As the college basketball transfer portal continues to grow and, in some cases, become the primary way for coaches to build rosters year to year, the discussion surrounding newcomers is beginning to change. Entering a season, the elite freshmen are always the biggest talking point. Last season, it was Chet Holmgren vs. Paolo Banchero, the Memphis freshmen, the emergence of Jabari Smith. This season, the strength of the freshmen was prevalent: Nick Smith Jr., Cameron Whitmore, Keyonte George, Duke's No. 1 class, the looming Brandon Miller breakout.
As we enter the final few weeks of the 2022-23 regular season, though, transfers are by and large making a bigger impact. When we did our freshman scorecard around Christmas, only 19 ESPN 100 recruits were averaging double figures in scoring -- and 12 of them were top-25 recruits. That leaves very little impact for any freshmen outside of the high-end prospects.
Of the top 100 transfers in ESPN's transfer rankings last spring, a whopping 57 are averaging in double figures. Sure, these players are older and already adapted to college basketball, and while most don't possess the ceiling of a Miller or the NBA potential of a Whitmore, transfers are showing they come with a much higher floor.
Let's look at some of this season's notable impact transfers, as well as some who haven't panned out just yet.
Best of the best
Keyontae Johnson, Kansas State Wildcats: It really is a remarkable story. Johnson hadn't played since collapsing during a game in December 2020. He has not only picked up where he left off two years ago; he has gotten better. Johnson, averaging 18.2 points and 7.9 rebounds, is one of the reasons K-State is the biggest surprise in college basketball this season.
Souley Boum, Xavier Musketeers: Sean Miller wanted an attack-minded scoring guard in the portal last spring, and he went with Boum, who notched 16 point against Miller's Arizona team in 2020. Boum has been one of the best guards in the country this season, averaging 16.1 points and 4.9 assists and shooting 44.2% from 3-point range.