Is the juice worth the squeeze? That’s the question that any coaching staff choosing to take on the former five-star phenom Emoni Bates after he announced that he would leave Memphis over the weekend. Upon announcing his decision to transfer, Bates was immediately elevated to No. 1 overall in the 247Sports College Basketball Transfer Portal Rankings.
No, Bates’ freshman year didn’t go as expected and at times he seemed to be more of a distraction than an asset to the Tigers. But he’s still way too talented to write off at this point. While Bates also has the most name recognition with fans of any player in the portal, he’s not the only high-level talent that is still available. Today, we look at a baker’s dozen — 10 already in the rankings and three who will soon be added — worth of the top uncommitted players in the transfer portal and the group is heavy with ball handlers.
EMONI BATES, SF, MEMPHIS
Overall portal rank: no. one
2021-22 stats: 9.7 points, 3.3 rebounds and 1.3 assists per game
Latest buzz: no, Emoni Bates didn’t live up to the lofty expectations that were in place for his freshman season at Memphis. No, he didn’t often look like a generational talent that he was thought to be early in his high school career. But the story isn’t over. It is incredibly important to keep in mind that Bates should have been a senior in high school last season – and he’s not somebody who was held back earlier in school like many that have enrolled “early” – and that coming out of a pandemic, skipping a year of development isn’t easy. Not even for the best players.
The hope is that his first year has humbled him and ignited a fire to show people who he really is. The G League is likely going to be a possibility and there have yet to be any schools to emerge as thought to be genuine contenders. Let this one breathe for a week or two and we’ll start to find out which programs want to be the place for Bates to come and turn things around.
TIRESE HUNTER, PG, IOWA STATE
Overall portal rank: no. 2
2021-22 stats: 11.0 points, 3.5 rebounds and 4.9 assists per game
Latest buzz: Some of the rumors about Tyrese Hunter, why he would be leaving Iowa State and where he would end up got completely out of control. However, the Big 12’s Freshman of the Year is now officially in the portal and there is no doubt that he’s a potential difference maker for just about anybody.
Hunter’s shooting numbers weren’t great for the season, but he showed great signs as a shooter during the last 10 games of the season and his speed, playmaking, toughness, and elite defense are just too much to ignore. He’s a legit NBA prospect and like Bates he’s still too new to the portal for any favorites to have emerged.
NIJEL PACK, PG, KANSAS STATE
Overall portal rank: no. 3
2021-22 stats: 17.4 points, 3.8 rebounds and 2.2 assists per game
Latest buzz: A native of Indiana who is one of the most dangerous jump shooters in the country, Nijel Pack was thought to be a near lock to end up at Purdue when he announced his intentions to transfer. Make no mistake Matt Painter and the gang are still very much involved and have had Pack on campus. Nobody would be surprised if he ended up picking the Boilermakers.
Pack has also taken a visit to Miami and arrived at Ohio State for a visit on Tuesday. Just over a week ago during the first of April’s two live evaluation periods, there was a pretty significant buzz amongst college coaches that the Hurricanes were very much a player in the race to land Pack. From the sounds of it, he could be nearing a decision relatively soon so we should know what happens soon enough with the All-Big 12 performer.
KENDRIC DAVIS, PG, SMU
Overall portal rank: no. 5
2021-22 stats: 19.4 points, 3.8 rebounds and 4.4 assists per game
Latest buzz: When Kendrick Davis initially hit the transfer portal, 247Sports was a little too cautious with our ranking of the AAC’s Player of the Year. We’ve adjusted and moved him up to a range more commensurate with his college body of work at SMU and TCU prior to that.
A high-scoring point guard who plays with passion and has crafty playmaking ability, Davis should be a difference maker. After a visit to Memphis, Davis is planning to announce his decision this Friday. Davis also has Gonzaga, Houston, Kansas, TCU, Texas and Texas Tech in his top seven but a few days away from his decision, Penny Hardaway and the Tigers appear to be the big favorites here.
KENNETH LOFTON JR., C, LOUISIANA TECH
Overall portal rank: no. 6
2021-22 stats: 16.5 points, 10.5 rebounds and 2.8 assists per game
Latest buzz: A first team All-Conference USA guy this last season, Kenneth Lofton Jr. backed up a great summer of 2021 run with USA Basketball with an incredibly productive season in 2021-22.
Lofton is a wide load in the middle who knows how to use every inch of his frame to his advantage, and he’s got great touch and skill to go along with his size. There are always going to be some worries about him defensively as he (likely) moves up a level but if he sheds some pounds, who knows what could happen? Lofton has also entered his name into the NBA Draft but should be back in school next year. Many schools have been linked to him, but Houston has been considered to be the team to beat.
JOHNI BROOME, C, MOREHEAD STATE
Overall portal rank: no. eight
2021-22 stats: 16.8 points, 10.5 rebounds and 3.9 blocks per game
Latest buzz: An All-OVC player and the league’s defensive player of the year, Johnny Broome has emerged as one of the best big men in the country. While the biggest appeal when it comes to Broome is the thought that his shot blocking will translate to whichever program he chooses, his offense isn’t anything to sneeze at either.
Broome released a top eight of Auburn, Duke, Florida, Gonzaga, Houston, Kentucky, Louisville, and Memphis a week ago and is fresh off of a visit to see Bruce Pearl and the Tigers who undoubtedly sold what Walker Kessler was able to do for them as a transfer big man. Broome will visit Florida next, and this could be headed towards a showdown between Pearl and his former assistant Todd Golden.
TERRENCE SHANNON, SF, TEXAS TECH
Overall portal rank: no. nine
2021-22 stats: 10.4 points, 2.6 rebounds and 2.0 assists per game
Latest buzz: The story of Terrence Shannon and his endeavors into the portal has been an interesting one to say the least and at this point it’s kind of a surprise that he is still available. Exactly what is going down has been a subject of debate but for a while it looked like Shannon was likely to end up at Michigan with Illinois and Kentucky as others thought to be in the mix.
Something has been holding any transfer plans up and there is a lot of behind the scenes debate about what the root cause could be. At this point, it looks like Shannon may be getting back to ground zero. Maybe Kansas State becomes more of a realistic option and maybe the best option for all involved is a return to Texas Tech if somewhere like Michigan can’t happen. Definitely one to stay tuned into.
FARDAWS AIMAQ, C, UTAH VALLEY
Overall portal rank: no. ten
2021-22 stats: 18.9 points, 13.6 rebounds and 1.7 assists per game
Latest buzz: One of the best big men in the portal, Fardaws Aimaq is another who is also testing the NBA Draft waters while exploring his transfer options. He’s big, he’s a skilled scorer and he’s a walking double double that should be capable of being an instant contributor.
Should Aimaq decide to withdraw from the draft, he’ll be choosing from a top five of Gonzaga, Iowa, Texas, Texas Tech and Washington. There has been some recent buzz that Tech is moving into pretty good position here. Red Raiders fans are certainly hoping that buzz rings are true on this one.
BRANDON HUNTLEY-HATFIELD, PF, TENNESSEE
Overall portal rank: no. eleven
2021-22 stats: 3.9 points and 3.0 rebounds per game.
Latest buzz: Another former five-star prospect, Brandon Huntley Hatfield also skipped out on his senior year of high school to enroll in college early. While he didn’t have a huge year, he did start several games and showed flashes of excellence. Again, you have to consider just how difficult skipping a year of development at any time is for a player, much less coming out of a Covid year.
A fine athlete with some faceup ability, Huntley-Hatfield has moved quickly and told CBS Sports’ Jon Rothstein that…