Not all mid-major transfers are ready for the jump to an elite level of college basketball. These guys are, and could be stars next season.
10. Tylor Perry (North Texas – Kansas State)
Can the 5-foot-11 Perry be the next Markquis Nowell for Kansas State? The similarities are scary, considering his height and scoring abilities, especially from deep range. In just two seasons at North Texas, Perry was an elite scorer, and that should translate well to the Big 12.
Moving up a level requires scoring consistency, and Perry fits the bill for that. He averaged 13.5 points per game as a freshman while shooting it at 41.4% from three. As a sophomore, Perry took on more shots and parlayed it to 17.3 PPG on 41.3% from downtown. He’s shown no signs of slowing down and still has multiple years of eligibility left. Perry should be an instant hit with the Wildcats, and if he stays, could be a threat in the Big 12 for a few seasons.
9. Raequan Battle (Montana State – West Virginia)
Battle comes to West Virginia already having two years of power conference experience under his belt. He started at Washington, where he averaged just under 5 points per game in 34 games played across two seasons.
Battle transferred to Montana State, but it wasn’t until last year that he saw his game drastically improve. The undersized forward more than doubled his PPG average from the year before in an expanded role. He did this while leading the Bobcats to the NCAA Tournament, dropping 27 points on 9-of-17 shooting against Kansas State in the first round.
That game alone tells me that Battle will have no problem playing in the Big 12. He joins a few other experienced and talented transfers in Morgantown on what should be a much improved West Virginia team. He’ll have a big role with the Mountaineers, but shouldn’t be asked to do everything. That balance should be perfect for a guy who can score in bunches.
8. Steven Ashworth (Utah State – Creighton)
A deadeye three-point shooter, Ashworth found a perfect home in the Creighton Bluejays. He shot 43.2% from deep and averaged 4.5 assists per game last season with the Aggies. Now, he finds himself on a Creighton team that values the three-point shot, and offense as a whole, as much as any program in the country.
One key factor to note will be how Ashworth is used. Last year at Utah State, he took over 10 shots per game. On a loaded Creighton team, Ashworth’s usage may not be as high, at least from game to game. It will be important for him to be ready to shoot and score whenever his name is called to be as effective as possible. But regardless, Creighton’s system seems like the perfect fit for Ashworth.
7. Ace Baldwin (VCU – Penn State)
Whether or not you consider the Atlantic 10 a true mid-major conference or not is beside the point. Baldwin isn’t moving laterally. The Big Ten is the premiere conference in college basketball, so it’s a move up.
However, we all know how much of a challenge the A-10 is in its’ own right. Baldwin was a standout in three seasons at VCU, primarily as a playmaker, but scoring when needed. That’s exactly what Penn State needs, with a new head coach in Mike Rhoades, and a very different roster from last year’s senior-heavy NCAA Tournament team.
And oh, by the way, Rhoades was Baldwin’s coach at VCU. Coming to a new place, but keeping that consistency should be a huge difference in Baldwin’s development for his senior year with the Nittany Lions.
6. Grant Nelson (North Dakota State – Undecided)
Nelson is by far the best transfer in the country yet to decide on a new school. He improved each year at North Dakota State, averaging 17.9 PPG and 9.3 RPG last season while blocking nearly 2 shots per game.
I do have some concerns with how well Nelson will translate to a power conference. He has some range but isn’t a knockdown three-point shooter by any means. At 6-foot-10, he has the height to match up with big men, but his 215-pound frame is slightly small.
However, I’d be quite stupid to harp on those doubts. Nelson plays from the outside in and has as good of handles as any 6-foot-10 guy in college basketball. He’s much more of a forward than a big man, and I’m sure that part of his game will hold up. He’s down to either Alabama or Arkansas, and funny enough, both the Crimson Tide and Razorbacks have some of the best mid-major transfers already coming to town. Nelson will just add to the mix wherever he goes.
5. Jordan Dingle (Penn – St. John’s)
The nations leading scorer in 2022-23, Dingle will move on from the Ivy League to the Big East and play for Rick Pitino at St. John’s. What. A. Story.
