vecenie

    Ht: 6-1 Wt: 185

    Pegues, a hero of Furman’s upset of Virginia in the first round of the 2023 NCAA Tournament, took another leap forward this season. Last season’s Southern Conference Tournament MVP made the All-Tournament team again this season after earning first-team All-SoCon honors while averaging 18.4 points and 4.8 rebounds per game with better than a 2-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio. He showed an ability to succeed against higher-level competition, playing well in games against Belmont, Liberty, Wyoming, Arkansas and Tulane this season,

    Pegues’ improvement in ball screens makes him a more valuable player in the portal. He took on more primary shot creation duties within Furman’s five-out, Princeton-inspired offense that often uses its bigs to playmake from the top of the key. He’s always been a sharp cutter in those situations, as well as a good spot-up shooter from 3. However, Pegues thrived most this season running off screens, becoming one of the toughest guards in the conference thanks to his ability to pull-up from range with simple mechanics. Furman’s offense has fairly specific reads that allowed him to make easy decisions, but I also thought he made less obvious sharp passing reads while limiting his turnovers where he could.

    If he can scale his game to a higher level, Pegues is a multi-faceted playmaker who could end up starting for a team in need of a point guard. Clemson, also in South Carolina, runs an offensive scheme that makes a lot of sense for Pegues’ game. — Sam Vecenie

    Ht: 6-1 Wt: 185

    Pegues, a hero of Furman’s upset of Virginia in the first round of the 2023 NCAA Tournament, took another leap forward this season. Last season’s Southern Conference Tournament MVP made the All-Tournament team again this season after earning first-team All-SoCon honors while averaging 18.4 points and 4.8 rebounds per game with better than a 2-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio. He showed an ability to succeed against higher-level competition, playing well in games against Belmont, Liberty, Wyoming, Arkansas and Tulane this season,

    Pegues’ improvement in ball screens makes him a more valuable player in the portal. He took on more primary shot creation duties within Furman’s five-out, Princeton-inspired offense that often uses its bigs to playmake from the top of the key. He’s always been a sharp cutter in those situations, as well as a good spot-up shooter from 3. However, Pegues thrived most this season running off screens, becoming one of the toughest guards in the conference thanks to his ability to pull-up from range with simple mechanics. Furman’s offense has fairly specific reads that allowed him to make easy decisions, but I also thought he made less obvious sharp passing reads while limiting his turnovers where he could.

    If he can scale his game to a higher level, Pegues is a multi-faceted playmaker who could end up starting for a team in need of a point guard. Clemson, also in South Carolina, runs an offensive scheme that makes a lot of sense for Pegues’ game. — Sam Vecenie

    Ht: 6-10 Wt: 225

    Miličić was originally seen as a big get for Virginia after playing well for the youth team of German pro club Ratiopharm Ulm, but it didn’t work out for him in Charlottesville. He transferred to Charlotte to play for former Virginia assistant Ron Sanchez, and after entering the starting lineup midway through his sophomore season, he grew into the team’s most dangerous player as a junior under new coach Aaron Fearne.

    A third-team all-AAC honoree this season, Miličić is about as multi-skilled of a college 4 as one can find at his level. His counting numbers — 12.8 points and 8.5 rebounds per game — were depressed by Charlotte being one of the 10 slowest-paced teams in the country. He can play with or without the ball, as Charlotte used him in all sorts of perimeter actions as either the screener and/or the ballhandler. He can run off screens to shoot from distance, or he can instinctively cut backdoor for easy shots at the rim. Overall, Miličić drilled 147 3s at a 38.1 percent clip, firing effectively in spot-up situations, off direct actions and when relocating off the bounce when opponents closed out. Put it all together, and Miličić is an exceedingly smart, mobile, skilled offensive big.

    Though not known for his defense, he’s hardly a sieve. He is okay at protecting the rim from the opposite side and didn’t get toasted in individual matchups or when defending pick-and-roll in the AAC.

    He’s a high-major starter who could make an impact on a good team next season. — Sam Vecenie

    Ht: 6-10 Wt: 225

    Miličić was originally seen as a big get for Virginia after playing well for the youth team of German pro club Ratiopharm Ulm, but it didn’t work out for him in Charlottesville. He transferred to Charlotte to play for former Virginia assistant Ron Sanchez, and after entering the starting lineup midway through his sophomore season, he grew into the team’s most dangerous player as a junior under new coach Aaron Fearne.

    A third-team all-AAC honoree this season, Miličić is about as multi-skilled of a college 4 as one can find at his level. His counting numbers — 12.8 points and 8.5 rebounds per game — were depressed by Charlotte being one of the 10 slowest-paced teams in the country. He can play with or without the ball, as Charlotte used him in all sorts of perimeter actions as either the screener and/or the ballhandler. He can run off screens to shoot from distance, or he can instinctively cut backdoor for easy shots at the rim. Overall, Miličić drilled 147 3s at a 38.1 percent clip, firing effectively in spot-up situations, off direct actions and when relocating off the bounce when opponents closed out. Put it all together, and Miličić is an exceedingly smart, mobile, skilled offensive big.

    Though not known for his defense, he’s hardly a sieve. He is okay at protecting the rim from the opposite side and didn’t get toasted in individual matchups or when defending pick-and-roll in the AAC.

    He’s a high-major starter who could make an impact on a good team next season. — Sam Vecenie

    Forward

    In portal

    Charlotte

    Ht: 6-7 Wt: 217

    Fidler was one of the best-kept secrets in the country this year. A skilled scorer at Omaha with size, shooting ability and a tight handle that allowed him to attack defenses in diverse ways, Fidler averaged 20.1 points, 6.3 rebounds and 2.6 assists this season while shooting 45 percent from the field, 35.6 percent from 3, and 85.4 percent from the line. A three-year starter, he’s one of those guys who has improved incrementally every season.

    When Fidler has the ball, he prefers to get into the midrange areas or drive at the Summit League level, as opposed to settling for 3s. But I especially love the way he moves without the ball and shoots off that movement. Omaha regularly started him on the left side of the court before running him off a variety of screens — mostly pindowns into curls, with some flare actions as counters — into zoom dribble hand-off actions to get him loose. He can execute some ball-screen sets himself and also attacks heavy closeouts well. His touch is superb across all three levels, with a nice floater game, strong catch-and-shoot proficiency and an ability to fire from distance. He’s not a wild athlete, and his pull-up jumper wasn’t quite effective enough this season to imagine him as a dynamic on-ball scorer at the high-major level.

    Still, Fidler is a no-doubt starter-quality player at the highest level of college hoops, with some upside to be more. It’s easy to envision him upping his 3-point rate and becoming an effective hybrid wing/forward in the right scheme. For example, the Nebraska native could slot into Greg McDermott’s Creighton scheme like Baylor Scheierman did two seasons ago when transferring from the Summit League.

    — Sam Vecenie

    Ht: 6-7 Wt: 217

    Fidler was one of the best-kept secrets in the country this year. A skilled scorer at Omaha with size, shooting ability and a tight handle that allowed him to attack defenses in diverse ways, Fidler averaged 20.1 points, 6.3 rebounds and 2.6 assists this season while shooting 45 percent from the field, 35.6 percent from 3, and 85.4 percent from the line. A three-year starter, he’s one of those guys who has improved incrementally every season.

    When Fidler has the ball, he prefers to get into the midrange areas or drive at the Summit League level, as opposed to settling for 3s. But I especially love the way he moves without the ball and shoots off that movement. Omaha regularly started him on the left side of the court before running him off a variety of screens — mostly pindowns into curls, with some flare actions as counters — into zoom dribble hand-off actions to get him loose. He can execute some ball-screen sets himself and also attacks heavy closeouts well. His touch is superb across all three levels, with a nice floater game, strong catch-and-shoot proficiency and an ability to fire from distance. He’s not a wild athlete, and his pull-up jumper wasn’t quite effective enough this season to imagine him as a dynamic on-ball scorer at the high-major level.

    Still, Fidler is a no-doubt starter-quality player at the highest level of college hoops, with some upside to be more. It’s easy to envision him upping his 3-point rate and becoming an effective hybrid wing/forward in the right scheme. For example, the Nebraska native could slot into Greg McDermott’s Creighton scheme like Baylor Scheierman did two seasons ago when transferring from the Summit League.

    — Sam Vecenie

    Ht: 6-7 Wt: 190

    The son of former NBA All-Star Peja Stojaković, Andrej was a McDonald’s All-American and an enormous get for Stanford. Much like the rest of the team, his season was hit or miss. He started strongly, averaging about 10 points per game while shooting 38 percent from 3 over his first 12 games. But he hit a freshman wall over his next 10 games in the Pac-12, averaging just six points per game while never getting into double-figures and shooting just 36 percent from the field. He showed some flashes late with impressive games against Utah and USC, but overall, his first collegiate season didn’t go according to plan.

    Touted as a terrific shooter like his father, Stojaković made just 32.7 percent of his 3-point attempts last season. He has great touch and moves well off the ball, but at just 190 pounds, his frame didn’t look ready for high-major hoops last season. He needs to get in the weight room and become more capable of dealing with physicality. It would behoove him to go somewhere with a creative offensive scheme that flies its wings off screening actions and gives them off-ball options based on the defense’s coverages. Stojaković is smart and has a good feel for the game. He projects as a high-level scoring wing and floor-spacer wherever he ends up. — Sam Vecenie

    Ht: 6-7 Wt: 190

    The son of former NBA All-Star Peja Stojaković, Andrej was a McDonald’s All-American and an enormous get for Stanford. Much like the rest of the team, his season was hit or miss. He started strongly, averaging about 10 points per game while shooting 38 percent from 3 over his first 12 games. But he hit a freshman wall over his next 10 games in the Pac-12, averaging just six points per game while never getting into double-figures and shooting just 36 percent from the field. He showed some flashes late with impressive games against Utah and USC, but overall, his first collegiate season didn’t go according to plan.

    Touted as a terrific shooter like his father, Stojaković made just 32.7 percent of his 3-point attempts last season. He has great touch and moves well off the ball, but at just 190 pounds, his frame didn’t look ready for high-major hoops last season. He needs to get in the weight room and become more capable of dealing with physicality. It would behoove him to go somewhere with a creative offensive scheme that flies its wings off screening actions and gives them off-ball options based on the defense’s coverages. Stojaković is smart and has a good feel for the game. He projects as a high-level scoring wing and floor-spacer wherever he ends up. — Sam Vecenie

    Ht: 6-10 Wt: 265

    It’s hard to find elite defensive big men in the transfer portal, so teams looking for one will be excited to see Williams, the three-time CAA Defensive Player of the Year who also won first-team All-CAA honors the past two seasons.

    The British native, who boasts one of the longest wingspan in the country at 7-foot-5, is the epitome of a rim protector. He’s tremendous in drop coverage, backpedaling well and extending his arms out to take up space in the paint. Yet he also moves incredibly well for a 260-pound player, so he is capable of coming up to the level of a ball screen or even switching and staying with smaller players for a couple of slides. His rotations from the opposite side of the floor are sharp, too.

    His offensive game is serviceable, though a bit limited. He can play out high in ball-screen and dribble-handoff situations. He’s an aggressive offensive rebounder and can occasionally grab-and-go on the fast break in the right situation. But while he’s comfortable shooting a lefty hook shot on the block, I’m skeptical his post-up game will translate to a high-major level.

    Still, I think Williams can play at an all-conference level at a high major and wouldn’t be stunned if he gets NBA looks once he turns pro due to his defense. He’s a no-brainer for a number of schools. — Sam Vecenie

    Ht: 6-10 Wt: 265

    It’s hard to find elite defensive big men in the transfer portal, so teams looking for one will be excited to see Williams, the three-time CAA Defensive Player of the Year who also won first-team All-CAA honors the past two seasons.

    The British native, who boasts one of the longest wingspan in the country at 7-foot-5, is the epitome of a rim protector. He’s tremendous in drop coverage, backpedaling well and extending his arms out to take up space in the paint. Yet he also moves incredibly well for a 260-pound player, so he is capable of coming up to the level of a ball screen or even switching and staying with smaller players for a couple of slides. His rotations from the opposite side of the floor are sharp, too.

    His offensive game is serviceable, though a bit limited. He can play out high in ball-screen and dribble-handoff situations. He’s an aggressive offensive rebounder and can occasionally grab-and-go on the fast break in the right situation. But while he’s comfortable shooting a lefty hook shot on the block, I’m skeptical his post-up game will translate to a high-major level.

    Still, I think Williams can play at an all-conference level at a high major and wouldn’t be stunned if he gets NBA looks once he turns pro due to his defense. He’s a no-brainer for a number of schools. — Sam Vecenie

    Ht: 6-4Wt: 205

    Perkins is a two-year starter at Iowa who has averaged double figures in each of the last two seasons. The equation with him is simple: He’s a physical, big guard who wants to pressure the defense and use his 210-pound frame to put his shoulder into opponents while attacking the paint. He will attack in transition when the opportunity presents itself, but is also experienced enough to know when to slow down and get into the midrange, where he loves to stop and pop or take quick floaters.

    More importantly, though, Perkins took a leap this year as a passer and decision-maker. His ability to slow down and hold defenders on his hip really played up, and he became more capable at forcing help and then finding his teammates on rolls or dump-off passes. He rarely turns it over as an older player, with well over a two-to-one assist-to-turnover ratio. All told, Perkins averaged 14 points, 4.4 rebounds and 4.6 assists this year while also grabbing 1.6 steals, strong numbers in a difficult league. He also improved as a catch-and-shoot player, making 37 percent of those chances, per Synergy.

    Perkins can be hit or miss on the defensive end, and his close to the season was rough — he averaged just 10 points on 31 percent from the field over his last 10 games. Still, he is an obvious high-major player and starter at all but the top programs next year. — Sam Vecenie

    Ht: 6-4Wt: 205

    Perkins is a two-year starter at Iowa who has averaged double figures in each of the last two seasons. The equation with him is simple: He’s a physical, big guard who wants to pressure the defense and use his 210-pound frame to put his shoulder into opponents while attacking the paint. He will attack in transition when the opportunity presents itself, but is also experienced enough to know when to slow down and get into the midrange, where he loves to stop and pop or take quick floaters.

    More importantly, though, Perkins took a leap this year as a passer and decision-maker. His ability to slow down and hold defenders on his hip really played up, and he became more capable at forcing help and then finding his teammates on rolls or dump-off passes. He rarely turns it over as an older player, with well over a two-to-one assist-to-turnover ratio. All told, Perkins averaged 14 points, 4.4 rebounds and 4.6 assists this year while also grabbing 1.6 steals, strong numbers in a difficult league. He also improved as a catch-and-shoot player, making 37 percent of those chances, per Synergy.

