Devoe Joseph — Senior guard, Oregon (by way of Minnesota)
Joseph's transfer from Minnesota last year puzzled many, as he sacrificed two-thirds of his junior season with the Gophers to basically gain two-thirds of his senior season at a new location. So far, though, it's paying off for both Joseph and Oregon. The 6-foot-4 guard became eligible in time for las Saturday's game against Fresno State, and in two games so far, he's played 58 minutes off of the bench, scoring 31 points and dishing 10 assists. Joseph is giving the Ducks — now 6-2 — the dangerous perimeter scoring threat they lost when highly-touted freshman Jabari Brown left the program after only two games. He'll also give them a better shot on the road in a crucial non-conference showdown on Sunday at Virginia.
Matt Carlino — Redshirt freshman guard, BYU (by way of UCLA)
It wasn't just Jimmer Fredette's 28.9 points per game that BYU lost after last season, but also Jackson Emery's 12.5 ppg and the general versatility that both brought. The Cougars are off to an 8-2 start, but Carlino will add a dimension that they haven't had in their first 10 games as a scoring point guard who has incredible range on his shot and will keep defenses honest. The Cougars have several capable scorers around him, but he could be able to tie everything together some and make it all flow a little smoother. It will likely take a few games for Carlino to get acclimated, and he probably won't have the same type of freedom that Fredette had on the offensive end at any point this season, but having him makes BYU that much more of a threat to win the WCC title. The timing of his debut couldn't be better, either, as he'll be available when the Cougars host sixth-ranked Baylor on Saturday afternoon. Scoring the upset would give BYU the signature non-conference win that could go a long way down the road.
Twany Beckham — Junior guard, Kentucky (by way of Mississippi State)
It was a rough ride for the Louisville native at Mississippi State over 2.5 seasons, that included sparse minutes as a freshman in 2008-09, a medical redshirt in 2009-10, then a frustrating half-season a year ago. Beckham isn't a great shooter and won't be asked to score much for the Wildcats, but he's going to give them value as a very capable back-up point guard. So far, freshman Marquis Teague has played 30.2 minutes per game. Beckham becoming eligible in time for Saturday's game against Chattanooga will not only allow Teague to rest more down the stretch run of non-conference play, but it will also allow Doron Lamb to remain primarily a scorer when Teague takes a breather.
Jelan Kendrick — Freshman guard, Mississippi (by way of Memphis)
This one is the biggest wild card of the bunch. The former McDonald's All-American was released from his scholarship at Memphis before last season even started following a series of missteps. The big question now is whether he's changed his ways in Oxford. In the Rebels' first game since he became eligible — Wednesday's 66-54 victory over Louisiana-Lafayette — Kendrick didn't suit up. Andy Kennedy called it a coach's decision, and said it was not related to a sports hernia is that sidelined him recently. His comments made it seem as if Kendrick still needs to round into form both mentally and physically. No one has ever questioned Kendrick's talent and versatility that is even more rare given his 6-foot-7 frame, and if he can figure it out and contribute, Ole Miss is a legitimate NCAA tournament team.
Shawn Williams — Sophomore forward, SMU (by way of Texas)
Williams' first game as a Mustang came on Thursday night, and despite scoring 12 points and grabbing four boards in 25 minutes, SMU suffered a stunning home loss to Jackson State, dropping to 5-4 on the year. Still, Williams will get every opportunity to live up to the promise he showed as a prep standout. It's a nice story for Williams to get a shot at helping boost his hometown program after a rough run at Texas, that saw his freshman season cut short due to torn ligaments in his ankle, then ultimately the decision to transfer just before his sophomore year began.
Reggie Smith — Sophomore guard, UNLV (by way of Marquette)
The 6-foot guard with the 43-inch vertical leap won't just add another element of excitement to an uptempo-minded UNLV team, but he's also going to provide a bit of relief for Rebel starters Oscar Bellfield and Anthony Marshall, who are both starting to show signs of wear and tear after averaging over 31 minutes per game each through 12 games. Junior Justin Hawkins has turned into a strong all-around producer off of the bench behind Marshall and Bellfield, and Smith should be able to do the same once he gets comfortable. After it was originally thought that he'd be debuting in his hometown — Chicago — on Saturday against Illinois, a delay in posting his first semester grades means he likely won't be available until Monday when the Rebels host Louisiana-Monroe.
Billy Baron — Sophomore guard, Rhode Island (by way of Virginia)
It's been an incredibly disappointing start to the season for the Rams, who are 1-9. They'll get a bit of help soon with Auburn transfer Andre Malone and Baron, who is the son of coach Jim Baron and the younger brother of former URI star guard Jimmy Baron — one of the deadliest 3-point shooters college basketball has seen in recent years. The younger Baron has range on his shot similar to his brother's, and the steadying influence of a coach's son on the floor might be just what the Rams need to get their season back on track.
Ferrakhon Hall — Junior forward, Memphis (by way of Seton Hall)
The timing of Hall's arrival couldn't be any better, as he'll first be available Saturday afternoon when the Tigers travel to face fourth-ranked Louisville. Not only does the 6-foot-8 Memphis native give the Tigers another athletic body up front, but they've been without 6-foot-5 junior D.J. Stephens for four of their last six games due to knee issues, and he could end up missing the rest of the season. Coach Josh Pastner has lauded Hall not only for his skill, but for his nasty streak, which he said his team could really use right now after a bit of a schizophrenic 5-3 start to the season.
Noel Johnson — Sophomore guard, Auburn (by way of Clemson)
In Year Two under Tony Barbee, Auburn is showing signs of life, and an athletic group gets that much more exciting when the 6-foot-7 Johnson is ready to go. He was eligible for Wednesday's victory over South Florida, but a wrist injury has kept him out of practices to this point. Johnson just returned to basketball activities, and should be refreshed after an underachieving run at Clemson. There's no rush for him to get back, either, as the Tigers are pretty rested, having only played six games to this point. Still, when he arrives, he'll add plenty.
Donte Hill - Old Dominion (by way of Clemson)
Old Dominion needs some help after a 5-4 start if it's going to right the ship and make a serious push towards its third straight NCAA tournament berth. The 6-foot-4 Hill, like Johnson, had trouble finding his footing at Clemson, but will likely get every chance to give a kick-start to a Monarch offense that, to say the least, has struggled to this point while battling injuries, suspensions and illnesses.
Follow Ryan Greene on Twitter: @ryanmgreene
- Sports & Recreation
- Sports & Recreation/Basketball