September 24, 2023
College basketball transfer portal 2023: Michigan’s Hunter Dickinson tops rankings of players on the move

Michigan star center Hunter Dickinson became the top player available in college basketball’s transfer market Friday, when he entered the portal after three straight All-Big Ten seasons with the Wolverines. Dickinson would have two seasons of eligibility remaining since he was a freshman during the 2020-21 season, which did not count against the eligibility of players amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The 7-foot-1 former four-star prospect averaged 18.5 points, nine rebounds and 1.8 blocks during the 2022-23 season while hitting 56% of his attempts from the field. Dickinson also continued honing his 3-point shot this past season as he hit 24 of 57 (42.1%) of his attempts from beyond the arc. 

Dickinson’is arrival in the portal came after a series of entries from high-profile guards. VCU guard Ace Baldwin, one of college basketball’s top mid-major players, joined the strong contingent of guards in the portal Thursday by announcing his intention to enter and “explore new opportunities.” Baldwin earned A-10 Player of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year honors for the 2022-23 season while leading the Rams to the A-10 regular season and tournament titles. 

Baldwin’s decision to transfer comes after VCU coach Mike Rhoades accepted the Penn State job. While transferring to join Rhoades at Penn State would be a natural choice, Baldwin should have plenty of suitors after thriving with the Rams for three seasons. In addition to Baldwin, Kentucky point guard Sahvir Wheeler and North Carolina combo guard Caleb Love are each in the portal. So, too, is Jalen Cook from Tulane, who finished the 2022-23 season as the AAC’s second-leading scorer.

Here at CBS Sports, we have distilled the massive number of transfers to a handful of names to know. For starters, here are the top 25 players in the portal as of March 29.

1. Hunter Dickinson

Old school: Michigan

Dickinson is one of the best big men in college basketball. At 7-foot-1 and with a well-built frame, he can outmuscle most opponents on the block, protect the rim and rebound. He also continued demonstrating the ability to hit 3-pointers during the 2022-23 season while earning All-Big Ten honors for a third straight year. The Maryland native is a fiery competitor and proven veteran who has the ability to change the trajectory of whatever program he chooses to play for during the 2023-24 season.

2. Kel’el Ware

Old school: Oregon

Ware played just 15.8 minutes per game as a freshman at Oregon after ranking as the No. 7 overall prospect in the Class of 2022, according to 247Sports. The seven-footer blocked 1.3 shots per game in that limited action, though, and was effective offensively inside the arc. He also showed some signs of a potential as a 3-point shooter. There was a logjam in the Ducks’ frontcourt, and Ware should be able to make an immediate impact as a rim protector and secondary offensive weapon at his new school. Ware has three seasons of eligibility remaining, but could be off to the NBA before using them all if things go well at his next stop.

3. Kerr Kriisa

Old school: Arizona

Kriisa started at point guard for the past two seasons at Arizona as the Wildcats became an offensive juggernaut under coach Tommy Lloyd. His strengths are 3-point shooting and facilitating as he made 36.6% of his 3-pointers and dished out 5.1 assists for the Pac-12 Tournament champions in 2022-23. Aside from his perimeter shooting, Kriisa is limited offensively, and he’s not a plus defender. But in total, he’s a proven, veteran point guard whose experience and fearlessness will be highly sought in the portal.

4. Sahvir Wheeler

Old school: Kentucky

Wheeler finished first or second in the SEC in assists each of the past three seasons, initially at Georgia and then at Kentucky for the past two seasons. He’s undersized and limited as a scorer but has proven himself to be a trusty traditional point guard over the past four seasons. If he’s surrounded by good 3-point shooters, he can be a game-changer for a program in need of an old-school guard to orchestrate its offense.

5. Ace Baldwin 

Old school: VCU

Baldwin spearheaded VCU’s vicious defense for the past three seasons with relentless on-ball defense. The 6-foot guard has averaged more than two steals per game for all three of his college seasons, and he led the Rams in scoring and assists as a junior in 2022-23. He earned the A-10’s Player of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year awards while leading the program to an NCAA Tournament bid in 2023.

