Free Agency, or the transfer portal as some of us still call it has never been as active as it is now, thanks to the instant eligibility and extra COVID year of eligibility players received. There are well over 1,000 players in the portal currently and this number continues to grow every single day, so I figured, why not rank my top ten players in the portal while also giving my predictions for where they end up.
#1 NIJEL PACK, FR, GUARD
I have Nijel Pack rated as the top player in the transfer portal, and after his sophomore season with Kansas State, it’s pretty easy to see why. Pack averaged 17 Points Per Game, 4 Assists per game, and 2 Assists Per Game while shooting 46% from the field and 44% from three. Nijel Pack is the best shooter in the portal by a good margin and that alone would get him an offer to any school he wanted realistically. However, he gets it done defensively as well, coming in the 86th percentile for overall defense.
Yes, even with Pack openly growing up a Purdue hater, I have him becoming a Boilermaker, it’s the best fit for him on a need and playstyle basis.
#2 KENDRIC DAVIS, SR, GUARD
Coming at #2 we have the reigning AAC Player of The Year, Kendric Davis. It was a bit of a surprise when he announced he was entering the portal but wow, some top university is about to be very thankful he did. Davis capped off another impressive season with a stat line of 19.4 PPG, 3.8 RPG, and 4.4 APG on 43.9% shooting. There are plenty of teams out there missing a sparkplug guard who can take them to the next level in March, and Mr. Davis will be just that for someone.
How often do you see a player transfer out of a program just to come back to the same place down the road? I honestly don’t know, that’s why I asked. Anyways, I do have a reunion in place here, the Horned Frogs are coming off a very impressive season and returning all five starters to a team that was a bad call away from knocking off the #1 seed Arizona in March. And for anyone who tries to say a backcourt duo of Mike Miles and Kendrick Davis wouldn’t work, I give you Frank Mason lll and Devonte Graham.
#3 FARDAWS AIMAQ, JUNIOR, CENTER
At #3 I have the 6-11 burly big man from Utah Valley, Fardaws Aimaq, he isn’t the most flashy by any means, but he is so effective in so many areas, which is why he has the current offers he does. In 32 games last season, Aimaq finished with 27 double-doubles, so to say he gets his is an understatement. He averaged 18.9 PPG, 13.6 RPG, and 1.7 APG on 49% shooting
PREDICTION: Shocker, Washington
This may come as a surprise given the offers he has, but I do genuinely like what is being rebuilt over there, and while this recruitment is anyone’s game, I’ll go ahead and take the “underdogs” of his final set of teams
#4 TERRENCE SHANNON JR, JUNIOR, GUARD
Terrene Shannon Jr, depending on who you ask you’ll get a different response as to how his career with Texas Tech played out, some will say he was a disappointment, and people with brains will probably say he was a great player for the Red Raiders. Shannon finished the year with averages of 10.4 PPG, 2.6 RPG, And 2.0 APG on 45.5% shooting, being a Red Raider usually also entails being good defensively, and he was just that, an absolute dog on the other end of the floor, and something that will surely make him some good money down the road.
This is a natural fir for both parties, and there are relationships already formed that will certainly help the Fighting Illini. Assistant Tim Anderson who was once at DePaul had commitments from two impressive guards, one being Skyy Clark, the other, Terrence Shannon Jr. As many know, Clark flipped his commitment to Illinois recently and with Anderson in heavy pursuit of getting both his former commits back, it just seems to perfect, especially with Illinois’ recent loss of Andre Curbelo.
#5 KJ WILLIAMS, JUNIOR, FORWARD
KJ is a certified bucket, and the OVC Player of The Year proved that this season as he helped take Murray State to new heights, with a respectable March run to cap it off. Williams finished the season with a stat line of 18 PPG, 8.4 RPG, 0.7 APG, and 1.4 SPG on 53.8% shooting. While he has declared for the NBA draft, I fully expect him to come back next season, which is why I have him on this list.
Might as well mock the entire Murray State roster (those in the portal at least) to LSU, the Tigers signed now-former Murray State HC Matt McMahon and proceeded to lose every single scholarship player on their roster. So there is a natural connection here as well as a lot of room to take in new players.