    Perkins can be hit or miss on the defensive end, and his close to the season was rough — he averaged just 10 points on 31 percent from the field over his last 10 games. Still, he is an obvious high-major player and starter at all but the top programs next year. — Sam Vecenie

    Ht: 6-8 Wt: 210

    A graduate transfer, Johnson has an intriguing game that should allow him to successfully move up a level or two. Johnson averaged 14 points and 8.6 rebounds per game this season to go with 1.7 steals.

    Johnson’s best skill is his ability to shoot from long range at a high volume. He drilled 36.5 percent of his nearly six 3-point attempts per game, with a number of them coming from beyond the NBA line. His mechanics are clean and pure for someone his size, whether shooting as a  trailer in transition, in spot-up situations or when running pick-and-pop actions.

    Most of his offense inside the arc came on the block, where Johnson poured in turnaround jumpers while repeatedly drawing fouls on drop steps. It’s hard to find players with genuine size who can score inside and step away and shoot this fluidly from the perimeter.

    Throw in the fact that he rebounds well, is at least positionally aware on defense and can generate steals in passing lanes, and Johnson should be in high demand. You may not have heard about him because he played for East Carolina, but high-major teams certainly have. — Sam Vecenie

    Ht: 6-8 Wt: 210

    A graduate transfer, Johnson has an intriguing game that should allow him to successfully move up a level or two. Johnson averaged 14 points and 8.6 rebounds per game this season to go with 1.7 steals.

    Johnson’s best skill is his ability to shoot from long range at a high volume. He drilled 36.5 percent of his nearly six 3-point attempts per game, with a number of them coming from beyond the NBA line. His mechanics are clean and pure for someone his size, whether shooting as a  trailer in transition, in spot-up situations or when running pick-and-pop actions.

    Most of his offense inside the arc came on the block, where Johnson poured in turnaround jumpers while repeatedly drawing fouls on drop steps. It’s hard to find players with genuine size who can score inside and step away and shoot this fluidly from the perimeter.

    Throw in the fact that he rebounds well, is at least positionally aware on defense and can generate steals in passing lanes, and Johnson should be in high demand. You may not have heard about him because he played for East Carolina, but high-major teams certainly have. — Sam Vecenie

    Forward

    In portal

    East Carolina

    Ht: 6-8 Wt: 210

    Kidd’s game is pretty simple. He catches and finishes well around the rim, having partnered with Sean Pedulla to form a terrific two-man game. He had 50 dunks last season and made 79 percent of his shots at the rim in total this past season, the fourth-best mark in the country among the nearly 1,000 players who took at least 100 such shots, per Synergy. Ultimately, he was one of the most improved players in the ACC this season, spiking his averages up to 13.2 points and 6.5 rebounds in 23 minutes per night.

    He also showed some impressive post-up flashes and was usually effective at getting to his hook shot. He can make them with both hands, has a high release point and is patient in deploying pump fakes to set up better situations for himself.

    Defensively, I have questions. His higher center of gravity hindered him at times this season and he’s nowhere near the shot-blocker he should be with his length. He seemed to regularly miss opportunities to contest from the opposite side. But it’s hard to find size in the portal, and Kidd is at least a proven high-major starter who can produce on offense. — Sam Vecenie

    Center

    In portal

    Virginia Tech

    Ht: 6-7 Wt: 210

    I’m fascinated to see what becomes of Petraitis. He served a specific playmaking small-ball center role for Air Force and was key in their two Mountain West upset wins last season over New Mexico and UNLV. The son of two former Oregon State players, Petraitis is an extremely intelligent player who was Air Force’s primary option. He averaged 15.7 points, 6.3 rebounds, 3.7 assists, 1.6 steals and 0.9 blocks per game last season while playing on the fourth-slowest-paced team in Division I, per KenPom.

    He scores mostly as a driver and cutter, with a majority of his shot attempts coming around the basket. He made about 35 percent of his 3s, but most Mountain West teams didn’t guard him closely out there because he tends to take slow-loading set shots. But Petriatis was a maestro at hitting backdoor cuts from outside within Air Force’s offense, finding creative angles for bounce passes to teammates all across the court. He also showed an ability to deliver those passes on the move as opposed to just from a standstill position. In a more normal year for the league, as opposed to this standout one, he wouldn’t have looked out of place on an All-Mountain West team.

    I’m a believer in his game translating outside of Air Force’s unique setup. Even if the Falcons didn’t win many games, Petraitis’ style is the kind that helps teams gain critical edges. I think he would be a high-value fourth option on an awesome team or a great No. 2 on a solid one.  — Sam Vecenie

    Ht: 6-7 Wt: 210

    I’m fascinated to see what becomes of Petraitis. He served a specific playmaking small-ball center role for Air Force and was key in their two Mountain West upset wins last season over New Mexico and UNLV. The son of two former Oregon State players, Petraitis is an extremely intelligent player who was Air Force’s primary option. He averaged 15.7 points, 6.3 rebounds, 3.7 assists, 1.6 steals and 0.9 blocks per game last season while playing on the fourth-slowest-paced team in Division I, per KenPom.

    He scores mostly as a driver and cutter, with a majority of his shot attempts coming around the basket. He made about 35 percent of his 3s, but most Mountain West teams didn’t guard him closely out there because he tends to take slow-loading set shots. But Petriatis was a maestro at hitting backdoor cuts from outside within Air Force’s offense, finding creative angles for bounce passes to teammates all across the court. He also showed an ability to deliver those passes on the move as opposed to just from a standstill position. In a more normal year for the league, as opposed to this standout one, he wouldn’t have looked out of place on an All-Mountain West team.

    I’m a believer in his game translating outside of Air Force’s unique setup. Even if the Falcons didn’t win many games, Petraitis’ style is the kind that helps teams gain critical edges. I think he would be a high-value fourth option on an awesome team or a great No. 2 on a solid one.  — Sam Vecenie

    Forward

    In portal

    Air Force

    Ht: 6-9 Wt: 240

    Dia was one of the breakout players across college basketball this season. After averaging just 2.6 points for Vanderbilt in the 2022-23 season, Dia went across the road to Belmont and became an immediate All-Missouri Valley contributor. He averaged 16.9 points and nearly six rebounds per game, knocked down 34 percent of his 3s as a floor-spacing big man and was a matchup nightmare at that level.

    Dia moves incredibly well for a big-bodied 240-pound forward, with the capability to slash and drive around bigger players to get all the way to the rim. Yet if he has a smaller player on the block, he can put his shoulder into them and get to the basket that way. His handle is clean and he draws fouls on drives and post-ups.

    His jumper is a smooth set shot that looks clean coming out of his hand. His shooting off the bounce isn’t consistent enough yet, but he can get to it off the catch, out of pick-and-pops or even the occasional step back. By the latter portion of the season, he showed some playmaking chops off the bounce. At Belmont, when he was on the court, the entire offense went through him. Honestly, he’s clearly skilled enough to play at the high-major level.

    One downside to his game is he was a bit of a black hole at times this season. He has a tendency to overdribble into bad spots and settle for contested jumpers. The improved passing he showed later in the season needs to be there more consistently, and he’ll need to excise the 20-percent share of difficult shots from his diet to become a more efficient scorer.

    Dia is clearly gifted, though, and has significant upside if he can find a well-spaced system that allows him to hunt driving lanes and play in space. — Sam Vecenie

    Ht: 6-9 Wt: 240

    Dia was one of the breakout players across college basketball this season. After averaging just 2.6 points for Vanderbilt in the 2022-23 season, Dia went across the road to Belmont and became an immediate All-Missouri Valley contributor. He averaged 16.9 points and nearly six rebounds per game, knocked down 34 percent of his 3s as a floor-spacing big man and was a matchup nightmare at that level.

    Dia moves incredibly well for a big-bodied 240-pound forward, with the capability to slash and drive around bigger players to get all the way to the rim. Yet if he has a smaller player on the block, he can put his shoulder into them and get to the basket that way. His handle is clean and he draws fouls on drives and post-ups.

    His jumper is a smooth set shot that looks clean coming out of his hand. His shooting off the bounce isn’t consistent enough yet, but he can get to it off the catch, out of pick-and-pops or even the occasional step back. By the latter portion of the season, he showed some playmaking chops off the bounce. At Belmont, when he was on the court, the entire offense went through him. Honestly, he’s clearly skilled enough to play at the high-major level.

    One downside to his game is he was a bit of a black hole at times this season. He has a tendency to overdribble into bad spots and settle for contested jumpers. The improved passing he showed later in the season needs to be there more consistently, and he’ll need to excise the 20-percent share of difficult shots from his diet to become a more efficient scorer.

    Dia is clearly gifted, though, and has significant upside if he can find a well-spaced system that allows him to hunt driving lanes and play in space. — Sam Vecenie

    Ht: 6-2 Wt: 175

    The hope was that Blocker, a former four-star and top-40 recruit, could at least be a solid backup point guard right away before stepping into the starting role as a sophomore. Instead, the Arkansas native struggled to see regular minutes.

    He did manage to show some flashes, including a solid six-game stretch in late-November and early-December where he averaged eight points, three rebounds and two assists while shooting 64 percent from the field in 22 minutes per night. He had a 14-point game in 24 minutes against Florida in SEC play, had a couple of solid games in a row against Missouri and LSU, then played a total of 19 minutes the next three games. His minutes fluctuation was one of the stranger elements of a bizarre Arkansas season.

    Blocker is a monster athlete who got to the foul line 58 times in 360 minutes. He finishes above the rim off one foot or two and maintains his balance well when absorbing contact. He passes well when drawing help, but his jumper needs to be completely reworked this summer to become a threat.

    Still, it’s difficult to find backcourt athletes like this in the portal. It might take a year of development, and his floor is lower than many of the players around him on this list. But his upside is an all-conference high-major guard if things break right over the next couple of years. — Sam Vecenie

    Ht: 6-2 Wt: 175

    The hope was that Blocker, a former four-star and top-40 recruit, could at least be a solid backup point guard right away before stepping into the starting role as a sophomore. Instead, the Arkansas native struggled to see regular minutes.

    He did manage to show some flashes, including a solid six-game stretch in late-November and early-December where he averaged eight points, three rebounds and two assists while shooting 64 percent from the field in 22 minutes per night. He had a 14-point game in 24 minutes against Florida in SEC play, had a couple of solid games in a row against Missouri and LSU, then played a total of 19 minutes the next three games. His minutes fluctuation was one of the stranger elements of a bizarre Arkansas season.

    Blocker is a monster athlete who got to the foul line 58 times in 360 minutes. He finishes above the rim off one foot or two and maintains his balance well when absorbing contact. He passes well when drawing help, but his jumper needs to be completely reworked this summer to become a threat.

    Still, it’s difficult to find backcourt athletes like this in the portal. It might take a year of development, and his floor is lower than many of the players around him on this list. But his upside is an all-conference high-major guard if things break right over the next couple of years. — Sam Vecenie

    Ht: 6-7 Wt: 220

    A two-year junior-college player in Washington, Ajayi transferred to Pepperdine and was theoretically a great fit at power forward next to Jevon Porter. Ajayi’s game starts with this power getting downhill. He can bowl his way to the basket in a straight line using his left shoulder to create space, and has a good handle with some shake to get to pull-ups and stepback midrange jumpers. He was a killer catch-and-shoot 3-point shooter this year, making 49 percent of his 3s in those situations. That number will drop, but he’s adding value even if he’s around 38 to 40 percent.

    Ajayi’s productivity did come inefficiently for a bad team outside of his 3-point jumper. He made just 48 percent of his shots around the rim, per Synergy, and 44 percent on his midrange pull-up jumpers. His passing vision seems to only extend forward for dump-offs, not kickouts to the perimeter.

    is Ajayi a good player on a bad team, or can his game scale up because of his excellent shooting? Pepperdine was such a mess that it’s hard to tell.  — Sam Vecenie

    Ht: 6-7 Wt: 220

    A two-year junior-college player in Washington, Ajayi transferred to Pepperdine and was theoretically a great fit at power forward next to Jevon Porter. Ajayi’s game starts with this power getting downhill. He can bowl his way to the basket in a straight line using his left shoulder to create space, and has a good handle with some shake to get to pull-ups and stepback midrange jumpers. He was a killer catch-and-shoot 3-point shooter this year, making 49 percent of his 3s in those situations. That number will drop, but he’s adding value even if he’s around 38 to 40 percent.

    Ajayi’s productivity did come inefficiently for a bad team outside of his 3-point jumper. He made just 48 percent of his shots around the rim, per Synergy, and 44 percent on his midrange pull-up jumpers. His passing vision seems to only extend forward for dump-offs, not kickouts to the perimeter.

    is Ajayi a good player on a bad team, or can his game scale up because of his excellent shooting? Pepperdine was such a mess that it’s hard to tell.  — Sam Vecenie

    Ajayi’s fit with Gonzaga makes sense, as he’s a Washington native. It’s interesting to see the Zags go for Ajayi, as he scored just 20 points on six-of-24 from the field across their two games against Pepperdine last season. Still, the Zags desperately needed a player like him who can swing between the 3 and 4 positions. With Anton Watson moving on, Jun Seok-Yeo and the injured Steele Venters were the only non-bigs on the roster taller than 6-foot-7. As long as his shooting translates, he should be an impact player for Mark Few next season.

    — Sam Vecenie

    Forward

    Committed

    Pepperdine

    Gonzaga Bulldogs

    Ht: 6-11 Wt: 225

    The brother of Michael and Jontay, Jevon possesses a similarly modern basketball skill set as a near 7-foot perimeter-oriented center. He averaged 16.2 points this season and is the kind of versatile offensive big that teams around the country seek.

    Porter can score on the block and off dump-off passes, but he’s especially good on the perimeter. He can run through a wide variety of screening actions and dribble-hand-offs. He can reject the hand off and drive, or he can pick and pop with ease. He made less than 30 percent of his 3s this season, but the motion looks clean and pure, so I expect his percentage to go up at his next stop.

    Porter needs to get stronger and become a better rebounder and defender at his next stop. It’s hard to delineate Porter’s culpability when Pepperdine’s entire defensive system was catastrophically bad, but he seemed to play a part in some coverage breakdowns. Porter will need to find the right fit and a coach that’s willing to grow with him, but he has high-major starter upside. — Sam Vecenie

    Ht: 6-11 Wt: 225

    The brother of Michael and Jontay, Jevon possesses a similarly modern basketball skill set as a near 7-foot perimeter-oriented center. He averaged 16.2 points this season and is the kind of versatile offensive big that teams around the country seek.

    Porter can score on the block and off dump-off passes, but he’s especially good on the perimeter. He can run through a wide variety of screening actions and dribble-hand-offs. He can reject the hand off and drive, or he can pick and pop with ease. He made less than 30 percent of his 3s this season, but the motion looks clean and pure, so I expect his percentage to go up at his next stop.

