Updated: May 13
It's early April and college basketball is over.
In the old days that meant that maybe you paid a little attention to the NBA Draft process. But other than that, it was mostly just sitting around and twittling your thumbs, waiting until next season.
With the advent of the one-time transfer rule, it means that April and May have officially become "Transfer Portal SZN" a crucial time where college basketball rosters across the country are reshaped via the transfer portal.
It also means that more than ever, you need insight on transfers, which is why I am here.
In addition to our website "College Basketball Transfers" which tracks all the big names in the portal, we are also going to be giving you periodic updates of the best players in the portal, with our "20 best players in the portal right now."
To be clear, this is an article that is designed to reflect the best players right now - the ones that can come in and help your program immediately. Not the best NBA Draft prospects. Not guys that could help down the road. Who can impact things right now.
We will update throughout the summer - but here are "The 25 best players in the portal, right now."
1. Patrick Baldwin Jr., G/F, Milwaukee
It had been rumored for weeks that Baldwin might enter the portal simply to keep his options open, and on the Thursday before the deadline to get your name in the portal on May 1, he is officially in.
Baldwin's story is well-known at this point, at as a 6'9 skilled forward and Top 5 recruit in last year's high school class, who decided to play for his dad last year at Milwaukee, rather than attending his second choice - Duke. While the decision was noble it turned into a disaster, as Baldwin played just 11 games, got hurt and his dad was ultimately fired at the end of the season.
Now he's in the portal, while simultaneously testing the draft waters. It seems like the plan is to stay in the NBA Draft, but Baldwin is in fact at least keeping his options open.
And should he decide to return to school, there is only one player in the portal with his skill-set, a 6'9 playmaker, who has "Top 10 pick in the NBA Draft" type potential. Yes, Baldwin struggled last season, but put him around other good players, where teams can't double and triple-team him, and I guarantee, he can be an 18-point per game scorer, and show everyone why he was once projected as a Top 5 pick.
RECRUITMENT: As of now there are no credible reports on his recruitment, and the plan is still to test the NBA Draft waters before committing to a college
2. Tyrese Hunter, G, Iowa State
Prior to the surge in declarations this past week, Hunter was No. 1 in these rankings for a while.
Hunter was one of the true revelations of the entire college hoops season, going from a little known guard coming out of high school, to one of the top freshmen in the country. In the rugged Big 12 - home to some of the best defensive teams in college hoops - Hunter averaged 11 points and just under five assists per game, all while earning Big 12 Freshman of the Year honors. His best game arguably came in a first round upset of LSU, where he dropped 23 points on 7 of 11 shooting from three.
Add in his poise, confidence, and the fact that he has already proven an ability to produce in the toughest league in college basketball, and it feels like he could start for just about any team in the country.
He is officially the most coveted player in the portal.
RECRUITMENT: Hunter has narrowed his list to six schools
3. Kevin McCullar, G, Texas Tech
I often say on the Aaron Torres Podcast that "two things, in every situation can be true" - and that is certainly the case for McCullar here.
In terms of pure talent and production, McCullar is as valuable as any player in the portal. He's a big, 6'6 lead guard that is a proven scorer in the toughest conference in college hoops (averaging 10+ points per game each of the last two seasons), a capable playmaker (he led Tech in assists this season) and is a versatile, switchable defender on the perimeter.
There just aren't that many guys with his size and length that can do what he does at the college level. And there are virtually none with the track record of performing against the best of college basketball like McCullar has. That included a 17-point performance in a Sweet 16 loss to Duke in this year's NCAA Tournament.
But there is a downside, and that's injuries - this guy just can't stay healthy. He enrolled at Texas Tech during the 2019 Final Four season, only to miss the entire year with injury, missed significant time during the 2020-2021 season and also eight games this year.
