Ranking the transfer classes of Mountain West men’s basketball teams | Sports

Most of the men’s basketball teams in the Mountain West are at or very close to capacity, with between 14 and 16 players on the majority of rosters. And even though a couple of teams aren’t quite done with this recruiting cycle, it’s a fair time to start looking at how each team did (on paper at least) in building a roster for the 2024-25 season.

Although incoming freshmen could end up having a significant impact on each of these teams (they certainly did last year), the focus of this ranking will be entirely on the transfer classes of the teams. Though as another caveat, you’ll see pretty quickly having a “good” or “bad” transfer class isn’t going to be the sole determiner of a good or bad season. There are several teams low on the list that should be conference contenders and some a little higher that could be cellar-dwellers.

One final note real quick, Air Force is not on the list because they shouldn’t be. The Falcons can’t and don’t add players through the transfer portal so it’s not worth putting them on the list (in last because that’s where they’d have to be) just to point out the zero transfers and explain why.

So, here’s the list, starting at the bottom:

10. UNLV

  • Number of Transfers: 4
  • Top Newcomer of the Year Candidate — Jailen Bedford

Name Yr Pos. HT Prev School GP/GS Pts Reb Ast
Jace Whiting Jr. G 6-3 Boise State 33 / 6 3.3 1.7 1.1
Jaden Hensley Jr. G 6-7 DePaul 32 / 23 8.6 2.7 1.3
Jailen Bedford Sr. G 6-4 Oral Roberts 31 / 31 14.6 6.4 0.9
Julian Rishwain Sr. G 6-5 Florida 8 / 0 1.6 1.6 0.8

UNLV sits at the bottom here not by reason of the coaching staff failing to bring in lots of high-end transfers, but rather because the Rebels didn’t need a ton of great transfers. So they didn’t.

None of UNLV’s departures in the offseason — highlighted by Louis Rodriguez along with Keylan and Kalib Boone — didn’t have a viable in-house option to replace that production. Specifically in the frontcourt, Jalen Hill (who played just seven games last year and got a medical redshirt) should fill one spot, Rob Whaley will likely move into a full-time starter role and Isaiah Cottrell could take on a bigger role going into his junior year.

Really, the biggest needs ended up being guard depth. Rodriguez, Justin Webster and Jackie Johnson III all left so UNLV needed to bolster its guard line that would back up its star, Dedan Thomas. And that’s the main type of transfer they brought with Jailen Bedford, Jaden Henley and Jace Whiting.

Really only one of UNLV’s transfers looks to be a somewhat high-impact player, and that’s why the Rebels are last on this list, but that shouldn’t be seen as a failure of roster construction. They fully constructed a roster capable of competing for a conference title. It just wasn’t done through transfers.

9. San Jose State

  • Number of Transfers: 6
  • Top Newcomer of the Year Candidate — Will McClendon

Name Yr. Pos. HT Prev School GP/GS Pts Reb Ast
Chol Marial Sr. C 7-2 Oregon State 31 / 9 2.3 2.4 0.2
Donavan Yap Sr. G 6-3 Fresno State 26 / 12 9.0 1.8 1.8
Josh Uduje Sr. G 6-5 Utah State 35 / 10 8.7 2.5 0.9
Sadaidriene Hall Sr. F 6-5 Stephen F. Austin 18 / 11 10.7 4.8 1.2
Sadraque NgaNga Jr. C 6-10 Seton Hall 19 / 0 1.1 1.4 0.2
Will McClendon Jr. G 6-3 UCLA 33 / 4 4.1 3.3 1.1

The Spartans were one of the teams hit the hardest, being close to the bottom rung in returning production. SJSU’s transfer class has decent players but it’s not super encouraging. Josh Uduje feels the closest to a sure thing since he’s shown the ability to be a leading scorer, averaging 13.3 points at Coastal Carolina before going to Utah State where his scoring only dipped by virtue of being the Aggies’ sixth man (and winning co-6MOY for his efforts). You could also maybe make the same argument for Sadaidriene Hall, who averaged 13.1 points as a sophomore but he also regressed down to just over 10 PPG and also only played in 18 games.

Several of the other transfers could be high-level players as they’re coming from P5 schools. Chol Marial comes from Oregon State as a 7-foot-2 center and Will McClendon is a former top 50 recruit, albeit with three unproductive years at UCLA spanning the time since that high ranking. 

Even as low as SJSU is on this list, unless virtually of these transfers end up as busts, this probably won’t be a bad class. The primary issue with this class is that unless one of the players makes a massive jump, there’s not someone that can lead SJSU out of the cellar of the conference. Most of them should be solid players, but the Spartans need more than a handful of solid players to move beyond where they are now.

