B1G additions: Naming the top hoops transfer portal pickups in the Big Ten
It’s been an active spring in the transfer portal for Big Ten basketball teams.
Every team has had transfer departures, but most have found suitable replacements for those losses. For others — specifically Iowa, Michigan State and Purdue — that search remains ongoing as we head into the summer.
But at this stage, it’s safe to begin identifying the transfers who are poised to have the biggest impacts on their new teams next season.
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Illinois: SF Matthew Mayer (Baylor)
Mulleted Matthew Mayer may make the most impact among Big Ten transfer portal additions.
Mayer averaged 9.8 points and 5 rebounds while playing 23 minutes per game at Baylor last season. He was the sixth man on Baylor’s 2021 national championship team, averaging 8.1 points and 3.7 boards per game in his 16 minutes on the floor.
Mayer was 39.5% from 3-point range in the championship season, though that fell to 32.4% last season as he nearly doubled his volume from outside. He should help fill Alfonso Plummer’s absence as an outside threat for the Illini.
And if he doesn’t, Illinois has another transfer who can. Former Texas Tech guard Terrence Shannon Jr., a Chicago native, will also be in next season’s lineup. Shannon hit 38.4% of his 3s last season, averaging 10.4 points and 2 assists per game for the Red Raiders.
Both guys should help out the Illini equally, but Mayer’s championship experience is a slight intangible edge if forced to choose between the pair.
Indiana’s biggest “addition” is Trayce Jackson-Davis, who elected to return to Bloomington after testing the NBA Draft process.
With a whopping 78.1% of last year’s production returning and the nation’s 8th-ranked signing class coming in, Mike Woodson had little need to patch holes.
Fran McCaffery intends to add a big man via the transfer portal, but the search remains ongoing.
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Like Indiana, Iowa gets a boost from getting back a player who seriously contemplated the Draft. Guard Kris Murray announced Wednesday that he’ll be back next year.
Maryland: PG Jahmir Young (Charlotte)
Young is an impact player who also brings symbolic importance to the Terrapins under 1st-year coach Kevin Willard.
Young attended DeMatha Catholic, which is perpetually among the top programs not just in Maryland but the entire country. However, no DeMatha player has suited up for Maryland since 2006.
That changes with Young, who is coming home after an all-Conference USA season at Charlotte. He averaged 16.7 points, 5.4 rebounds and 3 assists per game over his 3-year career with the 49ers.
Michigan: G Jaelin Llewellyn (Princeton)
More than a century after adopting Princeton’s football helmet design, Michigan is also borrowing from the Tigers on the hardwood.
Llewellyn, like Wolverines guard Caleb Houstan, hails from Mississauga, Ontario. He can play point or shooting guard and was an All-Ivy League selection with 15.7 points per game last season.
Michigan State: N/A
It’s been a bit of a rough offseason for the Spartans, who need to replace Max Christie after the freshman guard not-so-expectedly decided to stay in the NBA Draft.
Even before Christie finalized his decision, Tom Izzo tried to recruit West Virginia wing Jalen Bridges and Oakland wing Micah Parrish. Bridges stayed in the Big 12 with a transfer to Baylor, while Parrish headed all the way to San Diego State.
For now, the search continues.
Minnesota: PF Dawson Garcia (North Carolina)
Much like Young at Maryland, Garcia is a big local fish coming back home to play for a coach trying to turn a program around.
Garcia, a native of Prior Lake, signed with Marquette out of high school. He transferred to North Carolina when Steve Wojciechowski was fired, which means he will need the NCAA to approve a hardship waiver for him to be eligible this season. Garcia left UNC midway through last season due to family medical issues, so it seems likely his waiver will be approved.
While at Marquette, Garcia led all Big East freshmen with 13 points and 6.6 rebounds per game. The 6-11 post averaged 9 points and 5.5 rebounds in 16 games at North Carolina.
Whenever he does play, Garcia will be the first McDonald’s All-American to suit up for Minnesota since Kris Humphries.
Nebraska: SG Emmanuel Bandoumel (SMU)
With Bryce and Trey McGowens both trying to make it in the NBA, the Cornhuskers desperately needed some help in the backcourt.
Bandoumel, who was 2nd on the Mustangs with 70 3-pointers last season, will be among those expected to step up.
Northwestern: PF Tydus Verhoeven (UTEP)
The 6-9 Verhoeven was brought in to help address the significant frontcourt losses of Ryan Young and Pete Nance.
Verhoeven averaged 6.6 points and 4.6 rebounds per game at UTEP last season. His prowess is primarily defensive. As a freshman at Duquense, he was the Atlantic-10 leader in blocked shots.
Ohio State: PG/SF Isaac Likekele (Oklahoma State)
The OSU-to-OSU pipeline is working overtime this year.
In football, the Buckeyes hired Oklahoma State defensive coordinator Jim Knowles and added defensive back Tanner McCalister from the portal.
In basketball, they’re picking up Oklahoma State’s former starting point guard, who is exercising his COVID-created 5th year of eligibility. Likekele has primarily played on the wing the past 2 seasons after beginning his career as a point guard, so Chris Holtmann will be able to plug him in anywhere on the floor.
Penn State: PG Camren Wynter (Drexel)
Wynter played 4 years at Drexel, where he is in the program’s top-5 all-time in assists.
He averaged 14.5 points, 5.1 assists and 4.5 rebounds per game over his Dragons career. Wynter was an All-Colonial Athletic Association player the past 2 seasons, and figures to step in as Micah Shrewsberry’s starting point guard this year.
The Boilermakers haven’t added anybody yet, but don’t expect that to remain the case.
Matt Painter targeted Iowa State point guard Tyrese Hunter, who chose Texas. Before that, Painter was in on Kansas State guard Nijel Pack, who signed a well-publicized NIL deal at Miami.
With Jaden Ivey about to be a top-5 NBA Draft pick, Purdue is in dire need of an experienced point guard.
Rutgers: SG Cam Spencer (Loyola, MD)
Guards named Cam are a hot commodity this year. Especially Spencer.
He led the Patriot League in scoring (18.9 ppg), steals (2.3 spg) and minutes (37 mpg) last season.
At Rutgers, Spencer will be expected to take over for a program legend in Ron Harper Jr. But you get the feeling Steve Pikiell went searching for someone unafraid of filling those shoes. And a guy who launched 162 3-pointers last year isn’t going to be afraid of much.
Wisconsin: PG Kamari McGee (UW-Green Bay)
Not quite a guard named Cam, but close enough.
McGee has the potential to give the Badgers a long-term impact, as he has 3 years of eligibility remaining. The Racine native averaged 11.6 points and 1.9 assists per game as a freshman at Green Bay. He got hot late in the season, averaging 17.6 ppg over his last 5 games as a Phoenix.
With McGee in the mix, Greg Gard has options. He can move McGee off the ball and keep Chucky Hepburn at the point, or alternate the pair as he sees fit.