College Basketball Betting: Getting to Know Your Impact Transfers
Three weeks ago, the NCAA passed a blanket waiver that gave all Division I-to-Division I transfers immediate eligibility to play this season. And coupled with the pandemic, no one will lose a year of eligibility. That all-encompassing policy led to a flurry of new additions throughout the college basketball landscape. But who of those additions has actually made a meaningful impact? Here’s four players (and thus teams) that have benefited most so far from the NCAA’s benevolence/common sense:
DeAndre Williams, Memphis (via Evansville) – 26.3 MPG, 11.7 PPG, 5.7 RPG, 3.0 SPG, 1.3 BPG
Following a long journey to Division I and an up-and-down start at Evansville, Williams suffered an unfortunate back injury last year just as he was taking a flamethrower to overmatched MVC competition. He barely played in the 2020 portion of the schedule, and after the administration fired Coach Walter McCarty amidst an ugly off-court scandal, Williams sought greener pastures this offseason. In Memphis, he seemingly found a terrific fit for his limitless athletic potential and impressive ball skills, offering massive upside alongside Penny Hardaway’s burgeoning sophomore class.
Unfortunately, Memphis has struggled mightily of late, going 0-3 ATS since getting Williams eligible, but that’s certainly not his fault. The Tigers simply lack any modicum of a compass offensively, constantly stagnating into inefficient isolation-ball and lacking the shooting to space the floor around such action. The defense remains elite, though, partially due to Williams’ work on that end — his steal rate (6.3%) and block rate (6.2%) would rank in the top 150 nationally had he played more minutes. The UNDER has hit in two of Williams’ three appearances, and that could be an angle to monitor given the way his physical abilities fit with the Tigers’ roster construction.
Elijah Olaniyi, Miami (FL) (via Stony Brook) – 29.0 MPG, 8.0 PPG, 2.3 RPG, 1.8 APG
On a per game basis, Olaniyi has not had the type of production he likely hoped for after dominating the America East in the first three seasons of his career. His perimeter shot certainly has not yet taken its talents to South Beach – he’s just 1-of-14 from deep in a Hurricanes uniform. Instead, he’s been most crucial simply as another body and ball-handler. Injuries have gutted Jim Larranaga’s backcourt for the second consecutive season, with Chris Lykes and Kam McGusty again missing extended time, pressing Olaniyi and sophomores Harlond Beverly and Isaiah Wong into massive roles in the backcourt.
Despite this, Miami has covered its last two contests, showing an identity as a scrappy underdog that does not quit. Olaniyi tallied double-digits in both games, displaying an increased comfortability in the ACC. Plus, McGusty returned against Clemson this weekend, meaning the Hurricanes could be an undervalued squad as the rotation fills back out and meshes together.
Trevon Reddish, Presbyterian (via Charleston) – 33.5 MPG, 13.5 PPG, 4.3 RPG, 2.5 APG
Brandon Younger, Presbyterian (via Charlotte) – 27.0 MPG, 8.0 RPG, 6.5 RPG, 1.5 SPG
The Blue Hose were in dire straits before the NCAA’s ruling as they opened the season with just seven bodies against Jacksonville on December 2 and lost Michael Isler and Sean Jenkins to the transfer portal shortly after. Fortunately, Reddish and Younger were waiting in the wings, and both have started all four games for which they’ve been available. Reddish in particular has been vital, as the burly wing averaged 18 PPG in a split against Radford to open league play. Combine that with some promising youngsters in Rayshon Harrison, Owen McCormack, and Ambaka Le Gregam, and the Blue Hose could be much more competitive in the Big South than anticipated.
Cory Hightower, Western Carolina (via Presbyterian) – 29.0 MPG, 15.5 PPG, 7.5 RPG, 2.0 APG
From what Presbyterian gained to what it lost! Uber versatile forward Cory Hightower has found a new home in Cullowhee ad he poured in 17 points in his debut in an OT win over Charleston followed by a 14-point, 8-rebound performance as he entered the starting lineup for SoCon play. He’s still getting a feel for his new system – coughing up 10 turnovers in two games is not ideal – but the tough Hightower can be a matchup problem thanks to his strength and ability to put the ball on the floor. Plus, he adds an archetype the Catamounts simply lacked before, as roster makeup previously forced head coach Mark Prosser to play four guards/wings around one paint-bound big man. That should allow Prosser to mix and match lineups more fluidly against SoCon opponents, hopefully giving WCU more longevity this year after losing five of its final eight conference tits last year.
Follow BettorIQ contributor and Three Man Weaver member, Jim Root @2ndChancepoints.