    Porter needs to get stronger and become a better rebounder and defender at his next stop. It’s hard to delineate Porter’s culpability when Pepperdine’s entire defensive system was catastrophically bad, but he seemed to play a part in some coverage breakdowns. Porter will need to find the right fit and a coach that’s willing to grow with him, but he has high-major starter upside. — Sam Vecenie

    Center

    In portal

    Pepperdine

    Ht: 6-5 Wt: 215

    t was a season of highs and lows for Oweh. He started the season on fire, averaging 15.7 points and 4.1 rebounds while shooting 65.5 percent from the Sooners during their 11-1 start. An aggressive, downhill attacker, Oweh was a force in transition, creating fastbreak opportunities with steals and filling lanes next to teammates to finish above the rim. Oklahoma used him in a creative way in their half-court offense, having him play more like a 4 in dribble hand-offs or using him in the dunker spot under the basket. 

    But the wheels came off near the end of the season. In his final 11 games prior to the Big 12 conference tournament, Oweh averaged just 6.5 points and 2.6 rebounds in only 21 minutes per game while shooting 35.4 percent from the field. His shot selection was rough, he too often recklessly drove into tough Big 12 rim protectors and began committing too many turnovers considering his small offensive role.

    So which player is he? In the end, Oweh was a power-five starter who averaged 11 points and four rebounds per game while shooting 49 percent from the field and 37.7 percent from 3 while generally playing aggressive point-of-attack defense.

    The fit will be more important for Oweh at his next stop than it would be for most transfers. He needs to find a team that will use him creatively and channel him into more positive situations as a transition player and driver. He also needs to be surrounded by shooting, as I’m skeptical he will duplicate his 37.3 percent figure from 3. But considering his high-level defense and toughness, I expect him to start in a high-major league next season. — Sam Vecenie

    Ht: 6-5 Wt: 215

    t was a season of highs and lows for Oweh. He started the season on fire, averaging 15.7 points and 4.1 rebounds while shooting 65.5 percent from the Sooners during their 11-1 start. An aggressive, downhill attacker, Oweh was a force in transition, creating fastbreak opportunities with steals and filling lanes next to teammates to finish above the rim. Oklahoma used him in a creative way in their half-court offense, having him play more like a 4 in dribble hand-offs or using him in the dunker spot under the basket. 

    But the wheels came off near the end of the season. In his final 11 games prior to the Big 12 conference tournament, Oweh averaged just 6.5 points and 2.6 rebounds in only 21 minutes per game while shooting 35.4 percent from the field. His shot selection was rough, he too often recklessly drove into tough Big 12 rim protectors and began committing too many turnovers considering his small offensive role.

    So which player is he? In the end, Oweh was a power-five starter who averaged 11 points and four rebounds per game while shooting 49 percent from the field and 37.7 percent from 3 while generally playing aggressive point-of-attack defense.

    The fit will be more important for Oweh at his next stop than it would be for most transfers. He needs to find a team that will use him creatively and channel him into more positive situations as a transition player and driver. He also needs to be surrounded by shooting, as I’m skeptical he will duplicate his 37.3 percent figure from 3. But considering his high-level defense and toughness, I expect him to start in a high-major league next season. — Sam Vecenie

    Ht: 6-7 Wt: 230

    Hall is a fascinating player. After weighing nearly 300 pounds in high school, Hall is now down to the 230-pound range and added real shiftiness to his game. He averaged 16.6 points and 8.1 rebounds per game and was named second-team All-Atlantic-10 last season.

    His shot profile is highly specific. Of his 273 halfcourt shot attempts last season, 107 were 3-pointers, 120 were at the rim and zero were dunks, per Synergy. Even with his weight loss, he still doesn’t have a ton of bounce. Instead, he’s an undersized 4 with guard skills who repeatedly drove to the rim from behind the arc or the mid-post. Most of his nominal post-up opportunities turned into face-up drives. His handle in these situations is creative, as he strings together a lot of different crossovers and spin moves.

    He countered his desire to get to the rim by catching and firing from distance when those shot became available. He has a strange lefty stroke where his left leg flares forward, but he did drill nearly 36 percent of his four 3-point attempts per game.

    While Hall can get to the rim at the A-10 level, his efficiency dropped drastically against good teams. He went 3-for-13 against Tennessee, 1-for-5 against Toledo, 4-for-13 against Tulane, 1-for-4 against Richmond, 3-for-11 against Dayton and 2-for-7 against Loyola Chicago. Can his game translate to the high-major level? Can he consistently finish below the rim against better competition? Will his shot continue to fall?

    He’d be an interesting target for a school who already has shooters and is looking for more frontcourt shot creation. — Sam Vecenie

    Ht: 6-7 Wt: 230

    Hall is a fascinating player. After weighing nearly 300 pounds in high school, Hall is now down to the 230-pound range and added real shiftiness to his game. He averaged 16.6 points and 8.1 rebounds per game and was named second-team All-Atlantic-10 last season.

    His shot profile is highly specific. Of his 273 halfcourt shot attempts last season, 107 were 3-pointers, 120 were at the rim and zero were dunks, per Synergy. Even with his weight loss, he still doesn’t have a ton of bounce. Instead, he’s an undersized 4 with guard skills who repeatedly drove to the rim from behind the arc or the mid-post. Most of his nominal post-up opportunities turned into face-up drives. His handle in these situations is creative, as he strings together a lot of different crossovers and spin moves.

    He countered his desire to get to the rim by catching and firing from distance when those shot became available. He has a strange lefty stroke where his left leg flares forward, but he did drill nearly 36 percent of his four 3-point attempts per game.

    While Hall can get to the rim at the A-10 level, his efficiency dropped drastically against good teams. He went 3-for-13 against Tennessee, 1-for-5 against Toledo, 4-for-13 against Tulane, 1-for-4 against Richmond, 3-for-11 against Dayton and 2-for-7 against Loyola Chicago. Can his game translate to the high-major level? Can he consistently finish below the rim against better competition? Will his shot continue to fall?

    He’d be an interesting target for a school who already has shooters and is looking for more frontcourt shot creation. — Sam Vecenie

    Forward

    In portal

    George Mason

    Ht: 6-0 Wt: 175

    North Texas went back to the junior-college well to find Edwards, a creative scoring guard who earned first-team All-AAC honors while averaging 19.1 points per game this season. Playing next to a bigger wing playmaker in Rubin Jones, Edwards was able to be himself. He uses nasty hesitations and hang-dribble-crossover combinations to get separation from defenders, whether going toward the rim or backward for stepback jumpers. By stringing together multiple moves, Edwards gets defenders stuck on their heels when trying to contest him.

    His stepback game especially stood out. Though Edwards only made 27.4 percent of his step-back 3s last season, he did convert 48 percent of his pull-up midrange jumpers, indicating he has real touch even when heavily guarded and operating on the move. He can play off-ball, driving well to the rim on heavy closeouts and hitting catch-and-shoot 3s at a 37 percent clip, per Synergy.

    Ultimately, I buy Edwards’ ability to separate from his man and score at the high-major level. He had some monster scoring games against good teams such as Seton Hall, Florida Atlantic and Boise State. His gifts are real, even if it’d be nice if he’d improve as a passer and cut down on some of his more difficult shots.

    He’s not going to bring much else to the table, so he’s probably best as a sixth man unless a high-major can pair him with a big initiator like North Texas did. — Sam Vecenie

    Guard

    In portal

    North Texas

    Ht: 6-5 Wt: 207

    The way high majors evaluate Kugel after his season will be among the most fascinating things to track in the portal this year.

    The 6-foot-5 scoring wing is arguably the best athlete in all of college basketball. No, I’m not exaggerating. Few players possess his blend of power, explosiveness and coordination. He’s built like an NBA player and moves like one. His first step is lethal and he is able to bend his body to leverage that explosiveness. Many, including me, thought had a shot to be a 2024 first-round NBA Draft pick if he developed properly. He was coming off one of the most impressive closing stretches of any freshman in 2022-23, averaging 17.3 points in SEC play while shooting 49.6 percent from the field and 39.6 percent from 3.

    But man, did Kugel have a bad season. He averaged just 9.2 points, 3.5 rebounds and 1.5 assists per game and was removed from the Gators’ starting lineup after 11 games. His shot selection and decision-making during that time were horrendous, and he only made 39.4 percent of his field goals and 31.2 percent of his 3s over the course of the season while committing nearly two turnovers in 23 minutes per game. Even if bigs Tyrese Samuel and Micah Handlogten clogged the paint on Kugel’s drives, his reads weren’t good enough. Worse, he let his offensive struggles affect his defense, though he at least brought more energy later in the season.

    We have Kugel ranked here based mostly on his 2023-24 performance, but his upside is genuinely tantalizing. I bet a big school takes a swing. — Sam Vecenie

    Ht: 6-3 Wt: 195

    A multi-time transfer who started his career at Mississippi State before going to Kansas State, Carter is a battle-tested Big 12 guard who became a more primary option last season to mixed results. As a sophomore in 2022-23, Carter was fifth starter who played 26 minutes a night and focused on tough defensive assignments for an excellent Elite 8 team. His defense, by and large, was there this year too.

    But his attempt to take on a larger offensive role next to Tylor Perry was a roller coaster. He had big games, such as a 21-point performance in the Wildcats’ end-of-season win against Iowa State, and had a six-game stretch in January where he averaged 16.5 points while shooting 48.5 percent from the field and 42.4 percent from 3. But he also shot his team out of games, going 1-for-7 against TCU, 2-for-12 against Oklahoma, 2-for-10 against Texas and 1-for-7 against Kansas in four losses that would have substantially helped Kansas State’s bubble profile. In total, Carter averaged 14.6 points, five rebounds and 2.6 assists, but shot just 39.1 percent from the field and 30.9 percent from 3.

    Carter is fast enough to push the game in transition and is a shifty driver when using Euro steps and when splitting ball screens. But he’s not a good enough shooter to have a significant offensive role on an NCAA Tournament-caliber high-major team. His defense makes him a valuable player who can start at this level, but he’ll either need to scale back his usage or become a much better shooter. — Sam Vecenie

    Ht: 6-3 Wt: 195

    A multi-time transfer who started his career at Mississippi State before going to Kansas State, Carter is a battle-tested Big 12 guard who became a more primary option last season to mixed results. As a sophomore in 2022-23, Carter was fifth starter who played 26 minutes a night and focused on tough defensive assignments for an excellent Elite 8 team. His defense, by and large, was there this year too.

    But his attempt to take on a larger offensive role next to Tylor Perry was a roller coaster. He had big games, such as a 21-point performance in the Wildcats’ end-of-season win against Iowa State, and had a six-game stretch in January where he averaged 16.5 points while shooting 48.5 percent from the field and 42.4 percent from 3. But he also shot his team out of games, going 1-for-7 against TCU, 2-for-12 against Oklahoma, 2-for-10 against Texas and 1-for-7 against Kansas in four losses that would have substantially helped Kansas State’s bubble profile. In total, Carter averaged 14.6 points, five rebounds and 2.6 assists, but shot just 39.1 percent from the field and 30.9 percent from 3.

    Carter is fast enough to push the game in transition and is a shifty driver when using Euro steps and when splitting ball screens. But he’s not a good enough shooter to have a significant offensive role on an NCAA Tournament-caliber high-major team. His defense makes him a valuable player who can start at this level, but he’ll either need to scale back his usage or become a much better shooter. — Sam Vecenie

    Guard

    In portal

    Kansas State

    Ht: 6-1 Wt: 175

    Davis moved to Butler last season after earning first-team All-Big West honors at UC Irvine in 2022-23, and his game translated about as well as Bulldogs coach Thad Matta could have expected. Davis started all 33 games this season as the shooting guard next to Posh Alexander, averaging 13.5 points per game on 43 percent from the field, 35.1 percent from 3 and 95 percent from the free-throw line. (Don’t look sideways at that 3-point percentage; Davis’ shot diet had a high degree of difficulty.) He was the team’s most efficient source of offense for the first two-thirds of the season.

    Davis has great feel for finding the dead spaces in the defense. He took 50 3-pointers off screens this season and made them at a 40 percent clip, per Synergy. Butler also used him in dribble-hand-off actions, where he’d launch and connect if the defense went under the screen. He’s also fast, and makes himself faster leveraging the threat of his shot to get all the way to the rim and finish. He made about 60 percent of his shots at the rim and about 54 percent of his floater-range shots as well.

    Davis did have issues pulling up off the dribble, as he hit only 22.2 percent of those shots from 3 and only 26.7 percent from midrange. He also tailed off late, averaging just 10.9 points and 3.7 assists per game while shooting 38 percent from the field and 26 percent from 3 in the team’s 2-7 run to close the season. Opponents seemed to have a better feel for Davis and Butler’s offense the second time around. It’s possible Davis might fit better on a team with more frontcourt offensive punch. — Sam Vecenie

    Ht: 6-1 Wt: 175

    Davis moved to Butler last season after earning first-team All-Big West honors at UC Irvine in 2022-23, and his game translated about as well as Bulldogs coach Thad Matta could have expected. Davis started all 33 games this season as the shooting guard next to Posh Alexander, averaging 13.5 points per game on 43 percent from the field, 35.1 percent from 3 and 95 percent from the free-throw line. (Don’t look sideways at that 3-point percentage; Davis’ shot diet had a high degree of difficulty.) He was the team’s most efficient source of offense for the first two-thirds of the season.

    Davis has great feel for finding the dead spaces in the defense. He took 50 3-pointers off screens this season and made them at a 40 percent clip, per Synergy. Butler also used him in dribble-hand-off actions, where he’d launch and connect if the defense went under the screen. He’s also fast, and makes himself faster leveraging the threat of his shot to get all the way to the rim and finish. He made about 60 percent of his shots at the rim and about 54 percent of his floater-range shots as well.

    Davis did have issues pulling up off the dribble, as he hit only 22.2 percent of those shots from 3 and only 26.7 percent from midrange. He also tailed off late, averaging just 10.9 points and 3.7 assists per game while shooting 38 percent from the field and 26 percent from 3 in the team’s 2-7 run to close the season. Opponents seemed to have a better feel for Davis and Butler’s offense the second time around. It’s possible Davis might fit better on a team with more frontcourt offensive punch. — Sam Vecenie

    Ht: 6-3 Wt: 200

    A 6-foot-3 scoring guard who has added more to his skill set each season, the Bloomington, Ind. native was a second-team All-Missouri Valley selection this season after averaging 14.5 points, 3.4 rebounds and 2.9 assists per game.