Still, he is really talented and can be a really good lead guard pretty much anywhere he plays. The question is where: He has entered the NBA Draft and is seemingly playing out his pro options first, and also entered the portal just to see what options may be available there as well. He also hasn't ruled out a return to Texas Tech, where he has long roots, as his father played football there in the early 1990's.
Recruitment: McCullar has announced that if he returns to college basketball he will choose between Gonzaga and Kansas, while also weighing pro options
4. Josh Minott, F, Memphis
Minott is another player who is currently testing the draft waters with the intention of staying in, but also leaving options open should the professional options not work out.
And he's also a weirdly similar player to Baldwin, as a long four, with NBA size, length and skill-set.
The numbers don't necessarily jump out at you (he averaged seven points and 3.5 rebounds) but that was more a bi-product of playing for a loaded Memphis team, where minutes were scarce. Still, when on the court he showed flashes of what will make him a potential NBA Draft pick this season, including 18 points and nine boards in a comeback win against Tulsa and 14 and 10 against Cincinnati as well.
Again, this kid is an NBA player. It's just a matter of whether it's next year, or if he develops in college for another year, where he could potentially be a lottery guy in 2022-2023.
RECRUITMENT: As of now there are no credible reports on his recruitment, and the plan is still to test the NBA Draft waters before committing to a college
5. Matthew Mayer, G/F, Baylor
Mayer decided to put his name in the portal right before the deadline, seemingly to give himself options if he returns to college hoops.
So before we go any further, it seems worth noting that his intent seems to be to remain in the NBA Draft. And if he does return to school, it seems like Baylor is still an option.
But if he does decide to go to another school? Well, there simply aren't all that many guys who have played four years of high level college basketball, contributed on championship level teams, that are also 6'10 and can shoot 40 percent from behind the three-point arc.
Mayer struggled abit in 2021-2022 without Jared Butler, Davion Mitchell and others around him. I'd expect a big bounce back if he returns to college hoops in 2022-2023.
Recruitment: Per Jonathan Givony, Mayer's intent is to stay in the draft, with a college return as a back-up plan
6. Pete Nance, F/C, Northwestern
Like Mayer above, Nance is in the NBA Draft with the intention to stay there - but has put his name in the portal to weigh all options. And should he come back to school, he'd be a highly-coveted big man, capable of finding a spot just about anywhere.
The son of former NBA dunk champion Larry Nance and brother Larry Nance Jr., Pete Nance isn't quite as explosive his family members, but is still a high-level athlete for a guy his size. On an otherwise forgettable Northwestern team he averaged 15 points, 6.5 rebounds and nearly a block per game. It's easy to see him fitting in just about anywhere, and thriving in the right system, specifically if it was more up-tempo with spacing.
If he does make the decision to come back, expect a long list of suitors for his services.
RECRUITMENT: Focus right now is on the NBA Draft
7. Grant Sherfield, G, Nevada
Put simply, Sherfield is one of the best guards in college hoops that few people know about.
The 6'3 combo guard originally committed to UCLA and Steve Alford out of high school, then when Alford was fired spent a year at Wichita, before reuniting with Alford the last seasons in Reno. During that time he blew up into one of the best guards outside the Power 6, averaging at least 18 points and six assists in each of the last two seasons, while shooting 37 percent from three this year. In the process he's had some big performances with 13 games with 20 or more points, including 30 against one of the best defensive teams in the country, San Diego State.
Now in the portal, expect Sherfield to turn into one of the most coveted players in the portal.
Recruitment: There are no credible reports about Sherfield's recruitment yet.
8. Isiaih Mosley, G/F, Missouri State
A theme of this transfer portal cycle has been mid-major guys jumping into the portal at the last minute just to see what options are out there, and Mosley was the latest on Thursday.
A big 6'6 guard, Mosley has length and athleticism that should translate well to the high-major level. He was one of the dominant scorers in the mid-major ranks last season, averaging 20.4 points per game, including 40 percent shooting from behind the three-point arc. This after averaging 19 per game in 2022-2023.
