Most, but not all, of the roster turnover in the men’s college basketball offseason is complete. With all NBA draft stay-or-go decisions finalized, the only moves left are the remaining pieces in the transfer portal. With a few options out there and teams having new holes to fill after draft departures, the demand for the top talent still available is higher than it has been all offseason. Here’s a primer of the biggest names still out there and where they might be headed.
Pete Nance, Northwestern
Nance waited until the 11th hour to decide on whether to return to college hoops but eventually did elect to withdraw from the draft and be recruited as a transfer. Nance told Sports Illustrated at the G League Elite Camp that he avoided all contact with college coaches while going through the draft process, so little is known about potential destinations for the 6’10” big man. North Carolina is reportedly in pursuit of Nancewhere he’d fill the starting power forward spot vacated by Brady Manek.
Nance’s skill set makes him capable of fitting in a variety of team contexts. He has spent the last two seasons playing mostly at center and having to physically match up with the likes of Kofi Cockburn, Trayce Jackson-Davis and Zach Edey on the block, but his ability to space the floor and handle the ball makes him a capable power forward as well. Plus, he’s a smart passer who you can run offense through from the elbows or wings.
Jacob Grandison, Illinois
He may not be your team’s best or second-best player, but it’s no surprise that Grandison’s list of suitors includes some of the best programs in the sport right now thanks to his ability to play a role. He’s a 41% three-point shooter at high volume, can defend positions two through four and has played in big games on a No. 1 seed in 2021 and as a Big Ten champion in ’22. For his extra year of eligibility, Grandison is currently considering USC, BYU, UCLA, DePaul, Arizona, Iowa State, Michigan, Kentucky, Oregon and Duke.
Because of how late Grandison went into the portal, he is a plug-and-play replacement option for teams that lost players to the draft near the deadline. He could fill the void left by Jules Bernard at UCLA, start on the wing at Arizona to help replace Dalen Terry at Arizona, take Caleb Houstan’s spot at Michigan, or provide the shooting Duke and Iowa State hoped Trevor Keels and AJ Green would provide, respectively.
Courtney Ramey, Texas
Similar to Grandison, the complexion of Ramey’s recruitment changed somewhat based on a draft decision fallout. The four-year contributor at Texas was being pursued by Houston before Marcus Sasser decided to come back, which took the Cougars out of the running. Duke viewed him as a potential Keels backup plan, though 2023 five-star guard Tirese Proctor’s decision to reclassify and join the next season team may see him fill that spot in the rotation.
Jeff Goodman reported Arizona and Louisville are also in the mix for Ramey, and both teams have holes in the backcourt to be filled. The Cardinals only have one true ballhandler on the roster right now for Kenny Payne’s first season, so Ramey would fill a huge need. Losing Terry also leaves Arizona short on ballhandling. Ramey may not be an all-conference player at the high-major level, but he’s a proven above-average starter in the sport’s toughest conference and will make an impact regardless of where he lands.
Emoni Bates, Memphis
It’s easy to forget that if Bates didn’t reclassify to 2021, he’d be an incoming freshman right now, likely still among the top five to 10 players in his class. That’s not to say that Bates isn’t something of a wild card after a disappointing season at Memphis, especially considering many of the issues he encountered in his first year of college basketball were concerns that popped up later in his prep career.
A new team adding Bates also involves adding the media spectacle that comes with the former hyped prospect, and there’s no doubt Bates is looking for a destination where he’ll get regular shots and a chance to rebuild his NBA draft stock. From a school’s standpoint, taking Bates is something of a risk assessment, betting on the huge upside if he lives up to his potential. Would a team with holes to fill in the wake of the draft deadline like Michigan circle back with Bates after showing early interest? Louisville is another program that has been connected with Bates since the early days after he entered the portal.
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Emmanuel Akot, Boise State
A former top-25 recruit, Akot transferred down from Arizona to Boise State before helping lead the Broncos to the NCAA tournament this past season. He profiles more as a role player at the high-major level, but has a chance to be impactful thanks to his defensive versatility and ballhandling skill at 6’8″. He’s not quite the shooter Grandison is, but he provides similar equity as a Reliable rotation player on the wing who’ll knock down shots and fit into a team construct.
Kerwin Walton, North Carolina
Walton flashed his promise as a shooter as a freshman in North Carolina before falling out of the Tar Heels rotation as a sophomore. That hasn’t stopped high-majors from being in hot pursuit of the Minnesota native, who took an official visit to Texas Tech this past weekend and is also considering Clemson, Oklahoma, Memphis and Kansas State. After shooting 42% from deep on nearly five attempts per game as a freshman, the promise is there for him to become a key contributor in a new situation.
Joey Baker, Duke
You can never have enough floor-spacing, and Baker provides a proven option from beyond the arc who got rotation minutes for the last three seasons at Duke. Baker will never wow you with his ability to play off the bounce, but he knows how to fit into a rotation and contribute to winning. One potential suitor that stands out is Michigan, seeing as the Wolverines lost top shooter Caleb Houstan and starting power forward Moussa Diabate to the draft and have holes to fill in their rotation.
Isiaih Mosley, Missouri
In rare company as one of just three players in the last 30 years to average 20 points per game while shooting 50% from the field, 40% from three and 90% from the free throw line, Mosley is perhaps the best pure scorer changing teams this offseason. He picked Missouri on Monday over Mississippi State, staying in-state after three years at Missouri State.
The fit here makes a lot of sense: Mosley is a pure isolation scorer that slots in better as an offensive focal point for a team like Missouri than just as a cog in a larger machine at some of the blue blood programs that reached out earlier in the process. Plus, he gives Dennis Gates a much-needed talent injection in his first year as head coach of the Tigers.
Keion Brooks Jr., Washington
Brooks took official visits to Arizona and Washington after withdrawing from the NBA draft process and chose the Huskies, where he’ll be a centerpiece of a reworked roster for a coach on the hot seat in Mike Hopkins. Brooks was known more for his scoring ability in high school before falling back into more of a glue guy role at Kentucky. While his struggles to shoot from distance hinder some of that scoring upside, he provides a much-needed versatile frontcourt presence for Washington, which has also brought in Noah Williams (Washington State) and Franck Kepnang (Oregon) among others this offseason.
Justin Powell, Washington State
Powell was among the most sought-after transfers in the portal last year after an impressive freshman season at Auburn, but never got going in his sophomore season at Tennessee and is back in the portal again. He has good size and a really impressive shooting stroke, and showed the ability to play as a point guard when needed for the Tigers in 2020–21. That makes him a strong buy-low candidate for a program like Washington State that will always struggle to win recruiting battles with bigger programs. He should play a featured role on an offense that loses guards Michael Flowers, Noah Williams and Tyrell Roberts from last year’s team that went to the NIT semifinals.
Mouhamed Gueye, Washington State
Gueye put his name in the portal after his freshman year in Pullman and also explored the draft process, but in the end elected to return for a second season under Kyle Smith with the Cougars. A former elite, Gueye was productive as a freshman and possesses considerable long-term upside thanks to his length, mobility and fluidity. Gueye was a hot commodity in the portal, particularly because of the dearth of available frontcourt players. Instead, he’ll team up in the frontcourt with fellow Senegal native Adrame Diongue, a highly-regarded 2022 recruit who committed to the Cougars earlier this spring.
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