We finish our "New Guys" series (it started last week with our All-Freshman team for 2012-13) by spotlighting eight key junior college transfers nationally for next season.
We chose eight transfers – an "Elite Eight," as it were – who, for various reasons, need to make an immediate impact. These are not necessarily the eight highest-rated JC transfers; instead, they are the eight perhaps best-equipped to make a big splash.
Each of these eight will play important minutes right away. We have listed them in reverse order of their expected impact.
8. LSU SF Shavon Coleman
Particulars: 6-6/200, Jr.; 3-star transfer from Howard College (Texas), preceded by Thibodaux (La.) High
Buzz: LSU lost its coach (Trent Johnson, to TCU) and two of its top three scorers, so new coach Johnny Jones is looking for guys who can score. Johnson and his staff heavily recruited Coleman, and Coleman's familiarity with the school helped Jones land his signature last month. Coleman is athletic and can get to the basket and finish. But he might have an even higher ceiling defensively; he has long arms and quick feet, and could become a lockdown perimeter defender, a good thing to have in the SEC. LSU is going to struggle next season because of the new staff and a lot of roster turnover, but Coleman's presence should help the Tigers remain competitive in the league.
7. Wichita State SG Nick Wiggins
Particulars: 6-6/190, Jr.; 3-star transfer from Wabash Valley CC (Ill.), preceded by Vincennes (Ind.) and Tallahassee (Fla.) Godby
Buzz: Wichita State is losing starting Gs Toure Murry and Joe Ragland, as well as each of its top five scorers. Wiggins should move immediately into the starting lineup, and if he is as good as his JC hype, he could lead the Shockers in scoring. Wiggins is the son of former NBA G Mitchell Wiggins. Like his dad, Nick Wiggins is an offense-minded player with 3-point range. He has good size and shot better than 53 percent from the floor at Wabash Valley this past season. If Wichita State is to have any hope of repeating as MVC regular-season champ, he must produce big offensive numbers.
6. South Florida C Waverly Austin
Particulars: 6-11/248, Jr.; 3-star transfer from Palm Beach CC (Fla.), preceded by Martinsville (Va.) The Heat Academy
Buzz: Austin could step right into USF's starting lineup; the Bulls need a new center, and the defense-minded Austin has the right mindset – and the right size – to help. He is relatively athletic and runs the court well. He remains raw offensively, but it's his defense and rebounding that will be the key. Austin has an interesting back story. He is from Yulee, Fla., a town of about 8,300 about 30 miles north of Jacksonville. He attended private schools in Maryland and Texas before finishing up at The Heat Academy, a "school" in Virginia that was centered on basketball. As founder Jason Niblett told the Washington Post in 2007, "Our plan was to start a team and outsource the academics."
5. Mississippi State PF Colin Borchert
Particulars: 6-8/220, Jr.; 3-star transfer from East Mississippi CC, preceded by Glendale (Ariz.) Mountain Ridge
Buzz: The Bulldogs lost their top four scorers as well as their coach, so there will be a lot of minutes (and shots) available for Borchert. New coach Rick Ray praised Borchert's offensive abilities; Ray noted that the offense he runs can easily accommodate a power forward with a nice outside touch, which is what Borchert has. Borchert also is a capable rebounder and defender who needs to provide some points for a Mississippi State team with a questionable frontcourt. Mississippi State has underachieved in recent seasons; for the first time in a while, the Bulldogs won't head into the 2012-13 season expected to make the NCAA field. But Borchert and the other Bulldogs have a shot at an upper-division finish
4. Ole Miss G Marshall Henderson
Particulars: 6-2/180, Jr.; 3-star transfer from South Plains College (Texas), preceded by Texas Tech, Utah and Hurst (Texas) L.D. Bell
Buzz: The well-traveled Henderson is a good shooter, something the Rebels desperately need. Henderson is a heady player who starred for his dad in high school, then had a productive freshman season at Utah (12.2 ppg) in 2009-10. He transferred to Texas Tech but left without playing a game after coach Pat Knight was fired. He had a big season at South Plains, averaging 19.6 points and shooting 41 percent from 3-point range and 87 percent from the line. The Rebels lacked a consistent 3-point shooter last season and hit just 31.6 percent from beyond the arc; Henderson is expected to help in that regard. Ole Miss coach Andy Kennedy will be feeling the heat as next season begins, and a good year from Henderson and the rest of Ole Miss' backcourt likely would mean the Rebels would in the hunt for a top-six finish in the SEC.
3. USC SG J.T. Terrell
Particulars: 6-3/180, Jr.; 4-star transfer from Peninsula College (Wash.), preceded by Wake Forest and Charlotte (N.C.) West Charlotte
Buzz: Terrell also was a four-star recruit in high school and averaged 11.1 points per game as a Demon Deacons freshman in 2010-11. But after an arrest for DWI, Terrell withdrew from school in September 2011, with his family attorney saying Terrell suffered from a "serious medical condition" that required "immediate attention." About six weeks later, Terrell announced he would be attending USC. He averaged 24.2 points per game for Peninsula this past season, shooting 47.2 percent from the floor and 38.4 percent from 3-point range. Terrell is a solid ballhandler and defender, but it's his offense that the Trojans crave. USC was brutal on offense this past season, averaging only 52.6 points per game and shooting just 38.7 percent from the field and a pitiful 27.1 percent from 3-point range. The Trojans were the lowest-scoring "big six" conference team by almost three points per game. USC isn't going to challenge for the Pac-12 next season, but if Terrell and a plethora of other newcomers pan out, the Trojans could contend for a postseason berth.
2. Texas A&M PG Fabyon Harris
Particulars: 5-10/165, Jr.; 3-star transfer from College of Southern Idaho, preceded by Chicago Hyde Park Academy
Buzz: Harris needs to produce right away. The Aggies didn't get much from their backcourt this past season and the starting point guard (Dash Harris, no relation) was a senior, so there will be ample minutes for Harris, whom most consider the best junior college point guard in the nation. He is athletic, a solid ballhandler and an OK scorer; his highest value, though, is as a facilitator. Harris replaced Pierre Jackson in CSI's starting lineup, and A&M coach Billy Kennedy certainly wouldn't mind if Harris provides the same type of impact that Jackson made with Baylor. Harris has a somewhat checkered past. He signed with Houston out of high school after previously committing to Northern Colorado and SMU. He was released from his letter-of-intent with Houston for personal reasons (a family member was murdered), then signed with Howard College, a junior college in Big Spring, Texas. He had off-court issues, including an arrest, and left Howard for CSI during the 2010-11 season.
1. St. John's F Orlando Sanchez
Particulars: 6-9/205, Jr.; four-star prospect from Monroe College (N.Y.), preceded by Nagua (Dominican Republic) Colegio Nueva Luz
Buzz: St. John's lacked size last season, and F Moe Harkless' decision to turn pro after his freshman season made the Red Storm even smaller. Enter Sanchez, who decided to attend St. John's late last month. Sanchez, holdover big man God'sgift Achiuwa and incoming freshman JaKarr Sampson likely will be the Red Storm's main frontcourt players next season. Sanchez isn't a gifted offensive player, but he is a good rebounder and defender who runs the court well for a big man. Sanchez also should provide some leadership for a young Red Storm team. St., John's has a shot at a middle-of-the-pack finish in the Big East, which might be enough for a second NCAA bid in three seasons.
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