Evans Seven: Top backcourt players in the transfer portal
Last week, we outlined the top graduate-transfers available this spring, and already we have seen Duke and Ohio State land immediate plug-ins along the frontline. In this week’s The Evans Seven, we take a look at the top backcourt sit-out transfers that have placed their names into the portal and assess their potential landing spots for next year.
2022 Rankings: Top 75
1. DJ Carton
D.J. Carton entered his freshman season as a potential one-and-done candidate, and while it did not work out that way, his talent and upside remain. Ranked as the 33rd-best prospect in his graduating 2019 class, Carton’s progressions up until his college career suggest that his best is still to come.
Carton took a leave of absence earlier this winter, but up until that point he averaged 10.4 points and three assists. Since then, Carton and Chris Holtmann decided that it might be best to split ways, and he has heard from a number of schools, including Alabama, Arkansas, Auburn, Creighton, DePaul, Georgia Tech, Illinois, Minnesota, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Oregon, Seton Hall and USC. A leader has not jumped out, but Carton sits as arguably the best sit-out transfer available this spring, and he could receive a waiver to play immediately in the fall.
2. Trey McGowens
Trey McGowens entered the transfer portal last week and immediately saw high-major programs all over the country show interest in him. McGowens leaves Pitt after starting in 65 of the 66 games in which he appeared. He is just a rising junior, but his experience is tremendous and so is his size, athleticism and durability. His career averages are strong: 11.5 points, 3.6 assists and 3.3 rebounds per game.
A final school list is expected in the coming days, but a commitment is not expected anytime soon. Among those involved for the South Carolina native: Arkansas, Arizona State, Auburn, DePaul, Georgia, Georgia Tech, Illinois, Iowa State, Maryland, Nebraska, Ohio State, Ole Miss, TCU, Seton Hall, South Carolina, UConn, Wichita State and Xavier.
3. Landers Nolley
While other players may have better numbers, there might not be a better NBA prospect in the transfer portal than Landers Nolley. Three months ago, Nolley was not expected to return to Virginia Tech because many thought he would be entering the NBA Draft. After a rather middling end to his season, Nolley will be leaving Virginia Tech, but now he won't be going to the league. Instead, he'll look for a new college home.
There were moments last season when he showed his NBA upside, including his showing at the Maui Invitational, where he averaged close to 20 points against BYU, Dayton and Michigan State. But Nolley also had bouts of inefficiency that curtailed his NBA aspirations.
4. Alex O'Connell
The winningest player on this list, Alex O’Connell made the decision to leave Duke on Saturday and quickly became one of the more prominent prospects in the transfer portal. The junior leaves the blueblood program after appearing in over 100 games and earning 14 starts during his three years in Durham.
While his efficiency dwindled last season, O’Connell is a coveted prospect because of his versatility in the backcourt, his three-level scoring prowess and his athleticism. He has never averaged more than six points in a season, but with greater opportunities and the ability to take more shots - two factors that he is looking for in his next home - his production should increase.
O’Connell has spoken little regarding his recruitment, but the list of schools involved includes Cincinnati, Dayton, Florida, Georgetown, Georgia, Georgia Tech, Indiana, Memphis, Oregon and Xavier. He will sit for one year and then have one final season of college eligibility.
5. Alan Griffin
Some transfers are expected, but Alan Griffin surprised many earlier this week when he made his intentions known via Twitter that he would be leaving the Illinois program after two years. Griffin has only started two games in his career, but he made great strides from his freshman to sophomore years. He averaged more than six points and three more rebounds while improving his 3-point percentage to over 40 percent from the perimeter.
He comes from a great pedigree: His father is former NBA veteran Adrian Griffin, and his younger brother is five-star Duke recruit AJ Griffin. There has been talk about him joining forces with his brother at Duke, but his list of suitors is a long one. If there is one dark horse to monitor, it is Dayton.
6. Trey Wertz
Trey Wertz is one of the more consistent and efficient producers to enter the transfer portal this offseason and he has not been short on college interest since entering the portal earlier this week. The North Carolina native spent his first two years of college ball at Santa Clara, where he started every game and posted averages of 12 points, 4.3 rebounds and 3.2 assists this past season.
Clemson, NC State and Wake Forest have already shown heavy interest in him, but many others have, too. Wertz is still in the beginning stages of his transfer recruitment and is a major target for a number of programs, including Arkansas, Arizona, Arizona State, Butler, Cincinnati, Creighton, Georgia Tech, Minnesota, North Carolina, Northwestern, Oklahoma, Stanford, South Carolina, Vanderbilt, Virginia Tech and Xavier.
7. Tyrese Martin
Tyrese Martin started all 30 games last season for a Rhode Island team that entered the Atlantic 10 Conference Tournament on the NCAA Tournament’s bubble. Martin boasts major value as a perimeter stopper, rebounder and finisher. He has never been known for his shooting, but he brings toughness and the ability to contribute in a number of different ways on the final stat sheet.
The 6-foot-6 wing averaged over 12.8 points and seven rebounds last season, and he was a major contributor on the defensive end of the floor. He scored in double figures in 13 of his 15 final games for the Rams, and he should make an immediate impact after his sit-out year. He just entered the transfer portal Thursday, but he has already heard from Arizona State, Butler, Georgia, Marquette, Miami, Ole Miss and Temple.