College basketball has no offseason. You're either practicing, playing games, recruiting high school kids or recruiting in the transfer portal. The portal has created a way for players to put themselves in a better position to capitalize on a professional career. We've seen in recent years players sign out of high school with a high-major program, transfer after a year or two of not being used, and develop into stars. The opposite can be said as well of players who got very few offers in high school. They go into a small school, ball out, and then can use the transfer portal to move to a high-major program and show scouts that they are capable of still putting up numbers against better competition. Some don't like the transfer portal because there is so much turnover from one year to the next, but it's the reason why we have seen a lot more parity in recent years. It isn't shocking anymore when some of these mid-major schools come into the NCAA Tournament and make a run. Very few of those types of teams are built on home-grown talent. There is an opportunity for everyone out there and finding the right type of player that fits your system is what every college coach is trying to do nowadays in the transfer portal.
Agree with my take or not, the fact is that this is what college basketball has become, and I don't see any reason it will change anytime soon. We're right in the sweet spot for the transfer portal with a lot of teams' seasons ending and players having to make a decision on what they want to do next year. It can be somewhat of a slow process. You'll see a lot of top college players decide to test the NBA Draft process, where they can receive feedback from scouts on their expected draft position and what they need to work on. This has become a helpful tool, and as long as you don't sign with an agent, it won't affect your college eligibility. The NCAA withdrawal deadline is May 31, and at that point, players with at least one more year of eligibility will have to decide if they want to remain in the draft pool or return to school.
That leads us to my rankings of the best available players in the transfer portal. A number of these players will be taking advantage of that NBA Draft process and if they decide to return to school will be moving on from the school they played for last season. These rankings of players currently in the portal at the time of this writing is based on who I think can have the biggest impact on a team next season and also long-term.
Top Players Available
1. Grant Nelson (Previous School: North Dakota State)
Nelson is coming off a an incredible junior season that saw him average 17.9 points, 9.3 rebounds, 2.1 assists, 1.7 blocks, and 0.8 three-pointers per game. Nelson's late entry into the transfer portal will make him one of the hottest names out there. Any high major program would love to add this offensive superstar. Nelson played center at North Dakota State, but projects as more of a four at the next level. There is some concern that he could struggle a bit on the defensive end physically, but at 6-11 there is far too much pure skill to ignore. Nelson put together an impressive combine performance and there is a very real chance he stays in the NBA Draft, but one year at a high major program could really solidify his stock. Alabama, Arkansas, Auburn, and Tennessee would all likely be after Nelson, but I'd love to see him play alongside 7-2 Donovan Clingan and be a matchup nightmare for opposing fours in the Big East.
2. Arthur Kaluma (Previous School: Creighton)
Kaluma will be an NBA player one day, but a move out of Creighton's loaded offense is probably the best way to get to that point faster. Kaluma can move and defend extremely well at 6-7 225 pounds. He is coming off a sophomore season where he averaged 11.8 points, 6.0 rebounds, 1.6. assists, 1.1 three-pointers, 0.6 blocks, and 0.5 steals per game. The big thing scouts will probably tell Kaluma to continue developing is his outside shot. He improved from 26.5 percent as a freshman to 31.1 percent from three this past season. There's reason to think Kaluma can take another step fro a new program as a junior. He's an extremely versatile player who can play a lot of different positions and he needs to go to a team where he can really be the star. Louisville, Georgia Tech, Oklahoma State, Arizona, Auburn, and Vanderbilt all fit that bill for me.
3. RayJ Dennis (Previous School: Toledo)
Dennis was a late entry into the transfer portal after testing the NBA Draft process. He will certainly generate a ton of interest from teams that missed out on some of the top point guards earlier in the portal window. Dennis is coming off a big year as a senior with Toledo that saw him put up 19.5 points, 5.7 assists, 4.3 rebounds, 1.5 steals, and 1.5 three-pointers per game. Dennis has also improved his efficiency, shooting 48.4 percent from the field, 36.6 percent from deep, and 76.9 percent from the free-throw line. Dennis is from Illinois and the Fighting Illini still really need a point guard to solidify that team for next season. Michigan also becomes an option now that Caleb Love is back in the transfer portal.
4. Olivier Nkamhoua (Previous School: Tennessee)
Nkamhoua will be a graduate transfer who spent four seasons with Tennessee. He is coming off his best campaign in which he started all 36 games and averaged 10.8 points, 5.0 rebounds, and 2.0 assists per contest. Nkamhoua is a physical inside presence that brings ideal size as a four who has also showed the ability to pop out and make the occasional shot from three-point range. His signature game was a 27-point performance against Duke in the second round of the NCAA Tournament. Nkamhoua is testing out the NBA Draft process, but one more year in college seems like it could be the best play. Michigan is looking like the top option for Nkamhoua as the Wolverines will hope to offset the frontcourt losses of Jett Howard and Hunter Dickinson.
