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ACC Basketball, Transfer Portal Stock Report: Jones & Minlend boost Louisville, Wake takes hit sans Sarr, VT breaks even with Diarra

It’s been nearly two full months now since the 2019-20 college basketball season came to its abrupt end. A whole lot has happened in that span of time, and more could be on the horizon with potential adjustments to athlete compensation (NIL) and transfer rules.

Speaking of transfers, there’s been a good deal of player movement in college hoops. Over half of the ACC — nine teams — had at least one player enter the transfer portal since the middle of March. On the other side of the equation (incoming players), only four programs — Clemson, Florida State, NC State and Miami — have yet to add a player or have one enter the portal since March.

With that in mind, let’s take a step back and assess which ACC programs have improved their stock the most via the transfer port, specifically

 

Stock Up

Louisville

Chris Mack and the Cardinals have plenty on their hands at the moment; there’s a lot of work to be done in order to replace so much outgoing talent. Jordan Nwora, Dwayne Sutton, Ryan McMahon, Steven Enoch: these are really good players.

The program also lost Jay Scrubb — an incoming blue-chip JUCO signee — to the NBA Draft, too.

As far as the transfer portal goes, though, Louisville did rather well, even with the departure of veteran guard Darius Perry, who will head to UCF to play for Johnny Dawkins.

The addition of grad transfer Carlik Jones from Radford is a major get. A power guard while plenty of offensive ingenuity, Jones is the best incoming transfer to the ACC. (Four weeks ago, I went into great detail on what makes Jones special, and why a backcourt pairing with David Johnson can do serious damage next season.)

During the 2019-20 season, Jones was the only player in the country to finish with 30 percent usage, 30 percent assist rate and 40 percent 3-point shooting.

With Johnson and Jones, the Cards have two big-time lead ball handlers, which should unlock Louisville’s drag screen offense in semi-transition and allow for all kinds of spread pick-and-roll action in the half court. Malik Williams, as a screener, will be busy.

Jones is an elite shot-maker. According to Synergy Sports, Jones posted an effective shooting rate of 51 percent out of the pick-and-roll; he also scored 1.18 points per spot-up possession.

Louisville also added Charles Minlend — another grad transfer from San Francisco. Minlend averaged 14.4 points, 4.7 rebounds and 1.8 assists per game for a go-go San Francisco squad this season. For his efforts, Minlend was named second team All-West Coast Conference. Minlend also considered Gonzaga and Arizona, among others, before committing to Louisville.

Minlend is a high-usage player — with a career usage rate of 26.1 percent — who will have to improve as a spot-up target, next to Jones and Johnson. However, he’s also a low-mistake player (13 percent turnover rate this season) and gets to the line a ton. As a junior, Minlend averaged 6.3 FTA and drew 5.1 fouls per 40 minutes.

 

Virginia

Back in April, Virginia added to its unique blend of offensive pieces with another shooter: Rice transfer Trey Murphy III.

During his sophomore season , Murphy was one of five Division I players 6-foot-8 or taller (along with Villanova’s Saddiq Bey) to shoot at least 35 percent on 175+ 3-point attempts. During the 2018-19 season, only 11 players accomplished this, too, including Cameron Johnson, Dylan Windler, Mike Daum and Sam Hauser, Murphy’s future teammate.

Murphy posted an effective shooting rate of 51 percent on spot-up no-dribble jumpers this season, per Synergy. Murphy shot well coming off screens, too (58.8 eFG%), which should work nicely in Virginia’s blocker-mover/Sides offense.

There are indications that Murphy could redshirt next season, which he’s comfortable with.

 

Notre Dame

Several ACC programs were in the mix to land Santa Clara transfer Trey Wertz, one of the more sought after wings this offseason. Wertz, however, picked Notre Dame and head coach Mike Brey.

Over the course of two seasons at Santa Clara, the 6-foot-4 guard appeared in 62 games (58 starts), while averaging 12 points, 4.3 assists and 3.2 rebounds. During his sophomore season, Wertz banged home 40 percent of 3-point attempts (4 3PA per game). According to Synergy, Wertz posted an effective shooting rate of 64.9 percent on catch-and-shoot looks this season, too.

Wertz also led Santa Clara rotation players in assist rate (26.2 percent) and effective shooting (57.6 eFG%).

 

Boston College

It seems fairly obvious that Boston College and Jim Christian worked to address several discrete needs in the transfer window: rebounding and shooting. This can explain the additions of guard Rich Kelly (Quinnipiac), and forwards Frederick Scott (Rider) and James Karnik (Lehigh). All three are grad transfers, too.

The Eagles were a subpar rebounding team this season; Boston College ranked outside the top 260 nationally in both offensive and defensive rebound rates. Opponents rebounded close to 31 percent of their misses against BC.

