basketball Edit

Conference Call: Most impactful graduate transfers

The transfer market has become the go-to during the spring months for programs needing to complete their roster. Much attention is paid to the graduate transfer realm, those that can play immediately next season, as schools attempt to fill the spots that high school prospects could not. In this week’s conference rundown, we give our take on the most important grad transfers that could change league races next season.

RELATED: Which available prospect will have biggest impact next season?

ACC - NIGEL JOHNSON, to Virginia

Nigel Johnson
Nigel Johnson (AP)

Finding a shot-making threat was critical for Virginia after it struggled mightily on offense for much of last season. The Cavs lost their top two scorers and are in need of any kind of offensive jolt. Virginia received good news a few weeks back with the commitment of Johnson. A one-time producer at Kansas State and Rutgers, Johnson has never been the most efficient of scorers but he also has never been afraid or unable to get his shot off. He brings 11 points and three rebounds to Virginia’s backcourt and should slide alongside future sophomore star guards Kyle Guy and Ty Jerome in restarting a somewhat downtrodden offensive unit.

BIG EAST - Karem Kanter, to Xavier

Karem Kanter
Karem Kanter (AP)

The younger brother of Oklahoma City Thunder big man Enes Kanter, Kerem Kanter comes to Xavier after a solid career at UW-Green Bay. Seeing his points and rebounds skyrocket this past season, Kanter is the type of interior piece Xavier was looking for this spring. Xavier will lose RaShid Gaston to graduation but already have Tyrique Jones, Kaiser Gates and Sean O’Mara slotted in for a bevy minutes on the frontline. Adding a big body like Kanter, a nice piece off the bench who can score and rebound and who has already been on a college hardwood for nearly 1,000 minutes, is icing on the cake for a program attempting to knock off Villanova atop the Big East totem pole.

BIG TEN - DUBY OKEKE, to Nebraska

There has not been a ton of movement within the Big Ten this spring when it comes to grad transfers, which leads us to Nebraska and its pick-up of Okeke. A 6-foot-8 center that completed his three years of service at Winthrop, Okeke will not be expected to do too much on the offensive end. While he has made nearly two-thirds of his shots from the field throughout his career, Okeke is more of an energy big man that will be leaned upon for his defensive skills. Nebraska lost its only player to average a block per game, so Okeke’s shot-blocking ability will be welcomed.

BIG 12 - KENDALL SMITH, to Oklahoma State

Kendall Smith
Kendall Smith (AP)

Mike Boynton walks into a difficult situation in Stillwater, seeing his premier backcourt comprised of Jawun Evans and Phil Forte leave the program. In need of immediate replacements on the perimeter and a playmaking guard that can score, Boynton found that exact piece in Cal State Northridge transfer Smith. Smith began his career at UNLV before then playing in the Big West, and he is coming off a season where he averaged more than 16 points, four rebounds and four assists per game. Filling in for Evans will be difficult, but Smith brings a well-rounded scoring punch to the Cowboys, a team that boasts a plethora of shot-makers in Lindy Waters, Thomas Dziagwa and Jeffrey Carroll.

PAC-12 - ELIJAH BROWN, to Oregon

Elijah Brown
Elijah Brown (AP)

The play of Dillon Brooks, Tyler Dorsey and Jordan Bell got the Ducks to the Final Four last year, but all three will need to be replaced. Do-it-all guard Dylan Ennis is also gone, leaving plenty of minutes for new faces. Dana Altman struck gold earlier in the week with the commitment of Brown. The son of Golden Star Warriors coach Mike Brown, the lefty comes to Eugene by way of New Mexico, where he averaged 18 points, five rebounds and three assists. While he was not as efficient as Dorsey, he was more productive thanks to his heavy usage rate. Oregon may not be as good as it was last year, but Brown puts the Ducks back into the upper crust of the Pac-12.


Egor Koulechov
Egor Koulechov (AP)

Florida was two minutes away from the Final Four and after losing Devin Robinson a year early to the NBA, Mike White and his staff were able to find a nice replacement in Rice forward Egor Koulechov. Florida ranked No. 136 in the nation in three-point shooting a year ago. Losing four of its five shooters from this past year, the Gators needed to find a zone buster, someone that could fill in for recently departed perimeter weapons Canyon Berry and Robinson. The Gators got that with Koulechov, a career 40-percent perimeter shooter. Add in the fact that he can rebound and make most of his foul shots, and Florida is primed for another run next season.