Less than 24 hours after getting both Julian Strawther and Drew Timme back from the NBA Draft at the underclassmen withdrawal deadline, Gonzaga on Thursday evening again hit it big with the addition of a highly-coveted transfer in guard Malachi Smith. Smith had plenty of suitors after entering the portal back in April, but ultimately chose the Bulldogs over Texas Tech.
“Malachi is going to be a great addition to our program,” Gonzaga coach Mark Few said. “He does a lot of really good things on the floor, but his experience and leadership will also be huge.”
Smith began his career at Wright State before spending the last two seasons with Chattanooga. He’s coming off a career season where he was named the Southern Conference Player of the Year after averaging 19.9 points, 6.7 rebounds and shooting 40.7% from 3-point range on a Mocs team that went 27-8 and made its first NCAA Tournament appearance since 2016.
Elsewhere in major transfer news, Iowa State star guard Tyrese Hunter, the reigning Big 12 Freshman of the Year, announced last week that he is transferring cross-conference to Texas. Hunter will join returning starter Marcus Carr in Texas’ rebooted backcourt, in the process giving second-year coach Chris Beard one of the best at-the-point perimeter defenders in the country to build around. Fellow Big 12 standout Matthew Mayer is also on the move, as he announced he’s transferring from Baylor to the Big Ten.
The decisions from both Smith, Mayer and Hunter continue the talent drain out of the transfer portal as teams add to their rosters for the 2022-23 season heading into the summer. But even with many of the big-name transfers having announced their destinations already, some talented players remain available in the portal who could impact college basketball next season.
With the withdrawal deadline in the rearview, the portal picture will soon become more clear as players begin the final climb towards the 2022 regular season. For now, though, here are the top 25 transfers of the 2022 offseason.
The 5-foot-11 guard played a key role in helping SMU to three straight winning seasons and is the reigning AAC Player of the Year. In 2021-22, he finished second in the AAC in scoring behind a 37.2% 3-point mark on 6.5 attempts per game. Davis is more than just an outside shooter, though, and has the profile of a starting point guard for a big-time program. During the 2020-21 season, he ranked fourth nationally with 7.6 assists per game while still scoring 19 points per contest. He is also skilled at scoring inside the arc as a career 49.8% shooter on 2-point attempts. He’ll be an instant impact player for the Tigers, who are more than familiar with his capabilities.
2. Nijel Pack
Pack earned All-Big 12 First Team honors as a sophomore and finished third in the league in scoring at 17.4 points per game. His 43.6% 3-point shooting percentage this past season was particularly strong. Considering that he also shot 40.5% from deep as a freshman and is averaging 6.9 attempts from deep for his career, Pack might be the best shooter in the portal who has consistently proven it against elite defenses. He can do more than just shoot, though, and he should be able to play a key role for the Hurricanes next season.
Old school: Iowa State | New school: Texas
Hunter won Big 12 Freshman of the Year honors while averaging 11 points and 4.9 assists for Iowa State. The former four-star prospect played a key role in helping the Cyclones reach the Sweet 16 in their first season under coach T.J. Otzelberger following a 2-22 season in 2020-21. His commitment to Texas gives second-year coach Chris Beard one of the most ready-made contributors out of the portal. With Marcus Carr coming back to Texas next season, the Longhorns on paper will have one of the most dynamic backcourts in all of college basketball.
Old school: Missouri State
Mosley helped coach Dana Ford turn Missouri State into a force in the Missouri Valley during his three seasons with the program. The 6-5 shooting guard led the league in scoring at 20.4 points per game in the 2021-22 season and did it while shooting an efficient 50.4% from the floor. He turned in 40-point outings against MVC powers Northern Iowa and Loyola-Chicago during the regular season and also flashed his offensive prowess against high-major opposition with an 11 of 20 showing against Oklahoma in the NIT.
Aimaq averaged 18.9 points and 13.6 rebounds for a 20-12 Utah Valley team in 2021-22, and he began flashing his outside shot by hitting 43.5% of his 46 attempts from 3-point range. He was also a two-time WAC Defensive Player of the Year, which makes him a perfect fit for Texas Tech’s gritty defensive system under coach Mark Adams. His all-around game should make him an impact player for one of the Big 12’s top programs.
Old school: Texas Tech | New school: Illinois
The 6-6 shooting guard upped his 3-point shooting mark to 38.4% this season while averaging 10.4 points for a Texas Tech team that took Duke down to the wire in the Sweet 16. Given the program he’s coming from, you know he can play defense. Offensively, he could likely be a 15-points-per-game type of player if given 30 or more minutes per game in the Illinois system.
7. Johni Broome
Broome is a monster shot blocker who finished third nationally with 131 blocked shots this season, putting him ahead of players like Gonzaga’s Chet Holmgren, Duke’s Mark Williams, Arizona’s Christian Koloko and KC Ndefo of Saint Peter’s. But he’s also a skilled player in the post who came up with big offensive performances in the OVC Tournament title games over the past two seasons. He will be big in helping Auburn replace Jabari Smith and Walker Kessler.