Like fellow big, Missouri Valley guard Antonio Reeves - who committed to Kentucky - Mosley should have no shortage of big-time suitors.
RECRUITMENT: As of now there are no credible reports on his recruitment
9. Keyontae Johnson, G/F, Florida
So, you want the single most difficult player to rank in the history of the transfer portal. You just found him.
Johnson was of course the 2020-2021 preseason SEC Player of the Year, whose career took a near tragic turn when he collapsed on the court. Thankfully, Johnson survived, but he never played another minute in the last year and a half at Florida. It's unclear if doctors have ever cleared him to play, or if doctors at any other school would.
To make matters even more complicated, Johnson is part of an ongoing sexual assault allegation at Florida.
Given his health, and pending legal issues, it just seems impossible to envision another school signing him.
But based on the talent he showed prior to the collapse, we're including him on this list.
RECRUITMENT: There are no credible reports on his recruitment at this time
10. Teddy Allen, G, New Mexico State
Like Matt Mayer, Allen seemed to throw his name in the transfer portal at the last minute - with the intent on staying in the draft and going pro. However, if he does return to college hoops, he becomes an intriguing option for, quite literally, every program in the country.
Allen became a (relative) household name after dropping 37 points against UConn, but it's worth noting, that Teddy Buckets has been getting buckets for years. Allen averaged 16.5 points per game at Nebraska two years ago, so he's the rare mid-major player whose game you don't have to worry about translating at the high-major level.
That last part is important though: Allen has already played at three schools (West Virginia, Nebraska and New Mexico State) and was at a fourth (Wichita State) before getting thrown out for an off the court incident.
The one-time transfer rule is supposed to be "one time" and if there was ever a test case of a guy who'd have trouble getting a waiver, it'd probably be Allen.
Still, if he decides to come back to college, there will be no shortage of teams trying to get Allen - and then petitioning the NCAA to let him play right away.
RECRUITMENT: Allen seems focused on the NBA Draft, and there are no credible reports about his recruitment at this time
11. AJ Green, G, Northern Iowa
Like Davis, Green has been one of the most explosive scorers at the mid-major level, who, after four years at Northern Iowa has decided to take a step up in competition.
The 6'4 guard averaged 19 points per game all the way back in 2020, before playing just three games in 2021 and re-emerging as a true star this past season. During the 2021-2022 campaign, Green averaged nearly 19 points per game on 41 percent three-point shooting, helping the Panthers to a Missouri Valley regular season title and NIT appearance.
Green isn't an overly athletic player, but at the high-major level, around other talented pieces, should have no problem scoring double figures most nights.
RECRUITMENT: There are no credible reports to date on Green's recruitment
12. Xavier Pinson, G, LSU
Alright, this is where my list is going to take a hard left from some of the other "top available players" lists you'll see elsewhere.
Admittedly, I'm a big fan of Pinson.
He isn't a great shooter. But he averaged 13 points a game at Missouri two seasons ago during their NCAA Tournament run. Then he arrived at LSU, and with him leading the offense, got the Tigers to the Top 10 of the AP Poll. Once he got hurt, they immediately fell apart and never really recovered.
Of course, when I tweeted as such, the internet had a field day.
Still, I stand by what I said.
As long as you aren't expecting to bring in a guy who shoots 40 percent from three, I think Pinson is about as good as the portal offers. He is a dynamic athlete who can get to the rim at will, makes others better, and is an explosive athlete, as a guy who averaged 10 points, five assists and two steals per game for an NCAA Tournament team.
First off, there are the raw stats, where he averaged nine points, three rebounds, three assists and over two steals per game, this again, despite playing most of the season a back-up role. But when Pinson went down, including 15 points, four rebounds and two assists in a win over Florida, 15, six and four against Arkansas and a 16-point effort in a win over Texas A&M. At one point he scored double-figures in seven out of eight games.
