LAWRENCE, Kan. — The start of every college basketball season brings with it a new batch of highly touted freshmen ready to make their mark. These days, it also brings with it a new batch of transfers.
The number of players switching teams continues to grow as they seek fresh starts, more playing time or a change of scenery. And the movement isn’t relegated to smaller schools, either.
With that in mind, here are some of the transfers to keep an eye on this season:
TEXAS TRIO: After sitting out last season under the NCAA’s transfer rules, ex-Longhorns Shelden McClellan, Julien Lewis and Jaylen Bond are finally ready to contribute again.
McClellan, who averaged 13.5 points as a sophomore at Texas, will be joining Kansas State transfer Angel Rodriguez and Oklahoma State transfer Kamari Murphy at Miami. Lewis has landed at Fresno State, and Bond will be suiting up for Temple this season. All three were key components for the Longhorns a couple of years ago, when they went 16-18 and failed to make the NCAA tournament.
“During my year off it was tough to watch the games, to watch my teammates struggle,” McClellan said, “but we got better individually, and that was the whole point of taking a year off.”
SCORING MACHINES: Several high-volume scorers will be trying to replicate their success on a bigger stage this season, headlined by former Niagara sharpshooter Antoine Mason. He averaged 25.6 points last season, second only to Creighton’s Doug McDermott in Division I basketball. Mason took advantage of the NCAA’s graduate transfer rule and will be eligible this season for new coach Bruce Pearl at Auburn.
Other proficient scorers making the leap to bigger schools: Richaud Pack headed from North Carolina A&T to Maryland; Justin Edwards went from Maine to Kansas State; Stefan Moody transferred from Florida Atlantic to Ole Miss; and Bryn Forbes went from Cleveland State to Michigan State.
“We play well together, but we still got a lot of work to do,” Mason said after an exhibition win over West Alabama. “You can see the bright side in it and see what we could be.”
Let’s Go Auburn
— $onic (@Antoine_Mason) November 16, 2014
ZIGGING AND ZAGGING: Gonzaga coach Mark Few already had a deep team coming back this season, but it was only made stronger with the arrival of power forward Kyle Wiltjer and small forward Byron Wesley.
Wiltjer, who at 6-foot-10 is an excellent outside shooter, spent two seasons at Kentucky, helping coach John Calipari win a national title as a freshman. Wesley spent the past three seasons at Southern California, averaging 17.8 points and 6.8 rebounds as a junior.
NATIONAL CHAMPS: Rodney Purvis had to watch from the bench last season as UConn made an improbable run to the national title. Now, the North Carolina State transfer is expected to provide some scoring punch alongside Ryan Boatright, and help fill the void left by Shabazz Napier. Purvis certainly has a scorer’s mentality. He scored 15 points in the McDonald’s All-American Game, and averaged more than eight points his freshman season with the Wolfpack.
ILLINI BACKCOURT: With Tracy Abrams out after tearing his ACL, the entire starting backcourt at Illinois this season will consist of players who started their careers elsewhere. Rayvonte Rice played last season after transferring from Drake, and he’ll be joined this season by guards Aaron Cosby and Ahmad Starks. Cosby averaged 12.6 points for Seton Hall. Starks averaged 10.4 points at Oregon State.
MAYOR’S PIPELINE: Iowa State coach Fred Hoiberg has turned Division I transfers into a major part of his program. He has another this year in Bryce Dejean-Jones, a 6-6 guard who averaged 13.6 points last season at UNLV. He’ll need to pick up the slack after DeAndre Kane and Melvin Ejim graduated.
“The thing I’ll say about Bryce as a basketball player, there are things you can’t teach,” Hoiberg said. “He’s a guy you can use all over the floor and he’s fit in very well with our group.”