The transfer portal has become a major factor across the landscape of college athletics. Considering how much one or two talented players can alter a team’s fortune, it may have the biggest impact in basketball. There are plenty of SEC transfers making their presence felt and adding new dynamics to the teams they have joined. This conference has an argument for being the best among the power five leagues in the country this year. The incoming transfers have had a huge impact on teams across the conference.
SEC Transfers Making an Impact
Navigating the roster fluctuation due to the player movement is a big challenge for head coaches now. Not only do you have to focus on what players could help your program from elsewhere, but also keeping your own roster intact becomes important. It’s a new day in college sports and coaches and players are both finding their way through it. This season, the SEC transfers are having a major impact on the conference title race and a broader national scale. There are multiple programs whose rosters have been helped by new additions from other schools.
The nation’s top-ranked team has been impacted by transfers as much as any team in the league. Their backcourt duo of Wendell Green and K.D. Johnson has powered their fast and aggressive style all season. Both are averaging over 13 points a contest. Green, a transfer from Eastern Kentucky, is also third in the conference in assists. He is tasked with running the Auburn offense. His ability to push the pace and penetrate the lane in the half-court is perfect for Bruce Pearl’s team. Johnson played a season ago at Georgia and provides a scoring punch for the Tigers. The former top 100 recruit is an outside shooting threat while also having the physicality to score at the rim.
The biggest of the SEC transfers resides in Lexington, Ky. Oscar Tshiebwe has made a huge impact in the frontcourt for John Calipari’s team. He is a rebounding machine, averaging nearly 15 per contest. In fact, he has more games with 20+ rebounds than he does with less than 10. He can also get the job done on the offensive end, with six 20+ point games for Big Blue Nation. His presence in the paint is balanced by the play of Sahvir Wheeler, a transfer point guard from Georgia. Wheeler leads the SEC in assists. The quick and shift guard has had his basketball IQ and vision on full display all season. These two and Kellen Grady, a graduate transfer from Davidson, add much-needed experience to a Kentucky roster that will always have talented freshmen cycling through.
Much like the two previous teams mentioned, LSU is benefitting from a transfer from within the conference. Xavier Pinson spent three seasons at Missouri before heading to Baton Rouge. He brings a steady backcourt presence to a talented Tiger team. Unfortunately, he was injured in a win over Tennessee and hasn’t played in the last few ball games. They have lost three of four since he has been out. LSU’s leading scorer Tari Eason was at Cincinnati for his freshman campaign. He helps this squad on both sides of the ball adding seven boards, a steal, and a block per game to his 16 points a night. This is a very young Tiger team, so they need the senior Pinson to return from his knee injury soon.
All Around the League
There are plenty of other SEC transfers making an impact around the league. Mississippi State has been boosted heavily by two former ACC talents. Garrison Brooks and Shakeel Moore provide an inside-out support duo to the Bulldogs star Iverson Molinar. D.J. Jeffries move from Memphis to Starkville is also benefitting Ben Howland’s squad. South Carolina is another team that tried to reshape its roster this past offseason. James Reese and Erik Stevenson have stepped into the starting line-up for Frank Martin’s Gamecocks and making plays on a nightly basis. Seven-footer Nysier Brooks was at both Cincinnati and Miami before manning the paint for Ole Miss this season.
The transfer portal has indeed changed college hoops. A coach’s ability to find talent that can both help and fit into their programs is now almost as important as high school recruiting. Finding players with college experience changes how teams are built. A few key additions can make a good great or accelerate the rebuild of a struggling program. The flip side is you can lose talent to kids who may look for new opportunities, or if you bring in kids that don’t fit well it can undermine what a coach is trying to build at a particular school. A delicate balance for sure, but for this season these SEC transfers have come in and made their mark.
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