    Though he’s improved as a driver and playmaker, his game is predicated off the threat of his jumper. Hickman drilled 40.2 percent of his nearly six 3-point attempts per game this season, including a 46.2 percent mark on catch-and-shoot 3s. He cannot be left open and will hunt shots off screens when guarded closely, using his improved craft in ball screens and dribble hand-offs. He’s not quite a point guard, but he’s a good enough secondary ballhandler to find success at the high-major level, much like Cormac Ryan has for North Carolina this season.

    I know of one team in the Big Ten that happens to be located in Hickman’s home town and desperately need shooters despite being located in a state with arguably the deepest pool of shooting prospects in the country. No pressure, Mike Woodson. — Sam Vecenie

    Ht: 6-3 Wt: 200

    A 6-foot-3 scoring guard who has added more to his skill set each season, the Bloomington, Ind. native was a second-team All-Missouri Valley selection this season after averaging 14.5 points, 3.4 rebounds and 2.9 assists per game.

    Though he’s improved as a driver and playmaker, his game is predicated off the threat of his jumper. Hickman drilled 40.2 percent of his nearly six 3-point attempts per game this season, including a 46.2 percent mark on catch-and-shoot 3s. He cannot be left open and will hunt shots off screens when guarded closely, using his improved craft in ball screens and dribble hand-offs. He’s not quite a point guard, but he’s a good enough secondary ballhandler to find success at the high-major level, much like Cormac Ryan has for North Carolina this season.

    I know of one team in the Big Ten that happens to be located in Hickman’s home town and desperately need shooters despite being located in a state with arguably the deepest pool of shooting prospects in the country. No pressure, Mike Woodson. — Sam Vecenie

    Ht: 6-9 Wt: 230

    Kyle is a tremendous athlete who threw down 101 dunks this year, per Synergy, on his way to 13.1 points while shooting 62.3 percent from the field. He was named first team All-Summit League this year for the Jackrabbits, who made the NCAA Tournament.

    Everything with Kyle is forceful. He gets off the ground quickly, using his long arms to punish the rim. Almost all of his shots come around the basket, where South Dakota State largely used him on the block or out of the dunker spot. He shouldn’t expect many post touches at his next stop, but he had some fun moments as a rim-runner in ball screens and should be able to catch and finish dump-off passes. He runs the court well in transition and crushes the offensive glass.

    But teams recruiting Kyle are doing so for his potential defensive impact. Kyle was the Summer League Defensive Player of the Year last season, averaging 1.7 blocks per game. His activity was the key reason the Jackrabbits had the best 2-point defense in the league.

    It doesn’t hurt that he’s coming off one of his best games of the season in the NCAA Tournament, when he notched 14 points, seven rebounds and four assists against Iowa State. The Cyclones make sense as a destination for Kyle given the close relationship between the South Dakota State and Iowa State staffs and the Cyclones’ need on the interior. — Sam Vecenie

    Ht: 6-9 Wt: 230

    Kyle is a tremendous athlete who threw down 101 dunks this year, per Synergy, on his way to 13.1 points while shooting 62.3 percent from the field. He was named first team All-Summit League this year for the Jackrabbits, who made the NCAA Tournament.

    Everything with Kyle is forceful. He gets off the ground quickly, using his long arms to punish the rim. Almost all of his shots come around the basket, where South Dakota State largely used him on the block or out of the dunker spot. He shouldn’t expect many post touches at his next stop, but he had some fun moments as a rim-runner in ball screens and should be able to catch and finish dump-off passes. He runs the court well in transition and crushes the offensive glass.

    But teams recruiting Kyle are doing so for his potential defensive impact. Kyle was the Summer League Defensive Player of the Year last season, averaging 1.7 blocks per game. His activity was the key reason the Jackrabbits had the best 2-point defense in the league.

    It doesn’t hurt that he’s coming off one of his best games of the season in the NCAA Tournament, when he notched 14 points, seven rebounds and four assists against Iowa State. The Cyclones make sense as a destination for Kyle given the close relationship between the South Dakota State and Iowa State staffs and the Cyclones’ need on the interior. — Sam Vecenie

    Center

    In portal

    South Dakota State

    Ht: 6-2Wt: 195

    Which version of Mashburn should his new team expect to get? He was arguably the foundational piece of New Mexico’s rebirth under Richard Pitino in his first two seasons. In 2022-23, Mashburn was a first-team All-Mountain West performer, averaging 19.1 points per game and drilling 38.2 percent of his 3s. The season before, he averaged 18.2 points and was third-team All-MWC. But Mashburn took a step back this season, falling behind Donovan Dent and Jaelen House in the pecking order while scoring 14.1 points per game on just 36 percent from the field.

    A combo guard, Mashburn can fill it up once he gets going, but has never been consistent beyond the arc as he has been inside it. Mashburn wants to live in the 10-to-15-foot range around the elbows and at least made 35 percent of his 212 open catch-and-shoot 3s over the past two seasons, per Synergy. But his pull-up 3-point numbers haven’t been good enough, nor has he consistently finished well around the rim. Every shot he takes around the basket seems to have a high degree of difficulty.

    Mashburn’s aggressiveness in hunting shots has value, and it should translate to the  high-major level due to his decisiveness and experience. Will those shots be efficient ones? Your guess is as good as mine. But he is a good fit for an uptempo team as a sixth man or, potentially, a fifth starter with the right defensive infrastructure around him. — Sam Vecenie

    Ht: 6-2Wt: 195

    Which version of Mashburn should his new team expect to get? He was arguably the foundational piece of New Mexico’s rebirth under Richard Pitino in his first two seasons. In 2022-23, Mashburn was a first-team All-Mountain West performer, averaging 19.1 points per game and drilling 38.2 percent of his 3s. The season before, he averaged 18.2 points and was third-team All-MWC. But Mashburn took a step back this season, falling behind Donovan Dent and Jaelen House in the pecking order while scoring 14.1 points per game on just 36 percent from the field.

    A combo guard, Mashburn can fill it up once he gets going, but has never been consistent beyond the arc as he has been inside it. Mashburn wants to live in the 10-to-15-foot range around the elbows and at least made 35 percent of his 212 open catch-and-shoot 3s over the past two seasons, per Synergy. But his pull-up 3-point numbers haven’t been good enough, nor has he consistently finished well around the rim. Every shot he takes around the basket seems to have a high degree of difficulty.

    Mashburn’s aggressiveness in hunting shots has value, and it should translate to the  high-major level due to his decisiveness and experience. Will those shots be efficient ones? Your guess is as good as mine. But he is a good fit for an uptempo team as a sixth man or, potentially, a fifth starter with the right defensive infrastructure around him. — Sam Vecenie

    Ht: 6-10 Wt: 265

    Lampkin took the college hoops world by storm late in the season as a fun, big-bodied post presence for Colorado. After starting his career at TCU, Lampkin moved to Boulder and had the best season of his career, averaging 10.6 points and seven rebounds per game while shooting 58 percent from the field.
    Almost all of Lampkin’s touches come around the rim, particularly on the block. He’s an absolute load down there who throws his weight around, especially against skinnier bigs. In the Buffaloes’ last 13 games, when they went 10-3, Lampkin improved his numbers to 12 points, seven rebounds and 2.4 assists per game on 63.2 percent shooting from the field. He’s sneakily a sharp passer who can find cutters when teams double-team him.

    There are downsides that other schools must consider. Lampkin couldn’t have been in a better offensive position this year, as Colorado constantly surrounded him with four shooters. Additionally, Lampkin is a poor defender who does not provide any rim protection. He’ll take up space, but Colorado’s opponents were able to parade to the hoop this season. Unsurprisingly given his body type, he’s also a liability in space, as Marquette showed in Colorado’s Round of 32 NCAA Tournament defeat. Finally, though he’s a strong passer, he can be turnover-prone when crowded.

    But teams who deploy post-centric offenses and feature rosters loaded with shooting can make Lampkin an impactful offensive starting center. He has soft touch and plays with an attitude that is infectious to his teammates. — Sam Vecenie

    Ht: 6-8 Wt: 220

    Anyone looking for a versatile big who can play both the 4 and the 5 should be intrigued by Brown-Jones, a first-team All-Southern Conference choice who originally started his career at VCU before moving down a level to Greensboro and thriving. He averaged 18.9 points and 7.5 rebounds per game last season on a good 21-win team in the league.

    Brown-Joens is a versatile big man offensively who served in a lot of roles for Greensboro. The Spartans posted him with reasonable success because he was a foul-drawing machine at the SoCon level. He has excellent hands that were always available for dump-off passes in the dunker spot, and he occasionally spotted up and fired from 3. He can act as a screener or dribble-hand-off player in ball screens, then roll all the way to the rim or pop for 3. He’s not the best passer or playmaker, but he rarely makes mistakes.

    Defensively, Brown-Jones is a bit small to control the paint at the high-major level, but was useful rotating across from the opposite side to make his presence felt. He got a bit stationary on defense at times last season, but was more active at VCU, which makes me think he’ll be a better defender as his offensive role scales down.

    There’s no doubt Brown-Jones is a high-major player, but his exact role depends on the team that gets him. — Sam Vecenie

    Ht: 6-8 Wt: 220

    Anyone looking for a versatile big who can play both the 4 and the 5 should be intrigued by Brown-Jones, a first-team All-Southern Conference choice who originally started his career at VCU before moving down a level to Greensboro and thriving. He averaged 18.9 points and 7.5 rebounds per game last season on a good 21-win team in the league.

    Brown-Joens is a versatile big man offensively who served in a lot of roles for Greensboro. The Spartans posted him with reasonable success because he was a foul-drawing machine at the SoCon level. He has excellent hands that were always available for dump-off passes in the dunker spot, and he occasionally spotted up and fired from 3. He can act as a screener or dribble-hand-off player in ball screens, then roll all the way to the rim or pop for 3. He’s not the best passer or playmaker, but he rarely makes mistakes.

    Defensively, Brown-Jones is a bit small to control the paint at the high-major level, but was useful rotating across from the opposite side to make his presence felt. He got a bit stationary on defense at times last season, but was more active at VCU, which makes me think he’ll be a better defender as his offensive role scales down.

    There’s no doubt Brown-Jones is a high-major player, but his exact role depends on the team that gets him. — Sam Vecenie

    Forward

    In portal

    UNC-Greensboro

    Ht: 6-6 Wt: 200

    Not many players can realistically call themselves the best athlete in the portal, but Copeland is one of them. He’s lightning in a bottle on a basketball court, averaging 9.6 points, 4.6 rebounds, 2.8 assists and 1.5 steals in just 22 minutes per game last season while playing some point guard and some off the ball for the Orange. He does things on the court that few can, from long hang-time finger rolls to spinning, whirling layups. His jump stops seem to cover eight feet, which is absurd.

    Copeland pairs those athletic gifts with tremendous passing ability. He reads ball screens well and throws some of the most impressive live-dribble passes you’ll ever see on a court. I’m taking 20-foot wrap-arounds into tight windows, hook passes to rollers with ease, touch lobs, sharp dump-offs and more.

    There is a wildness to his game that can be both intoxicating and frustrating for his team. He’ll turn the ball trying to do the spectacular. On top of that, he can’t really shoot. He made just 25 percent of his 3s and did not look particularly comfortable taking them in any circumstance.

    But sometimes, the lightbulb comes on in a hurry with guys this athletic and with such a natural feel for the game. If it does, he might be truly special. Maybe he merely ends up as an impact backup like he was at Syracuse. But if he hits, he’s really going to hit. — Sam Vecenie

    Ht: 6-6 Wt: 200

    Not many players can realistically call themselves the best athlete in the portal, but Copeland is one of them. He’s lightning in a bottle on a basketball court, averaging 9.6 points, 4.6 rebounds, 2.8 assists and 1.5 steals in just 22 minutes per game last season while playing some point guard and some off the ball for the Orange. He does things on the court that few can, from long hang-time finger rolls to spinning, whirling layups. His jump stops seem to cover eight feet, which is absurd.

    Copeland pairs those athletic gifts with tremendous passing ability. He reads ball screens well and throws some of the most impressive live-dribble passes you’ll ever see on a court. I’m taking 20-foot wrap-arounds into tight windows, hook passes to rollers with ease, touch lobs, sharp dump-offs and more.

    There is a wildness to his game that can be both intoxicating and frustrating for his team. He’ll turn the ball trying to do the spectacular. On top of that, he can’t really shoot. He made just 25 percent of his 3s and did not look particularly comfortable taking them in any circumstance.

    But sometimes, the lightbulb comes on in a hurry with guys this athletic and with such a natural feel for the game. If it does, he might be truly special. Maybe he merely ends up as an impact backup like he was at Syracuse. But if he hits, he’s really going to hit. — Sam Vecenie

    Ht: 5-11 Wt: 192

    Clary was Penn State’s leading scorer this season until he was dismissed from the program in February for reasons coach Mike Rhoades has kept to himself. Teams will want to do their own due diligence on what happened after Clary got elbowed in the face against Minnesota on Jan. 27. He missed the next two games and played drastically fewer minutes in the following three before Rhoades dismissed him.

    When Clary was at his best, he was a dynamic scoring guard who drilled 37.7 percent of his 3s and used the threat of his shot to attack defenses. He has a unique gift for being able to change directions with the ball while seemingly at full speed. He’s shot just 51 percent on shots at the rim in halfcourt situations, per Synergy, but makes up for his poor finishing with a dynamic floater game. He loves to get into the midrange areas for pull-up jumpers, fading away from awkward angles or using his pivot foot to create separation. He has some passing ability, as evidenced by his 3.8 assists per game, but is more of a score-first guard.

    I will note that Penn State was better without him this season. According to Bart Torvik’s rating system, Penn State was the 102nd-best team in the country as of Jan. 27 and 51st from that  point on. The biggest difference was on defense, where the team looked much more cohesive. While I wouldn’t attribute all of that improvement to Clary’s absence, he was quite ambivalent on that end of the floor.

    If he’s willing to put in the effort to defend, he’s a clear high-major difference-maker. If he prefers to be ball-dominant and less defensively inclined, schools at the AAC and Atlantic-10 level make more sense for him. He’s one of the most talented players to hit the portal this year, but must be willing to focus on the details to reach his ceiling. — Sam Vecenie

    Ht: 5-11 Wt: 192

    Clary was Penn State’s leading scorer this season until he was dismissed from the program in February for reasons coach Mike Rhoades has kept to himself. Teams will want to do their own due diligence on what happened after Clary got elbowed in the face against Minnesota on Jan. 27. He missed the next two games and played drastically fewer minutes in the following three before Rhoades dismissed him.

    When Clary was at his best, he was a dynamic scoring guard who drilled 37.7 percent of his 3s and used the threat of his shot to attack defenses. He has a unique gift for being able to change directions with the ball while seemingly at full speed. He’s shot just 51 percent on shots at the rim in halfcourt situations, per Synergy, but makes up for his poor finishing with a dynamic floater game. He loves to get into the midrange areas for pull-up jumpers, fading away from awkward angles or using his pivot foot to create separation. He has some passing ability, as evidenced by his 3.8 assists per game, but is more of a score-first guard.

