20 Questions: Which Transfers Will Have the Biggest Impact This Season?Posted by rtmsf on November 2nd, 2011
I. Renko is an RTC columnist.
Question: Which Transfers Will Have the Biggest Impact This Season?
Every year, college basketball fans draw up their preseason predictions of conference champions and NCAA Tournament fields based on returning players and incoming recruits. But each year, a handful of key transfers play a pivotal role in leading their teams to a conference championship or NCAA Tournament bid. Which transfers are most likely to play that role this year?
Pierre Jackson and Gary Franklin, Baylor — With the return of Perry Jones and the addition of blue-chip recruits Quincy Miller and Deuce Bello (coming soon to an All-Name Team near you), expectations for the upcoming season in Waco are high. The Bears have more raw talent than almost anyone in the Big 12 and have a realistic shot at a conference crown. But Baylor also had quality talent and relatively high expectations last year, only to find their season upended by mediocrity at the most important spot on the floor — the point guard position. AJ Walton was thrust into the role of replacing Tweety Carter and responded by posting an obscene 32.1% turnover rate. In a not-unrelated phenomenon, the Bears finished the season ranked 322nd in Division I in team turnover percentage.
If Scott Drew can’t find someone to settle things down at the point this year, the Bears may disappoint again. And that’s where Jackson and Franklin come in. Jackson is a well-regarded JUCO transfer and Franklin a formerly touted recruit who transferred from Cal after just a semester. Franklin will not be eligible until the spring semester, but both will have a chance to pin down the starting point guard job. If either proves to be a stable floor general, the Bears could have their first conference championship in more than 60 years.
Iowa State’s Starting Lineup — Okay, so maybe the entire starting lineup won’t consist of transfers, but it might come close. Fred Hoiberg is trying to resuscitate the Iowa State program by resuscitating the careers of several D-I talents, including Chris Allen (Michigan State), Royce White (Minnesota), Anthony Booker (Southern Illinois), and Chris Babb (Penn State). They make this list as a group because collectively, they will have the single biggest transfer impact on any BCS program this year.
White was dismissed from Minnesota due to charges of theft before ever playing a college game, but he may be the most talented of the bunch. He was a top 40 recruit out of high school, known especially for his low-post offensive game. Booker is not as much of an offensive threat, but is a ferocious rebounder and just the kind of complementary piece that every strong frontcourt needs.
The last time Allen was playing official games, it was as a starter on a Final Four team. He should combine with White to form a potent inside-outside offensive combo. Babb has a less well-rounded offensive game, but is an equally potent long-range threat. Together, this cast of castoffs has the potential to take the Cyclones to the NCAA Tournament for the first time in seven years.
Rakim Sanders, Fairfield — The battle between Fairfield and Iona for the top spot in the MAAC will be one of the mid-major conference stories of the year. The Stags return all of their starters from last year’s regular season champions except swingman Yorel Hawkins, who averaged 10 points and five rebounds a game. Enter swingman Rakim Sanders, who was last seen starting for Boston College and averaging 11 points and four rebounds a game. In an unusual move for a BCS program starter, Sanders voluntarily left BC for the lower lights of a mid-major program. Though he won’t get to play for the coach who brought him there (Ed Cooley has since moved on to Providence), Sanders is sticking with Fairfield and new coach Sydney Johnson.
- Carl Hall, Wichita State — The Shockers bring back a strong backcourt, but will need the bruising JUCO transfer to fill their frontcourt gap if they want to compete with the likes of Creighton and Indiana State for the MVC crown.
- Arnett Moultrie, Mississippi State — Moultrie played a key role in UTEP’s Conference USA regular season title two years ago, when he averaged about 10 points and seven rebounds a game for the season. A long and explosive athlete who plays above the rim, he has loads of talent and a potential NBA career in his future. Teaming up with volatile frontcourt mate Renardo Sidney and senior point guard Dee Bost, Moultrie may help the Bulldogs to an SEC West title and/or the NCAA Tournament.
- Mike Rosario, Florida – The former McDonald’s All-American will be yet another weapon in an already-loaded backcourt, as the Gators try to keep pace with Kentucky and Vanderbilt in the SEC.
- Travis and David Wear, UCLA — The Bruins will likely start Josh Smith and Reeves Nelson in their frontcourt, but the former McDonald’s All-American twins should get plenty of playing time as well.