6. Caleb Love

Old school: North Carolina

Love is a former five-star prospect and McDonalds All-American who helped spark North Carolina’s stunning Final Four run in 2022. But he’s just a career 36% shooter from the floor and made only 29.9% of his 3-point attempts on a whopping 7.4 tries per game this past season. His assist-to-turnover ratio also leaves something to be desired. Overall, he’s a talented but glaringly inefficient offensive player who might fit best on an offensively challenged team that needs someone capable of creating their own shot.

7. Skyy Clark

Old school: Illinois | New school: Louisville

Clark played in 13 games for Illinois, starting 12, before announcing in January that he was stepping away from the program for personal reasons. Now, the former top-40 prospect is headed to Louisville where he’ll likely be the primary ball-handler. The Cardinals had no help for point guard El Ellis in Kenny Payne’s first season as coach. Landing Clark is a good start for the program in terms of fielding a competent backcourt. 

8. Denver Jones

Old school: Florida International

Jones finished second in Conference USA in scoring at 20.1 points per game during his sophomore season on 37.1% 3-point shooting, 55.2% 2-point shooting and 84.5% free-throw shooting. The 6-foot-4 guard is the type of instant impact offensive player who can help fill a production gap for a team in need. He reached the 20-point mark in 17 of 28 games this past season.

9. J.J. Starling

Old school: Notre Dame | New school: Syracuse

Starling averaged 11.2 points per game as a freshman at Notre Dame after ranking as a five-star prospect in the Class of 2022. The 6-4 guard will be staying in the ACC as he heads to Syracuse where he will play a major role under first-year coach Adrian Autry. One obvious improvement opportunity for Starling is 3-point shooting after he made just shot just 29.9% of his attempts from beyond the arc as a freshman.

10. Jalen Cook

Old school: Tulane

Cook led a 20-win Tulane team in scoring at 19.9 points in the 2022-23 season and also led the team in assists with 4.9 per contest. He’s a bit undersized at 6-foot but is a career 36.9% 3-point shooter who shined as one of the AAC’s top scorers for two seasons after transferring from LSU following his freshman season. Defense isn’t Cook’s strength, but he could be a difference-maker on offense in a starting role for a high-major program.

11. Joe Girard

Old school: Syracuse

Girard quietly proved to be one of the sport’s best volume 3-point shooters during four years at Syracuse. He hit 40.3% of his long-range tries on 6.7 attempts per game last season and 38.1% on 7.2 attempts as a senior in 2022-23 while leading the Orange in scoring. At 6-1, he is undersized and limited defensively, especially after playing four seasons in Syracuse’s patented zone defense. But it’s easy to imagine Girard knocking down 3-pointers as a role player on an NCAA Tournament team.

12. TJ Bamba

Old school: Washington State

Bamba led Washington State in scoring at 15.8 points per game as a junior and should have two seasons of eligibility remaining. The 6-5 guard didn’t play particularly well against the Pac 12’s best teams this past season but is a career 38.5% 3-point shooter. He is also going through the NBA Draft exploration process. If he returns to college basketball, he would be a huge pickup for any team looking for a proven producer at shooting guard.

13. Jamison Battle

Old school: Minnesota
Battle is a 6-7 forward who averaged 17.5 points and 6.3 rebounds on 36.6% 3-point shooting in 2021-22 for Minnesota. But his shooting percentage and overall production dropped this past season as the Gophers continued to struggle. Ultimately, he is a versatile and experienced forward with a demonstrated track record of Big Ten production. On an NCAA Tournament team, his ceiling would likely be as a solid role player.

14. Khalif Battle

Old school: Temple

Battle ranked fourth in the AAC in scoring at 17.9 points per game for Temple in his fourth season of college basketball. The 6-5 guard has struggled with injuries during his career but has proven to be a dynamic and explosive offensive player when healthy. One downside is that he needs to improve as a defender to be a high-impact starter for a better team. Part of Battle’s appeal is that he should have two seasons of eligibility after his 2021-22 campaign was limited to seven games due to injury.

15. Fardaws Aimaq

Old school: Texas Tech

Aimaq is the former WAC Player of the Year at Utah Valley who transferred to Texas Tech last season but played in just 11 games because of injuries. In that limited action, the 6-11 center averaged 11.1 points and 7.9 rebounds, which demonstrated that he can be productive in a rugged league. Aimaq is a serviceable rim protector and has shown the ability to step out and make 3-pointers over the past two seasons.