8. Mark Sears
After earning first-team All-MAC honors during a breakout sophomore season, Sears is returning to his home state of Alabama to help the Crimson Tide reclaim their 3-point shooting prowess. Alabama ranked first among the 14 SEC teams in 3-point attempts, makes and percentage in the 2020-21 season, but he slipped to 12th in percentage this past season. Sears hit 40.8% of his 3-point attempts for a 25-10 Ohio team and led the Bobcats with 19.7 points per game. He looks like a perfect fit at the perfect time for Alabama.
Amid the transition from Will Wade to Matt McMahon at LSU, there is a deep group of players from both LSU and Murray State — McMahon’s old school — on the move. Several of them are good enough to wind up as impact players on NCAA Tournament teams. Of the group, Murray stands out for his size as a well-built 6-5 guard with two-way chops. Though he played off the ball as a freshman, he flashed distribution prowess with nine assists in an SEC Tournament win over Missouri. Ultimately, he is a versatile guard who averaged double-digits as a true freshman for an NCAA Tournament team known for defense. That’s a winning formula in portal season. Georgetown’s hiring of ex-LSU assistant Kevin Nickelberry appears to have given it a huge leg up in landing Murray after the Hoyas struggled to a 6-25 record this past season.
10. KJ Williams
Old school: Murray State | New school: LSU
Williams upped his production each season during a stellar four-year run at Murray State. This past season, he averaged 18 points and 8.4 rebounds for a team that finished 31-3 and earned a No. 7 seed in the NCAA Tournament. He’s not much of a shot blocker for a 6-10 player, but he makes up for it with a career 3-point shooting percentage of 35.5%. He is reuniting with Matt McMahon, his former coach at Murray State, to play a key role on an LSU roster that will be almost unrecognizable compared to the one that former coach Will Wade fielded during the 2021-22 season.
11. Malachi Smith
Old school: Chattanooga | New school: Gonzaga
Smith was the SoCon Player of the Year as he led the conference in scoring while guiding Chattanooga to a regular season title and conference tournament championship. Though Smith struggled in the Mocs’ NCAA Tournament loss against Illinois, he demonstrated a strong all-around game during the course of his redshirt sophomore season. At 6-foot-4, he can play on or off the ball and should provide key depth for a Gonzaga team that lost guard Andrew Nembhard to the NBA Draft. Smith is a career 38% 3-point shooter whose sharpshooting next to returning guard Rasir Bolton should make the Zags one of the most fearsome perimeter shooting teams in college hoops next season.
12. Tanner Holden
Those who watched Holden go 3 for 11 and finish with 12 points in Wright State’s first round NCAA Tournament loss to No. 1 seed Arizona were likely not blown away. His three-year body of work for the Raiders is phenomenal, though, and his junior season made it clear he can handle big-time college basketball. The 6-6 guard averaged 20.1 points per game and finished second in Division I with 280 free-throw attempts. He’s not much of a 3-point shooter, but Holden is skilled at finding his spots inside the arc and attacking, which leads to points at the charity stripe.
13. Matthew Mayer
Old school: Baylor | New school: Illinois
Mayer’s shooting percentages dropped in the 2021-22 season as he entered the starting lineup for the first time in his career and played an increased offensive role amid a crushing streak of injuries for the Bears. But in the 2020-21 season, he demonstrated exactly what would make him so valuable as a transfer when he played a key role off the bench for a team that won the national title. He joins an Illinois team that loses four starters, including star big man Kofi Cockburn. Mayer should be in line to have a starting role as he makes the leap from the Big 12 to the Big Ten.
14. Norchad Omier
Old school: Arkansas State | New school: Miami
The Sun Belt Player of the Year is on the move after averaging 17.9 points and 12.2 rebounds for Arkansas State as a sophomore while shooting 63.2% from the floor. He doubled as the league’s defensive player of the year while blocking 1.9 shots and snagging 1.6 steals per game. The only question is, at just 6-7 and with no 3-point shot, how will Omier fit with the Hurricanes? It will take some thoughtful strategizing from Jim Larranaga to maximize Omier’s unique game at a higher level of competition.
15. A.J. Green
Old school: Northern Iowa
The two-time Missouri Valley Conference Player of the Year bounced back to form as a redshirt junior in the 2021-22 season after playing in just three games during the 2020-21 campaign due to a hip injury. Green is a lethal 3-point shooter and looks capable of slotting in as an elite role player for a great team. His defensive acumen is a question, but Green would thrive as a 3-point specialist in the right system.