    I will note that Penn State was better without him this season. According to Bart Torvik’s rating system, Penn State was the 102nd-best team in the country as of Jan. 27 and 51st from that  point on. The biggest difference was on defense, where the team looked much more cohesive. While I wouldn’t attribute all of that improvement to Clary’s absence, he was quite ambivalent on that end of the floor.

    If he’s willing to put in the effort to defend, he’s a clear high-major difference-maker. If he prefers to be ball-dominant and less defensively inclined, schools at the AAC and Atlantic-10 level make more sense for him. He’s one of the most talented players to hit the portal this year, but must be willing to focus on the details to reach his ceiling. — Sam Vecenie

    Ht: 6-4 Wt: 195

    The former Virginia Tech player has had a strange start to his collegiate career. A former top-100 recruit who played at legendary Maryland powerhouse program DeMatha Catholic, Rice was hailed as a coup for Mike Young and co., who also brought in his former DeMatha coach Mike Jones to their staff. Rice dealt with an ankle injury early in his freshman season that kept him out until January, then broke his hand after playing one game against Syracuse and missed another five weeks. Then, after Jones decided to leave Virginia Tech to become an assistant at Maryland, Rice chose not to play this season and left the Virginia Tech program.

    Rice has real upside. A combo guard who had offers from all over the place as a recruit, Rice is a crafty ballhandler, using sudden change-of-direction moves that include crossovers and spins. He’s not wildly explosive, but he uses his sharp handle to get to his spots. He’s more of a scorer than a passer and has no problem firing confident jumpers from distance when he gets even a bit of daylight.

    His odd circumstances mean, in all likelihood, he will have four seasons of eligibility left. — Sam Vecenie

    Ht: 6-4 Wt: 195

    The former Virginia Tech player has had a strange start to his collegiate career. A former top-100 recruit who played at legendary Maryland powerhouse program DeMatha Catholic, Rice was hailed as a coup for Mike Young and co., who also brought in his former DeMatha coach Mike Jones to their staff. Rice dealt with an ankle injury early in his freshman season that kept him out until January, then broke his hand after playing one game against Syracuse and missed another five weeks. Then, after Jones decided to leave Virginia Tech to become an assistant at Maryland, Rice chose not to play this season and left the Virginia Tech program.

    Rice has real upside. A combo guard who had offers from all over the place as a recruit, Rice is a crafty ballhandler, using sudden change-of-direction moves that include crossovers and spins. He’s not wildly explosive, but he uses his sharp handle to get to his spots. He’s more of a scorer than a passer and has no problem firing confident jumpers from distance when he gets even a bit of daylight.

    His odd circumstances mean, in all likelihood, he will have four seasons of eligibility left. — Sam Vecenie

    Rice will be heading to Kevin Willard’s Terps next season, even though Jones departed to become the head coach at Old Dominion. Willard succeeded for a long time at Seton Hall with combo scoring guards, whether they were purer shooters like Myles Powell, pull-up threats like Khadeen Carrington or attack-oriented drivers like Isaiah Whitehead. With last season’s starting point guard Jahmir Young departing and the rest of the backcourt cupboard bare outside of DeShawn Harris-Smith and role player Jahari Long, Rice projects as a starter next season and should help boost a Terps unit in desperate need of offensive firepower and shooting.

    — Sam Vecenie

    Guard

    Committed

    Virginia Tech

    Maryland Terrapins

    Ht: 6-3 Wt: 175

    Allette was one of the best freshman scorers in all of college hoops this season, averaging 17.4 points in 19 games in addition to 5.7 rebounds and 3.1 assists. He was considered a significant recruit for the Monarchs as one of Canada’s top-rated high school guards. However, Allette was kicked off the team in January for what interim coach Kieran Donohue referred to as “conduct unbecoming of a Monarch.” What that means is unclear, so teams will need to find out exactly what went wrong.

    When he plays, Allette is a monster driver who constantly tries to attack the basket. He’s not overly quick, but he mixes terrific deceleration with a strong frame to ward off defenders. He will need to improve his 52.2-percent shooting mark at the rim, but for a freshman, he did a good job of getting into the teeth of the defense.

    He counters that skill with stop-and-pop jumpers from mid- and 3-point range. He made 46.3 percent of his midrange pull-ups last season, per Synergy, and converted 43.6 percent of his runners, a fair number. He hit 35.4 percent of his 3s, with better numbers coming off the catch.  Even with his inefficient finishing at the rim, it’s hard to find freshmen with this much scoring and shot creation capability, even at the Sun Belt level.

    As one of the best scorers in the portal, I assume Allette ends up at a high-major school, though he has a wide range of potential outcomes considering Old Dominion was a bad team even while he was playing.  — Sam Vecenie

    Ht: 6-3 Wt: 175

    Allette was one of the best freshman scorers in all of college hoops this season, averaging 17.4 points in 19 games in addition to 5.7 rebounds and 3.1 assists. He was considered a significant recruit for the Monarchs as one of Canada’s top-rated high school guards. However, Allette was kicked off the team in January for what interim coach Kieran Donohue referred to as “conduct unbecoming of a Monarch.” What that means is unclear, so teams will need to find out exactly what went wrong.

    When he plays, Allette is a monster driver who constantly tries to attack the basket. He’s not overly quick, but he mixes terrific deceleration with a strong frame to ward off defenders. He will need to improve his 52.2-percent shooting mark at the rim, but for a freshman, he did a good job of getting into the teeth of the defense.

    He counters that skill with stop-and-pop jumpers from mid- and 3-point range. He made 46.3 percent of his midrange pull-ups last season, per Synergy, and converted 43.6 percent of his runners, a fair number. He hit 35.4 percent of his 3s, with better numbers coming off the catch.  Even with his inefficient finishing at the rim, it’s hard to find freshmen with this much scoring and shot creation capability, even at the Sun Belt level.

    As one of the best scorers in the portal, I assume Allette ends up at a high-major school, though he has a wide range of potential outcomes considering Old Dominion was a bad team even while he was playing.  — Sam Vecenie

    Guard

    In portal

    Old Dominion

    Ht: 6-4 Wt: 205

    A three-year starter at Toledo, Moss has experienced plenty of regular-season success and an equal amount of conference tournament disappointment in his career.

    In that time, Moss effectively made the leap from backcourt role player to primary option. More than half of Moss’ shot attempts this year came at the rim, and he finished at an above-average clip for a guard while drawing five free throw attempts per game. He’ll push in transition, use ball screens, or reject them to surge to the hoop. Toledo’s well-timed, sharply executed offense under Tod Kowalczyk helps Moss find driving lanes. Moss did at times overpenetrate and get into trouble underneath the rim, but he was an unselfish passer as well.

    Moss’ main issue is he’s an inconsistent shooter. It takes him a long time to load into his shot, so don’t expect him to fire much off the bounce as he moves up to a higher level. There is some scope for him to improve off the catch; his jumper isn’t completely broken and he actually made 35 percent of his catch-and-shoot 3s this year, per Synergy.

    Moss should expect to make an immediate impact for a high-major on defense. He’s aggressive at the point-of-attack, cutting off lanes using his quickness and 205-pound frame. He made the MAC All-Defensive team, and though he wasn’t the team’s primary defender against top options, he used his physicality to average 1.7 steals per game.

    I believe Moss can make an impact at a high major next season, so long as his new team does not surround him with too many non-shooters. Any team in need of rim pressure and perimeter defense should take a look. — Sam Vecenie

    Ht: 6-4 Wt: 205

    A three-year starter at Toledo, Moss has experienced plenty of regular-season success and an equal amount of conference tournament disappointment in his career.

    In that time, Moss effectively made the leap from backcourt role player to primary option. More than half of Moss’ shot attempts this year came at the rim, and he finished at an above-average clip for a guard while drawing five free throw attempts per game. He’ll push in transition, use ball screens, or reject them to surge to the hoop. Toledo’s well-timed, sharply executed offense under Tod Kowalczyk helps Moss find driving lanes. Moss did at times overpenetrate and get into trouble underneath the rim, but he was an unselfish passer as well.

    Moss’ main issue is he’s an inconsistent shooter. It takes him a long time to load into his shot, so don’t expect him to fire much off the bounce as he moves up to a higher level. There is some scope for him to improve off the catch; his jumper isn’t completely broken and he actually made 35 percent of his catch-and-shoot 3s this year, per Synergy.

    Moss should expect to make an immediate impact for a high-major on defense. He’s aggressive at the point-of-attack, cutting off lanes using his quickness and 205-pound frame. He made the MAC All-Defensive team, and though he wasn’t the team’s primary defender against top options, he used his physicality to average 1.7 steals per game.

    I believe Moss can make an impact at a high major next season, so long as his new team does not surround him with too many non-shooters. Any team in need of rim pressure and perimeter defense should take a look. — Sam Vecenie

    Ht: 6-4 Wt: 200

    Anyone in need of a scoring guard that’s been through the rigors of the SEC? What’s that? Everyone could use that? That’s good news for Lawrence, who averaged 13.8 points this season in his second year as a full-time starter at Vanderbilt.

    The lefty guard loves to drive to the rim, where his strong 200-pound frame allows him to score through contact. His mechanics loading into his shot are slow, but he did at least attempt about four 3s per game. He has good length and the frame to impact games on defense, but was less consistent than you’d expect on that end. Sometimes he really brings it. Other times, his energy was a bit lacking.

    He’s an ideal third guard for a high-major NCAA Tournament team. He’s older, has more of a track record and possessed a flair for the dramatic at Vandy with a couple of game-winners.  — Sam Vecenie

    Ht: 6-4 Wt: 200

    Anyone in need of a scoring guard that’s been through the rigors of the SEC? What’s that? Everyone could use that? That’s good news for Lawrence, who averaged 13.8 points this season in his second year as a full-time starter at Vanderbilt.

    The lefty guard loves to drive to the rim, where his strong 200-pound frame allows him to score through contact. His mechanics loading into his shot are slow, but he did at least attempt about four 3s per game. He has good length and the frame to impact games on defense, but was less consistent than you’d expect on that end. Sometimes he really brings it. Other times, his energy was a bit lacking.

    He’s an ideal third guard for a high-major NCAA Tournament team. He’s older, has more of a track record and possessed a flair for the dramatic at Vandy with a couple of game-winners.  — Sam Vecenie

    Ht: 6-5Wt: 150

    Overton started every game this season for a Drake team that won 28 games and pushed Washington State in the first round of the NCAA Tournament before ultimately falling. The first-year player averaged 11.3 points and 3.3 rebounds per game and was the second-leading freshman scorer in the Missouri Valley. His job was pretty simple: Spot up around Tucker DeVries and Atin Wright in halfcourt situations and attack in transition when given the opportunity. He can finish with both hands around the rim and looked the part athletically against some tough teams.

    His release is a bit funky out in front of his face, but his shot preparation is excellent. He had some intriguing relocation moments against heavy closeouts, but for the most part, his new team will want him to either catch and shoot, or catch and attack the rim.

    With Drake coach Darian DeVries heading to West Virginia, it’s no surprise Overton is leaving. The question now is whether Overton follows his coach to Morgantown.  — Sam Vecenie

    Ht: 6-5Wt: 150

    Overton started every game this season for a Drake team that won 28 games and pushed Washington State in the first round of the NCAA Tournament before ultimately falling. The first-year player averaged 11.3 points and 3.3 rebounds per game and was the second-leading freshman scorer in the Missouri Valley. His job was pretty simple: Spot up around Tucker DeVries and Atin Wright in halfcourt situations and attack in transition when given the opportunity. He can finish with both hands around the rim and looked the part athletically against some tough teams.

    His release is a bit funky out in front of his face, but his shot preparation is excellent. He had some intriguing relocation moments against heavy closeouts, but for the most part, his new team will want him to either catch and shoot, or catch and attack the rim.

    With Drake coach Darian DeVries heading to West Virginia, it’s no surprise Overton is leaving. The question now is whether Overton follows his coach to Morgantown.  — Sam Vecenie

    Ht: 6-2 Wt: 175

    The Pac-12 Sixth Man of the Year took a big leap this season, nearly doubling his scoring output to 11.1 points per game simply by becoming more efficient.

    An undersized scoring guard, Johnson is going to get the ball and go. If he sees an opening off the catch or a screen, he’ll attack the rack. If his defender goes behind a dribble hand-off, he’ll stop and fire without a second thought. If he catches the ball and has a window to shoot, the ball is going up. He occasionally shows patience as a driver and can throw sharp passes; he had a fun chemistry with rim-running big Braxton Meah against bench units when Meah wasn’t starting. But he’s a scorer, through and through.

    With Mike Hopkins fired, Johnson will look for a new home where he can continue to do his thing. — Sam Vecenie

    Ht: 6-2 Wt: 175

    The Pac-12 Sixth Man of the Year took a big leap this season, nearly doubling his scoring output to 11.1 points per game simply by becoming more efficient.

    An undersized scoring guard, Johnson is going to get the ball and go. If he sees an opening off the catch or a screen, he’ll attack the rack. If his defender goes behind a dribble hand-off, he’ll stop and fire without a second thought. If he catches the ball and has a window to shoot, the ball is going up. He occasionally shows patience as a driver and can throw sharp passes; he had a fun chemistry with rim-running big Braxton Meah against bench units when Meah wasn’t starting. But he’s a scorer, through and through.

    With Mike Hopkins fired, Johnson will look for a new home where he can continue to do his thing. — Sam Vecenie

    Ht: 6-4 Wt: 180

    I thought Essegian was primed to be one of the Big 10’s breakout players last season. He was an All-Freshman selection in 2022-23 after averaging 11.7 points and hitting 36 percent of his nearly 200 3-point attempts, and was even better in conference play.

    But something was clearly amiss in Madison this season. Essegian tried playing through an early back injury, and his performances weren’t nearly of the caliber we saw last season. Already a rough defensive player under the best of circumstances, Essegian’s back injury made him even slower on that end. Ultimately, he lost his rotation spot on the team, with coach Greg Gard saying the team didn’t have time to let Essegian work through his defensive miscues or get back into game shape.

    Essegian would certainly benefit from a change in scenery. The Fort Wayne native remains an immensely gifted offensive player and would fit in well at a school like Connecticut or Purdue, who both run off-ball actions for shooters. — Sam Vecenie

    Ht: 6-4 Wt: 180

    I thought Essegian was primed to be one of the Big 10’s breakout players last season. He was an All-Freshman selection in 2022-23 after averaging 11.7 points and hitting 36 percent of his nearly 200 3-point attempts, and was even better in conference play.