According to Synergy, Boston College allowed 5.8 points per game on opponent put-back attempts (57.7 FG%), fifth worst in the ACC.

These numbers are far from ideal, especially for a team that ranked 39th nationally in average height, per KenPom, and featured Steffon Mitchell, one of the top two-way rebounders in college hoops. Mitchell was one of seven ACC players this season with an offensive rebound rate of 10 percent and a defensive rebound rate of 20 percent.

Karnik finished his junior season with an offensive rebound rate above 10 percent and a defensive rebound rate above 19 percent. For his career (96 games), Scott has averaged 9 rebounds per 40 minutes.

Boston College ranked No. 296 nationally in 3-point percentage (30.8 3P%). Enter Kelly, who is a career 38.7 percent 3-point shooter. During the 2019-20 season, Kelly connected on 39.4 percent of his looks from deep.

Kelly is also an excellent free throw shooter: 238-of-283 FTA (84.1 FT%). As a team, Boston College shot under 66 percent from the line this season.

Scott can move around step away and hit 3, too. In each of his three seasons with Rider, Scott (38.3 3P% career) attempted at least 75 3-pointers. During the 2019-20 season, Scott went 40-of-100 3PA (40 3P%).

 

Duke

The Blue Devils must be ready to move on from their two main offensive orbits this season: Vernon Carey Jr. and Tre Jones. Over the last few seasons, Duke received big-time post production from its one-and-done talents: Wendell Carter Jr., Marvin Bagley III, Zion Williamson and VCJ. Next season, Duke will look to replicate some of the production with a new players that’s only a few months younger than Carter and Bagley: Patrick Tape.

After flipping his decision multiple times, Tape will be a Blue Devil; the Columbia grad transfer brings a strong low-block presence to Duke’s rotation. Tape shot 58.7 percent on post-ups as at junior, according to Synergy.

During the 2018-19 season, Tape averaged 11.3 points, 5.9 rebounds and 1.3 blocks per game; he also connected on 17 dunks that season.

At 6-foot-10, 240 pounds, Tape is fairly mobile; he isn’t just a post-up behemoth. Tape’s a strong cutter, and rolls hard as a willing receiver out of the pick-and-roll. Tape shot 88.5 percent on basket rolls during his junior season, per Synergy.

Duke has a variety of lineup combination to deploy next season; however, the return of Matthew Hurt gives Coach K a frontcourt with plenty of size and inside-out balance.

Hurt posted an effective shooting rate of 69.6 percent on spot-up no-dribble jumpers this season — No. 5 in the ACC. He returns as one of the top NBA prospects in the ACC, too.

With Hurt’s ability to stretch defenses and Tape’s powerful mobility, Duke, once again, has readymade access to high-low action. Duke frequently utilized this activity out of its Horns set this season.

 

Breaking Even

Virginia Tech

It’s never fun to wave goodbye to your leading scorer as a transfer, which is exactly what happened to Virginia Tech. Landers Nolley (15.5 points per game) was one of the first high-profile players to hit the transfer portal this offseason.

In his lone year with Mike Young as coach, Nolley offered utility as an offensive hub (33 percent usage) and positional versatility as the Hokies transitioned beyond the Buzz Williams era.

However, Nolley’s efficient dropped drastically over the course of the season. By the end of the of the year, Nolley had an offensive BPM of just 1 and an offensive rating under 90. Going back to the 2007-08 season, Nolley is just the second ACC player to post an effective shooting rate under 45 percent with a usage rate of at least 32 percent.

Still, Nolley is a talent; it’s a blow to lose his production. That said, there should be plenty of excitement around an offense, crafted by Young, one of the more insightful offensive minds in college hoops, that features Jalen Cone and Hunter Cattoor.

Cone is already one of the best movement shooters in college hoops — 59.2 eFG% off screens, No. 2 in the ACC. He could star in Young’s creative offense. The same can be said for Cattoor — 60 eFG% on spot-ups — who has good rhythm shooting off the catch, too.

Lefty combo guard Cartier Diarra is an excellent addition, too. The 6-foot-4 Diarra brings two-way impact (3.5 percent steal rate) in the form of a bigger lead guard. Diarra is a career 34.5 percent 3-point shooter who connected on 62 percent of his attempts at the rim this year. He also ranked 47th nationally with an assist rate of 32.6 percent.

All of this shooting and play-making will open the floor up for Tyrece Radford, who at only 6-foot-1, shot 70.5 percent at the rim this season.

