Meet the ACC’s Newly Eligible Transfers

Posted by Brad Jenkins (@bradjenk) on October 18th, 2018

With all the player turnover these days in college basketball, coaches can no longer rely on incoming freshmen to fill their open roster spots. Correspondingly, ACC coaches hit the transfer market very hard every offseason to plug the holes resulting from their teams’ various spring defections. In order to get familiar with the transfers entering the ACC this season, the tables below break out all the non-freshmen newcomers into three groupings (1) graduate/other immediately eligible transfers; 2) traditional transfers that sat out last year; 3) those sitting out this year). Players within each category are ordered according to the anticipated impact that they will have this season.

The ACC will welcome 15 immediately eligible transfers this season. Four of that group will be suiting up for Kevin Keatts’ NC State squad, as the second-year head coach has basically flipped his Wolfpack roster in just two years. Junior college transfer Derek Funderburke will battle graduate transfer Wyatt Walker for post minutes, while Eric Lockett (FIU) and Blake Harris (Missouri) will join a loaded perimeter in Raleigh. Next, several ACC staffs signed graduate transfers from the mid-major ranks to fill glaring backcourt holes. Louisville‘s Chris Mack reacted quickly to his depleted roster by grabbing Christen Cunningham and Khwan Fore from Samford and Richmond, respectively, a pair of proven guards. Zach Johnson (Florida Gulf Coast) joins Miami as the transfer on this list most likely to have a major impact. Given the departures of Bruce Brown, Lonnie Walker and Ja’Quan Newton from last year’s Hurricanes’ squad, Johnson should be Jim Larranaga’s primary perimeter scorer this season. Florida State and Wake Forest both prematurely lost a guard in the spring, causing those programs to respond with graduate transfer replacements. David Nichols (Albany) may actually be an upgrade for the departed C.J. Walker in Tallahassee, while Torry Johnson (Northern Arizona) somewhat eases the loss of Bryant Crawford from Danny Manning’s Demon Deacons. Another impact graduate transfer, Javan White (Oral Roberts),should provide solid rebounding support for Clemson’s returning starting center Elijah Thomas.

The N.C. State duo who sat out last season – C.J. Bryce and Devon Daniels – should be major standouts after each a year spent practicing with the Wolfpack. They are the kind of versatile athletic wings that Keatts loves to play on the perimeter. Bryce in particular should be extremely comfortable in the new system, having played for Keatts previously at UNC Wilmington. It will be interesting to watch how both former Connecticut big men perform at their new schools after disappointing stints in Storrs. Junior Steven Enoch will be expected to give Louisville a strong inside presence, while Notre Dame’s Juwan Durham should be involved in a lot of the screen and roll action that Notre Dame likes to incorporate into its attack. Considering the lack of firepower returning at Georgia Tech and Pittsburgh, there should be ample opportunity for Shembari Phillips and Malik Ellison to establish themselves as go-to scorers for their new squads.

Finally, we have a look into the future with a group that won’t be available for action until the 2019-20 season. Unlike most of the graduate transfers — which tend to come from mid-major programs — the traditional transfers often come from other high-major leagues. The biggest names on this list are moving over from the SEC to the ACC. Sacha Killeya-Jones — a top-50 recruit coming out of high school — could never quite crack Kentucky’s rotation, but he may be the most talented big man on NC State’s roster. After an impressive freshman campaign (12.0 PPG, 5.7 RPG) two seasons ago, Braxton Key was less involved in the Alabama attack last year. He projects as a solid two-way forward when he takes the floor for Virginia as soon as this fall. The Cavaliers are hoping that the NCAA’s new (more lenient) transfer rules may allow Key to suit up immediately. Wake Forest desperately needs some perimeter scorers in the program but will have to wait a year for Andrien White to log his final collegiate season in Winston-Salem.

Brad Jenkins (383 Posts)

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