#6 JOHNI BROOME, FR, CENTER
Back to Back OVC players here as I have Johni Broome coming in at #6. The big man from Morehead State has had two dominant seasons, earning All-OVC honors twice. Broome finished the season with averages of 16.8 PPG, 10.5 RPG, 3.9 BPG, and 1.2 APG on 55.5% shooting. In the OVC championship game, he showcased to a larger audience that gets was the real deal, finishing with 32 points but falling short to Murray State. Broome is arguably the best interior defender in the country and will be a huge addition to any team.
The perfect Walker Kessler replacement, Broome gives Bruce Pearl and Co. another dominant inside presence that they will surely need in a tough SEC this season. Other teams, I considered as possible landing spots were Kentucky and Alabama, so in other words, this guy screams SEC and I would be genuinely surprised if he ended up in any other conference.
#7 TRISTEN NEWTON, SOPHOMORE, GUARD
One of my favorite players to watch in all of college basketball last season, Tristen Newton really made a name for himself on a subpar Eastern Carolina team with his electrifying playmaking abilities. The 6’5″ guard posted averages of 17.7. PPG, 4.8 RPG, and 5.0 APG on the season against very respectable AAC competition. Newton will be a household name soon enough, he’s got March star written all over him.
Ever since taking his official visit to Storrs, most people expect that this would be the spot for him, and it makes sense for both parties. UConn desperately needs a guard with playmaking abilities and there is a wide-open spot for him to step right into with the loss of RJ Cole. Dan Hurley isn’t the greatest in-game coach, but man can he recruit, this would be a huge addition for a team that just lost their two best players to the draft.
#8 JAELIN LLEWELLYN, SENIOR, GUARD
A pure offensive threat, Jaelin Llewellyn, a former top 100 recruit is once again set to receive a plethora of high major offers thanks in part to his spark plug abilities. The former Princeton Tiger guard finished his final season in the Ivy League with averages of 15.7 PPG, 4.1 RPG, and 2.5 APG on 44.7% shooting from the field, and nearly 40% from three on over 6 attempts over a game. He’ll have his pick of basically any high major out there, and rightfully so.
Nothing about his transfer decision has become public yet outside of the teams who offered him, so I am taking a total shot in the dark here. I just have this feeling that Miami is loading up after an Elite Eight run this past March, and Llewellyn is a natural fit alongside Isaiah Wong.
#9 NORCHAD OMIER, FRESHMAN, FORWARD
Let me start by saying the Sun Belt is an underrated conference as a whole, and Omier embodies that underratedness. The Sun Belt Player of the Year was dominant this past season, finishing with averages of 17.9 PPG, 12.2 RPG 2.0 BPG, and 1.6 SPG while shooting better than 63% from the field. His offer list is incredibly long, and it’s pretty easy to see why. Despite having minimal offers coming out, the Nicaraguan big man is now an extremely hot commodity.
The Wildcats strike gold in the transfer portal once again here and assuming the Big O comes back for a final season. This is by far the scariest frontcourt duo in the nation, it’s a perfect fit scheme-wise and Norchad Omier gets to play for one of the biggest brands in basketball. A sleeper team to keep an eye on as well is West Virginia, they’re pursuing him with everything they’ve got.
#10 ANDRE CURBELO, SOPHOMORE, GUARD
After a horrible sophomore season riddles with injuries and a downright bad player, the former freshman sensation is now in the portal. Many expected Curbelo to take that leap and be the Ayo Dosunmu replacement, instead, he averaged just 7.5 PPG and 3.2 APG on 33% shooting. My reasoning for ranking him in the top 10 has more to do with his potential and a belief that he will return to form again on a new team. Maybe a return closer to home will help this…
PREDICTION: ST JOHN’S
Even the fake tweets that riled everyone up, saying Curbelo privately committed here won’t steer me away from fully locking in and predicting this commitment to the Red Storm, Curbelo wants to be closer to home and has a chance to build one of the more entertaining backcourt duos with him and Posh Alexander. Will they lose double-digit games? easily. But will it be fun to watch? 100%. Sign me up.
Cam Hayes (PG), Jaylan Gainey (PF), Jalen Bridges (SF) Jaiden Delaire (PF)