The transfer portal is closed for undergraduates, but talented players are still seeking their next home. Who are some of the top performers still available?
The 2023 transfer portal is closed for undergraduates, and the NBA Draft withdrawal deadline is now in the rear-view mirror. For perhaps the first time all offseason, rosters are starting to take on their final form. That said, plenty of programs are still looking for that last piece (or two) to round out their squad. And while the transfer options are slimming by the hour, some talented players are still available.
Following some big decisions near the draft withdrawal deadline, some players who were once thought to be heading to the next level are back on the transfer market. Arthur Kaluma, for instance, removed his name from consideration and is transferring away from Creighton. Additionally, some players are still slipping into the portal late as graduate transfers.
With all that in mind, let’s take a gander at who some of the biggest names still left on the transfer market.
1. Olivier Nkamhoua, Tennessee
A full-time starter for back-to-back top-10 Tennessee teams, it is easy to see why Olivier Nkamhoua is one of the most highly sought-after players in the transfer portal. The 6-8 forward is coming off a career-best season in which he averaged 10.8 points, 5.0 rebounds and 2.0 assists. Previously a non-threat from deep — he was just 1-for-5 over his first two seasons with Tennessee — Nkamhoua has expanded his game to hit some perimeter jumpers. Nkamhoua also showed his worth on the biggest stage, erupting for 27 points in a second-round win over Duke in the NCAA Tournament.
His per-game averages at Tennessee were not gaudy, but such is life within a very balanced (and relatively low-scoring) offense. You also don’t start at Tennessee without being a quality defender. With his burgeoning game, Nkamhoua could blossom into a higher-usage star in a new situation for his final year. As of Tuesday, the forward was still considering Michigan, Baylor and West Virginia, per On3’s Joe Tipton.
2. Zyon Pullin, UC Riverside
A semifinal loss in the Big West Tournament overshadowed the fact that UC Riverside posted its second-best season of the KenPom era (2001-present), but the Highlanders were really good last season. They went 22-12, and Zyon Pullin was the primary catalyst. He averaged team-highs in points (18.3) and assists (4.4) on his way to being named first-team All-Big West.
The 6-4 guard makes his living in the midrange. Pullin shot 48.1 percent on 243 long 2 attempts last season, turning an inefficient shot for most into an efficient one. Even more impressively, 94 percent of his midrange makes were unassisted; he gets to his spots and knocks shots down. Albeit on low volume for a guard at just 2.3 3-point attempts per game, Pullin also shot 39.4 percent from beyond the arc. The standout guard cut his transfer list to Florida and LSU on Monday, per ESPN’s Jeff Borzello.
3. Arthur Kaluma, Creighton
Arthur Kaluma did not take the Year 2 jump that some expected last season, but he was a full-time starter and the fifth-leading scorer for an Elite Eight team. He averaged 11.8 points and 6.0 rebounds per game for a Bluejay team with plenty of mouths to feed. The potential remains for Kaluma to blossom into a star thanks to his plus athleticism at 6-7, and he can play at either the 3 or the 4.
Kaluma made strides in the shooting department as a sophomore. He shot 31.1 percent on 3s (up from 26.5 percent as a freshman) and 73.6 percent at the foul line (67.1 percent). His continued improvement as a jump-shooter is a must if Kaluma is to reach his potential. After he withdrew from the NBA Draft process, several schools were soon in hot pursuit. Kentucky has a ton of scholarship spots open and could use a more veteran piece to pair with the nation’s No. 1 recruiting class; Alabama, Texas, and Texas Tech are also targeting Kaluma, per Borzello.
4. Grant Nelson, North Dakota State
Grant Nelson is on an impressive trajectory. The 6-10 forward began his career with a freshman season in which he started only five games for North Dakota State. Nelson nearly doubled his scoring average as a sophomore (from 6.3 points to 11.6) and took another massive leap this past season. He averaged 17.9 points, 9.3 rebounds, 2.1 assists and 1.7 blocks per game as a junior, all while garnering national attention as a potential NBA Draft prospect. An exceedingly versatile player with size, athleticism, and skill, Nelson has a ton of intrigue.
