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The 15 best players in the college basketball transfer portal - right now - Version I

Updated: Mar 27



The NCAA Tournament is set to get underway, but even as the Big Dance tips off - there's another March Madness going on.


Oh yes, we're talking Portal Madness baby!


That's right, with the portal opening on Monday, it means that it's time for the first list of "Best Players in the Portal Right Now." We'll look at 10 today, and then obviously expand the list as more guys enter the portal.


Also, make sure you're following our live blog with all the big transfer names, at @CBBTransfers on Twitter.


Now, to our rankings:


1. Zeke Mayo, G, South Dakota State


As we were putting together these rankings, Mayo entered the portal - and let's just say, he is the new No. 1 on our list of available players.


The 6'4 guard was an absolute star for South Dakota State this season, averaging 18.8 points per game, go along with six boards and three rebounds per game - all while shooting 39 percent from beyond the three-point arc. In the process, he earned Summit League Player of the Year, and is a two-time All-Summit first team member.


Originally from Lawrence, Kansas, Mayo will likely be linked to his hometown Kansas Jayhawks.


He has also announced he'll enter the NBA Draft, so there's a chance he never returns to college at all.


2. Maxime Raynaud, C, Stanford


While Stanford struggled as a team this season, as you'll see based on this list, it wasn't for lack of talent.


And there was no more talented piece than Maxime Raynaud, a second team All-Pac-12 performer, who also was the league's Most Improved Player.


The native of France is a legit seven-footer, and new age big who can do a little bit of everything. He averaged nearly 16 points and 10 rebounds per game, all while shooting 36 percent from behind the three-point arc.


Per a source, Raynaud has seven-figure professional offers in his native country of France, so it won't be cheap to land him.


But if someone does, they're getting an all-conference caliber big, who can control the paint on defense and stretch the floor on the offensive end. This kid is special.



3. Terrence Edwards Jr., G, James Madison


Edwards was one of the breakout stars of March, leading James Madison to an incredible 32-4 record overall and upset of Wisconsin in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament.


Now, he becomes one of the most intriguing players to announce that he'll transfer.


Admittedly, the move isn't a surprise, as just hours after JMU's Sunday loss to Duke, head coach Mark Byington announced he was leaving for Vanderbilt. So now Edwards will transfer, along with submitting his name into the NBA Draft.


Assuming Edwards comes back to school he instantly becomes one of the most in-demand players available, as a 6'6 play-making guard who averaged 17 points and 3.5 assists, all while shooting 34 percent from behind the three-point arc.


More importantly, some of his best games came against the Dukes' best competition, which included a 24-point performance in James Madison's opening night upset at Michigan State.


4. Kobe Johnson, G/F, USC


Put simply, Johnson is the kind of player everyone is looking for: A big, athletic wing, that at 6'6, can both create offense for himself and guard multiple positions on the other end of the court.


And that versatility was on full display this year, as Johnson averaged 10.9 points per game and 4.1 rebounds, to go along with 3.3 assists per game. Just about the only thing Johnson is lacking is a consistent three-point shot, as he shot just 31 percent from three this season. Then again, if he had a consistent three-point shot, we'd probably be talking about him as a first round NBA Draft pick.


Speaking of the NBA, Johnson is both testing the NBA Draft waters, while also hitting the portal. Because of the NBA component, it could be a while before he decides on a college future - but if he does, he'll be as coveted as any player available.


One thing worth noting on Johnson: He's the brother of former Duke wing Jalen Johnson, now with the Atlanta Hawks. Given how things ended at Duke with his older brother (Johnson opted out of the 2020 season for Covid) it'd be interesting to see if there would be interest from the Blue Devils, should he decide to return to college.


5. Kanaan Carlyle, G, Stanford


Carlyle got a late start to his freshman season, not appearing in a game for the Cardinal until December - but when he did, he proved why he was one of the 50 best prospects in all of high school basketball in the 2023 class.


The 6'3, athletic, playmaking guard, has NBA upside and showed it in his time with the Cardinal this year. He averaged 11.5 points per game as a freshman, including 31 points against Washington State and another 28 in a win over Arizona.


Carlyle isn't perfect, as he isn't much of a playmaker for others, and his shot needs improvement (32 percent on the year).


But he does have NBA upside, and - as an Atlanta native - expect him to be pursued by pretty much every major SEC and ACC program.


6. Brandon Garrison, C, Oklahoma State


Garrison was the first marquee player to enter the portal following Mike Boynton's firing at Oklahoma State, and bluntly, he's one of the most intriguing prospects available as well.


A 6'10 former McDonald's All-American, Garrison had a solid freshman year, averaging 7.5 points, 5.3 rebounds and 1.3 blocks per game. While those numbers don't blow you away, the counter to that is that well, he was a freshman playing in the Big 12. If Garrison could do that as a freshman in college basketball's toughest league, imagine what he could do with a little bit of seasoning?!


Because of it, Garrison became one of the most coveted players upon entering the portal, as you simply do not see guys with his size, athleticism and upside available.


Coming out of high school, Garrison chose the Cowboys over Kansas, Arkansas and Oklahoma among others, and what's interesting is that upon entering the portal he was listed as a "do not contact."


That means there's a good chance he already knows where he'll be transferring.


7. Cliff Omoruyi, F/C, Rutgers


Considering that Omoyuri has been in college for four years, you kind of know what you're getting from him at this point: A solid, sturdy, 6'10 center that has been through the wars at the power conference level.


Put simply, if you can average 10.4 points and 8.3 rebounds per game as a center in the Big Ten, you can hold your own and produce anywhere.


Therefore, if you're looking for a guy to run your offense through, and put up Zach Edey-like 25 and 20 performances, he probably isn't your guy. But if you're looking for a guy who can rebound, defend and play a role at the high-major level, he's the perfect fit.


