Every year, many collegiate athletes transfer from one school to the next for a variety of reasons — whether that be as a graduate, for greater opportunity, a sick relative or to prove themselves at a higher level of competition. So I’ll be taking a look at the top NBA prospects among transfers for this season.
Most prospects on the transfer wire have something to prove, which is fun for scouts to look and see how they diversify their respective games at a new opportunity. Expect someone outside this top five to make an immediate splash at their new location, but for now, here are my top NBA transfer prospects.
5. Andrew White 6-7 220 SG/SF Nebraska Junior
White always had the physical ability with an NBA-ready frame for a swingman, but he struggled to see the court at Kansas during his first two years. But the reports out of Nebraska have been positive this summer, and he’s looking to take charge on the offensive end on a Cornhusker team in desperate need of an offensive option. He has the shooting stroke to make an immediate impact offensively, but still has to improve on his handle to take that next step as a scorer.
White’s lack of playing time for Bill Self at Kansas could’ve been defense-related, as he’s stingy with his playing rotation if a player struggles on that end, so maybe White will be improved on defense after a year off. White has the tools to be a great defender, but he needs to show more intensity. In the next two years, he has a great opportunity to make his name known amongst the Big Ten, so expect him to make the most of it.
4. Tyler Harris 6-9 230 SF/PF Auburn Senior
It’s not the first time a Harris has played for coach Bruce Pearl — his brother Tobias played for him at Tennessee — and that was part of the reason Tyler transferred for the second time as a graduate to Auburn. Harris has transferred before, after his freshman season at North Carolina State, so he knows how to handle a new scenario. Although Harris had regressed efficiency-wise as a junior after a promising sophomore campaign, he could be primed for a breakout season under Pearl.
Harris is an intriguing combo forward with excellent size and a smooth game. He still has a ways to go as a shooting threat (shot 28.6 percent from deep after making 32.2 percent as a sophomore), but if he improves from that range it could open up the rest of his offensive repertoire. He also regressed across all major statistical categories, which is concerning for his next season for the Tigers. But if Bruce Pearl can get the best out of Harris, look for him to be in draft conversation this season after the echoes were prominent after a great sophomore season at Providence.
3. Eron Harris 6-3 185 PG/SG Michigan State Junior
The second Harris on this list might have been the top transfer in 2014. Eron Harris is explosive off the bounce and has unlimited range on his jump shot. He has a slender build which allows him to attack defenses and has decent size for a combo guard with solid length. Harris just sat out the year and played point guard for MSU’s scout team, trying to improve his decision making and passing ability in the process in hopes of making the transition to point guard in the pros. The youngster dealt with some legal issues this summer, but he should be ready to go for the season.
Harris is a lethal scorer – 17.1 points per game at West Virginia – but still has a ways to go as a defender and facilitator. He’s been adding weight – he’s up to about 185 pounds now but hopes to get up to 195 for the season – which should help him as a finisher and defender. If he’s able to show increased playmaking skills while consistently knocking down jump shots, don’t be too surprised if his name is in the draft conversation not only in 2017, but possibly this year as well.
2. John Egbunu 6-11 255 C Florida Sophomore
Egbunu was on my list of under-the-radar prospects primed to break out this year for a reason, and you can read more him there. But Egbunu has rare athletic attributes for a big man, although he still has a ways to go until he reaches his potential. He’s primed after a season off to make major strides at Florida, so he’s definitely a big name to watch.
1. Damion Lee 6-6 210 SG/SF Louisville Senior
Damion Lee is the only player on this list to make an appearance on my top 60 Big Board, as I look at Lee as a player firmly entrenched in the second round right now. He was a big-time scorer at Drexel and used the graduate transfer rule to take his talents to Louisville, who’s in desperate need of a scorer on the wing who can shoot. He fits in perfectly and should have a big senior year for Rick Pitino.
Lee made big strides as a perimeter threat his junior year, shooting 38.5 percent from deep while improving on defense (averaged a career-high 1.5 steals). But he still will have a big transition to make while adjusting to the higher level of competition, and assuming that goes smoothly, Lee has NBA size for a swingman at 6-6 and 210 pounds. He might even have gotten drafted regardless of transferring to Louisville. Luckily for them, he should fill the Cardinals’ need of a go-to scorer. If that’s the case, expect Louisville to go far and for him to shoot up draft boards in the process.