How would a transfer all-star lineup compare to the nation’s best teams?

Eli Boettger | @boettger_eli | 04/10/20

Screen Shot 2020-02-15 at 12.56.18 AM


Over the years, transfers have become an important aspect of roster management in college basketball. Several programs have used the transfer market to help bolster rosters and fill holes.

As the transfer market grows from year to year — there are 716 names on Verbal Commits’ transfer list as of this writing — so does the talent. The Ivy League alone has already produced several high-major additions this offseason: Jordan Bruner (Alabama), Bryce Aiken (Seton Hall), Seth Towns (Ohio State) and Patrick Tape (Duke) are moving from the Ivy to big-name programs.

Because the transfer market pool is so vast and the talent level is so high, it begs a silly yet interesting question: How would an all-star team of the nation’s best grad transfers compare to the other 350-plus D-I teams?

Luckily for you, we have an answer.

Subscribe to Heat Check today!

Using Bart Torvik’s TransferCast tool, I added each of the top 13 grad transfers from Jeff Goodman’s rankings over on Stadium. The team I used to perform the transfer additions was D-I’s newest member, Merrimack (in case anyone was curious). The projected rotation is below.

Screen Shot 2020-04-10 at 2.54.50 PM

Alright, so this team is LOADED. You have three players (!) projected to average an offensive rating of 140 or better in Carlik Jones (formerly of Radford), Terrell Gomez (Cal St. Northridge) and Matt Haarms (Purdue). The hypothetical starting lineup includes Cartier Diarra (Kansas State), Justin Turner (Bowling Green), Mike Smith (Columbia), Terrell Brown (Seattle) and Jones. I’m not entirely sure why Jordan Bruner is projected to play negative minutes, but maybe that’s a testament to this team’s ridiculous talent level — Bruner will be the most athletic Gatorade tank operator in the country.

So just how good is this transfer all-star team? Based on Torvik’s TransferCast, the projected 2020-21 Merrimack rotation replaced by the nation’s best grad transfers would improve from an average mid-major to the very elite of college basketball.

Screen Shot 2020-04-10 at 2.54.55 PM

Not only would the transfer all-stars be the best 2020-21 team in the country, it would rank among the strongest squads we’ve seen this century. Here’s how the 2020-21 transfer all-star group compares to the best KenPom teams ever in terms of adjusted efficiency margin.

Screen Shot 2020-04-10 at 3.07.08 PM

The transfer all-stars lack a little on the defense end — the 92.3 adjusted defensive efficiency rating would have ranked 21st overall this past season — but the offense would more than make up for it. At 127.3 points per 100 possessions, the transfer all-stars would easily have one of the most efficient offenses in recent memory. In comparison, the nation’s most efficient offense this past season was Gonzaga at 121.3 points per possession.

Maybe someday the nation’s top grad transfers will take their talents to an empty roster in hopes of forming one of the greatest teams ever. I’m sure Eric Musselman would gladly be the head coach.


Eli Boettger is a college basketball writer and founder of HeatCheckCBB.com. He has previously worked for Sporting News, DAZN and USA TODAY SMG.

Boettger’s content has been featured by Bleacher Report, NBC Sports, FiveThirtyEight, Yahoo Sports, Athletic Director University, Washington Post, Illinois Law Review and Notre Dame Law Review, among other publications. Boettger is also a current USBWA member and Rockin’ 25 voter.