The 30 best players in the college basketball transfer portal - right now (2023 - Version II)
Updated: Apr 10
It's early April, and while the casual fan has tuned out college hoops until the fall, well the diehards know the truth: This is where the real fun begins.
It's transfer season, BABY!!!!
That's right, it's a new world of college hoops, and now, April and May portal recruiting is often as important - if not more so - than year-round high school recruiting. And because of it, we'll have you covered from all angles here at Aaron Torres Online and Aaron Torres Media.
First off, if you're not following our portal tracker - @CBBTransfers on Twitter, make sure to do so. That's our one stop shop for all things transfer portal visits, commitments and players entering the portal. The full running list is available at CollegeBasketballTransfers.com.
But also, as I've done every year, I also keep a list of the my 20 Best Players in the Transfer Portal - Right Now.
Understand, these lists are hard - trying to balance high-upside young players, with seasoned vets who can help you win, high-major players with low-major stars.
But still, we do them anyway.
We dropped Version I last week at the Final Four, and let's just say A LOT has changed since then.
Here is Version II:
1. Hunter Dickinson, C, Michigan
Since the last time I did one of these lists a slew of new, high-profile names have entered the portal. But there is no one as high-profile, and productive to have hit the portal this cycle than Hunter Dickinson.
Put simply, the 7'1 center might be the most accomplished player to hit the portal ever, as a two-time All-American looking to get a fresh start after back-to-back disappointing seasons for his Michigan ball club. Just don't blame Dickinson, who finished this season averaging 18.5 points, nine rebounds and nearly two blocks a game, all while shooting 43 percent from behind the arc.
This guy is an absolute game-changer for any program that wants him, and the list is heating up. He's originally from the DC area so local spots like Maryland and Georgetown seem to be contenders, as do more traditional blue bloods like Duke and UNC. He has had Zoom calls with Kentucky and Arkansas in recent days as well.
2. Ryan Nembhard, G, Creighton
In what can only be described as a shocking move, Nembhard - a two-year starter at point guard for Creighton, who led the team in minutes played this season - is set to transfer. While Nembhard hasn't officially entered the portal yet, it's inevitability.
The news is stunning, strictly because Nembhard had a near-perfect set-up at Creighton. He was the starter at point guard from the day he walked in the door as a true freshman, averaging 12 points, four rebounds and a little under five assists per game this season. He got plenty of playing time (leading the team in minutes played) the Jays obviously had a ton of on-court success, making the Elite Eight.
Yet, multiple people tell me that his family is frustrated with the role, that he wasn't part of the All-Big East teams and isn't found on draft boards. That might be due to the fact that - despite being insanely talented - he stands just 6'0 tall and isn't an elite athlete.
His brother Andrew had success transferring from Florida to Gonzaga, and now the younger Nembhard will try to do the same. The early favorite to land Nembhard's services is Arizona, a school which has ties to the family, with Tommy Lloyd helping recruit the older Nembhard to Spokane.4
3. Max Abmas, G, Oral Roberts
Say this for Abmas, the kid was loyal. After Oral Roberts' Sweet 16 run in 2021 he could've cashed in, each of the last two off-seasons in the portal but elected to return to Oral Roberts. But this year, with an extra year of eligibility, and with his head coach Paul Mills taking over at Wichita State he's going to give college basketball one more run, likely at a big-time school.
The 6'0 guard is an NBA talent, and had it on full display these past few years at Oral Roberts. He averaged 21 points per game this year, to go along with four rebounds and four assists, all while shooting 37 percent from three. Two seasons ago in 2021 he actually led the NCAA in scoring at 24.5 points per game.
After entering the portal on Monday it's hard to know of any real leaders in his recruitment, but he will be pursued by just about everyone.
4. Ace Baldwin, G, VCU (UPDATE - Ace Baldwin has committed to Penn State)
Yet another new entry since Version I of this list, Baldwin - like Abmas above - decided to enter the portal after his head coach Mike Rhoads left for VCU.
The reigning A-10 Player of the Year, Baldwin is an elite lead guard, averaging 13.5 points and six assists in VCU's up-tempo frenetic attack. More importantly, he is a mismatch nightmare defensively as well.
While Baldwin be pursued by anyone who needs a star lead guard, it's believed right now that the plan will be to follow his former head coach Rhoads to Penn State.
CHECK OUT AARON TORRES WAY TOO EARLY TOP 25 FOR 2023
5. LJ Cryer, G, Baylor (UPDATE - LJ Cryer has committed to Houston)
In what can only be described as a stunning move on Monday right before Final Four tip-off, Cryer shocked everyone announcing that he will leave the Bears for a fresh beginning.