Diarra can get sticky with the basketball at time (27 percent usage rate), but he’s an offensive upgrade at the point guard position: he brings off-the-dribble shot creation to the offense. At Kansas State, Diarra showed the ability to get to the rim (61.7 FG% around the basket) and create his own shot (41 eFG% on off-dribble jumpers).

Wabissa Bede is a solid defender, but he just doesn’t provide that type of punch from the primary guard position. Diarra will be able to replace some of Nolley’s late-clock offense, if necessary, too.

Small-ball lineups with Diarra, Cone, Cattoor, Radford and PJ Horne (34.9 3P%) should be lethal.

The Hokies also added some muscle to the frontline this offseason with Iowa transfer Cordell Pemsl.

 

Stock Down — with an asterisk

Syracuse

The 2020 offseason got off to a wonky start for Syracuse. Less than a week after the team’s final game — a rout over UNC at the ACC Tournament — three Syracuse guards entered the transfer portal: Jalen Carey, Howard Washington and Brycen Goodine. Not long after that, Elijah Hughes declared for the 2020 NBA Draft.

Syracuse played a thin rotation during the 2019-20 season: What would happen after all of these departures?

Well, Jim Boeheim went out and landed one of the best offensive wings in the transfer portal: Alan Griffin from Illinois.

There’s a catch, however. It remains uncertain if the NCAA will pass legislation to allow athletes to have a one-time transfer exception. If that measure doesn’t go throw, Griffin would need to find another way to obtain a waiver, or risk losing next season to a redshirt.

Syracuse’s roster still has depth concerns in the backcourt; the frontline could use more punch, too. However, Griffin — assuming he’s made immediately eligible — provides perimeter shooting, which fits well will with Joe Girard ad Buddy Boeheim.

During the 2019-20 season, Griffin emerged as one of the most efficient players in the country. The 6-foot-5 wing shot 60 percent on 2-point attempts (68 FG% at the rim) and ranked No. 6 nationally in offensive rating, per KenPom.

According to Synergy, Griffin posted an effective shooting rate of 55.3 percent on catch-and-shoot attempts this season, a top 20 number in the Big Ten.

Depth concerns may linger, but the lineup of Girard, Boeheim, Griffin, Quiny Guerrier and Marek Dolezaj is really promising. That group molds together nicely, and has a little bit of everything, with a surplus of shooting. (By the way, Guerrier has the chance to be a stud for Syracuse.)

If Griffin is eligible next season, this stock flips, quickly, even with the losses.

 

Wake Forest

To be clear, things are currently trending up for Wake Forest basketball. The decision to hire Steve Forbes may prove to be a home run for the Demon Deacons; however, there’s still a lot of turnover via the transfer portal, including one big name, in particular.

When Danny Manning was still the program’s head coach (this feels like ages ago), Wake Forest landed two notable transfers: Ian DuBose from Houston Baptist, a graduate transfer, and Isaiah Wilkins, an intra-conference transfer from Virginia Tech. DuBose is a really nice player, too. And it seems as though both DuBose and Wilkins intend to play for Forbes, which is good news.

However, there’s a rule here: if you lose the league’s best player in the transfer portal — in this case, All-ACC center Olivier Sarr — then you can’t be a winner. Sarr’s move to Kentucky, assuming he’s eligible to play, is a very real blow to Wake Forest next season .

Sarr averaged 13.7 points (53.8 2P%), 9 rebounds and 1.2 blocks per game this season. The 7-footer, according to Synergy, shot 84 percent on basket rolls this season out of pick-and-roll action. With his package of size and skills, Sarr would’ve been an offensive floor-raiser for Forbes next season.

Earlier in the offseason, Wake Forest also parted ways with two-way wing Chaundee Brown. As a junior, Brown averaged 12.1 points, 6.5 rebounds and 1.4 assists per game, all career highs. Known for his midrange game on offense, Brown shot 44 percent on long 2-point attempt.

After flirtations with leaving the program, Ody Oguama and Ismael Massoud (39.8 3P%) will return for their sophomore seasons, which is notable.

Can Wake Forest manage to retain Jahcobi Neath, too? This would be a big boon for the Demon Deacons.

Pittsburgh

Four players left Pittsburgh via the transfer window this offseason, including Kene Chukwuka, Samson George, Ryan Murphy (33.1 3P%) and Trey McGowens.

Of that bunch, McGowens is obviously the biggest loss. A rugged defender, McGowens played in 66 career games (64 starts) for Jeff Capel. This season, he averaged 11.5 points (third on the roster), 3.6 assists, 3.3 rebounds and 1.9 steals per game. During his two-year run, McGowens drained on 31.7 percent of his 3-point attempts.

The Panthers still have some really nice pieces: point guard Xavier Johnson and forward Justin Champagnie. Will it be enough for Capel to breakthrough next season?

 

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