    But something was clearly amiss in Madison this season. Essegian tried playing through an early back injury, and his performances weren’t nearly of the caliber we saw last season. Already a rough defensive player under the best of circumstances, Essegian’s back injury made him even slower on that end. Ultimately, he lost his rotation spot on the team, with coach Greg Gard saying the team didn’t have time to let Essegian work through his defensive miscues or get back into game shape.

    Essegian would certainly benefit from a change in scenery. The Fort Wayne native remains an immensely gifted offensive player and would fit in well at a school like Connecticut or Purdue, who both run off-ball actions for shooters. — Sam Vecenie

    Ht: 6-10 Wt: 220

    Cohen, the NEC Player of the Year at Saint Francis (PA) in 2022-23, made a smart next step up last season. Instead of transferring to the highest level possible, he moved from a low major to a upper-tier mid major in UMass, where his game profiled wonderfully. He averaged 15.9 points and 6.8 rebounds per game while earning first-team All-Atlantic-10 honors.

    Cohen has great touch around the rim with both hands. He makes more shots from awkward angles than anyone I can remember, including weird fadeaway hook and flip shots through contact from all over the paint. His footwork is terrific, he seems to catch every pass from his guards and creates extra possessions on the offensive glass. He can occasionally step out and shoot 3s, but is more comfortable passing from up top.

    There are some athletic questions as he moves up again to play against bigs with more length. He isn’t explosive, so his game is built entirely on crafty footwork and angles. I don’t think he’d fare well in the super athletic leagues like the SEC or Big 12. But he could duplicate the season Josh Oduro, a multi-time All-Atlantic-10 player, had at Providence this season.

    He has the upside to be a starting big man, but there is a bit more downside than there would be with some other options.  — Sam Vecenie

    Ht: 6-10 Wt: 220

    Cohen, the NEC Player of the Year at Saint Francis (PA) in 2022-23, made a smart next step up last season. Instead of transferring to the highest level possible, he moved from a low major to a upper-tier mid major in UMass, where his game profiled wonderfully. He averaged 15.9 points and 6.8 rebounds per game while earning first-team All-Atlantic-10 honors.

    Cohen has great touch around the rim with both hands. He makes more shots from awkward angles than anyone I can remember, including weird fadeaway hook and flip shots through contact from all over the paint. His footwork is terrific, he seems to catch every pass from his guards and creates extra possessions on the offensive glass. He can occasionally step out and shoot 3s, but is more comfortable passing from up top.

    There are some athletic questions as he moves up again to play against bigs with more length. He isn’t explosive, so his game is built entirely on crafty footwork and angles. I don’t think he’d fare well in the super athletic leagues like the SEC or Big 12. But he could duplicate the season Josh Oduro, a multi-time All-Atlantic-10 player, had at Providence this season.

    He has the upside to be a starting big man, but there is a bit more downside than there would be with some other options.  — Sam Vecenie

    Ht: 7-1 Wt: 215

    Honestly, ranking Evans on a list like this is a fool’s errand. Originally a top-30 recruit in the 2023 class, Evans was seen as a project with enormous upside due to his size and length. He was arguably the best shot-blocking prospect in his class and his growth trajectory over his last 18 months in high school was meteoric.

    However, Evans only played in seven games and 64 minutes all season and was deemed “no longer medically cleared” to play for Louisville in January. The circumstances regarding that designation remain mysterious, and while 247Sports’ Eric Bossi reports that Evans will be “good to go” at his next school, I suspect schools will need to dive deep into his health before pursuing him.

    If Evans is cleared, he’ll still probably require at least another year to reach his potential. So let’s put him somewhere in the middle of these rankings given the complexity of his situation. — Sam Vecenie

    Ht: 7-1 Wt: 215

    Honestly, ranking Evans on a list like this is a fool’s errand. Originally a top-30 recruit in the 2023 class, Evans was seen as a project with enormous upside due to his size and length. He was arguably the best shot-blocking prospect in his class and his growth trajectory over his last 18 months in high school was meteoric.

    However, Evans only played in seven games and 64 minutes all season and was deemed “no longer medically cleared” to play for Louisville in January. The circumstances regarding that designation remain mysterious, and while 247Sports’ Eric Bossi reports that Evans will be “good to go” at his next school, I suspect schools will need to dive deep into his health before pursuing him.

    If Evans is cleared, he’ll still probably require at least another year to reach his potential. So let’s put him somewhere in the middle of these rankings given the complexity of his situation. — Sam Vecenie

    Center

    In portal

    Louisville

    Ht: 6-2Wt: 196

    Joseph was a backcourt starter on what might be the most disappointing team in Miami basketball history. The Hurricanes entered the year with high expectations, but ultimately floundered and ended up losing their final 10 games of the season.

    For his part, Joseph is a bigger-bodied 6-foot-1 guard who uses his frame well and penetrates the paint with a slower, more deliberate style. I like him best as a passer, where he can hit his rollers and kickout passes at a solid level.

    More than that, he does two things well. First, he knocks down shots off the catch, using his smooth lefty stroke to knock down 37.9 percent of his 3s over his career. Second, Joseph is a tough defender; while Miami’s defense as a whole was pretty bad, I thought Joseph generally brought it on the ball.

    Teams shouldn’t want Joseph to be their primary initiator, but his defense, passing and shooting should scale up well for teams who already have a primary playmaker. I like him as a third guard next year for a good team. — Sam Vecenie

    Ht: 6-2Wt: 196

    Joseph was a backcourt starter on what might be the most disappointing team in Miami basketball history. The Hurricanes entered the year with high expectations, but ultimately floundered and ended up losing their final 10 games of the season.

    For his part, Joseph is a bigger-bodied 6-foot-1 guard who uses his frame well and penetrates the paint with a slower, more deliberate style. I like him best as a passer, where he can hit his rollers and kickout passes at a solid level.

    More than that, he does two things well. First, he knocks down shots off the catch, using his smooth lefty stroke to knock down 37.9 percent of his 3s over his career. Second, Joseph is a tough defender; while Miami’s defense as a whole was pretty bad, I thought Joseph generally brought it on the ball.

    Teams shouldn’t want Joseph to be their primary initiator, but his defense, passing and shooting should scale up well for teams who already have a primary playmaker. I like him as a third guard next year for a good team. — Sam Vecenie

    Guard

    In portal

    Miami (Fla.)

    Ht: 6-8 Wt: 210

    Crews’ path is well-worn at this point. He played for North Florida for two seasons, transferred down to the junior college level, then came back up to UT Martin. A first-team All-Ohio Valley Conference player this season, he averaged 19.1 points and eight rebounds per  game to carry the Skyhawks to a tie for first place in the regular season.

    Crews’ touch is his key skill. He drilled 41 percent of his nearly seven 3-point attempts per game and moves well without the ball. He scored a lot of points as a driver in the low-major OVC, but I’m skeptical he can duplicate that at higher levels. He doesn’t have a great first step or a particularly shifty game off the bounce. The best way to use him is to run him off screens or use his shooting gravity to space the floor for teammates.

    His shooting makes him a starter at the high-major level. — Sam Vecenie

    Ht: 6-8 Wt: 210

    Crews’ path is well-worn at this point. He played for North Florida for two seasons, transferred down to the junior college level, then came back up to UT Martin. A first-team All-Ohio Valley Conference player this season, he averaged 19.1 points and eight rebounds per  game to carry the Skyhawks to a tie for first place in the regular season.

    Crews’ touch is his key skill. He drilled 41 percent of his nearly seven 3-point attempts per game and moves well without the ball. He scored a lot of points as a driver in the low-major OVC, but I’m skeptical he can duplicate that at higher levels. He doesn’t have a great first step or a particularly shifty game off the bounce. The best way to use him is to run him off screens or use his shooting gravity to space the floor for teammates.

    His shooting makes him a starter at the high-major level. — Sam Vecenie

    Missouri went 0-18 in the SEC last season and shot just 30.4 percent from distance in conference play, so you can see why they need a player like Crews. He also should help on the defensive glass, where the Tigers were nothing short of a calamity this season. I don’t think Crews is the all-SEC-level talent the Tigers need, but he will certainly help them next season.

    — Sam Vecenie

    Wing

    Committed

    UT Martin

    Missouri Tigers

    Ht: 6-2 Wt: 190

    A three-year starter at Charleston, Smith is one of the best shooters available in the portal. The 6-foot-2 guard is an absolute sniper. His 12.8 points per game may not look impressive, but Charleston’s scheme tends to spread the ball around.

    The lefty has a smooth stroke using a sort of set shot that is easily repeatable. The Cougars played quickly under Pat Kelsey, so opponents were absolutely dead if they lost Smith in transition. But Smith can drill shots off ball-screens or dribble hand-offs when defenders go under, or by realigning himself in midair when running through off-ball picks. Kelsey even occasionally used Smith as a screener in creative 1-2 ball screens, popping Smith into wide open 3s. By the way, Smith can also spot up five feet behind the college 3-point line. He made 39.4 percent of his 3s this year, but those were high-degree-of-difficulty shots.

    Smith hit the portal on the same day Kelsey departed for Louisville, and it’s possible he follows his head coach. But Smith could also start at a number of other high-major schools that need floor-spacing. — Sam Vecenie

    Ht: 6-3 Wt: 195

    Parker’s game should translate nicely to the high-major level. The leading scorer for Saint Louis this season, Parker’s game has some old-man qualities. He doesn’t have a ton of burst, but he’s crafty with his footwork and handle to separate from his man, particularly in ball-screens, where he knows how to use his body to keep his man in jail. Right when you think he’s about to attack, he’ll stop in the midrange and fire, or step back and drill a 3.

    In averaging 15.9 points per game, Parker made 55 percent of his pull-up midrange jumpers, per Synergy. He only averaged one pull-up 3 per game, but hit those at a 42 percent clip in addition to his 40-percent mark on catch-and-shoot 3s.

    There are complications. For one, he’s a ball screen guard that hasn’t displayed much passing skill yet. For another, it’s hard to overstate how little he defended this season. He also dealt with a foot injury this season that kept him in and out of the lineup.

    But his scoring skills are serious enough that any team with a ball screen-centric offense should take a serious look at him.  — Sam Vecenie

    Ht: 6-3 Wt: 195

    Parker’s game should translate nicely to the high-major level. The leading scorer for Saint Louis this season, Parker’s game has some old-man qualities. He doesn’t have a ton of burst, but he’s crafty with his footwork and handle to separate from his man, particularly in ball-screens, where he knows how to use his body to keep his man in jail. Right when you think he’s about to attack, he’ll stop in the midrange and fire, or step back and drill a 3.

    In averaging 15.9 points per game, Parker made 55 percent of his pull-up midrange jumpers, per Synergy. He only averaged one pull-up 3 per game, but hit those at a 42 percent clip in addition to his 40-percent mark on catch-and-shoot 3s.

    There are complications. For one, he’s a ball screen guard that hasn’t displayed much passing skill yet. For another, it’s hard to overstate how little he defended this season. He also dealt with a foot injury this season that kept him in and out of the lineup.

    But his scoring skills are serious enough that any team with a ball screen-centric offense should take a serious look at him.  — Sam Vecenie

    Guard

    In portal

    Saint Louis

    Ht: 6-4 Wt: 185

    Like many of the great Mid-American Conference guards available in the portal this season, Hill’s biggest strength is attacking the rim. The junior college transfer might be the most downhill-centric of the bunch, as he averaged nearly 10 shots at the rim per game for Bowling Green this season, per Synergy. Despite not possessing a lightning-quick first step, Hill seems to have a supernatural ability to navigate driving lanes and elude traffic to find the right little crease to get to the basket.

    That skill enabled Hill to average 20.5 points, five rebounds, and 3.6 assists per game while shooting 44.3 percent from the field. Truth be told, Hill was just an average finisher for a guard, but made up for it by generating 6.4 free-throw attempts per game. Hill’s style served him well in the MAC, enabling him to earn a first-team all-conference honor.

    His counters are less impressive. He tends to pull-up from the elbow as opposed to from 3, where he made just 28.9 percent of his attempts. His catch-and-shoot 3-point metrics weren’t much better, either.

    Considering his shooting deficiencies, I’m worried about his game translating to higher levels. He’d need to find a team that can space the floor exceedingly well to facilitate his driving skill. They do exist, and it’s possible he finds one. But his success will depend more on his new team than it would for many of the other guards in the portal. — Sam Vecenie

    Guard

    In portal

    Bowling Green

    Ht: 6-5 Wt: 185

    A two-year starter at Mount St. Mary’s, Leffew took an enormous leap forward this season. Though he didn’t win MAAC Player of the Year, he had a real case as the best player in the conference this season. He averaged 17.6 points, 4.3 rebounds, 3.9 assists and 1.5 steals per game while drilling 36.5 percent of his nearly seven 3-point attempts per game.

    Whereas Leffew largely fired off the catch last season, his off-the-dribble game exploded in 2023-24. In 2022-23, about 75 percent of Leffew’s 3s came off the catch. This season, his split of 3s off the catch and the dribble was about 50-50. His form is similar to Memphis Grizzlies wing Desmond Bane, in that it’s almost a set shot off the bounce that comes off his shoulder. He can get into his motion from almost any angle and with any footwork pattern.

    Leffew also expanded his game off the bounce beyond just scoring. Mount St. Mary’s used him more as a primary ballhandler this year, and he blossomed in ball screens and as a live-dribble passer. He knows how to snake screens and find open areas, using his body to keep the defender in jail or step back into an open 3. His wasn’t especially efficient because he ended up having to create a lot of shots for his team, though a high major could improve that by downscaling his role.

    He might fit better as a high-level backup than a starter, depending on his situation.  — Sam Vecenie

    Ht: 6-5 Wt: 185

    A two-year starter at Mount St. Mary’s, Leffew took an enormous leap forward this season. Though he didn’t win MAAC Player of the Year, he had a real case as the best player in the conference this season. He averaged 17.6 points, 4.3 rebounds, 3.9 assists and 1.5 steals per game while drilling 36.5 percent of his nearly seven 3-point attempts per game.

    Whereas Leffew largely fired off the catch last season, his off-the-dribble game exploded in 2023-24. In 2022-23, about 75 percent of Leffew’s 3s came off the catch. This season, his split of 3s off the catch and the dribble was about 50-50. His form is similar to Memphis Grizzlies wing Desmond Bane, in that it’s almost a set shot off the bounce that comes off his shoulder. He can get into his motion from almost any angle and with any footwork pattern.

    Leffew also expanded his game off the bounce beyond just scoring. Mount St. Mary’s used him more as a primary ballhandler this year, and he blossomed in ball screens and as a live-dribble passer. He knows how to snake screens and find open areas, using his body to keep the defender in jail or step back into an open 3. His wasn’t especially efficient because he ended up having to create a lot of shots for his team, though a high major could improve that by downscaling his role.

