With summer winding down and the fall semester fast-approaching, most newcomers — whether it be recruits or transfers — have already made it to the program they’ll be on the roster for the 2019-20 season. Now that most of those pivotal decisions have been made, it’s time to examine the landscape of college basketball and make heads or tails of how it’s all shifted and settled.
Because only a handful of schools are fortunate enough to identify and land instant-impact freshmen capable of becoming insta-stars — Duke, Kentucky, Arizona among them — the real impact newbies in many cases are graduate transfers: players who attained their undergraduate degree at another program and transferred to another school to finish their graduate studies. Let’s take a look at the biggest names that were on the market but are now off it, and the impact each can have this season.
Previous school: Virginia Tech
2018-19 stats: 14.9 ppg, 7.5 rpg, 2.4 apg
His impact: Much was made about Blackshear’s winding recruitment away from Virginia Tech — and for good reason. He put up big numbers at Virginia Tech each of his last two seasons, and figures to be the most impactful graduate transfer in 2019. He’s a huge reason the Gators are inside the top-10 of the SEC title.; he’s the anchor of a young but uber-talented Florida team that is primed to contend for more than an
Previous school: Virginia Tech
2017-18 stats: 8.2 ppg, 6.3 rpg, 3.0 apg, 42.4 3p%
His impact: While Blackshear, his teammate at Virginia Tech, was pumping up his stock last season, Clarke was on the pine, the result of a year-long suspension. Before the season, though, he was a breakout candidate after putting up stellar numbers — particularly from the 3-point line — in a smaller role. With Texas Tech losing four starters from its national runner-up team, Clarke should slot in as an instant contributor, the latest in a long line of successful Chris Beard reclamation projects.
Previous school: Saint Joseph’s
2018-19 stats: 15.6 ppg, 3.6 rpg, 2.8 apg
His impact: In his final three seasons at Saint Joseph’s, Kimble was the poster-boy of consistency, averaging at least 10.0 points and 2.0 assists each season. He peaked in 2018-19 when he averaged career-highs in points, steals and offensive rebounds. As he enters his final season of eligibility at Louisville, he projects as a potential No. 2 behind All-America candidate Jordan Nwora — and on a team that should be considered a title contender given its incoming talent and overall experience.
4. Nate Sestina, Kentucky
Previous school: Bucknell
2018-19 stats: 15.8 ppg, 8.5 rpg, 38.0 3p%
His impact: After playing sparingly in the two seasons before his senior year at Bucknell, Sestina emerged as an All-Patriot League performer when he averaged career-highs in points, rebounds, assists, blocks and minutes played. With PJ Washington leaving for the NBA after a stellar sophomore season, Sestina projects to fill a similar role as a stretch big with his career 36.4 3-point shooting percentage.
5. Admon Gilder, Gonzaga
Previous school: Texas A&M
2017-18 stats: 12.3 ppg, 4.1 rpg, 2.6 apg, 1.2 spg
His impact: A promising senior season at Texas A&M was derailed entirely by injuries as Gilder missed all of 2018-19. But before then in the three seasons prior, he was a steady-shooting guard capable of knocking down 3-pointers, getting hot like a microwave, and robbing opponents of the ball on a regular basis. In the final two seasons he was healthy, he ranked inside the top-100 nationally in steal rate. At Gonzaga, his all-around skill set as a 3-and-D guard should give him the opportunity to replace lost production from Zach Norvell, who left for the NBA, as well as outgoing senior Geno Crandall.
Previous school: William & Mary
2018-19 stats: 14.9 ppg, 8.9 rpg, 4.1 apg, 32.4 3p%
His impact: North Carolina is set to replace its entire starting lineup from a season ago. Pierce’s versatility and size should give coach Roy Williams plenty of options on how to best deploy him. With his rebounding and floor-spacing, it’s possible he could play the shooting guard, small forward, power forward or center at various points next season as the Tar Heels experiment with six incoming players.
7. Isaiah Moss, Kansas
Previous school: Iowa
2018-19 stats: 9.2 ppg, 2.9 rpg, 42.1 3p%
His impact: While his numbers dipped a bit last season at Iowa overall, his efficiency — particularly as a 3-point shooter and rebounder — improved. At Kansas, Moss can help offset the losses of Quentin Grimes, Lagerald Vick, Charlie Moore and K.J. Lawson with a 3-and-D-like game that could beautifully complement sophomore point guard Devon Dotson, big man Udoka Azubuike and rising wing Ochai Agbaji.