The reason it's so stunning is because he had so much success, as one of the three-headed guard trio that led Baylor to a three-seed in this year's NCAA Tournament. But with Keyonte George off to the NBA and Adam Flagler uncertain if he'll return for another year, Cryer is looking for a fresh option.
Cryer isn't perfect - he's more off-the-ball than lead guard, is a little small and has been injury-prone - but when he is healthy, he's an automatic bucket. This year he shot 43 percent from beyond the arc, while averaging 15 points per game.
If you need scoring in your backcourt, Cryer is your guy.
6. Harrison Ingram, F, Stanford
A former McDonald's All-American, Ingram is coming off an up-and-down two seasons at Stanford.
On the one hand, he had a breakout freshman season, where he averaged 10.5 points and flirted with leaving early for the NBA Draft. Then he decided to return, only to put up near identical numbers across the board, electing to transfer after another disappointing season for the Cardinal.
Admittedly, Ingram is a good, but not elite athlete, but he has proven an ability to get double-figures, in a high-major conference as the focal point of an offense. Imagine what he could do with better talent around him?
Originally from Dallas, expect Ingram to land somewhere in the Big 12 footprint, with early rumors indicating Kansas might be the team to beat.
7. 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.
A native of Finland, there should be plenty of pro opportunities as well overseas, should he decide to pursue them.
8. Dalton Knecht, G/F, Northern Colorado
I'm always wary of ranking mid-major players too high on these lists, fearful of what a step up in competition will do to some players. But as the gap between high-major and mid-major begins to shrink, we consistently see more and more mid-major guys able to step up to the high-major level and thrive.
The list this year goes on and on from Antonio Reeves to Mark Sears, Jabari Rice and Baylor Scheierman.
And really, when watching film of Knecht, that's who the 6'6 wing from Northern Colorado most reminds me of - Creighton's Baylor Schiemerman. He's a legit 6'6, but also super athletic, able to put the ball on the floor, but also step back and hit threes. This year as the focal point of a bad Northern Colorado team, he scored 20.2 points and grabbed 7.2 rebounds, all while shooting 38 percent from three.
Based on the early interest, it's clear that high-major coaches are as excited about Knecht's talent as I am, as he's already heard from a number of big-time schools including Kansas, North Carolina, Indiana and Illinois, among many others.
He had a Zoom meeting with Indiana earlier this week, and it's worth noting that he's one of the few players that Kentucky is known to have been in contact with.
9. Kel'El Ware, C, Oregon
While there are more well-known names in the portal (Caleb Love, Hunter Dickinson), you could argue there is no player with higher upside than Ware.
A 6'10 center originally from Arkansas, Ware was a consensus Top 10 prospect and projected lottery pick before the season started. But in a crowded, more experienced front court in Eugene he got lost, and he decided to enter the portal shortly after Oregon's season.
In terms of his upside, on the one hand, it's through the roof. He's an elite athlete, with a chance to be a difference-maker on both the offensive or defensive ends. At the same time, issues about his motor have followed Ware dating back to his high school days, and the big key for whoever recruits him next is the ability to actually tap into Ware's raw potential.
Ware recently released a loaded list of schools, that included Duke, Gonzaga and home-state Arkansas, so you know he's a top priority for several programs.
10. TJ Bamba, G, Washington State
Bamba is a new-age guard, standing 6'5 and able to play on and off the ball. And after two developmental years at Washington State, blew up in 2023, averaging a team-high 15.8 points per game, while shooting 37 percent from three.
Since entering the portal, he has heard from a who's who of big-time schools, including Kansas, UConn, Arizona, Illinois, Florida and St. John's among many others.
11. Steven Ashworth, G, Utah State
Utah State was one of college basketball's biggest surprises in 2023, as the Aggies were picked to finish eighth in the league, only to end up getting an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament. And it was thanks in large part to the play of Ashworth.
Put simply, the 6'1 guard is a playmaker, leading the Aggies in scoring at 15 points per game, while also leading the team in assists at 4.5 per contest all while shooting 43 percent from the field.
What will be interesting now is to see what schools are interested. It seems logical that he could follow former head coach Ryan Odom to VCU, and as a member of the LDS Church, BYU could make sense too. But he'll have plenty of high-major interest outside those schools as well.
