Division-I transfers. The forgotten ones.
Transfers are often overlooked when analyzing a team's prospects for the upcoming season. Everyone notices the new freshman recruits, but some people fail to remember about the transfers that had to sit out last season. However, transfers often have more of an immediate impact than freshmen as a result of the experience that they have. Just look at last season.
Marco Killingsworth was one of the best big men in the country for Indiana. Don't forget that he started at Auburn, though. What about Ryan Appleby? The part-time starter for Washington's Sweet Sixteen team originally came from Florida. The list goes on. Charlotte's De'Angelo Alexander, one of the best scorers in the Atlantic-10, was previously filling up buckets at Oklahoma. Ohio State might not have won the Big Ten title if not for Bowling Green transfer Ron Lewis.
Louisville's hopes this season bank on All-Big East big man David Padgett, who came over from Kansas two seasons ago. Derrick Byars (Virginia to Vanderbilt). Mohamed Abukar (Florida to San Diego State). Mohamed Kone (Kentucky to Valparaiso).
The number of impact transfers always seems to outnumber the impact freshmen across the country. This season might be different with the new age-limit rule in the NBA. However, there is still an abundance of talented transfers ready to make people remember them.
J.R. Giddens (from Kansas)/Aaron Johnson (from Penn State), New Mexico
The buzz surrounding the Lobos this season is as loud as it has been since the days of Danny Granger, mainly as a result of these two newcomers. Giddens never really lived up to the hype he had while he was at Kansas, but might be able to return to his high school form with less attention on him. He is extremely athletic and can get hot from behind the arc. Johnson is going to be a go-to-guy on the interior for New Mexico. While at Penn State, he averaged nearly a double-double per game, leading the Big Ten in rebounding in '04-'05. He is expected to control the paint for the Lobos in the upcoming season. If these two live up to the expectations they have coming in, watch out for New Mexico in the Mountain West.
Andrew Lavender, Xavier (from Oklahoma)
The Atlantic-10 favorites will get an immediate starter with the addition of Lavender. He started 28 of 32 games during his sophomore year at Oklahoma. He is not afraid to shoot the ball, and loves getting out and running the floor. He is a solid passer and has quick hands on the defensive end. Lavender's ability to knock down free throws will be key late in games. If he can distribute the ball to all of Xavier's weapons, the diminutive point guard will be leading his new team to a conference title.
Mike Cook, Pittsburgh (from East Carolina)
The knock on the Panthers the past few years is that they don't have enough variety on the offensive end. Cook may have the ability to change that this season. He was a do-it-all type of player for East Carolina, leading the team in scoring at 15 points per game, and also pitching in 4 rebounds and 3.4 assists a contest. He is a tough, strong player that uses his size and strength at both ends of the floor. He is not a very good outside shooter, but he can get into the lane and finish. If he can provide scoring from the wing, Pitt might be able to make a run at the Final Four.
Toney Douglas, Florida State (from Auburn)
The Seminoles are getting mention in several preseason top 25s, and the addition of Douglas is a main reason why. The 6-1 guard was an All-SEC performer and a freshman All-American in '04-'05 but never really fit into Auburn's style of play. He is a very good scorer and a solid rebounder for his size. He can fill it up in a variety of ways, and is a decent shooter from long-range. Douglas is a good athlete who is deceptively quick, and Leonard Hamilton is lucky to have his services.
Dameon Mason, LSU (from Marquette)
The Tigers are another Final Four hopeful banking heavily on an incoming transfer. Mason is a very athletic wing who will form an outstanding scoring duo on the perimeter with forward Tasmin Mitchell. He is at his best when he is running the floor and getting into the lane for easy finishes. Mason is also a decent rebounder from the wing. He shot 52% from beyond arc in his first season at Marquette, but only 24% in '04-'05. If he can find his outside shot again, LSU is a contender to make another deep run in the Tournament.
Justin Hawkins (from Utah)/Martin Iti (from Charlotte)/Fred Peete (from Kansas State), New Mexico State
The Aggies are a threat in the WAC this season as a result of the influx of talent over the past two seasons. Last year, Elijah Ingram and Tyrone Nelson came into the program and made an immediate impact. This year, the trio of Hawkins, Iti, and Peete is expected to have a similar effect on the team. Hawkins is a swingman who can do a little bit of everything. He is a solid slasher-type who can score and rebound well. Iti is a very talented big man who has not developed into the player many thought he would be coming out of high school as the country's top-rated center. However, he is still a very good defender who is also efficient from the floor. Peete might be the best of the bunch. The 6-4 guard is a very good outside shooter who is also an above-average defender. Peete can also distribute the ball and is a good rebounder. This trio is going to make a huge impact for the Aggies.