5. Mike Sharavjamts (Previous School: Dayton)
Sharavjamts is a very intriguing prospect. The 6-8 Mongolian guard was invited to the G League Elite Camp during the NBA Draft Combine week in Chicago. He elected to bypass the professional route and return to school for another year. His numbers as a freshman with Dayton last season were not all that impressive at 5.6 points, 2.6 assists, and 1.9 rebounds per contest, but many love the upside of this player. There are some clear defensive weaknesses, but his skill at 6-8 is why he got that opportunity in Chicago. Sharavjamts will be a versatile offensive weapon for a new school next season and he has narrowed his choice down to Indiana, Memphis, Pittsburgh, Nebraska, and San Francisco. Pittsburgh is the most intriguing option for me as Sharavjamts gets to play for a coach who has seen a lot of talent in Jeff Capel and would be in a lineup with talented scoring options like Ishmael Leggett and Blake Hinson.
6. David Jones (Previous School: St. John's)
Jones is one of the top interior scorers left in the transfer portal. He broke out as a sophomore with DePaul where he averaged 14.5 points, 7.4 rebounds, 2.4 assists, 1.7 steals, and 1.3 three-pointers per contest. Jones then filled right in with St. John's last season and put up 13.2 points, 6.8 rebounds, 1.6 assists, 1.4 three-pointers, and 1.3 steals per contest. Jones is a capable of playing either the three or four positioning and creating some matchup problems on the offensive end. He is also a very reliable defender with two more years of eligibility. A returns to DePaul wouldn't be crazy, but Marquette seems like a really good fit with Olivier-Maxence Prosper staying in the draft pool.
7. Cam Spencer (Previous School: Rutgers)
Spencer is a complete player who will be looking for his third program in as many years. As a junior he had an incredible season with Loyola-Maryland that saw him put up 18.9 points, 4.8 rebounds, 3.2 assists, 2.3 steals, and 2.0 three-pointers per contest. He then came to Rutgers prior to last season and was one of the most solid guards in the Big Ten, averaging 13.2 points, 3.8 rebounds, 3.1 assists, 2.1 three-pointers, and 2.0 steals. Spencer also was very efficient shooting 43.4 percent from the three-point line, good enough for fifth-best in the conference. The 6-4 guard can play PG, SG, or SF, stretch the floor, handle the ball, and lock up an opposing team's best scorer. There's not a team in the country that wouldn't want to add another player like that, it will just all come down to NIL deals and fit more than likely. Georgetown, Texas, and Indiana appear to be some of the most interested teams.
8. Tyrin Lawrence (Previous School: Vanderbilt)
Lawrence is coming off a breakout junior season with Vanderbilt that saw him average 13.1 points, 4.4 rebounds, 1.7 assists, 1.0 steals, and 1.0 three-pointers per contest while shooting an impressive 50.2 percent from the field and 36 percent from behind the arc. Lawrence is testing the NBA Draft process, but is expected to return to college for his senior season at a new school. Lawrence is a prototypical shooting guard at 6-4 200 pounds and being a lefty keeps a lot of defenders off balanced. Auburn has emerged as one of the favorites for Lawrence's services and would make a heck of scoring duo with FIU transfer Denver Jones (20.1 PPG) coming in as well.
9. Connor Vanover (Previous School: Oral Roberts)
Vanover is one of the most unique players in college basketball. You simply do not see 7-5 come around all that often. Vanover has been around the block starting his college career with Cal before transferring back to his home state of Arkansas for two years and then helping Oral Roberts to a Summit League title last season. Vanover was a solid contributor at both Cal and Arkansas, starting 52 games in those three seasons, but he blossomed with Oral Roberts last season averaging 12.7 points, 7.2 rebounds, 3.1 blocks, and 1.4 three-pointers per contest. Vanover has a very versatile game being that tall and able to step out to hit the outside shot, but he still needs to put on more weight. Could he take 7-4 Zach Edey's spot as Purdue's starting center next season if the Naismith Player of the Year stays in the NBA Draft?
10. Isaiah Miranda (Previous School: NC State)
Miranda has the type of length to make any team get excited. He stands at seven-feet tall and has a 7-foot-4 wingspan. Miranda was a former Top 50 recruit that enrolled early last winter to NC State, but never ended up seeing the floor in a game. He did get to practice with the team throughout the second semester and is currently going through the NBA Draft process, but it's unclear which way he is leaning. While he has next level length, I'm sure a lot of scouts would like to see some tape over a season on how he matches up against high major competition. If Miranda returns to school, Oklahoma State and Georgetown would likely be among the top contenders.
Other players considered: Trey Woodbury (Utah Valley), Alexis Yetna (Seton Hall), Andre Curbelo (St. John's), Adrame Diongue (Washington State), D'Marco Dunn (North Carolina)