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CBS Sports College Basketball 2023-24 All-Transfer Team: Dalton Knecht headlines hoops’ top portal players

The key to a March Madness run in college basketball’s modern era can often be discovered during the April avalanche. It was during this disorienting month of transfer portal movement last year that Tennessee landed a commitment from Dalton Knecht, Purdue landed a pledge from Lance Jones and DJ Horne announced he was heading to NC State.

Those are just a few of the big-name players who chose their 2023-24 schools in the days and weeks after the 2023 NCAA Tournament ended. The era of plotting out future rosters years in advance through large high school recruiting classes is largely over. But for programs with some NIL money to spend, a willingness to adjust on the fly and a keen eye for fit, there are rewards to reap in what has essentially become free agency.

While much of the flurry transpires in April, it doesn’t stop then. During the 2023 transfer cycle, seismic activity continued well into May with the commitments of Hunter Dickinson to Kansas and Caleb Love to Arizona. June even saw some high-level pop, when Cam Spencer’s committed to UConn. Given how prominent transfers have become over the past five years in college basketball and how focused the sport’s attention is on the portal in April, we debuted the CBS Sports Transfer Player of the Year and All-Transfer team this time last year.

Now, it’s time for the second edition of those honors as we reflect one final time on the 2023-24 season by recognizing the country’s top transfers from the past season. The selections were determined by David Cobb and Matt Norlander and limited to players who were in their first season with their new school.

CBS Sports 2023-24 All-Transfer Team

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Knecht was a revelation for the Vols, turning in a First Team All-American season after leaving Northern Colorado. USATSI

Dalton Knecht, Tennessee (Transfer of the Year)

Knecht’s arrival from Northern Colorado sparked a revitalization of Tennessee’s offense and set the stage for the program’s second-ever Elite Eight run. The Volunteers won the SEC regular season title with Knecht averaging 25.5 points per game on 42.4% 3-point shooting against conference opposition. That gaudy production for a winning team made him an easy pick for SEC Player of the Year, and Knecht didn’t stop there as he took home consensus first-team All-American honors. Though he couldn’t will the Volunteers to their first-ever Final Four, Knecht went toe-to-toe with National Player of the Year Zach Edey of Purdue in an Elite Eight showdown by setting a program record for most points in an NCAA Tournament game with 37.

The 6-foot-6 shooting guard surpassed 30 points eight times and hit three or more 3-pointers in 17 games. What made Knecht so difficult for opponents to handle was the versatility in his game. While his ability to rise up over defenders and drill long-range jumpers stood out, Knecht showed a deft touch with mid-range shooting and proved to be a relentless attacker capable of getting to the rim and finishing once he got there. Knecht established himself as a potential lottery pick in the 2024 NBA Draft while capping an unlikely journey from unheralded junior college prospect to top transfer in college basketball.

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UConn’s second straight national title was possible, in no small part, because of Spencer’s 3-point shooting and vocal leadership. Getty Images

Cam Spencer, UConn

2023-24 UConn is one of the best teams of the past four decades … but would it have won a title if Cam Spencer wasn’t on the roster? I have my doubts. That’s how good/valuable Spencer was. The grad transfer from Rutgers was the perfect infusion to UConn’s system and Dan Hurley’s culture. He was cocky, competitive, efficient and ever-reliable. Spencer started all 40 games and averaged 14.3 points, 4.9 rebounds, 3.6 assists and shot 44% from 3. The irony that’s been largely forgotten in all of this: UConn expected to bring in Nick Timberlake to transfer, only to see him pick Kansas. That opened a path for Spencer to head to Storrs and make history in the process. Hurley and UConn fans could not have asked for a more ideal plug-and-play grad senior than the spicy Spencer. — Matt Norlander

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The Jayhawks had a down season for their standards, but Dickinson still delivered as a dynamic offensive big. Getty Images

Hunter Dickinson, Kansas

The Kansas center (by way of Michigan) was our preseason Transfer of the Year pick. He mostly panned out as expected in Lawrence, though he was not the First Team All-American that some projected. Dickinson averaged 17.9 points, 10.9 rebounds and shot 54.8% for a Kansas team that was hampered late by injuries (including a shoulder one for Dickinson). He and Kevin McCullar Jr. (who also was hurt down the stretch) shared the load as co-MVPs for Bill Self’s program. All told, Kansas’ 23-11 year was a let-down. Feels like there’s unfinished business here. Dickinson hasn’t publicly revealed his decision to return for one final year of college eligibility, but he’s expected to return. If he does, he won’t be eligible for this honor in 2025. Our All-Transfer Team only applies to players in the immediate season following their decision to play for a new school. — MN

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Great Osobor won Mountain West Player of the Year and turned himself into a top 30-40 player in America heading into next season. Getty Images

Great Osobor, Utah State

Whereas Dickinson isn’t going to be eligible for this honor next year, Osobor will have a chance to repeat. That’s because the one-year Utah State standout has become of the most coveted transfers on the market in 2024. Osobor followed Danny Sprinkle from Montana State to USU. He guided the Aggies to their first Mountain West regular-season championship and won the league’s player of the year award after averaging 17.7 points, 9.0 rebounds and shooting 57.7%. (Like Knecht, Osobor came over from the Big Sky.) The Aggies were a No. 8 seed in the NCAAs and reached the second round before falling to top-seeded Purdue. Osobor is currently considering offers from Kentucky, Louisville, Texas Tech and Washington. Will we see him back on this list a year from now? — MN

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The Wildcats helped Caleb Love rewrite some of his story — and he helped Arizona to a 2-seed in the West. Getty Images

Caleb Love, Arizona

Our final honoree barely won out over a transfer who made the Final Four: NC State’s DJ Horne. But Love did well for himself after leaving North Carolina. He won Pac-12 Player of the Year on an Arizona team that got a 2-seed and reached the Sweet 16. Love’s final game at Arizona (the loss to Clemson in the Sweet 16) was a flop, but we are looking at the entire body of work and his stop through Tucson deserves one final accolade. Love averaged 18.0 points, 4.3 rebounds and 3.4 assists. He committed himself to refining his game and buying in on Tommy Lloyd’s vision for how he could rebuild his reputation after a rocky 2022-23 season at North Carolina. Remember, Love planned on going to Michigan but was unable to enroll. Then the Wildcats provided a new path and he capitalized. — MN

Honorable mentions to DJ Horne (NC State), Marcus Domask (Illinois), Graham Ike (Gonzaga), AJ Storr (Wisconsin) and Tyon Grant-Foster (Grand Canyon). For a look at who’s poised to compete for this list next year, here’s our latest look at the top 80 transfers for the 2024 offseason.

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