Recruitment: Pinson is down to two schools, per On3's Joe Tipton - and will choose between Xavier and Mississippi State
13. Malachi Smith, G, Chattanooga
Another mid-major star who decided to enter the portal right before the deadline, Smith is an explosive three-level scorer in the backcourt.
The 6'4 guard was the SoCon Player of the Year this year, averaging 19.9 points per game this season, all while shooting over 40 percent from three-point line, helping the Mocs to the NCAA Tournament.
With head coach Lamont Paris now at South Carolina, Smith will now look at his options, and feels like a guy who can get double-figures out of the backcourt for a high-major school.
Recruitment: Having just entered the portal, there are no credible reports on Smith's recruitment at this point
14. Kenny Lofton Jr., F/C, Louisiana Tech
To answer your first question, no Lofton is of no relation to the former Major League Baseball Player. Instead, what he is, is a pure double-double machine, who doubled as one of the best big men in mid-major basketball last year.
Lofton tore up the Sun Belt, on his way to earning All-Conference first team honors. He averaged 16.5 points and 10.5 rebounds, tallying a staggering 17 double-doubles in the process. Included in that, was a 36-point, 17 rebound performance versus NC State.
Lofton does need to get in better shape, but there is no doubt he can be a high-major contributor next year, should he choose to return to school.
Recruitment: Lofton Jr. is focused on the NBA Draft process right now, but has already heard from some of the biggest names in the sport, including Houston, Texas, Auburn and Kentucky, per Jon Rothstein
15. Keion Brooks, F, Kentucky
A starter on this year's 26-win team, Brooks decided to enter the portal on late Friday night - while also testing the NBA Draft waters.
While outsiders might take this as the latest sign of the collapse of Kentucky basketball, the truth is, this move is both expected and makes sense. While Brooks is a talented player (he averaged 10 points and 4.4 rebounds per game this year), he is most effective within 10-feet from the basket. The problem is, Kentucky has another guy, who is arguably one of the most effective players in recent college hoops history within 10 feet from the basket. His name is Oscar Tshiebwe - and we're guessing you've heard of him.
Therefore, with Tshiebwe's return the slow emergence of Jacob Toppin, it probably makes sense that Brooks considers other options. He could be really effective as a small-ball five, or with another big guy who can stretch the floor.
RECRUITMENT: As of now there are no credible reports on his recruitment,
16. Courtney Ramey, G, Texas
First off, fun fact on Ramey: He was the last ever player to commit to Rick Pitino at Louisville, before Pitino was ultimately fired at Louisville in the midst of the FBI scandal in 2017. From there, Ramey re-opened his recruitment and committed to Texas, where he played the last four seasons.
And really, that's what you need to know about Ramey: Yes, he's been around for a while. But that also makes him a confident, solid, all-around college guard that can do a bit of everything for your team. At his best offensively he averaged 12.5 points per game during Shaka Smart's final season at Texas, while shooting 41 percent and averaging over three assists per game.
While his numbers regressed a bit under Chris Beard this season, well, read what I wrote above one more time: At his best, he has been a 12-point a game scorer, that has shot over 40 percent from three and can handle the ball and create for others. And he has proven he can do it at the highest levels of college basketball.
Every program would instantly get better adding Ramey to their backcourt.
Recruitment: Ramey has heard from some of the biggest names in college hoops, including Kentucky, UConn, Gonzaga and others, per Jon Rothstein
17. Emoni Bates, G/F, Memphis
It's tough seeing Bates on a list like this at all, let alone this low. But the bottom line is that his one year of college hoops did not go well. He averaged 9.7 points per game, but did so while shooting just 37 percent from the field, with a negative assist-to-turnover ratio and a bunch of time missed because of injury. It's no secret that again, the Tigers were simply a better team with him off the court, more than when he was on it.
At the same time he was also just 17-years-old when he got to Memphis, and someone will take a chance on his upside. The question now: Does he seriously consider playing at another college? Or will he try to find a pro route such as the G-League Ignite team?