Nelson visited Alabama after he withdrew from NBA Draft consideration. He also plans to Arkansas, per reports from On3. Both schools represent opportunities for Nelson to prove that he can play at the high-major level and, in turn, impress scouts at the next level. Either one might also be a Grant Nelson away from being a preseason top 15 squad. Nelson’s abilities to handle the rock, drive, and finish above the rim at the 4 or 5 spot are enticing. It will be interesting to see how he impacts one of these SEC schools.
5. Adrame Diongue, Washington State
Adrame Diongue did not play much as a freshman at Washington State this past season. The 7-footer appeared in 23 games but averaged just 6.3 minutes per contest. Nonetheless, his archetype and recruiting background makes him an interesting transfer to monitor. The former four-star recruit brings excellent size and is an athletic shot-blocking threat. In his limited floor time, he averaged 11.5 rebounds and 3.3 blocks per 40 minutes.
Unlike others on this, Diongue is not a plug-and-play piece that will instantly be a star. He is a long-term option with three years of remaining eligibility, though, and he has the opportunity to blossom into something more. Either as a starter for a team rebuilding or as a reserve behind a soon-departing piece, Diongue can be a valuable addition this late in the offseason. His recruitment has been relatively quiet since 247 Sports’ Andrew Slater listed a dozen teams that had reached out to the big man as of May 24.
6. Jalen Rucker, Army
Jalen Rucker was a late — and big — entry to the transfer portal. He is listed at only 5-10, but that did not stop him from earning back-to-back All-Patriot honors the past two years. Rucker is a deadly scorer who has created at all three levels in his career; he averaged 16.9 points and 3.4 assists per game over the past two seasons, shooting 50 percent on 2s and 34.0 percent from three. Despite his size, he finished an impressive 60.4 percent of his 154 shots at the rim, and nearly 80 percent of his makes inside were unassisted.
Rucker reached double-figures as a scorer in all but two games this past season. He dropped a career-high 32 in a Patriot League Tournament victory and followed it up with 26 in a loss in the next round. If he has a bounce-back shooting season (he shot 37.6 percent in 2022), he could be a major addition to a backcourt. It’s been all quiet around Rucker’s transfer recruitment, which only adds to the intrigue of where he might end up.
7. Kam Woods, North Carolina A&T
Kam Woods is looking for his fourth school, but he is still one of the most talented bucket-getters in the portal. The 6-2 guard began his career at Troy, where he averaged 10.3 points per game as a freshman in the Sun Belt. He went the JUCO route next, winning an NJCAA National Championship at Northwest Florida State. This past season, Woods returned to Division I and was a full-time starter for North Carolina A&T, where he averaged 17.3 points, 4.2 rebounds and 3.3 assists per game and was honored as a second-team All-CAA performer.
Woods came to play against the Aggies’ toughest opponents. He scored 18 at Iowa, 17 at Iowa State, 26 at Houston, and 30 at home against Charleston. Somebody is going to get some scoring help when they add Woods, but at this point, there’s no clear indication of where he might land.
Bonus: Trey Woodbury, Utah Valley
Trey Woodbury is an interesting case. A sure-fire bet to be on this list if he was confirmed to be eligible, Woodbury had his medical waiver request denied earlier this offseason. He is attempting to appeal for the opportunity to play another season, per ESPN Radio’s Brice Larson.
If his waiver is eventually approved, he will be a big-time get for someone. The 6-4 guard averaged 13.8 points, 5.9 rebounds, and 4.7 assists per game at Utah Valley this past season. He also shot a career-best 39.6 percent from three. A well-rounded guard with immense experience (113 games played over five seasons), Woodbury will be heavily targeted if he ends up getting a waiver for next year.