    He might fit better as a high-level backup than a starter, depending on his situation.  — Sam Vecenie

    Wing

    In portal

    Mount St. Mary’s

    Ht: 6-5 Wt: 185

    Mallette is an intriguing eye-of-the-beholder player. On one hand, he’s a terrific shooter who drilled 38.2 percent of his 3s in his first season, then improved to 41.5 percent on five attempts per game this past season. Mallette has legitimate range that stretches beyond the college 3-point line.

    However, he’s started to operate a lot more in the midrange area the last two years despite not being a good enough separator to make those shots consistently. He hit just 42 percent of his midrange jumpers this year, and many of those were tough looks. He also doesn’t finish well at the rim and is more of a score-first option than a playmaker for others. On top of that, he wasn’t particularly good at staying in front of his man on defense.

    Whichever team gets Mallette should limit him to spacing the floor, attacking closeouts and running in transition. He should get up at least seven 3s per game instead of mixing those shots with midrange jumpers. They’ll also need to improve his defense, because he has a long way to go. But in the right role, he can be an effective high-major player. — Sam Vecenie

    Ht: 6-5 Wt: 185

    Mallette is an intriguing eye-of-the-beholder player. On one hand, he’s a terrific shooter who drilled 38.2 percent of his 3s in his first season, then improved to 41.5 percent on five attempts per game this past season. Mallette has legitimate range that stretches beyond the college 3-point line.

    However, he’s started to operate a lot more in the midrange area the last two years despite not being a good enough separator to make those shots consistently. He hit just 42 percent of his midrange jumpers this year, and many of those were tough looks. He also doesn’t finish well at the rim and is more of a score-first option than a playmaker for others. On top of that, he wasn’t particularly good at staying in front of his man on defense.

    Whichever team gets Mallette should limit him to spacing the floor, attacking closeouts and running in transition. He should get up at least seven 3s per game instead of mixing those shots with midrange jumpers. They’ll also need to improve his defense, because he has a long way to go. But in the right role, he can be an effective high-major player. — Sam Vecenie

    It’s perfect on offense, so long as Mallette does not expect to be anything more than a floor spacer and off-ball player, Alabama loves players who can step into their scheme and spread the court for their guards. I’m worried about him defensively in the SEC, but he’s a solid first get in the transfer portal.

    — Sam Vecenie

    Wing

    Committed

    Pepperdine

    Alabama Crimson Tide

    Ht: 6-10 Wt: 225

    Brzović’s play from the post was a huge key in Charleston winning the CAA regular season and conference tournament to earn a second-straight NCAA Tournament bid. He does a significant amount of his damage on the interior, with about 60 percent of his shots coming at the rim and another 20 percent coming on his favored lefty hook shots over his right shoulder. He doesn’t have a ton of lift, but he uses up-fakes, his right hip and right shoulder to create a little bit of separation before going up and finishing. Brzović will occasionally pick-and-pop for 3s or spot up from the wings and corners, but he’s made just 26.6 percent of his 177 3-point attempts in his two years. I’m also skeptical of his defensive rim protection at the next level and think of him more as an undersized 5 than a scheme-versatile 4.

    I see him as a useful third big at the high-major level with the ability to pinch hit as a starter. — Sam Vecenie

    Ht: 6-10 Wt: 225

    Brzović’s play from the post was a huge key in Charleston winning the CAA regular season and conference tournament to earn a second-straight NCAA Tournament bid. He does a significant amount of his damage on the interior, with about 60 percent of his shots coming at the rim and another 20 percent coming on his favored lefty hook shots over his right shoulder. He doesn’t have a ton of lift, but he uses up-fakes, his right hip and right shoulder to create a little bit of separation before going up and finishing. Brzović will occasionally pick-and-pop for 3s or spot up from the wings and corners, but he’s made just 26.6 percent of his 177 3-point attempts in his two years. I’m also skeptical of his defensive rim protection at the next level and think of him more as an undersized 5 than a scheme-versatile 4.

    I see him as a useful third big at the high-major level with the ability to pinch hit as a starter. — Sam Vecenie

    Center

    In portal

    Charleston

    Ht: 6-7 Wt: 205

    White was a late transfer last season who surprisingly decided to leave USC after an impressive freshman season in which his modest production (nine points and five rebounds per game) belied his remarkable defensive versatility across multiple positions. At Louisville, White did basically the same thing on offense while strangely providing none of the defense that made him such an effective player at USC. I’m genuinely not sure what happened. His effort level wasn’t there regularly, particularly in transition defense. Maybe he was just a poor fit with Kenny Payne’s coaching style. But he needs to get back to the level he previously showed.

    Offensively, White is largely a slasher and cutter who struggles to shoot the ball — though he actually made 36 percent of his spot-up 3s, per Synergy. He doesn’t have a monster first step, but he has long strides and a big, physical frame that defenders bounce off. He’ll typically try to shoot if his drive is aborted, but he only made 39 percent of his pull-up midrange shots this year, which isn’t good enough. Unless White can drastically improve as a shooter, he’s not a good enough offensive player to give the kind of defensive effort he gave this season.

    Maybe a new coach will serve as a wake-up call. White is certainly talented enough to be a high-major starter for the next two years. But he won’t be one if the defense doesn’t return. — Sam Vecenie

    Ht: 6-10 Wt: 225

    Anderson is one of the more interesting names in the portal. He was one of the more fun freshmen in college basketball this season. A legitimate 6-foot-9 floor-spacer with a shot that will translate at any level, Anderson averaged 14.5 points, 3.7 rebounds and 1.5 assists per game this season on his way to winning the Atlantic Sun Freshman of the Year award.

    Anderson is an absolute gunner from distance. He drilled 38.1 percent of his nearly 200 3-point attempts, and will fire off hand-offs if teams go under, as a trailer in transition or off relocations lifting from the corner to the wing. He even occasionally hits shots off direct screening actions. His shot preparation is elite and he’s always ready to catch and fire when the opportunity comes.

    The rest of his game needs some work. He needs to get tougher on the interior, become a better rebounder and improve his defense. But it’s exceptionally hard to find a forward this big with his shooting ability. If he was willing to come off the bench for a year as the rest of his game develops, a high major should get in the Anderson business. If he wants more immediate playing time, teams in the Mountain West or Atlantic-10 probably make the most sense for now.

    Either way, Anderson is a player worth tracking, and has three years of eligibility still to come. — Sam Vecenie

    Ht: 6-10 Wt: 225

    Anderson is one of the more interesting names in the portal. He was one of the more fun freshmen in college basketball this season. A legitimate 6-foot-9 floor-spacer with a shot that will translate at any level, Anderson averaged 14.5 points, 3.7 rebounds and 1.5 assists per game this season on his way to winning the Atlantic Sun Freshman of the Year award.

    Anderson is an absolute gunner from distance. He drilled 38.1 percent of his nearly 200 3-point attempts, and will fire off hand-offs if teams go under, as a trailer in transition or off relocations lifting from the corner to the wing. He even occasionally hits shots off direct screening actions. His shot preparation is elite and he’s always ready to catch and fire when the opportunity comes.

    The rest of his game needs some work. He needs to get tougher on the interior, become a better rebounder and improve his defense. But it’s exceptionally hard to find a forward this big with his shooting ability. If he was willing to come off the bench for a year as the rest of his game develops, a high major should get in the Anderson business. If he wants more immediate playing time, teams in the Mountain West or Atlantic-10 probably make the most sense for now.

    Either way, Anderson is a player worth tracking, and has three years of eligibility still to come. — Sam Vecenie

    Forward

    In portal

    Central Arkansas

    Ht: 6-1Wt: 185

    Wright transferred to Drake after spending three seasons at Cal-State Northridge, where he averaged 16.7 points per game as a junior. This season, Wright started every game as Drake marched to the Missouri Valley Tournament title and 28 wins. He was the second-leading scorer on the team, sharing his lead responsibilities with Missouri Valley Player of the Year Tucker DeVries.

    Wright is a speedy, tough guard who can drive and accepts contact well enough to finish in the paint. He essentially played as an off-ball scorer last season, making 41 percent of his nearly five 3-point attempts per game. He’s always been more of a scorer than a passing point guard, so he will need to share lead guard duties as he did last season. But he’s clearly a high-major player who can either work as the first guard off the bench or in a three-guard alignment like Drake used.

    Wright’s coach, Darian DeVries, is moving to West Virginia, so it’ll be interesting to see if Wright follows.  — Sam Vecenie

    Ht: 6-1Wt: 185

    Wright transferred to Drake after spending three seasons at Cal-State Northridge, where he averaged 16.7 points per game as a junior. This season, Wright started every game as Drake marched to the Missouri Valley Tournament title and 28 wins. He was the second-leading scorer on the team, sharing his lead responsibilities with Missouri Valley Player of the Year Tucker DeVries.

    Wright is a speedy, tough guard who can drive and accepts contact well enough to finish in the paint. He essentially played as an off-ball scorer last season, making 41 percent of his nearly five 3-point attempts per game. He’s always been more of a scorer than a passing point guard, so he will need to share lead guard duties as he did last season. But he’s clearly a high-major player who can either work as the first guard off the bench or in a three-guard alignment like Drake used.

    Wright’s coach, Darian DeVries, is moving to West Virginia, so it’ll be interesting to see if Wright follows.  — Sam Vecenie

    Ht: 6-1 Wt: 170

    Slajchert made second-team All-Ivy League this past season and has continued to improve over his time in college. After hitting 35 percent of his 3s over his first two seasons at Penn, Slajchert morphed into a lights-out shooter in 2023-24, making 42.2 percent of his 6.1 attempts per game. His shot takes a bit of time to get off, so I’m skeptical he’ll duplicate that percentage at high levels with longer opponents closing out on him. But he’s the kind of guy opponents certainly have to stay attached to on the perimeter. Slajchert also has a killer floater game and is generally effective from the court’s in-between areas.

    The other good indicators are Slajchert’s big games against better conference opponents last season. He dropped 17 against Kentucky, 27 against St. Joe’s, 21 against Belmont and 33 against La Salle last season. As a sophomore, he scored 21 against Missouri, 20 against West Virginia, and 18 against St. Joseph’s.

    More of a combo than a point guard, the Los Angeles-area native would fit on any number of West Coast schools who could use a knockdown shooter. — Sam Vecenie 

    Ht: 6-1 Wt: 170

    Slajchert made second-team All-Ivy League this past season and has continued to improve over his time in college. After hitting 35 percent of his 3s over his first two seasons at Penn, Slajchert morphed into a lights-out shooter in 2023-24, making 42.2 percent of his 6.1 attempts per game. His shot takes a bit of time to get off, so I’m skeptical he’ll duplicate that percentage at high levels with longer opponents closing out on him. But he’s the kind of guy opponents certainly have to stay attached to on the perimeter. Slajchert also has a killer floater game and is generally effective from the court’s in-between areas.

    The other good indicators are Slajchert’s big games against better conference opponents last season. He dropped 17 against Kentucky, 27 against St. Joe’s, 21 against Belmont and 33 against La Salle last season. As a sophomore, he scored 21 against Missouri, 20 against West Virginia, and 18 against St. Joseph’s.

    More of a combo than a point guard, the Los Angeles-area native would fit on any number of West Coast schools who could use a knockdown shooter. — Sam Vecenie 

    Ht: 6-5 Wt: 200

    James should leave Louisville with his head held high as the only player to start every game of the infamous Kenny Payne era. A former four-star recruit who missed his first season due to an Achilles injury, James played with real effort and exhibited a phenomenal attitude through the program’s difficult times.

    James drove and cut often to the rim in an attempt to get downhill, which resulted in him averaging nearly five free throws per game over his tenure. He also knocked down shots off while running baseline to baseline a reasonable amount of the time. He was more efficient as a freshman before experiencing a downturn as a sophomore, though he did average 12.6 points and five rebounds this season.

    Honestly, I believe in James as a shooter and I believe in him working hard. Those qualities at least make him a rotation player at the high-major level. — Sam Vecenie 

    Ht: 6-5 Wt: 200

    James should leave Louisville with his head held high as the only player to start every game of the infamous Kenny Payne era. A former four-star recruit who missed his first season due to an Achilles injury, James played with real effort and exhibited a phenomenal attitude through the program’s difficult times.

    James drove and cut often to the rim in an attempt to get downhill, which resulted in him averaging nearly five free throws per game over his tenure. He also knocked down shots off while running baseline to baseline a reasonable amount of the time. He was more efficient as a freshman before experiencing a downturn as a sophomore, though he did average 12.6 points and five rebounds this season.

    Honestly, I believe in James as a shooter and I believe in him working hard. Those qualities at least make him a rotation player at the high-major level. — Sam Vecenie 

    Ht: 5-11 Wt: 185

    A small scoring guard, Sears is a two-time first-team All-OVC pick and a two-time All-OVC Tournament player. He’s a big-time shot creator who uses quick-twitch moves to get into the midrange and toward the rim, though I’m skeptical if those skills will translate to the next level. Sears made just 46.7 percent of his shots at the rim, 38 percent of his floaters and only 33 percent of his midrange jumpers, per Synergy, despite playing against the 328th-ranked strength of schedule in the country.

    Sears actually thrived as a 3-point shooter this season, something he’d struggled with in the past. In his first three seasons in college, Sears made just 30.8 percent of his 3s. This season, that number spiked to 43.2 percent on nearly six attempts per game. His motion looks clean and he has a quick release that allows him to get attempts off despite his size. He seemed to succeed most with relocation catch-and-shoot attempts, but also displayed an ability to make pull-ups going to either side. I believe in his shot coming up multiple levels; honestly, his makes are too pure.

    Sears is good enough to play at a high major, though it’s unclear if his best role is as a starter or off the bench for an NCAA Tournament-quality team.  — Sam Vecenie 

    Ht: 5-11 Wt: 185

    A small scoring guard, Sears is a two-time first-team All-OVC pick and a two-time All-OVC Tournament player. He’s a big-time shot creator who uses quick-twitch moves to get into the midrange and toward the rim, though I’m skeptical if those skills will translate to the next level. Sears made just 46.7 percent of his shots at the rim, 38 percent of his floaters and only 33 percent of his midrange jumpers, per Synergy, despite playing against the 328th-ranked strength of schedule in the country.

    Sears actually thrived as a 3-point shooter this season, something he’d struggled with in the past. In his first three seasons in college, Sears made just 30.8 percent of his 3s. This season, that number spiked to 43.2 percent on nearly six attempts per game. His motion looks clean and he has a quick release that allows him to get attempts off despite his size. He seemed to succeed most with relocation catch-and-shoot attempts, but also displayed an ability to make pull-ups going to either side. I believe in his shot coming up multiple levels; honestly, his makes are too pure.