Recruitment: There are no credible reports on Bates' recruitment at this point
18. Emmanuel Akot, G/F, Boise State
To college basketball diehards it might seem like Akot has been in college forever, and that's because in some ways he has been. He actually committed to Arizona in March of 2017, reclassified and played their two seasons, before spending the last three at Boise State.
Still, at Boise he seemed to find a perfect home, as a guy who both made plays with the ball and was also an elite, switchable, wing defender. His stats - 10 points, three rebounds, three assists - don't blow you away, but Boise also played one of the slowest tempos in the country this season. And really, his impact was felt as much on the defensive end of the court, as it was on offense.
At 23-years-old, there isn't a ton of upside left with Akot, but if he does choose your school, you know exactly what you're getting. Because of his age, he has both declared for the NBA Draft and entered the portal, so if he comes back to college, it doesn't feel like a decision will be coming soon.
Recruitment: He both declared for the NBA Draft and entered the transfer portal, meaning a college decision probably won't come any time soon, if at all
19. KC Ndefo, F, Saint Peter's
20. Justin Powell, G, Tennessee
21. Efe Abogidi, F/C, Washington State
22. Mike Jones, G, Davidson
23. Mouhamed Gueye, F, Washington State
Previously on this list:
TJ Shannon, G/F, Texas Tech (committed to Illinois)
Johni Broome, F/C,. Morehead State (committed to Auburn)
KJ Williams, F/C, Murray State (committed to LSU)
Baylor Scheierman, F, South Dakota State (committed to Creighton)
Brandon Murray, G/F, LSU (committed to Georgetown)
Nijel Pack, G, Purdue (committed to Miami)
Antoine Davis, G, Detroit (will return to Detriot)
Eric Gaines, G, LSU (committed to UAB)
Andre Curbelo, G, Illinois (committed to St. John's)
Tristen Newton, G, East Carolina (committed to UConn)
Jamarion Sharp, C, Western Kentucky (will return to Western Kentucky)
Yuri Collins, G, Saint Louis (will return to Saint Louis)
Jalen Bridges, F, West Virginia (committed to Baylor)
Jalen Graham, F, Arizona State (committed to Arkansas)
Will Richard, G, Belmont (committed to Florida)
Kyle Lofton, G, Saint Bonaventure (committed to Florida)
Osun Osunniyi, F/C, Saint Bonaventure (committed Iowa State)
Fardaws Aimaq, F/C, Utah Valley (committed to Texas Tech)
Brandon Huntley-Hatfield, F/C, Tennessee (committed to Louisville)
Ricky Council, G/F, Wichita State (Arkansas)
Adam Miller, G, LSU (will return to LSU)
Mark Sears, G, Ohio (committed to Alabama)
Norchad Omier, F, Arkansas State (committed to Miami)
Alex Fudge, G/F, LSU (committed to Florida)
Antonio Reeves, G, Illinois State (committed to Kentucky)
Jahmir Young, G, Charlotte (committed to Maryland)
Landers Nolley, G, Memphis (committed to Cincinnati)
Efton Reid, F/C, LSU (committed to Gonzaga)
Frankie Collins, G, Michigan (committed to Arizona State)
Dawson Garcia, F, North Carolina (committed to Minnesota)
David Jones, F, DePaul (committed to St. John's)
Jarod Lucas, G, Oregon State (committed to Nevada)
Makhel Mitchell, F/C, Rhode Island (committed to Arkansas)
Sean McNeil, G, West Virginia (committed to Ohio State)
Jaelyn Llewellyn, G, Princeton (committed to Michigan)
Nahiem Alleyne, G, Virginia Tech (committed to UConn)
Caleb Lohner, F, BYU (committed to Baylor)
Franck Kepnang, F/C, Oregon (committed to Washington)
Bryce Hopkins, F, Kentucky (committed to Providence)
Dexter Dennis, G/F, Wichita State (committed to Texas A&M)