16. Brandon Murray

Old school: Georgetown

Assessing Murray’s performance at Georgetown is tough since the Hoyas were just 7-25 (2-18 Big East) in the 2022-23 season. He averaged 13.7 points per game but made just 31.8% of his 3-pointers. The 6-foot-5 shooting guard also averaged 10.0 points per game as a freshman on an LSU team that reached the NCAA Tournament. He’s a good athlete and good defender, which makes it easy to imagine Murray slotting in as the No. 3 option or sixth man on a good power conference team.

17. Olivier Nkamhoua

Old school: Tennessee

Nkamhoua is a stretch big man with a smooth offensive skill set who averaged 10.8 points on 51.3% shooting for an offensively challenged Tennessee team in the 2022-23 season. At 6-foot-8 and 223 pounds, he’s big enough to play the five in most systems but versatile enough to defend power forwards and some wings. If he played 30 minutes per game in an open, fast-paced system, Nkamhoua could average 13 or 14 points per game as a solid two-way player.

18. Jared Bynum

Old school: Providence

Bynum is an undersized but battle-tested guard after playing heavy minutes at Providence the last three years. He’s just a career 33% 3-point shooter but averaged 4.3 assists this past season against just 1.6 turnovers. He also made 83.1% of his free throws in 2022-23, which is a nice characteristic for a point guard.

19. Graham Ike

Old school: Wyoming

Ike led a 25-9 Wyoming team in scoring and rebounding during the 2021-22 season with 19.5 points and 9.6 rebounds before missing the 2022-23 season due to injury. If the 6-9 big man can return close to 100%, he could be a multi-year contributor for a NCAA Tournament team. While his sheer production jumps off the page, Ike does have limitations since he is not a shot blocker or an outside shooting threat.

20. Rienk Mast

Old school: Bradley

Mast averaged 13.8 points, eight rebounds and 2.4 assists for a Bradley squad that won the Missouri Valley Conferene regular-season title before falling one game short of reaching the NCAA Tournament. At 6-9, he is not much of a rim protector, but he can step out and hit 3-pointers. The Netherlands native should have two seasons of eligibility and has the tools to challenge for a starting spot at a power conference program.

21. Walter Clayton Jr.

Old school: Iona
Clayton won MAAC Player of the Year while leading Iona in scoring and helping the Gaels to an NCAA Tournament appearance as a sophomore. The 6-2 guard hit 43.1% of his 3-pointers on 5.2 attempts per game and also averaged 3.2 assists and 1.8 steals. He has the makings of a high-major contributor.

22. Jae’Lyn Withers

Old school: Louisville
Somewhere inside the 6-8, 230-pound frame of Withers is an excellent college basketball player and maybe even an NBA prospect. The former four-star prospect earned ACC All-Freshman honors in 2020-21 for a respectable Cardinals’ squad before regressing offensively over the past two seasons amid chaos within the program. Withers ranked as Louisville’s best defender this season, per evanmiya.com, and the right coach will be able to build off the potential Withers showed earlier in his career.

23. Noah Fernandes

Old school: UMass

Fernandes made 45.2% of his 3-pointers and 50% of his 2-pointers while averaging 4.1 assists in 11 games for UMass before injuries ended his 2022-23 season. The 5-foot-11 point guard was similarly productive for the Minutemen in 2021-22 and capable of making an impact for an NCAA Tournament-caliber team.

24. Jameer Nelson Jr.

Old school: Delaware 

Nelson led the CAA in scoring at 20.6 points per game during the 2022-23 season and topped the conference in steals with 2.4 per contest. The 6-foot-1 guard is only a career 31.3% 3-point shooter but is good at finding his spots inside the arc and thrives at reaching the free-throw line, where he made 77.6% of his attempts this past season. 

25. Caleb Mills

Old school: Houston, Florida State

It feels like a lifetime ago that Mills earned All-ACC honors as a freshman at Houston during the 2019-20 season. He averaged 13.2 points that season before transferring out the following year and landing at Florida State. He averaged double figures the past two seasons as the Seminoles struggled. He needs to demonstrate more consistency from the outside. But with a career average of 12.8 points per game at Houston and FSU, he’s clearly got the talent to be a proficient scoring guard in the right system.