Friar Basketball

Big East Transfers and Early Entrants

Robinson Earl

Taking a look at news regarding impact transfers and players declaring early for the NBA Draft…

Let’s start with Villanova, a program that received tremendous news on Tuesday afternoon as freshman center Jeremiah Robinson-Earl announced he is returning to school for the 2020-21 season. Robinson-Earl earned the Big East Freshman of the Year award after averaging 10.5 points and 9.4 rebounds per game.

Next, Jay Wright and his staff will wait to see if sophomore Saddiq Bey will declare for the draft. Bey, who won the Julius Erving Award as the nation’s top small forward, is very likely a top 20 pick in the draft, and his departure has been seen as a foregone conclusion by most. Wright said there is a chance Bey could return “if he doesn’t get something definite” when hearing from NBA teams, but that would be a surprise at this point.

Let’s not forget, Nova’s Bryan Antoine had offseason shoulder surgery last year and it essentially cost him his freshman season. Antoine played just 87 minutes last season. A 6’5 guard, Antoine was a McDonald’s All American and a top 15 prospect nationally in the class of 2019. Antoine could help fill the scoring void left behind by a possible Bey departure, but regardless, Wright will return four starters and a team with national championship aspirations.

Other Big East names to watch as prospects eventually go through the draft process include Georgetown sophomore guard Mac McClung, St. John’s forward LJ Figueroa, and Butler guard Jordan Tucker. Each of those players are eligible to return to school next year having not hired an agent, but the Big East is going to lose Xavier forward Naji Marshall, Creighton guard Ty-shon Alexander, and DePaul forward Paul Reed who are all early entrants in the NBA Draft.

Alexander is the biggest blow to the league, as Creighton was seen as a potential top five team nationally heading into next season. He was likely the best two-way guard in the league last year. Alexander’s departure is a surprise, as he is not viewed as a first round pick. This is shades of the surprising departures of the Hausers brothers from Marquette last spring. The Golden Eagles went from a top five team to a borderline top 25 club after losing Sam Hauser to Virginia and Joey to Michigan State.

The Big East has been extremely active on the transfer market. Seton Hall picked up a huge commitment from graduate transfer Bryce Aiken, an All-Ivy guard from Harvard. Aiken was one of the best graduate transfer guards on the market, maybe the best.

Xavier is hoping to heal its outside shooting woes from last season with the addition of graduate transfer guard Nate Johnson from Gardner-Webb. Johnson averaged over 13 points per game and shot over 41% from deep in 2019-20. Xavier will also welcome 6’8 Bryan Griffin, a Division II monster who put up 19.6 points and 14.5 rebounds per game last season. Zach Hankins, the former X center, went through a similar DII to Big East route in 2018-19 and was a solid piece for the Muskies.

Georgetown picked up a commitment from Arkansas transfer Jalen Harris this spring to stabilize its backcourt. St. John’s nabbed George Washington grad transfer 6’8 Arnaldo Toro to add depth up front.

Creighton graduate transfer Davion Mintz is off to Kentucky after sitting out last season, while UConn lost Alterique Gilbert to Wichita State, and DePaul’s Devin Gage is headed to Fresno State.

We should have clarity on whether or not undergraduate transfers will be immediately eligible in late May, which will impact the wave of prospects below.

Among those who could be eligible in the Big East next season are URI transfer guard Tyrese Martin, who is headed to UConn, Duke to Creighton shooter Alex O’Connell, and Providence additions Brycen Goodine and Ed Croswell. Croswell may redshirt next season regardless, which would be a telling sign of Ed Cooley’s confidence in graduate transfer Noah Horchler and sophomore Jimmy Nichols inside.

In regard to transfers who sat out last season, Connecticut adds RJ Cole, a 6’1 guard who averaged 21 points per game at Howard, while Caleb Daniels has reportedly been impressive at Villanova practices. Daniels averaged just shy of 17 points per game at Tulane. A third player who sat out last year is Takal Molson, who averaged 16.9 points and 5.4 rebounds at Canisius in 2018-19. He will suit up at Seton Hall in the fall.

Of course, Providence adds former St. Joe’s point guard Jared Bynum and the 16 point, nine rebound big man Horchler from North Florida.

As far as additional departures from the Big East, there are a few notables. Sidney Wilson is gone from UConn, Khalif Battle left Butler for Temple, big men Darnell Brodie and Taurean Thompson are leaving Seton Hall, while Ian Steere and Damien Sears have departed from St. John’s.


You must be logged in to post a comment Login