CHECK OUT THE AARON TORRES MEDIA SHOP - FOR ALL YOUR COLLEGE HOOPS NEEDS
12. Tylor Perry, G, North Texas
13. Jalen Cook, G, Tulane (UPDATE - JALEN COOK HAS COMMITTED TO LSU)
Perry and Cook are essentially the same player, so rather than do two separate write-ups, it seemed best to list them both here.
Each is an undersized, but tough as nails lead guard, who can you a bucket as needed.
At 5'11, Perry was the Conference USA Player of the Year (no small feat considering the year the league, headlined by Florida Atlantic had), finishing with 17.3 points on a blistering 41 percent shooting from three. Cook meanwhile, listed at 6'0 averaged 20 points per contest, helping Tulane to a third place finish in the AAC.
In terms of recruitments, it's a little early to know on Perry, who just entered the portal on Tuesday, after former Mean Green head coach Grant McCasland took the head job at Texas Tech. He dropped a loaded list of schools that did feature the Red Raiders, who appear to be a legitimate option.
Cook, who has been in the portal a bit longer, has received plenty of interest, with in-state LSU - ironically, where he started his career - seen as the favorite. As a two-time transfer, Cook will need to petition the NCAA for a waiver to play next season.
14. Caleb Love, G, North Carolina (UPDATED - CALEB LOVE HAS COMMITTED TO MICHIGAN)
Considering the highs and lows that have come with the first three years of Caleb Love's career, this feels like about the right spot.
On the one hand, he is coming off a bad season, where he was largely inefficient and seemingly a huge headache. On a highly touted North Carolina team, he shot just 37.8 percent, and a career-low 29 percent from three. He also averaged just 2.8 assists per game, while also turning the ball over 2.4 times.
At the same time, when he can play under control, he's one of the best guards in college hoops, period. Put simply, he's the only guy in the portal who has shown an ability to get buckets, at will, on the biggest stages of college basketball, with 30 in the Final Four last year against Duke, and 28 against UCLA in the 2022 Sweet 16.
It's going to take the right coach, and buy-in from Love himself next year, but if it clicks, he could be one of the best players in the sport.
The latest intel is that it appears to be down to Missouri and Michigan for his services, with Missouri in the lead.
15. Jaden Bradley, G, Alabama
A former McDonald's All-American, Bradley was an integral part of Alabama's top-ranked team early, only to see his numbers dip as the season wore on. He scored just two points total in Alabama's three NCAA Tournament games, finishing the year averaging six points and three assists per game.
Yet while the numbers dipped, the talent is still there for another program to unlock. Bradley is super-quick with the ball, with ability to get to the hole at will, and - considering he averaged three assists in less than 20 minutes of play this year - he has an ability to create for others as well.
Bradley is originally from upstate New York, so it would make sense to consider somewhere in the Big East footprint. Seton Hall, St. John's and Syracuse (which isn't in the league, but at least falls in the footprint) all would make a lot of sense.
16. El Ellis, G, Louisville
Put simply, Ellis was, essentially, the only bright spot for Louisville this season.
The 6'3 guard was the only player who could consistently create his own offense, averaging a team-high 17.7 points per game, while also leading the team with 4.4 assists per game. His three-point shooting dipped to 32 percent, which was actually down a bit from 2021-2022 when he shot over 36 percent from behind the arc. So you know the three point shooting is there.
The fact that he did all that with essentially no real other talent around him unlocks a fascinating question: What if you put him in a system where he had actually had help? The scoring might dip, but he would be more efficient, if he weren't the focal point of everyone's game-plan.
Point being, he can be a big-time scorer and player for the right school.
Ellis also entered the draft on Thursday, so there's a possibility he won't be back in college basketball next season.
17. Walter Clayton Jr., G, Iona
There's no other way to put it: Clayton is an electric guard, who thrived playing this season in Rick Pitino's frenetic, up-tempo attack at Iona.
On the year he was the Gaels best player, averaging just under 17 points, on a blistering 43 percent three-point shooting. And it's not as though he didn't do it against big-time competition, dropping 22 points on SMU in the out of conference, 20 against St. Louis and 15 against UConn in the NCAA Tournament.
Unfortunately for schools hoping to grab Clayton, his recruitment is essentially over. He has already told reporters that he will choose between his home-state Florida Gators (who he visited this weekend) or Pitino's St. John's squad.
A decision should come after he visits St. John's later this week.
19. Brandon Murray, G/F, Georgetown
It'll be a third school in three years for the well-traveled Murray, who began his career at LSU, before transferring to Georgetown after Will Wade's firing a year ago. With Georgetown parting ways with Patrick Ewing, he has entered the portal again.