8. Fresno State

  • Number of Transfers: 6
  • Top Newcomer of the Year Candidate — Amar Augillard

Name Yr. Pos. HT Prev School GP / GS Pts Reb Ast
 Alex Crawford Jr. F 6-8 San Diego CC 30 / 30 15.6 6.3 1.5
Amar Augillard Jr. G 6-5 Triton College 36 / 36 22.9 4.6 2.4
David Douglas So. G 6-5 Green Bay 28 / 16 8.5 2.3 0.8
Elija Price R-Fr. F 6-9 Drake 0 / 0
Jasir Tremble Jr. G 6-0 Prince George 30 / 30 23.4 2.4 2.4
Mor Seck Jr. C 7-1 Hawaii 19 / 0 4.0 2.9 0.0

The Bulldogs rank second-worst in returning production in the Mountain West and thus really, really needed a good transfer class. For the optimistic, the statistical output of several of their transfers is spectacular. Amar Augillard and Jasir Tremble both averaged right around 23 points per game last year with Alex Crawford at roughly 16 points and six rebounds per game. The caveat being those numbers came at non-D1 schools so there’s a tough transition ahead.

While there’s not shortage of examples to be found of non-D1 prospects shining at D1 schools, building a roster of JuCo all-stars is a little worrying. Wyoming did that last year and ended the year eighth in the conference. This is the main reason the Bulldogs are ranked low. It’s a bit of a risky strategy that may very well not pay off. 

7. New Mexico

  • Number of Transfers: 4
  • Top Newcomer of the Year Candidate — CJ Noland

Name Yr. Pos. HT Prev School GP / GS Pts Reb Ast
Atiki Ally Atiki Sr. F 6-9 BYU 23 / 0 4.0 2.9 0.3
CJ Noland Sr. G 6-2 North Texas 29 / 20 10.9 2.8 2.0
Filip Borvicanin Jr. F 6-9 Arizona 20 / 0 2.3 1.6 0.8
Ibrahima Sacko So. F 6-6 Georgia Tech 20 / 3 2.2 2.7 0.2

Despite accounting for some of the most significant offseason losses — guys like Jaelen House, JT Toppin and Jamal Mashburn — New Mexico actually fared quite well in terms of returning production thanks to the return of Donovan Dent, Tru Washington, Nelly Junior Joseph and Mustapha Amzil. The small number of incoming transfers reflects that reality.

This puts the Lobos into a similar situation to UNLV. They’re low on this list because they didn’t need to add potential stars through the portal and so they didn’t. Atiki Ally Atiki, Filip Borvicanin and Ibrahima Sacko will aim to be depth behind Joseph and/or replace Toppin in the aggregate while CJ Noland will join Dent and Washington in becoming a new big three in the backcourt.

The class is small and not likely super consequential, but it’s likely to get the job done. And if any transfers do turn out to be stars, well that just makes a conference title all the more likely.

6. Colorado State

  • Number of Transfers: 5
  • Top Newcomer of the Year Candidate — Bowen Born

Name Yr. Pos. HT Prev School GP / GS Pts Reb Ast
Bowen Born Sr. G 5-11 Northern Iowa 31 / 31 13.3 2.5 1.8
Ethan Morton Sr. G 6-6 Purdue 37 / 0 0.6 0.9 1.1
Jaylen Crocker-Johnson So. F 6-8 Arkansas-Little Rock 34 / 33 9.1 5.3 1.6
Keshawn Williams Sr. G 6-3 Northern Illinois 1 / 0 6.0 1.0 0.0
Nikola Djapa So. C 7-0 Long Island 29 / 27 6.1 5.6 0.4

The Rams are kind of unique in that they didn’t lose a single key player to the transfer portal. Part of that, though, was because virtually all of their top players were in their final year of eligibility. Isaiah Stevens, Joel Scott, Patrick Cartier, Josiah Strong, Joe Palmer all graduated and they represent five of the eight players from CSU’s 2023-24 nightly rotation. The remaining three will stick around.

Colorado State added three players who were full-time starters last year — Jaylen Crocker-Johnson, Nikola Djapa and Bowen Born — plus Ethan Morton who played 37 games for Purdue (albeit with only a handful of minutes and low production). This is exactly the kind of incoming talent CSU needed to ensure any dip after Stevens’ departure is either minimal or non-existent.

Variety is key to the Rams’ class. From smaller scoring guards like Born, longer wings in Crocker-Johnson and Morton, even towering centers like Djapa. It’s ideal, at least on paper, for surrounding Nique Clifford, the top returner who is expected to star for the team this year as a potential Player of the Year candidate.

Who steps in as a secondary star next to Clifford is hard to tell exactly, but Born seems to have the best runway to success as he can step into Stevens’ point guard role and the Northern Iowa transfer is capable of being a scoring machine.

