Bossi's Best: Grad transfers who could impact this season
Graduate transfers have become a major part of college basketball. In addition to offering programs a chance to load up on additional firepower for one last year, they allow prospects who were highly ranked coming out of high school - and have had varying levels of success throughout their college careers - a second or third chance to show why they were so highly ranked.
The class of 2015 is a perfect example. At least 17 former members of the Rivals150 attempted to go the grad-transfer route - a few were unable to find homes - for the 2019-20 season. In this week’s edition of Bossi’s Best, national analyst Eric Bossi looks at the 10 (in order of their high school ranking) most capable of making a difference this season.
1. Derryck Thornton Jr., Boston College
As a high schooler: Thornton thrived on getting to the basket and operating in ball-screen situations. He was also a dynamite on-the-ball defender.
Expectations: A former five-star prospect, Thornton arrives at Boston College with plenty of high-level experience. The Eagles need a steady hand at the point and there’s no reason that Thornton shouldn’t be among the top assist men in the ACC during his final season of college ball.
2. Jimmy Whitt, Arkansas
As a high schooler: Whitt was a big-time scorer in high school who had sneaky athleticism, a strong mid-range game and the ability to finish at the rim while putting up big numbers.
In college: Amazingly enough, Whitt’s career began at Arkansas and he showed promise while playing nearly 20 minutes per game. At SMU, he was a consistent contributor and played over 35 minutes per game as a junior while filling up the stat sheet.
Expectations: Expectations should be high for Whitt as he was a big transfer score for Eric Musselman in his first year. Whitt is not a very good three-point shooter, but he can play the one or the two, is an outstanding rebounder for a guard and has proven he can produce at a high level.
3. Tevin Mack, Clemson
As a high schooler: Mack was known as one of the top jump shooters in his class and looked to be a big score for Shaka Smart when he lured him to Texas.
In college: Mack really appeared to be blossoming as a sophomore, averaging over 14 points on nearly 40 percent shooting from three before being suspended and ultimately released by Texas. Last season at Alabama, he showed flashes and started 24 games.
Expectations: It’s a big year for Brad Brownell at Clemson and the Tigers don’t have a lot of proven high-major wing scorers. It’s not unreasonable to expect that Mack could emerge as a primary scoring option for the Tigers.
4. Admon Gilder, Gonzaga
As a high schooler: Gilder was a highly productive and successful player on the high school level who was all about winning and doing whatever was needed to win.
In college: During his three seasons at Texas A&M, Gilder was a reliable and steady guard. He shot well from three and started 59 games over the last two seasons.
Expectations: Gilder appears to be a great fit both as a player and for the culture of the program at Gonzaga. He should be considered one of the premier graduate transfers in the country and should be able to replicate the kind of production he had in College Station.
5. Chris Clarke, Texas Tech
As a high schooler: While Clarke never really appeared to have a natural position, he was versatile, played with a tremendous motor and got things done on both ends of the floor.
In college: Clarke had three very productive seasons as rebounder, passer and opportunistic scorer at Virginia Tech before missing last season due to suspension.
Expectations: Texas Tech and Chris Beard have to replace quite a bit, and Clarke looks like a perfect fit. He’s been around the block a time or two, can play multiple positions and has the toughness Beard covets. He should be a very good Big 12 player.
6. Haanif Cheatham, Nebraska
As a high schooler: Cheatham was always steady on both sides of the ball in high school. His good size, versatile game and production made him a top 80 player in the country.
In college: Cheatham appeared to be on his way to an All-Big East type career at Marquette after his freshman year, but he didn’t mesh well after that. He was off to a great start at Florida Gulf Coast before being limited to 10 games due to a shoulder injury.
Expectations: A huge part of Fred Hoiberg’s success at Iowa State was his ability to get the most out of transfers. Cheatham can play all three perimeter spots and is looking to prove his worth one last time. He should be a major cog for the Huskers.
7. Keith Stone, Miami
As a high schooler: A late-bloomer, Stone made waves towards the latter part of his high school career because of his size, length and ability to stretch the floor as a three-point shooter.
In college: Stone was generally solid and had some bright moments while starting 39 games in three seasons at Florida. He also shot over 40 percent from three-point range each of the last two seasons.
Expectations: Nobody is expecting Stone to come in and set the world on fire at Miami, but he will be expected to serve as a threat from deep and to provide experience. If he doesn’t start, he’ll likely play starter-type minutes and it wouldn’t be a surprise if he averaged double figure points for the first time in his career.
8. Kerry Blackshear, Florida
As a high schooler: Another player who was a bit of a late-bloomer in high school, Blackshear intrigued with his inside/out game, long arms and ability to grow into his body.
In college: At Virginia Tech, Blackshear emerged as an upper-tier ACC player and potential NBA Draft pick and All-America candidate.
Expectations: Blackshear is likely the top transfer in the country and expectations will be huge for him at Florida. Take a look at what somebody like Dedric Lawson did last season as a transfer at Kansas and it’s not hard to see Blackshear having a similar impact for the Gators.
9. Matt Ryan, Chattanooga
As a high schooler: Recovered from injury during his junior year to add strength and emerge as a high-major forward who could stretch defenses with his shooting.
In college: After showing some promise during his freshman season at Notre Dame, Ryan never really found his shot in South Bend. Last year, he played big minutes but was part of a total disaster for Vanderbilt as it went winless in the SEC.
Expectations: By moving down a level in competition, Ryan should have the best year of his career. The chance to play as a face-up four man should benefit him, and if he can provide at least a little rebounding, he should be a major impact player at Chattanooga.
10. Jayce Johnson (NR 4-star), Marquette
As a high schooler: Johnson, who impressed with his rebounding, size and touch, bounced around a bit and was initially slated to be in the class of 2016 before choosing to enroll at Utah and redshirt midway through the 2015-16 season.
In college: At Utah, Johnson proved to be a reliable finisher around the rim and a high-volume rebounder despite never playing more than 21.9 minutes per game during his three seasons in Salt Lake City.
Expectations: If the past is any indication, expect Marquette guards to let the jumpers fly. Because of that, a high-volume rebounder with 7-foot size that is tough to come by in the Big East should be pretty handy.