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The Dagger: College Basketball Blog

Four midseason transfers capable of making an impact for their new teams

Jeff Eisenberg
The Dagger

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UNLV's Khem Birch (AP)

My colleague Kyle Ringo already devoted a post to the most notable midseason transfer, Missouri guard Jabari Brown, who will be counted on to ease the pressure on Phil Pressey and replace some of the production Michael Dixon would have provided. Here's a look at four other now-eligible transfers also capable of making an impact:

Khem Birch, F, UNLV (via Pittsburgh): A former five-star recruit who left Pittsburgh abruptly last December, Birch will be counted on as a rim protector and a rebounder for UNLV. With him in the paint, the Rebels can extend their perimeter defense and gamble for steals more often because they'll know they have a shot blocker behind them if they get beat off the dribble. Birch came off the bench in his debut for a quiet four points and three rebounds against UTEP on Monday, but expect his role to increase as he becomes more comfortable. Mike Moser is out with an elbow injury, Birch has good chemistry with elite freshman Anthony Bennett and the Rebels need his defensive acumen to fuel their transition attack. Debut: Four points and three boards in a win over UTEP on Monday night.

Keala King, G, Long Beach State (via Arizona State): With backup point guards Branford Jones and Jerramy King sidelined due to injuries, starter Mike Caffey has logged 34 minutes per game and seen his shooting percentage plummet. That should change now that King is finally available. Though Long Beach State would prefer to play King at the wing instead of at point guard, he can spell Caffey at point guard for stretches and relieve some of the pressure on Caffey to always be the one creating off the dribble. King averaged 13.7 points and 3.3 assists at Arizona State last season before transferring. Adding him and fellow transfers Tony Freeland and Edgar Garibay bolsters Long Beach State's depth and gives them weapons to go with Caffey, Dan Jennings and James Ennis. Debut: Tuesday night at UCLA

James Johnson, F, San Diego State (via Virginia): Why is San Diego State playing an NAIA school transitioning to Division II on Tuesday night? To give Johnson a chance to shake the rust off in an exhibition game. Johnson averaged only 1.5 points and 1.3 boards in six games as a freshman at Virginia last season, but the former Rivals 150 recruit's 6-foot-9, 24o-pound frame gives him a chance to make an impact for San Diego State this season defensively and as a low-post scoring threat. He gives San Diego State an interior player with some size and bulk to go along with the Aztecs' collection of spindly, athletic forwards. Debut: Tuesday night vs. Point Loma Nazarene

Tyrone Garland, G, LaSalle (via Virginia Tech): La Salle recruited Garland very hard when the Philadelphia native was the third all-time leading scorer in Public League history. Now Garland can finally don his Explorers jersey after leaving Virginia Tech last December after a year and a half with the Hokies. A gifted scorer who earned only sporadic minutes in Blacksburg, Garland returned home in search of more playing time. The 6-foot-1 sophomore played 22 minutes in relief of starting guards Ramon Galloway, Tyreek Duren and Sam Mills on Saturday against Bucknell, contributing nine points and getting to the foul line seven times. He'll provide the guard-heavy Explorers (6-2) another weapon capable of attacking the rim off the dribble. Debut: Scored nine points in a loss to Bucknell on Saturday

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