Still, despite the two stops in two years, whoever gets him next, is getting a big-time college basketball player.
The 6'6 wing was an All-SEC freshman team in 2022, and didn't miss a beat in his one year at Georgetown, averaging 13.7 points per game, to go along with three rebounds, three assists and over a steal and a half per game. He also shot around 34 percent from three as a freshman at LSU, so the shooting stroke is there, even if his numbers dipped a bit this year.
Murray is talented enough to play at any level and for any school in the country, and you should expect just about every big-time program to reach out.
20. Denver Jones, G, Florida International (UPDATE: DENVER JONES HAS COMMITTED TO AUBURN)
Originally from tiny New Market, AL (population 1,500) Jones may have been a bit underrecruited, but after two big years at FIU, the guard has blown up into one of the most coveted players in the portal.
Standing 6'4 but playing even bigger, Jones is a pure scorer, averaging 20 points per game while shooting 37 percent from behind the arc, with an athletic ability to get his shot just about any time he wants.
Jones is a high-priority for some of the biggest schools in college hoops, as Alabama, Arkansas, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State have already had in-home visits with him. He is currently visiting Auburn.
21. Khalif Battle, G/F, Temple
A big, 6'5 guard, Battle was the Owls leading scorer this past season, playing his final game in mid-February. This, after averaging over 21 points per game two seasons ago. In both seasons he shot 35+ percent from three, even while taking over 100 attempts this past season.
Put simply, there aren't many guys in the portal who have proven an ability to put the ball in the hole, at the level Battle did, making him one of the most high-priority wings in the portal.
Battle has a visit to Arkansas scheduled for this week.
22. Tramon Mark, G/F, Houston
It was a strange year at Houston, where the Cougars essentially spent the entire year in the Top 5 - but never felt like they reached their full potential either.
Regardless, after the year Mark decided to transfer, finishing the 2022-2023 campaign averaging 10.1 points per game and 4.8 rebounds. He isn't a great shooter (32 percent), but at 6'5 is an elite wing defender, and the combination of size and toughness makes him a very in demand commodity for schools looking for wing help.
While he's also testing the NBA Draft waters, Mark has already announced he is down to four schools for his next decision: Arkansas, Kansas State, Texas A&M and Florida.
23. Graham Ike, F/C, Wyoming
It's been a whirlwind two years for Ike, a 6'9 Ike, as he was an All-Mountain West first team performer two years ago. Last year he averaged 19.5 points and 9.6 rebounds per game, helping Wyoming to the NCAA Tournament. This year he missed the entire year, as the Cowboys plummeted to last place in the conference.
Well after the season he decided to transfer, and should bring immediate size and physicality to some team.
Think of him in the Oscar Tshiebwe/Adama Sanogo mold. He's not super tall or long, but tough as hell, and able to finish around the rim.
Expect him to be playing at the high-major level next year.
24. Dayvion McKnight, G, Western Kentucky (UPDATE - Dayvion McKnight has committed to Xavier)
25. Primo Spears, G, Georgetown
26. Jayden Epps, G, Illinois (UPDATE - Jayden Epps has committed to Georgetown)
27. Reese Dixon Waters, F, USC
28. Hakim Hart, F, Maryland
29. Daniel Batcho, F, Texas Tech
30. Micah Handlogten, C, Marshall (UPDATE - Micah Handlogten has committed to Florida)
31. Ugonna Onyenso, C, Kentucky
32. Nick Timberlake, G, Towson
33. Kario Oquendo, G, Georgia
34. Caleb Mills, G, Florida State (UPDATE: CALEB MILLS HAS COMMITTED TO MEMPHIS)
35. Yohan Traore, F/C, Auburn
36. Aaron Estrada, G, Hofstra
37. Chris Ledlum, F, Harvard
Committed since the last list:
Jameer Nelson Jr., G, Delaware (committed to Delaware)
JayKwon Walton, G/F, Wichita State (committed to Alabama)
Keyon Menifield, G, Washington (committed to Arkansas)
Steele Venters, G, Eastern Washington (committed to Gonzaga)
Fardaws Aimaq, F, Texas Tech (committed to Cal)
Kerr Kriisa, G, Arizona (committed to West Virginia
Jamison Battle, G/F, Minnesota (committed to Ohio State)
JJ Starling, G, Notre Dame (Committed to Syracuse)
John Tonje, G, Colorado State (Committed to Missouri)
Skyy Clark, G, Illinois (Committed to Louisville)
Paxson Wojcik, G, Brown (Committed to North Carolina)