The 10 best players remaining in the college basketball transfer portal (grad transfer edition)
It's late May and after weeks of covering all the transfer portal insanity, things are slowly starting to wind down - sort of.
That's because while most of the heavy lifting is done, and most of the best players are now committed, there are still a handful of elite talents left in the portal. More importantly, with the draft deadline coming next week - and grad transfers free to enter at any time - it appears as though we're getting one final push of big names heading into June.
That includes a few who just entered this week.
So, after updating our list of the "10 best available players" list a few weeks ago - here's a new one, including two new grad transfers that will have immediate impact wherever they end up.
1. Arthur Kaluma, F, Creighton
Kaluma is one of several players on this list who got his name into the portal right at the deadline, while also going through the NBA Draft process. At the time it was thought that Kaluma's preference was to stay in the draft, but after an up and down week at the combine, it will be interesting to see if he seriously considers a return to college basketball.
The 6'7 forward has all the tools with elite athleticism, and to his credit, has proven he can do it at the highest level. He had a breakout late in the 2021-2022 season, including a 24-point performance against eventual national champion Kansas. And even though he didn't have the breakout he'd hoped for in 2023, still averaged 11.8 points and six rebounds on 31 percent three-point shooting.
If Kaluma returns and it all clicks at his next stop, we're looking at a potential Top 20 pick in the 2024 NBA Draft.
What's interesting is, what the landing spot could be. Arizona was perceived as a favorite, but after taking Keshad Johnson last week, they're off the list. Kansas seems like it might be too with the return of Kevin McCullar.
If Kaluma comes back, it'd be fascinating to see where he ends up.
2. Tyler Burton, F, Richmond
Burton is one of two new names to be added here since last week, as a grad transfer who has decided to enter the portal, while also finishing up the NBA Draft process.
If he decides to come back to college, well, let's just say the list for him is going to be insane.
The 6'7 forward has the size and athleticism of an NBA wing, with the college production to match it. This year at Richmond he averaged 19 points per game and seven rebounds, earning All-A-10 first team honors in the process.
Burton isn't an elite shooter, but does just about everything else well.
Again, if he returns to college basketball, especially every major program in the country to reach out and try to convince him to come to campus.
3. Julian Phillips, F, Tennessee
Phillips is another player who got his name in the portal right at the deadline, and another player who seems fully invested in going through the NBA Draft process before making any big decisions on his next stop.
The former McDonald's All-American has all the tools at 6'8 with elite athleticism, setting a combine high with a 43-inch vertical leap last week in Chicago. Unfortunately, those tools weren't on full display in Knoxville this past year, for a Tennessee team whose style of play didn't exactly highlight them. He averaged just eight points per game, but in the right system has breakout type talent.
Given that Phillips elected *not* to play five-on-five at the Combine, it's a pretty good indication that he is seriously considering staying in the draft, and he said as much in an interview with 247 Sports' Travis Branham on Thursday.
But should he return, he has an insane list of suitors that includes Kansas, Kentucky, Arizona, Gonzaga and Alabama among others, according to Branham. Auburn has long been perceived as a favorite in his recruitment, but it's clear they will have competition if he returns to college basketball.
4. Grant Nelson, F/C, North Dakota State
There had been whispers for weeks that Nelson - an athletic and skilled big man from North Dakota State - would enter the transfer portal, and about a week before the deadline it became official.
Like the two players above, Nelson is currently testing the NBA Draft waters, and of Thursday, was still conducting workouts. However, after an up-and-down week in Chicago, it feels possible that he could return to college.
That's great news for either North Dakota State or a new suitor, after the 6'11 Nelson averaged 17.9 points per game and 9.3 rebounds last year as well.
In terms of possible landing spots, Nelson - like so many on this list - has heard from just about everyone in college hoops. Arkansas has been the perceived leader since the day he entered the portal.
SHOP THE AARON TORRES MEDIA STORE - FOR ALL YOUR COLLEGE HOOPS NEEDS!