16. Tristen Newton
Old school: East Carolina | New school: UConn
With R.J. Cole moving on following a nice two-year run as UConn’s starting point guard after transferring in from Howard, coach Dan Hurley is banking on another transfer guard to help the Huskies next season. Newton averaged 17.7 points, 5.0 assists and 4.8 rebounds while shooting 43.5% from the floor for ECU in the 2021-22 season. At 6-5, he’s got nice positional size and should be able to improve his offensive efficiency while playing in a system with more weapons.
Old school: South Dakota State | New school: Creighton
Scheierman won Summit League Player of the Year while averaging 16.2 points for a Jackrabbits squad that finished 30-5 (18-0 Summit) with a first-round NCAA Tournament loss to Providence. The 6-6 guard is a lefty with a smooth stroke who shot 50.8% from the floor, including 46.9% from 3-point range on 5.1 attempts this past season. He’s a slippery ball-handler with the ability to create space for his shot. It will be fascinating to see if he can translate that offensive prowess to the Big East and help lift the Bluejays to new heights.
18. Andre Curbelo
Old school: Illinois | New school: St. John’s
Curbelo’s sophomore season never got off the ground after a concussion-related issue kept him from building on a standout freshman season. Still, St. John’s coach Mike Anderson should be thrilled to have a chance at helping Curbelo reach his full potential. The former top-50 prospect from the 2020 class averaged 4.2 assists in just 21.5 minutes per game as a freshman, and he showed deftness at beating defenders off the dribble and finishing inside the arc. Turnover issues, a lack of 3-point shooting and his sophomore season as a whole are all legitimate red flags. But the potential reward outweighs the risks for a St. John’s program looking to break through and reach the NCAA Tournament
19. Courtney Ramey
Old school: Texas
After four seasons at Texas, 128 games and 106 starts, Ramey is in the portal. It will be weird seeing him in another uniform, particularly if he ends up playing in a more guard-friendly, up-tempo system. The 6-3 guard is a proven shooter and secondary ball-handler who scored 1,275 points during his time with the Longhorns. His best season was during the 2020-21 campaign, Shaka Smart’s last as Texas’ coach. Ramey averaged 12.2 point per game on 41.4% 3-point shooting before struggling in the postseason that year.
20. Kevin McCullar
Old school: Texas Tech | New school: Kansas
Kansas is getting a hard-nosed three-year veteran of Big 12 battles in McCullar, who should be an impact defender on the perimeter for the Jayhawks. McCullar’s career 29.9% 3-point shooting mark is unremarkable, but his distribution and defense packaged into a 6-6 frame make him a great pickup for the reigning national champions.
21. Pete Nance
Old school: Northwestern
Nance is a stretch forward who drilled 45.2% of his 3-point attempts while averaging 14.6 points for Northwestern last season. With four years of Big Ten experience under his belt and some solid ball skills for his size (2.7 assists last season), he should be able to play a big role for an NCAA Tournament caliber team.
22. Manny Bates
Old school: NC State | New school: Butler
A shoulder injury in NC State’s season opener knocked Bates out for the year. However, if he can return to the form he showed as a sophomore, he could be a huge boost for Thad Matta’s hopes of a quick turnaround at Butler. The 6-11 menace led the ACC in blocks during the 2020-21 season and swatted a ridiculous 4.9 shots per 40 minutes over his two seasons of play with the Wolfpack. He’s shown no 3-point shot in his career, but he is a reliable finisher around the rim who may be the Big East’s top shot blocker next season.
23. Makhel Mitchell
Makhel Mitchell is an excellent shot-blocker at 6-10, and if the skill translates to the SEC, he could wind up being the best rim protector of Musselman’s time so far at Arkansas. Mitchell can also get buckets in the paint as a roll guy and rim runner. While he lacks a track record with 3-point shooting, he is versatile enough to put the ball on the floor offensively if operating out of the high post. Defensively, he is athletic enough to handle a switch in the pick and roll.
24. Makhi Mitchell
Old school: Rhode Island | New school: Arkansas
Makhi Mitchell is a 6-9 forward who began his career at Maryland alongside brother Makhel Mitchell. Both are transferring to Arkansas and should flourish in coach Eric Musselman’s system, which has a proven track record of getting the best out of transfers. Makhi is the more versatile player of the two and averaged 9.9 points, 7.3 rebounds and 1.4 blocks in just 24.1 minutes per game last season while shooting 52.2% from the floor. Makhi began to shoot 3-pointers last season, converting on 7 of 23 attempts. If he can add a consistent outside shot to his versatile, defense-first identity, then he can be impact player on an SEC title contender.
25. Kyle Lofton
Old school: St. Bonaventure | New school: Florida
With 116 starts under his belt for a solid St. Bonaventure program, it stands to reason that Lofton can handle a transition to the SEC. He’s just a career 30.3% 3-point shooter but is a grade-A distributor, excellent free-throw shooter and solid on-ball defender. Having a veteran point guard like Lofton will help ease first-year coach Todd Golden’s transition from San Francisco to one of the nation’s big-time jobs.