At 6-foot-3 and 200 pounds, Dingle has good size to hold up in the always physical Big East. His three-point shooting should thrive at the next level and his ability to get to the line might be the best attribute. With how tough the Big East is, Dingle should see a lot of free throws next season.
While I don’t expect Dingle to average anywhere close to 23.4 PPG, I do think he can be one of the top scorers in his new conference. The Red Storm went through a lot of changes this offseason, but Dingle looks like a good go-to option. It’s hard to limit someone with that much skill on the offensive side of the basketball. And I’m sure Rick Pitino will find ways to expand his game even more.
4. Jalen Cook (Tulane – LSU)
A 2-time All-AAC member, Cook originally started his college basketball career at LSU. He transferred to Tulane and almost immediately made a profound impact.
Averaging 18.0 PPG and then 19.9 PPG in the American Athletic Conference is no easy task, so there’s virtually no question that Cook’s second stint with LSU will fare well. It’s also a brand new LSU program. Cook originally played under Will Wade, but will now be coached by Matt McMahon. The change in scenery should be a major benefit.
Cook is more than just a scorer. He’s an elite passer and defender, which is the type of player the Tigers need to start to turn things around. There aren’t many parts of the game Cook doesn’t perform well at, and now he’ll get to showcase that to even more people.
3. Max Abmas (Oral Roberts – Texas)
At his best, Max Abmas might be the best transfer pickup out there. He can be an absolute microwave, which was on full display in Oral Roberts’ Sweet 16 run in 2021.
But since that magical run, Abmas has struggled against power conference and above-average teams:
- 2021 vs. Oklahoma State: 29 pts (10-of-22), 4 reb, 2 ast
- 2021 @ TCU: 20 pts (7-of-19), 6 ast, 5 reb
- 2022 @ St. Mary’s: 14 pts (4-of-11), 7 reb, 4 ast
- 2022 @ Houston: 3 pts (1-of-13), 4 ast, 2 reb
- 2023 vs. Duke: 12 pts (4-of-15), 5 ast, 3 reb
Now, I’m not sure if it’s a coincidence, but the two games where Abmas didn’t struggle in, happened to be against Big 12 teams, which is where he finds himself now. But in the three games against the Gaels, Cougars, and Blue Devils last season, Abmas left a lot to be desired.
A lot will depend on his role with the Longhorns. If Abmas is asked to carry the team, I’m unsure how that will work out. But that’s not too likely. Instead, I see a scenario where Abmas is just one of many go-to guys, and can free up more for open shots. And if that’s the case, he will thrive with Texas. Leaving Abmas open is just not a good idea, but it might happen a lot on a loaded Longhorns team.
2. Khalif Battle (Temple – Arkansas)
Khalif Battle was originally a Butler Bulldog, but when things didn’t work out his freshman season, he transferred to Temple. With the Owls, Battle has been an elite scorer. He’s missed a lot of time with injuries, but in a mostly healthy 2022-23 season, Battle averaged 17.9 PPG.
Health will be the key for Battle at Arkansas. If he can stay on the court, the Razorbacks will have a big guard who can score at will. Eric Musselman will also push Battle to the max, which should help him even more. Injuries aside and Battle is one of the most complete mid-major transfers.
1. Aaron Estrada (Hofstra – Alabama)
Now on his fourth team in five years, Estrada is making his second stint on a power conference team. In 2020-21, it didn’t go too well. In 9 games with Oregon, Estrada only played about 12 minutes per game and averaged just over 3 PPG.
Things changed for the better at Hofstra. Estrada averaged just under 20 PPG in two seasons with the Pride and was the CAA Player of the Year in both seasons.
But scoring isn’t Estrada’s only asset. He is a very good playmaker and rips down rebounds. Estrada makes plays on the defensive side of the ball and led the Pride to a 46-21 overall record during his time on Long Island.
Joining a talented Alabama team, Estrada should keep up the recent success of the Crimson Tide.