    Sears is good enough to play at a high major, though it’s unclear if his best role is as a starter or off the bench for an NCAA Tournament-quality team.  — Sam Vecenie 

    Ht: 6-3 Wt: 205

    It’s tough to be more traveled than Clark is at this point of his early basketball career. Clark went to four high schools, committed to Kentucky, then decommitted in March of 2022 before he was slated to attend. He chose to go to Illinois instead, where he started 12 early season games before taking a leave of absence and hitting the transfer portal prior to this season. Now, he enters the portal again following the firing of Kenny Payne.

    More of a scoring guard than a distributor, Clark closed the season well for Louisville, averaging 14.5 points on 51.3 percent from the field and 45 percent from 3 over his last eight games. His 12-game stretch before that was miserable, as he averaged 9.5 points and shot just 34.2 percent from the field.

    I think Clark is better suited to be an intriguing off-ball option than a ball-dominant point guard. He doesn’t have enough shake or explosiveness to break down defenders at a high level, but he’s confident as a shooter and has good instincts for generating open looks. He made 41.4 percent of his catch-and-shoot 3s, and I think his shot looks clean. The issue is when he tries to do anything more with the ball; he made just 46.7 percent of his shots at the rim and just 28.1 percent of his pull-up 3s, per Synergy. It would really help him to move off the ball even more so he doesn’t have to worry about getting others involved.

    Clark can be a scorer for a high major, but I don’t think his decision-making and ability to break down defenders is good enough to give him the ball as more than a secondary player. — Sam Vecenie 

    Ht: 6-3 Wt: 205

    It’s tough to be more traveled than Clark is at this point of his early basketball career. Clark went to four high schools, committed to Kentucky, then decommitted in March of 2022 before he was slated to attend. He chose to go to Illinois instead, where he started 12 early season games before taking a leave of absence and hitting the transfer portal prior to this season. Now, he enters the portal again following the firing of Kenny Payne.

    More of a scoring guard than a distributor, Clark closed the season well for Louisville, averaging 14.5 points on 51.3 percent from the field and 45 percent from 3 over his last eight games. His 12-game stretch before that was miserable, as he averaged 9.5 points and shot just 34.2 percent from the field.

    I think Clark is better suited to be an intriguing off-ball option than a ball-dominant point guard. He doesn’t have enough shake or explosiveness to break down defenders at a high level, but he’s confident as a shooter and has good instincts for generating open looks. He made 41.4 percent of his catch-and-shoot 3s, and I think his shot looks clean. The issue is when he tries to do anything more with the ball; he made just 46.7 percent of his shots at the rim and just 28.1 percent of his pull-up 3s, per Synergy. It would really help him to move off the ball even more so he doesn’t have to worry about getting others involved.

    Clark can be a scorer for a high major, but I don’t think his decision-making and ability to break down defenders is good enough to give him the ball as more than a secondary player. — Sam Vecenie 

    Ht: 6-3 Wt: 185

    Pope is a terrific, versatile scorer who has finished top-five in the Big West in scoring each of the last two seasons. An off-guard scorer, Pope was responsible for a significant amount of the team’s offensive creation despite not exactly being a lead guard. He may possess the prettiest finger roll in all of college hoops.

    Pope is constantly hunting for his own shot, whether in transition, in the pick-and-roll or flying off screens. He could score at all three levels in the Big West, countering his drives to the paint with short range shots, floaters and pull-up 3s. He’s not quite an elite shooter — he has a funky high release and wrist motion — but uses constant motion to keep defenders honest. He’s also quite strong, and seems to absorb contact well.

    I’m a bit skeptical of his game translating to a high major unless he becomes an absolute flame thrower from distance. He may be best served going to a school in the Mountain West Conference, which offers a jump in competition, but not a significant enough one to force him to change his game. But high-major schools like Cal, Notre Dame, Virginia Tech and others who have reportedly reached out to him are also decent fits given their offensive schemes. I don’t think he’ll average 18 points per game at that level, but he could at least start at schools like those. — Sam Vecenie

    Ht: 6-4 Wt: 185

    Davis had a rollercoaster career at Arkansas. The highs included him averaging 12.9 points, 4.9 rebounds, 2.4 assists and 1.3 steals while shooting 45 percent from the field and 41 percent from 3 over Arkansas’ final 21 games last season, where they made a run to the Sweet 16. Davis had 25 points in the team’s upset over Kansas and 16 in a win against Illinois. He also played 31 minutes per night in Arkansas’ Elite 8 run 2022. At his best, he was a tough defender who crawled into people’s space.

    Having said that, he also experienced some real negative moments. His offense, and particularly his jump shot, was streaky. He left the team twice in the middle of his junior and senior seasons, returning after two days last season and a full week this season.

    This season was tough for Davis, as he didn’t live up to the expectations placed upon him. He struggled to do much on offense, averaging just 5.9 points on 36.3 percent shooting. His defense was solid, but not as good as what it had been previously. He may simply need a change of scenery.

    Few players in the portal have as much big-game success as Davis, so there will be interest. But teams will want to know why he left the Arkansas team twice over the last two years, as well as what exactly went wrong this season. — Sam Vecenie 

    Ht: 6-4 Wt: 185

    Davis had a rollercoaster career at Arkansas. The highs included him averaging 12.9 points, 4.9 rebounds, 2.4 assists and 1.3 steals while shooting 45 percent from the field and 41 percent from 3 over Arkansas’ final 21 games last season, where they made a run to the Sweet 16. Davis had 25 points in the team’s upset over Kansas and 16 in a win against Illinois. He also played 31 minutes per night in Arkansas’ Elite 8 run 2022. At his best, he was a tough defender who crawled into people’s space.

    Having said that, he also experienced some real negative moments. His offense, and particularly his jump shot, was streaky. He left the team twice in the middle of his junior and senior seasons, returning after two days last season and a full week this season.

    This season was tough for Davis, as he didn’t live up to the expectations placed upon him. He struggled to do much on offense, averaging just 5.9 points on 36.3 percent shooting. His defense was solid, but not as good as what it had been previously. He may simply need a change of scenery.

    Few players in the portal have as much big-game success as Davis, so there will be interest. But teams will want to know why he left the Arkansas team twice over the last two years, as well as what exactly went wrong this season. — Sam Vecenie 

    Ht: 6-2 Wt: 225

    To call Cochran well-traveled would be an understatement. He started his career at Northern Illinois before departing after coach Mark Montgomery was fired. He moved to another MAC school in Ball State for a season, then left after another coach in James Whitford got fired. He then landed at Toledo for the last two seasons, gaining an extra year of eligibility by redshirting after missing a majority of the 2022-23 season with a toe injury. That means Cochran will be a sixth-year senior this coming season.

    His 2023-24 season was his best yet. He won the co-Defensive Player of the Year award in the MAC, using his 220-pound frame, great hands and sense of disruption to stay in front of his man. He also averaged nearly two steals per game, and opponents really feel his presence on the perimeter.

    Offensively, Cochran keeps improving. A second-team All-MAC selection this year, he averaged 14.4 points per game largely by filling in gaps and taking advantage of opportunities when they came to him. He attacked closeouts, cut off the ball toward the rim and sprinted out in transition to find easy buckets.

    Cochran is all about energy. He’s not really a creator, nor is he a pick-and-roll guard. He can make 3s when left open, but by and large plays a direct game. I’m not sure how much of his offense translates to the high-major level, but he’s the type of player I’d want on my team. — Sam Vecenie 

    Ht: 6-2 Wt: 225

    To call Cochran well-traveled would be an understatement. He started his career at Northern Illinois before departing after coach Mark Montgomery was fired. He moved to another MAC school in Ball State for a season, then left after another coach in James Whitford got fired. He then landed at Toledo for the last two seasons, gaining an extra year of eligibility by redshirting after missing a majority of the 2022-23 season with a toe injury. That means Cochran will be a sixth-year senior this coming season.

    His 2023-24 season was his best yet. He won the co-Defensive Player of the Year award in the MAC, using his 220-pound frame, great hands and sense of disruption to stay in front of his man. He also averaged nearly two steals per game, and opponents really feel his presence on the perimeter.

    Offensively, Cochran keeps improving. A second-team All-MAC selection this year, he averaged 14.4 points per game largely by filling in gaps and taking advantage of opportunities when they came to him. He attacked closeouts, cut off the ball toward the rim and sprinted out in transition to find easy buckets.

    Cochran is all about energy. He’s not really a creator, nor is he a pick-and-roll guard. He can make 3s when left open, but by and large plays a direct game. I’m not sure how much of his offense translates to the high-major level, but he’s the type of player I’d want on my team. — Sam Vecenie 

    Ht: 6-5 Wt: 205

    Derkack will be one of the most fascinating evaluations in the portal this season. The Northest Conference Player of the Year this season has an interesting game that is simultaneously well-rounded and flawed. Offensively, almost everything comes near the basket. He’ll occasionally throw down dunks, but he mostly finishes with below-the-rim layups. He doesn’t have much of an in-between game and doesn’t take a ton of pull-up 3s. All that makes him a funky fit, especially since the NEC does not have a positive record with players attempting to transfer up.

    However, Derkack has great feel and is a fast processor of the game. He passes exceedingly well, having averaged nearly four assists per game. His handle is pretty loose and he had a number of sub-optimal ball-control and footwork turnovers this season, but once he gets to his spots, he can quickly dissect how defenders are playing him and make the right reads.

    None of that accounts for the place he’ll make the biggest impact on a high-major school. Derkack won the NEC Defensive Player of the Year award and is an aggressive on-ball player with all sorts of toughness. He has great hands and good instincts for getting into passing lanes.

    If Derkack wants a starting role, I think he’d be best in the Atlantic-10 or a similar-level conference. But I’d understand if a Big East or Big Ten team wanted him to add on-court toughness and leadership as a role player. — Sam Vecenie 

    Ht: 6-5 Wt: 205

    Derkack will be one of the most fascinating evaluations in the portal this season. The Northest Conference Player of the Year this season has an interesting game that is simultaneously well-rounded and flawed. Offensively, almost everything comes near the basket. He’ll occasionally throw down dunks, but he mostly finishes with below-the-rim layups. He doesn’t have much of an in-between game and doesn’t take a ton of pull-up 3s. All that makes him a funky fit, especially since the NEC does not have a positive record with players attempting to transfer up.

    However, Derkack has great feel and is a fast processor of the game. He passes exceedingly well, having averaged nearly four assists per game. His handle is pretty loose and he had a number of sub-optimal ball-control and footwork turnovers this season, but once he gets to his spots, he can quickly dissect how defenders are playing him and make the right reads.

    None of that accounts for the place he’ll make the biggest impact on a high-major school. Derkack won the NEC Defensive Player of the Year award and is an aggressive on-ball player with all sorts of toughness. He has great hands and good instincts for getting into passing lanes.

    If Derkack wants a starting role, I think he’d be best in the Atlantic-10 or a similar-level conference. But I’d understand if a Big East or Big Ten team wanted him to add on-court toughness and leadership as a role player. — Sam Vecenie 

    Ht: 6-8 Wt: 185

    A first-team All-Summit League selection this season, Omot is a slasher with all sorts of length. He likes to attack off the bounce, sizing up his defender at his own pace with hesitation dribbles before using his long strides to extend past his man and get to the rim.

    He averaged 16.7 points and 4.2 rebounds this year, but wasn’t all that efficient and may have trouble traveling up levels. He wasn’t a particularly good shooter, hitting only 29.9 percent of his catch-and-shoot 3s and only 23.1 percent of his pull-ups. In halfcourt settings, he only made 52.5 percent of his shots around the rim.

    Omot is long and brings real defensive ability to the table on the wing. He’s a tough on-ball defender, and while he doesn’t force a ton of steals or block many shots, he is aggressive in making life tough for opposing wings. He fared as well as anyone defending Frankie Fidler this February and made him work equally hard in the Summit tournament.

    Given offensive questions, Omot may be a better fit in a league like the American before trying to bounce upward the following season. But there will be high-major teams intrigued by his size, length and versatility off the bounce. — Sam Vecenie 

    Ht: 6-8 Wt: 185

    A first-team All-Summit League selection this season, Omot is a slasher with all sorts of length. He likes to attack off the bounce, sizing up his defender at his own pace with hesitation dribbles before using his long strides to extend past his man and get to the rim.

    He averaged 16.7 points and 4.2 rebounds this year, but wasn’t all that efficient and may have trouble traveling up levels. He wasn’t a particularly good shooter, hitting only 29.9 percent of his catch-and-shoot 3s and only 23.1 percent of his pull-ups. In halfcourt settings, he only made 52.5 percent of his shots around the rim.

    Omot is long and brings real defensive ability to the table on the wing. He’s a tough on-ball defender, and while he doesn’t force a ton of steals or block many shots, he is aggressive in making life tough for opposing wings. He fared as well as anyone defending Frankie Fidler this February and made him work equally hard in the Summit tournament.

    Given offensive questions, Omot may be a better fit in a league like the American before trying to bounce upward the following season. But there will be high-major teams intrigued by his size, length and versatility off the bounce. — Sam Vecenie 

    Forward

    In portal

    North Dakota

    Ht: 6-10 Wt: 245

    Despite averaging just 2.7 points and two rebounds in just nine minutes per game as a freshman, Nwoko has buckets of potential. At 6-foot-10 with a 7-foot-3 wingspan and a 240-pound frame, Nwoko is a legitimately explosive athlete. He plays hard, wants to dunk everything around the rim and gets easy lifts off either one foot or two. Unsurprisingly, he was at his best as an offensive rebounder and low-usage big, with shooting mechanics that at least looked comfortable in limited minutes even if the results weren’t there. But Nwoko is raw and his hands let him down from time to time.

    He’s a project that could pay off in a big way down the road if he chooses the right school. — Sam Vecenie 

    Ht: 6-10 Wt: 245

    Despite averaging just 2.7 points and two rebounds in just nine minutes per game as a freshman, Nwoko has buckets of potential. At 6-foot-10 with a 7-foot-3 wingspan and a 240-pound frame, Nwoko is a legitimately explosive athlete. He plays hard, wants to dunk everything around the rim and gets easy lifts off either one foot or two. Unsurprisingly, he was at his best as an offensive rebounder and low-usage big, with shooting mechanics that at least looked comfortable in limited minutes even if the results weren’t there. But Nwoko is raw and his hands let him down from time to time.

    He’s a project that could pay off in a big way down the road if he chooses the right school. — Sam Vecenie 

    Center

    In portal

    Miami (Fla.)

    (Top photos via Getty Images — Brian Rothmuller / Icon Sportswire and Chris Coduto. Illustration by Dan Goldfarb / The Athletic)

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