When it comes to a league as talented as the ACC, turnover is something that almost every program has to deal with each off-season. As the number of regular transfers and graduate transfers has increased exponentially in recent years, power six programs are utilizing that avenue to backfill rosters alongside traditional recruiting.
Last season, Texas Tech featured impact transfers in Tariq Owens and Matt Mooney as two key cogs on a team that appeared in the national championship game. Virginia, who defeated the Red Raiders in that game, sported their own transfer in Braxton Key, who scored 6 points and snagged 10 rebounds in the title game.
In the ACC in 2018-19, three of the top 20 scorers, three of the top 10 shot blockers, and four of the top 20 rebounders were transfers into the league at one point or another.
Today, I want to take a quick look at some incoming transfers, that are eligible this season, that you need to know about.
10-Nathaneal Jack-Florida State (JUCO)
There is always room on a Leonard Hamilton team for two types of players: Seven foot centers, and guys who can stand in the corner and hit triples. Jack is the latter. Though he only shot 34% from deep last year at East Florida State, he did have seven games with four or more threes made, including a 7-14 effort against Miami Dade. I am not sure how many minutes he will receive each night, but he could be expected to fill that PJ Savoy role for the ‘Noles.
9-Ryan Murphy-Pittsburgh (JUCO)
While most of the preseason chatter surrounding Pitt has been due to their sophomore backcourt of Xavier Johnson and Trey McGowens, one important thing is being overlooked: The loss of Jared Wilson-Frame. Murphy will look to fill that role of sniper for the Panthers. In his previous D1 stop at Charlotte, he put 27 on the board against ODU, including a six pack of triples. At the JUCO level, he averaged north of 18 points per game, which included a 46 point outing. Injuries have been the issue with Murphy, if he can stay on the court, Pitt has their sniper.
8-Bubba Parham-Georgia Tech (VMI)
Parham was surprisingly granted immediate eligibility by the NCAA last month. Of course, shortly after that announcement the powers that be hit Georgia Tech with a steel folding chair and banned them from both the ACC and NCAA tournaments this season. Regardless, Parham is exactly what the Jackets need, a pure scorer off the bench that can give Jose Alvarado a blow, and shoot the ball effectively. Though he averaged over 20 points a game at VMI last year (including a 35 point outburst vs Kentucky), I wouldn’t expect him to take the ACC by storm in his first season. 9-11 points per game with some timely shooting seems more likely.
7-Justin Pierce-UNC (William & Mary)
A 6’7 do-it-all wing, Pierce comes to Chapel Hill as a graduate transfer after his W&M coach, Tony Shaver, was fired following last season. He averaged 15-9-4 last season while shooting 32.4% from behind the arc. The previous season he connected on 41.6% of his deep balls so we will see how it shakes out this season. Pierce should get some run at the three spot as Carolina tries to figure out its wing rotation. As usual, it’s difficult to predict given such a large jump in competition.
6-Tevin Mack-Clemson (Texas/Alabama)
The 6’6, former top 60 recruit, and South Carolina native returns home for his final season. The well traveled Mack will make Clemson the fourth commitment (though he never played at VCU) of his college career. In 82 games he has averaged 8.5 points and 3.1 rebounds with his best season coming in 2016-17 when he averaged 14.8 points and 4.8 rebounds while shooting 39% from deep for the Longhorns. Unfortunately, he had a falling out with the staff and only played 15 games. If he is able to return to that form he could lead Clemson into the “surprise team” chatter.
5-Kam McGusty-Miami (Oklahoma)
McGusty may be one of the most overlooked transfers in the entire country. He should slide in nicely next to Chris Lykes and give the Hurricanes some needed size in the back court. His presence also ensures that neither of Miami’s talented freshman will be pressed into service before they are ready. If Kam is able to give Coach Larranaga consistent shooting from the wing and improve his defense, it could help Miami get into the bubble conversation.
4-Jordan Usher-GT (USC)
Usher comes home play his final season and a half with the Yellow Jackets. Though he won’t be eligible to play until December, Coach Josh Pastner will have him for the majority of ACC play. Having watched Jordan in Tech’s recent trip to Spain, the optimism surrounding his addition is warranted. He is possibly the most athletic player the Jackets have sported since Is’mail Muhammad in 2005, and possess a fiery disposition that Georgia Tech fans are certain to love. Expect him to play that hybrid forward that Pastner likes to deploy.
3-Tomas Woldetensae – Virginia (JUCO)
Tony Bennett takes a JUCO. He’s made with bits of real panther, so you know he’s good. All kidding aside, I didn’t know anything about this guy when he committed. However, it didn’t take very long to buy in once I started watching him on YouTube. He made 100 triples last season and shot nearly 50% while doing so. It remains to be seen in can read defenders or create space as effectively as his predecessor, but the stroke is there. If TW is able to be a consistent outside weapon for the Wahoos, that’s one less question mark I have about this team.
2-Christian Keeling-UNC (Charleston Southern)
One of the most sought after graduate transfers this past offseason, Keeling landed in possibly the perfect situation. While North Carolina lost a ton of production from last season’s team, they are still considered one of the eight or so best teams in the country according to preseason prognostications. Keeling, who has averaged 18 points per game over his career, will be given the opportunity to lock down the shooting guard role for the Heels in 2019-20. He is a career 35% shooter from deep with a ton more experience than any of the other options at the two. Once again, a large step up in competition is the most worrisome aspect.
1-Fresh Kimble-Louisville (Saint Josephs)
I don’t necessarily put Kimble in the #1 spot because I think he is the best transfer in the conference. I put him here because his play could have the largest impact of any transfer in the country. If he stays healthy and plays well, the Cardinals are a Final Four contender and one of the favorites for the national title. If his health falters, or he can’t handle the highest level of college basketball, Louisville will disappoint. The Cardinals are loaded at every position coming into the 2019-20 campaign with the exception of point guard. Freshman David Johnson is already on the shelf with a shoulder injury, and Darius Perry is not someone you want playing heavy minutes. “Fresh” averaged 15.6 points, 3.6 rebounds and 2.8 assists last season at St. Joes, but appeared in only 23 games. His lack of shooting could be a concern, but with Jordan Nwora, Samuel Williamson, and Ryan McMahon on the roster, that may not be a huge issue. Run the show, don’t turn the ball over and for all that is holy, make your free throws. I would also like to see his pass first tendencies from his early days return. If Chris Mack gets the 2016-17 version of Kimble, the Cardinals will be a force.