And that shows in the group of schools who've reached out since he entered the portal, with the likes of Kentucky and Kansas among others pursuing him.


8. Meechie Johnson, G, South Carolina


The first true stunner of the college hoops transfer portal cycle came on Monday afternoon, when South Carolina leading scorer Meechie Johnson decided to enter the portal.


Put simply, Johnson was the leading scorer on a South Carolina team that exceeded expectations and made the NCAA Tournament. So, is he really looking to transfer because he is unhappy? Or simply using the portal as leverage to get more money from the Gamecocks.


We'll find out soon, but while he's in the portal, he becomes a coveted guard who has proven he can get buckets at the high-major level, averaging 14.1 points this season on 32 percent three-point shooting. Johnson won't blow you away with athleticism - if so, he'd be in the NBA - but again, there just aren't many guys who've produced like him at the college level that are available.


So now, we see what's next. Is he in the portal to leverage South Carolina? Or is he truly a free agent.


One intriguing plot twist in his portal trip is this: Johnson originally began his career at Ohio State, and shortly after he entered the portal, Ohio State's collective put out an interesting tweet.


Could he be returning back to Buckeye land? Stay tuned.



9. Michael Ajayi, G, Pepperdine - UPDATE AJAYI HAS COMMITTED TO GONZAGA


Ajayi is a fascinating 6'7 guard who began his career in the junior college ranks, played just one year of college basketball, but caught the attention of NBA scouts in his one season at Pepperdine.


At 6'7, Ajayi is a big guard who can get baskets, averaging 17.1 points per game on a staggering 47 percent shooting from three, who also ripped down close to 10 rebounds per game as well.


What would be interesting to see is how his game translates to the high-major level. He doesn't really distribute it much (just 1.9 assists per game) and needs the ball in his hands to be most effective, so it'd be fascinating to see who will ultimately get him and how it will all work.


10. Andrej Stojackovic, F, Stanford


The third former Stanford player on this list, Stojackovic has as much upside as anyone in the transfer portal.


The 6'7 forward is of course the son of NBA legend Peja and a former McDonald's All-American, who averaged 7.8 points and 3.4 rebounds per game, while shooting 33 percent from behind the three-point arc.


Stojackovic's talents weren't fully on display in his one year at Stanford, but he remains one of the most gifted, all-around players in the high school class of 2023.


Expect Stojackovic to be pursued by all the big boys in college basketball, but it's worth noting that he originally chose Stanford over UCLA. You have to wonder if the Bruins will be the frontrunner in his portal recruitment.


11. Jevon Porter, F/C, Pepperdine


Identifying talent was never an issue for former Pepperdine coach Lorenzo Romar, as another one of his former players makes this list.


The 6'11 Porter is the younger brother of NBA players Michael and Johntay Porter, and emerged as a true mid-major star as a sophomore with the Waves this season. In the 2023-2024 campaign, Porter 16.2 points and 5.9 rebounds, including a 20-point performance versus Gonzaga and a 30-point effort against BYU.


While his shooting numbers weren't great (29 percent from three) they were actually down from 2023, when he hit over 35 percent from three.


It will be fascinating to see what high majors get involved, as Porter would fit well in a lot of different places.


12. Amari Williams, F/C, Drexel


There's nothing else to say, other than that I love this kid.


Originally from England, Williams is a legit 6'11 and a menace in the paint, who averaged 12.2 points, 7.8 rebounds and 1.8 blocks per game, in just 22 minutes played per game this year. Those numbers are actually down a bit from a season ago, and Williams is a player who actually is a three-time CAA Defensive Player of the Year.


With an extra Covid year Williams is testing the transfer portal market while also declaring for the NBA. It'll be fascinating to see if a school can convince him to come back for one more season of college hoops.



13. Malik Dia, F, Belmont


Yes, the term "new age" has been thrown around a lot in this article - but Dia is another big that fits the bill.


The 6'9 forward, Dia spent the last two years at Belmont, developing into an OVC star this season, averaging 17 points and six rebounds, all while shooting 34 percent from three.


He now enters the portal, and has heard from some of the biggest names in college hoops, among them, the defending champion UConn Huskies, as well as Indiana, USC and others.


Dia still has two years of eligibility remaining as well, making him a long-term upside bet for one college hoops program.


14. Colby Rogers, G, Wichita State


If you want a guy who can put the ball in the basket, well, simply, Rogers is your guy.


A sixth-year college player who began his career at Cal-Poly, played at Siena and now at Wichita State, Rogers averaged 14 points per game for the Shockers this year, while hitting over 40 percent from behind the three-point arc.


Based on the early schools interested - which include Alabama, Kansas and others - it's clear he'll be a hot commodity.


15. Jamal Mashburn Jr., G, New Mexico


Just days after New Mexico's run through the Mountain West Tournament and into the Big Dance ended, Mashburn somewhat surprisingly entered the portal with one year of eligibility remaining.


Mashburn Jr., who began his career at Minnesota before transferring to play for Richard Pitino at New Mexico after the latter was fired in Minneapolis, seemed to find a home with the Lobos. He averaged double-figures for three straight seasons, including this year when he averaged 14 per game, helping the Lobos to their first tourney berth in a decade.


Admittedly, Mashburn probably found the right level for him at New Mexico, as he is an undersized (maybe 6'2) scoring guard, who doesn't do much in the way of distributing or getting others involved.


With Richard Pitino rumored to be a favorite to land the Louisville job, you'd wonder if Mashburn Jr. might follow Pitino to the ACC.


Other names to know:


Cade Tyson, G, Belmont


Already committed:


Jacob Crews, F, UT-Martin - committed to Missouri

Houston Mallette, G, Pepperdine - committed to Alabama





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