The new age of college athletics has brought the transfer portal to prevalence, and its impact might be most felt in the world of college basketball. Of the 15 players to make an AP all-american team last year, 5 of them were transfers. Of those 5 transfers, three of them began their career at a mid-major program, with those being Marquis Nowell, Jalen Pickett, and Tyler Kolek. The abundance of talent that transferred up to power 6 basketball from the mid-major ranks was very apparent last year, as the aforementioned trio of guards in addition to stars like Xavier’s Souley Boum, UConn’s Tristan Newton, Baylor’s Adam Flagler, and Michigan State’s Tyson Walker. It is no different story coming into the 2023-2024 season as numerous players who dominated their mid-major conferences made the jump to power 6 basketball. Obviously, there is an endless list of players that could be mentioned, but these five players are most poised to breakout and lead their teams to new heights.
Tylor Perry (North Texas to Kansas State)
Jerome Tang will rely on another transfer guard to lead his squad, albeit under different circumstances. Marquis Nowell was already at Kansas State before Tang was hired, so *technically* he did not pick Nowell. Perry is also a very different player than Nowell. Nowell had an ability to play make and set up his teammates that might not be seen at the college level for years, while Perry’s assist rates sat at a very lackluster 13% at North Texas. However, Perry’s scoring ability could very well be the best in the Big 12 on day one. Perry averaged 17.3 PPG on 63% true shooting at North Texas last year. Perry’s range can be described as “in the gym,” and his quickness allows for him to create shots at all three levels. This is without mentioning that North Texas played in an offensively restricting system, posting the lowest pace in all of division one basketball. Tang’s high-tempo system should suit an explosive scorer like Perry much better going forward. Do not be surprised if Kansas State exceeds expectations once again, and if Perry averages upwards of 20 PPG and contends for Big 12 Player of the Year.
Dalton Knecht (Northern Colorado to Tennessee)
Dalton Knecht’s ability has begun to gain traction among the national media, especially after his performance against Michigan State in a charity exhibition game on October 30. Knecht scored 28 points on 8-16 from the field and 9-11 from the line and had this nasty sequence in which he crossed a defender and then dunked over another one. The issue for the Vols in recent years has been a lack of offensive depth and an overall go-to scorer. Knecht has the ability to remedy both of those issues. The 6’6” wing has the ability to kill a defense from anywhere on the court, showing abilities to shoot from deep and drive inside and finish or get to the free throw line. Knecht’s offensive abilities give Tennessee an offensive weapon that they have not had since Grant Williams was on campus in 2019, and if he can reach his full potential, then Rick Barnes’s Volunteers could reach heights that they have never seen before.
Aaron Estrada (Hofstra to Alabama)
It’s been a tumultuous journey for Aaron Estrada, who began his collegiate career sharing a backcourt with Doug Edert at Saint Peter’s before transferring to Oregon and then to Hofstra. The move to Hofstra was the turning point for Estrada, who would go on to win CAA player of the year in each of the two years he was at Hofstra. Now, Estrada finds himself back at a power 6 program in Alabama. This move almost seems like a perfect marriage, as Nate Oats looks to replace the offensive production left behind by Brandon Miller and Jahvon Quinnerly, while Estrada looks to benefit off of a system that has been able to develop players at a very consistent rate. When it comes to Estrada’s game, he’s a do-it-all type of guy, averaging over 18 PPG, 5.5 RPG, and 4.5 APG in each of his seasons at Hofstra. Estrada’s ability to get to his left and make any shot on the court makes him a nightmare to guard, and in a system with as much spacing as Alabama, Estrada will be able to use his skill set frequently. Estrada has been around for a long time, and his experience combined with his skill gives Alabama an alpha scoring option right off the rip in the 2023-2024 season.
Jameer Nelson Jr. (Delaware to TCU)
Jameer Nelson Jr., the son of former NBA player Jameer Nelson, was the runner up to Aaron Estrada for the CAA player of the year last season. Unlike the previously mentioned point guards in Estrada and Tylor Perry, Nelson is more of a traditional point guard rather than a scoring point guard. Nelson was asked to do a LOT at Delaware last year, putting up insane usage numbers. The efficiency was good for the amount of volume that he took on, and Nelson also posted an impressive 24.2% assist rate. He can handle a lot, even though TCU will not put that much on his plate. Nelson is also an extremely impressive defender, posting over 2.4 steals per game in two different seasons. Nelson will be able to impact the game on both ends of the court, which is exactly what Jamie Dixon has built his program around at TCU. TCU will be a tough team to beat in Big 12 play, and if Nelson can make improvements to his outside shooting, then the Horned Frogs could be at the top of the standings by season’s end.
Jordan Dingle (Penn to St. John’s)
It was an active offseason at St. John’s for the newly hired Rick Pitino, who had to lean on the transfer portal to build his roster for this upcoming season. The best portal pickup for the Johnnies is Penn transfer Jordan Dingle, who was the second-leading scorer in Division 1 basketball last season with 23.4 PPG. Not only did Dingle score at a high clip, but it was with good efficiency as well, posting 59.7% true shooting. Dingle is a very impressive offensive player whose size and quickness allow for him to get to any spot. Dingle also possesses the ability to be effective off of the ball, knowing when and where to cut for his teammates to find him. There is a lot to like about Dingle’s game, and it will be interesting to see if his assist numbers go up in this situation. When it comes to the crucial situations in games for the Johnnies, expect Pitino to lean on Dingle to get his team a bucket.