8. Shakur Juiston, Oregon
Previous school: UNLV
2018-19 stats: 10.8 ppg, 8.8 rpg, 1.5 spg
His impact: After starring at the junior college level at Hutchinson Community College, where he earned NABC Junior College Player of the Year honors in 2017, Juiston burst onto the scene at UNLV averaging 13.9 points, 9.7 rebounds and 1.0 steals in two seasons before committing to Oregon this offseason. The 6-foot-7 forward solidifies the Ducks’ frontcourt after losing Louis King and Ehab Amin this offseason. He’ll be a tremendous co-star alongside Payton Pritchard.
Previous school: Utah
2018-19 stats: 7.1 ppg, 7.7 rpg, 1.1 bpg
His impact: Johnson was one of three (!) 7-footers on Utah’s roster last season, and he was easily the most productive. He’ll help provide quality depth in the frontcourt for the Golden Eagles and potentially team up with returning big man Theo John as one of the most lethal big men duos in the Big East next season. With Sam and Joey Hauser transferring out this offseason, John and Johnson — which sounds like a law firm as much as it sounds like a formidable frontcourt — could potentially play off one another at the power forward and center spots.
10. Anthony Mathis, Oregon
Previous school: New Mexico
2018-19 stats: 14.4 ppg, 2.2 rpg, 2.1 apg, 41.6 3p%
His impact: After an All-MWC Third Team season last year, Mathis and his sharpshooting are headed to Oregon along with Juiston to make an immediate impact. His reliable 3-point stroke should help offset some of Juiston’s weaknesses as a pure shooter.
11. Christian Keeling, North Carolina
Previous school: Charleston Southern
2018-19 stats: 18.7 ppg, 6.9 rpg, 2.8 apg
His impact: Talk about a jack-of-all-trades: Last season at Charleston Southern, Keeling ranked in the top 10 among all Big South players in scoring (4th), rebounding (4th), free-throw percentage (8th) and blocks (8th). Alongside fellow transfer Pierce and a jumbo recruiting class that features projected top-5 pick Cole Anthony, Keeling has the tools to fit in perfectly as a do-it-all glue guy.
12. Jimmy Whitt, Arkansas
Previous school: SMU
2018-19 stats: 12.3 ppg, 6.4 rpg, 4.0 apg
His impact: A storybook ending is in the works for Whitt, who began his career at Arkansas and is set to end it after two seasons at SMU were sandwiched between it all. Whitt at SMU grew into a tremendously instinctive scorer and rebounder. At Arkansas he’ll likely take a backseat to rising sophomore Isaiah Joe, a potential first-round pick in 2020, but in Year One under Eric Musselman he should be given a chance to thrive in his final collegiate season.
13. Jahaad Proctor, Purdue
Previous school: High Point
2018-19 stats: 19.5 ppg, 3.8 rpg, 3.3 apg
His impact: A Second-Team All-Big South performer last season, Proctor put up monster numbers and is in line to follow that upward trajectory at Purdue. The Boilermakers lost their heart and soul Carsen Edwards but still have a solid core in place to do what Matt Painter seemingly always does: compete for the Big Ten crown. Proctor’s scoring should go a long ways to Purdue potentially repeating as conference champs.
14. Max Hazzard, Arizona
Previous school: UC Irvine
2018-19 stats: 12.5 ppg, 2.0 rpg, 2.1 apg, 38.8 3p%
His impact: The Anteaters of UC Irvine won 31 games last season being carried by Hazzard, who capped his year with a brilliant NCAA Tournament resume when he put up 19 points and four boards to lead his team to an upset win over No. 4 seed Kansas State. At Arizona he’ll settle into a lesser role but an important one nonetheless as the Wildcats reload around Brandon Williams and incoming five-star freshman Nico Mannion.
15. Ryan Woolridge, Gonzaga
Previous school: North Texas
2018-19 stats: 11.7 ppg, 5.9 rpg, 4.8 apg, 33.3 3p%
His impact: Seniors Josh Perkins and Geno Crandall handled point guard duties last season, and Mark Few is planning for another upperclassmen in Woolridge to take over the responsibilities. At North Texas his assist rate regularly reached the 30 percent mark, which rated inside the top 10 among players in his conference. That number should spike not only in a new situation and with a year of experience under his belt, but also playing on a better team with more weapons surrounding him.
Honorable mentions: The list of graduate transfers isn’t endless, but it’s not far off. We can’t name them all. So in addition to the 15 listed here, keep an eye out on these players to potentially find major success at their graduate transfer spots next season: Luwane Pipkins (Providence); Jaevin Cumberland (Cincinnati); Derryck Thornton (Boston College); Lamont West (Missouri State); Haanif Cheatham (Nebraska); James Bolden (Alabama); Jonathan Laurent (Oklahoma State); Keith Stone (Miami); Donnell Gresham (Georgia); Edric Dennis Jr. (TCU)