5. Ernest Udeh Jr., F/C, Kansas
Sometimes the portal giveth, and sometimes it taketh away, as shortly after Hunter Dickinson announced he was headed to Kansas, Udeh Jr. - a high-upside forward - announced that he would be leaving.
Had Udeh Jr. stayed at Kansas, he felt like the kind of guy who could one day develop into an All-Big 12 caliber player, after showing flashes as a freshman.
Instead, the former McDonald's All-American will now leave, and based on the interest, you can tell that the upside is there for the highly-coveted forward. He has already visited Duke, with Kansas State and others in the fold as well.
6. Cam Spencer, G, Rutgers
The second new player in the portal is Spencer, a grad transfer sharp-shooter who spent last season at Rutgers.
Spencer actually transferred in just a year ago from Loyola (MD) but in a short time on campus established himself as one of the best guards in the Big Ten. He averaged 13.2 points per game this year to lead the Scarlet Knights in scoring, all while shooting 43 percent from three.
Not surprisingly since entering the portal Spencer has heard from just about everyone, including UConn, Kentucky, Indiana and others, per a report from Adam Zagoria.
According to NJ.com, NIL will heavily weigh in Spencer's next decision.
7. Caleb Love, G, North Carolina
The saga of Caleb Love just won't end.
The 6'4, former McDonald's All-American and 2022 NCAA Tournament hero entered the transfer portal shortly after the season, landing at Michigan. Of course, unless you've been living under a rock for the last week, you know that there was an issue with Michigan's admissions department, and now Love is back on the market.
At this point, we know what Love does well and doesn't. He's an upper-level playmaker that averaged 17 points per game in the ACC this year, but struggles with shot selection as well, hitting just 37 percent from the field and 29.9 percent from three in 2023.
Despite it, the talent is there, and it will be interesting to see what his next step is. A report this week speculated that Arizona, Gonzaga and Texas are among the new group of schools interested in his services.
8. RayJ Dennis, G, Toledo
The MAC Player of the Year, Dennis entered the portal late in the process, after helping the Golden Flashes to an NIT appearance this season.
The 6'2 guard isn't overly big, but has an ability to score from all three levels on the court, averaging 19.5 points per game this season, all while shooting 36 percent from behind the three-point line as well.
His recruitment has been relatively quiet since entering the portal a few weeks ago. He has been linked to Illinois, and could also be a late replacement for Caleb Love at Michigan as well.
9. Tyrin Lawrence, G, Vanderbilt
In what has become nothing short of a devastating off-season for Vanderbilt, Lawrence became the latest Commodore to hit the portal a few days back. He joins former starters Jordan Wright (committed to LSU) and Myles Stute (South Carolina) to leave the program for greener pastures this off-season.
Whoever gets him will add a big, 6'4 guard, who has proven an ability to get buckets against elite competition. He went for 21 in a Vanderbilt win at Rupp Arena in the final week of the regular season, then added 18 in a win over the Wildcats in the SEC Tournament. He also dropped 24 points in an NIT win over Michigan.
Auburn and LSU (where his former teammate Jordan Wright ended up) are believed to be the favorites for his services, but increasingly, it's looking like a return to Vanderbilt is possible as well.
10. Olivier Nkamhoua, F, Tennessee
Nkamhoua is one of the more interesting names in the portal, for a number of different reasons.
This past season, the versatile, 6'9 forward was one of the few offensive bright spots for Tennessee, averaging 10.8 points per game, to go along with five rebounds and two assists per contest as well. That included a 28-point masterpiece in a Round 2 upset of Duke.
Did I mention he did this all coming off major knee surgery a year ago, and wasn't really "himself" until late in the year?
With an extra year of eligibility though, Nkamhoua decided to see what else is out there, and the hunch here is that he will land in a much more offensive-friendly system, especially for a guy of his skill-set.
Arizona was once believed to be a leader for Nkamhou, but after taking a commitment from Keshad Johnson, they are likely out of the mix. Michigan recently got a visit, as did West Virginia, and he also still, technically, considering the NBA Draft.
Follow Aaron on Twitter - @Aaron_Torres