Gary Ervin, Arkansas (from Mississippi State)
With the loss of Ronnie Brewer and Jonathan Modica, the Razorbacks need someone to step up on the perimter. Ervin might be that guy. He is one of the fastest players with the ball in college basketball, although he sometimes plays out of control and is inconsistent as a result. However, he is a good distributor and does not turn the ball over that much. Ervin is not much of a shooter, but can penetrate into the lane. He also has quick hands on defense. It will be interesting to see how he fits with Arkansas.
Justin Cerasoli, Mississippi (from Seton Hall)
Here's another point guard transfer expected to make a big impact in the SEC. While at Seton Hall, Cerasoli shared the point guard role with Donald Copeland, but showed flashes of brilliance when he played. At 6-5, he has excellent size but also has a variety of talents, making him difficult to defend. He does not turn the ball over often and is a very good passer. Cerasoli has demonstrated the ability to score in the lane, and can also shoot the three. With the point guard job all his, Cerasoli could break out this year.
Gary Forbes, Massachusetts (from Virginia)
Similarly to New Mexico and New Mexico State, the Minutemen are considered sleepers for the conference crown due to the incoming players. While UMass also gets Etienne Brower and Luke Bonner from Boston University and West Virginia, respectively, Forbes is the player that can change the Minutemen's fortunes. He is an outstanding scorer who can fill it up from both inside and outside the arc. Some sources around the league say he has a chance to become the Atlantic-10 Player of the Year. If that is the case, there's a chance that '06-'07 could be a special season for UMass.
Cheyenne Moore, George Washington (from Clemson)
Yes, the Colonials lose J.R. Pinnock, Pops Mensah-Bonsu, Mike Hall, and Omar Williams, but GW fully expects to return to the NCAA Tournament. One of the reasons why is the addition of Moore. He is an outstanding athlete who can finish with the best of them in transition. In addition, he is a solid rebounder and distributor. He should make a great fit for the Colonials' wide-open, fast-paced system.
Micah Downs, Gonzaga (from Kansas)
If there was ever a time for Gonzaga to have a McDonald's All-American fall into their laps, this was it. With the loss of Adam Morrison, a scoring wing is exactly what they needed, and Downs fits the profile. Much-heralded going into his freshman season at KU, he never seemed to fit with the rest of the Jayhawks. He was known as a selfish player while in high school, and the lack of playing time at Kansas could have played a role in his transfer. Either way, he is still a very good shooter and scorer who could develop into a big-time scorer in the WCC. Downs will be eligible after the first semester.
Dion Dowell, Houston (from Texas)
Tom Penders has the Cougars on the way up, and the addition of Dowell from in-state rival Texas is a big-time pick-up. Dowell was injured for part of last season, and then he decided to transfer after the playing time wasn't increasing after his return. He is an athletic swingman who is a very good defender and also a solid scorer. After the beating that the Longhorns took at the hands of Duke last season, coach Rick Barnes said that Dowell, who was out with an injury at the time, was the one player who could have kept Texas in the game on the defensive end. That's high praise. It will be interesting to see if Dowell lives up to that potential with the Cougars. Like Downs, he will eligible after the first semester.
Lawrence McKenzie, Minnesota (from Oklahoma)
Another Oklahoma transfer, McKenzie is expected to step in right away for the Golden Gophers and contribute. He is an outstanding long-range shooter who can get hot from the outside and single-handedly keep his team in the game. He was a consistent scorer while with the Sooners and should increase his production with an expanded role with Minnesota. He does not contribute much besides scoring, but the Golden Gophers will be happy with similar numbers to the ones he had at Oklahoma. They'll likely get more than that.
Dwight Brewington, Liberty (from Providence)
Every year, there seems to be a player that moves from a major-conference school to a mid-major and all of a sudden starts averaging 23 points per game. Brewington could be that guy this season; he is that good offensively. He averaged over 13 points per game in the Big East in '04-'05 and suddenly left the team last November after saying he wanted to concentrate on academics. Liberty gladly welcomes him into their fold. Combine him with All-Big South guard Larry Blair, and you could be looking at 45 to 50 points per game from those two players. If that happens, watch out for the Flames in the Big South.
Ten other transfers to keep an eye on: