Ranking college basketball’s top 2022 transfers: Brandon Murray picks Georgetown over Tennessee, Illinois

Georgetown landed a commitment from one of college basketball’s top transfers of the 2022 offseason on Monday when former LSU shooting guard Brandon Murray picked up the Hoyas over Tennessee, Illinois and others. Murray averaged 10 points per game for the Tigers as a freshman this past season while also standing out as a defensive weapon for an NCAA Tournament team.

Considering that Georgetown is coming off in the 6-25 (0-19 Big East) season, landing a player of Murray’s caliber from the portal is huge for embattled coach Patrick Ewing. With this past season’s leading scorer, Aminu Mohammed, testing the NBA Draft waters, Murray could play a featured offensive role right away for the Hoyas.

Murray played his final season of high school basketball at the IMG Academy in Florida but is from Baltimore originally, which means a homecoming of shorts is in store for the former four-star prospect. His commitment is also a sign of how Ewing’s hiring of former LSU assistant Kevin Nickelberry is paying dividends. After serving as LSU’s interim coach in its first-round NCAA Tournament loss to Iowa State last month in the wake of Will Wade’s firing, it took less than a week for Nickelberry to accept a position on the Georgetown staff.

The Washington DC native spent nine seasons as the head coach at Howard before serving under Wade for the past three. Clearly, his relationship with Murray helped Ewing close the deal on a player with plenty of opportunities at programs with more recent success to draw upon.

College basketball’s transfer portal has been hopping since early March, when seasons ended en masse for teams eliminated from their conference tournaments. Now that the season is officially over, though, the sport’s collective attention can turn from the 2021-22 season to the 2022-23 season, and that means monitoring the transfer market.

Here is a look at the top 15 potential impact players transfers.

1. Kendric Davis

Old school: SMU

The 6-foot guard played a key role in helping SMU to three straight winning seasons and is the reigning AAC Player of the Year. In 2021-22, they finished second in the AAC in scoring behind a 37.2% 3-point mark at 6.5 attempts per game. Davis is more than just an outside shooter, though, and has the profile of a starting point guard for a big-time program. During the 2020-21 season, they ranked fourth nationally with 7.6 assists per game while still scoring 19 points per contest. He is also skilled at scoring inside the arc as a career 49.8% shooter on 2-point attempts.

2. Nijel Pack

Old school: Kansas State

Pack earned an All-Big 12 First Team honors as a sophomore and finished third in the league in scoring at 17.4 points per game. His 43.6% 3-point shooting percentage this past season was particularly strong. Considering that he also shot 40.5% from deep as a freshman and is averaging 6.9 attempts from deep for his career, Pack might be the best shooter in the portal who has consistently proven it against elite defenses. He can do more than just shoot, though, and he should be able to play a key role for a big-time team next season.

3. Terrence Shannon Jr.

Old school: Texas Tech

The 6-6 shooting guard upped his 3-point shooting mark to 38.4% this season while averaging 10.4 points for a Texas Tech team that took Duke down to the wire in the Sweet 16. Given the program he’s coming from, you know he can play defense. Offensively, they could likely be a 15-points-per-game type of player if given 30 or more minutes per game in the right system.

4. Brandon Murray

Old school: LSU | New school: Georgetown

Amid the transition from Will Wade to Matt McMahon at LSU, there is a deep group of players from both LSU and Murray State – McMahon’s old school – on the move. Several of them are good enough to wind up as impact players on NCAA Tournament teams. Of the group, Murray stands out for his size as a well-built 6-5 guard with two-way chops. Though he played off the ball as a freshman, he flashed a distribution prowess with nine assists in an SEC Tournament win over Missouri. Ultimately, he is a versatile guard who averaged double-digits as a true freshman for an NCAA Tournament team known for defense. That’s a winning formula in portal season. Georgetown’s hiring of ex-LSU assistant Kevin Nickelberry appears to have given it a huge leg up in landing Murray after the Hoyas struggled to a 6-25 record this past season.

5. Andre Curbelo

Old school: Illinois

Curbelo’s sophomore season never got off the ground after a concussion-related issue kept him from building on a standout freshman season. Still, any coach who believes in their ability to develop point guards would be giddy over the chance to help Curbelo reach his full potential. The former top-50 prospect from the 2020 class averaged 4.2 assists in just 21.5 minutes per game as a freshman, and he showed deftness at beating defenders off the dribble and finishing inside the arc. Turnover issues, a lack of 3-point shooting and his sophomore season as a whole are all legitimate red flags. But the potential reward will outweigh the risks for a program needing a lead guard.

6. Manny Bates

Old school: NC State

A shoulder injury in NC State’s season opener knocked Bates out for the year. However, if he could return to the form he showed as a sophomore, he could be a starting big for an NCAA Tournament-caliber team. The 6-11 menace led the ACC in blocks during the 2020-21 season and swatted a ridiculous 4.9 shots in 40 minutes over his two seasons of play with the Wolfpack. He’s shown no 3-point shot in his career, but he’s a reliable finisher around the rim who should be one of the nation’s best shot blockers next season, no matter where he’s playing.

7. Tanner Holden

Old school: Wright State | New school: Ohio State

Those who watched Holden go 3 for 11 and finish with 12 points in Wright State’s first round NCAA Tournament loss to No. 1 seed Arizona were likely not blown away. His three-year body of work for the Raiders is phenomenal, though, and his junior season made it clear he can handle big-time college basketball. The 6-6 guard averaged 20.1 points per game and finished second in Division I with 280 free-throw attempts. He’s not much of a 3-point shooter, but Holden is skilled at finding his spots inside the arc and attacking, which leads to points at the charity stripe.

8. Courtney Ramey

Old school: Texas

After four seasons at Texas, 128 games and 106 starts, Ramey is in the portal. It will be weird seeing him in another uniform, especially if he ends up playing in a more guard-friendly, up-tempo system. The 6-3 guard is a proven shooter and a secondary ball-handler who scored 1,275 points during his time with the Longhorns. His best season was during the 2020-21 campaign, Shaka Smart’s last as Texas’ coach. Ramey averaged 12.2 points per game on 41.4% 3-point shooting before struggling in the postseason that season.

9. Fardaws Aimaq

Old school: Utah Valley

Aimaq averaged 18.9 points and 13.6 rebounds for a 20-12 Utah Valley team in 2021-22, and he began flashing his outside shot by hitting 43.5% of his 46 attempts from the 3-point range. He averaged just 1.2 blocks per game against WAC foes, which translates to only decent rim protection from a player of his size. But Aimaq is a legitimate stretch five who looks capable of helping a quality big-time program with points and rebounding as a starter next season.

10. KJ Williams

Old school: Murray State

Williams upped his production each season during a stellar four-year run at Murray State. This past season, he averaged 18 points and 8.4 rebounds for a team that finished 31-3 and earned a No. 7 seed in the NCAA Tournament. He’s not much of a shot blocker for a 6-10 player, but he makes up for it with a career 3-point shooting percentage of 35.5%. Offensively, Williams certainly appears to have the chops of a high-major starting center.

11. Johni Broome

Old school: Morehead State

Broome is a monster shot blocker who finished third nationally with 131 blocked shots this season, putting him ahead of players like Gonzaga’s Chet Holmgren, Duke’s Mark Williams, Arizona’s Christian Koloko and KC Ndefo of Saint Peter’s. But he’s also a skilled player in the post who came up with monster offensive games in the OVC Tournament title games over the past two seasons.

12. Mark Sears

Old school: Ohio | New school: Alabama

After earning first-team All-MAC honors during a breakout sophomore season, Sears is returning to his home state of Alabama to help the Crimson Tide reclaim their 3-point shooting prowess. Alabama ranked first among the 14 SEC teams in 3-point attempts, makes and percentage in the 2020-21, but slipped to 12th in percentage this past season. Sears hit 40.8% of his 3-point attempts for a 25-10 Ohio team and led the Bobcats with 19.7 points per game.

13. Norchad Omier

Old school: Arkansas State

The Sun Belt Player of the Year is on the move after averaging 17.9 points and 12.2 rebounds for Arkansas State as a sophomore while shooting 63.2% from the floor. He doubled as the league’s defensive player of the year while blocking 1.9 shots and snagging 1.6 steals per game. The only question is, at just 6-7 and with no 3-point shot, how will Omier fit with his new team? It will take a thoughtful coach to maximize Omier’s unique game at a higher level of competition.

14 and 15. Makhel Mitchell and Makhi Mitchell

Old school: Rhode Island | New school: Arkansas

Makhel and Makhi Mitchell began their careers at Maryland before transferring to Rhode Island and leading the Rams in scoring, rebounding and blocks this past season. Makhel is an excellent shot-blocker at 6-10, while the 6-9 Makhi is a bit more versatile. Arkansas coach Eric Musselman will once again have a roster full of new players next season. But Musselman is a portal guru coming off consecutive Elite Eight appearances, and the bet here is that one or both Mitchell brothers will play a key role on another top-notch Arkansas team.

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