The transfer portal has opened up a new avenue for players to explore different options from the original team to which they committed. Many college programs have found the missing piece to success this season in older, experienced transfers. Transferring to different programs has also helped a handful of players boost their NBA Draft stock this year after dominating tougher competition and playing at a high level.
Tennessee guard Dalton Knecht went from playing at a JUCO his freshman year, to Northern Colorado for his sophomore and junior year, before joining the Vols this season. He’s been the No. 1 offensive threat for head coach Rick Barnes’ squad and is one of the main reasons why the Vols are the No. 6 team in the country.
Yahoo Sports takes a look at the 10 most impactful transfers so far this men’s college basketball season.
Previous team: Northern Colorado
No player in college basketball has had a bigger impact on a new team than Knecht. His rise from zero Division I offers as a high school prospect to projected lottery pick in the upcoming 2024 NBA Draft is nothing short of incredible. Knecht was one of the hottest names in the portal last summer and chose Tennessee over Kansas and North Carolina. In the Vols’ most recent win over LSU, Knecht led all players with 27 points and added seven rebounds and six assists. He had a stretch of six games where he averaged 31.8 points while shooting 45.6% from 3-point range. His offensive decision-making is elite, he’s a tough finisher and his defense has improved significantly.
Previous team: Michigan
Dickinson controlled the paint in the Big Ten for three seasons before transferring to Kansas for his senior season and not much has changed for the 7-foot-2 center. Kansas has remained a top-10 team the entire season thanks to the inside-out game of Dickinson and Kevin McCullar Jr. He’s currently averaging a double-double (18.9 points and 11.1 rebounds) and is leading the team in rebounds and blocked shots. Dickinson started his career as a Jayhawk with a bang when he recorded 27 points and 21 rebounds in a win over Kentucky at the Champions Classic in November.
“I don’t think I ever had a 20-20 before,” Dickinson said after the game. “We have a really unselfish team that’s more than willing to give you the ball and it helps a lot.”
Previous team: Stanford
In the first outing against rival Duke last Saturday, Ingram was the best player on the court. He was everywhere defensively and knocked down shots confidently, finishing with 21 points, 13 rebounds and 4 steals in the win. North Carolina is one of the toughest defensive teams in the country and Ingram has added to that with the way he can defend positions 1-4. The 6-7 junior spent two seasons at Stanford before making the move to the east coast this season and it’s paid off in a huge way not only for North Carolina but also for Ingram as a future NBA prospect.
Previous team: Oregon
The 7-foot sophomore center was relatively quiet during his freshman year at Oregon and found new life under head coach Mike Woodson and his staff this year. He stepped into Trayce Jackson-Davis’ role offensively in the pick-and-pop and pick-and-roll options and has added some much needed rim protection for Indiana this season. Ware went from averaging 6.6 points last year to 14.8 points this season. He’s also attempted a few 3-point shots this season, something NBA scouts were eager to see in his development, and is now a projected first-round pick in the draft.
Previous team: North Carolina
Love had success at North Carolina two seasons ago when he helped lead the Tar Heels to the title game in 2022. He tested the NBA waters after his sophomore season but elected to return to UNC for what would be a disappointing junior season. Love made the move to Arizona and has found a new home and new success playing alongside sophomore Kylan Boswell. Love leads No. 8 Arizona in scoring, averaging 18.9 points per game, and is shooting 44.3% from the field and 34.2% from 3. He erupted for 36 points in a win over Oregon on Jan. 27 and is one of the best scoring guards in the Pac-12.
Previous team: Rutgers
Spencer has become the glue guy for No. 1 UConn as it looks to make a repeat run back to the national championship. In the last two games, Spencer has combined for 43 points (including nine 3-pointers) and shot over 50% from the field and 60% from behind the arc. The fifth-year senior spent three seasons at Loyola Maryland and one season at Rutgers before joining the Huskies this season. Defensively is where he’s most impactful, averaging close to two steals per game and guarding multiple positions.
Previous team: Baylor
Typically when players transfer, they choose to play in a different conference so they won’t have to face their former team. Cryer decided to transfer to Houston, 185 miles down the road from Waco, Texas (the location of Baylor). Cryer hit the ground running for his senior season and has been terrific in the backcourt for the No. 5 Cougars. He leads all Houston players in points (15.1) and is a great complimentary piece to Jamal Shead, after the Cougars lost Marcus Sasser to the NBA last season.
Previous team: Oral Roberts
Abmas previously got NBA scouts’ attention in 2021 when he led Oral Roberts to a Sweet 16 run in the NCAA tournament. As a fifth-year senior, Abmas has been a great addition in the backcourt alongside Tyrese Hunter for the Longhorns. At 6 foot, he’s a little undersized at the point guard position for the NBA level but he leans into his strengths as a primary ball handler and has found success every step of his career. Abmas is leading all Texas players in points (17.7 per game) and has scored 20 or more points this season in eight games, including a 32-point performance against West Virginia where he hit seven 3s in the close loss.
Previous team: West Virginia
Head coach John Calipari is known for drawing five-star, one-and-done talent to Kentucky but he’s found success in the transfer portal the last couple of years. The Wildcats had two 7-foot freshmen coming in this season but Aaron Bradshaw was coming back from having surgery on his left foot and Zvonimir Ivišić didn’t get cleared by the NCAA until January. Mitchell was instrumental in Kentucky’s early success during the season. The 6-9 senior forward is strong in the paint, a solid passer out of the double team and a good rebounder. Mitchell is averaging 12.3 points, 7.6 rebounds and 3.1 assists per game for the Wildcats.
Previous team: Gonzaga
The junior guard went from averaging under five points per game in his freshman and sophomore seasons at Gonzaga to being a breakout player in the ACC for Wake Forest, averaging 17.9 points and shooting 39% from 3 so far this season. He’s leading the Demon Deacons in scoring and his best game of the season came in a win over defensive powerhouse Virginia when he finished with 21 points (including five 3-pointers) and added nine rebounds and two assists.