5. Wyoming

  • Number of Transfers: 9
  • Top Newcomer of the Year Candidate — Touko Tainamo

Name Yr. Pos. HT Prev School GP / GS Pts Reb Ast
About Magassa R-Fr. F 6-7 Saint Louis 0 / 0
AJ Wills So. G 6-2 Holy Cross 22 / 3 5.5 0.8 1.0
Cole Henry Sr. C 6-11 Northern Iowa 32 / 0 3.0 1.8 1.4
Dontaie Allen Sr. G 6-6 Western Kentucky 33 / 13 8.2 3.0 0.6
Jordan Nesbitt Sr. G 6-6 Hampton 25 / 21 10.2 4.9 4.3
Matija Belic Jr. G 6-7 UCSB 29 / 9 3.9 2.4 0.9
Abi Agbim Jr. G 6-3 Fort Lewis College 33 / 26 15.5 4.0 2.9
Scottie Ebube Jr. C 6-10 Southern Illinois 31 / 1 6.0 3.6 0.3
Touko Tainamo Sr. F 6-11 Denver 34 / 34 15.2 7.7 0.6

Wyoming’s had it a bit rough, losing most of their roster to graduation or the portal, and then when its head coach left seemingly out of nowhere multiple transfer commits decided to de-commit and head elsewhere.

This year’s class looks solid and it absolutely has to live up to that billing if Sundance Wicks is going to make any kind of ripple in the conference in year one. The Cowboys lost 10 players to graduation or the portal and are bringing in nearly that many via transfers. It’s possible that the entire starting five for Wyoming will come from among its transfer additions.

The three to pay most attention to are Touko Tainamo, Abi Agbim and Jordan Nesbitt. They will all play different roles with Agbim at guard, Nesbit on the wing and Tainamo in the post. They’ll be the leaders for each position group and should be the most likely to be highly productive players. If that trio ends up being highly effective, it could pull the Cowboys out of the rut they’ve suddenly found themselves in as a program.

4. Boise State

  • Number of Transfers: 3
  • Top Newcomer of the Year Candidate — Alvaro Cardenas

Name Yr. Pos. HT Prev School GP / GS Pts Reb Ast
Alvaro Cardenas Sr. G 6-1 SJSU 31 / 31 13.2 3.3 5.5
Dylan Anderson So. C 7-0 Arizona 15 / 0 1.4 0.6 0.1
Javan Buchanan Jr. F 6-7 Indiana Wesleyan 35 / 35 20.5 6.5 2.6

The Broncos have what is so far the smallest transfer class in the conference, but packed in these few players is a ton of quality that rockets them toward the top despite low quantity.

Alvaro Cardenas is a perfect fit for the backcourt, so much so that BSU’s guard line could end up being better than last year despite the losses of Max Rice and Roddie Anderson III (and Jace Whiting). The only other big need Boise State had was an emergent problem from Chibuzo Agbo transferring late in the cycle, but NAIA All-American Javan Buchanan should fill that void well enough. 

Boise State’s goal this offseason was to surround returning stars Tyson Degenhart and O’Mar Stanley with great talent on the wing. And despite losing Agbo, that mission appears to have been completed with the additions of Cardenas and Buchanan.

(Quick side note, I’m not 100 percent sure if Cardenas is eligible for NOTY since he’s moving within the Mountain West, but in reaching through the 2023-24 Mountain West Conference Handbook, they don’t give a definition for what a “newcomer” is, whether it’s to just the team or the conference as a whole.)

3. San Diego State

  • Number of Transfers: 4
  • Top Newcomer of the Year Candidate — Nick Boyd

Name Yr. Pos. HT Prev School GP / GS Pts Reb Ast
Nick Boyd Jr. G 6-3 Florida Atlantic 27 / 14 9.3 2.7 1.8
Jared Coleman-Jones Sr, F 6-10 Middle Tennessee 33 / 33 11.0 7.6 2.3
Wayne McKenney Sr. G 6-0 San Diego 32 / 32 13.5 3.6 2.9
Kimo Ferrari Sr. G 6-0 Brown 26 / 7 6.7 2.5 2.0

The Aztecs also have a transfer class on the smaller end of the scale, but nearly every one is a potential impact player for a continued run of dominance for SDSU. There’s a lot of catch-up to be played with portal/graduation losses, but each of the additions addresses what was lost. Nick Boyd and Kimo Ferrari will help to replace Lamont Butler at guard, Wayne McKinney replaces Micah Parrish on the wing, and Jared Coleman-Jones bolsters the frontcourt that lost Jaedon LeDee and Elijah Saunders. All of the newcomers will bring the same defense and physicality the Aztects are known for and a couple of them bring a solid scoring punch too.

There’s a lot of high-level talent to replace in short order and as good as these incoming transfers are, it’d be a surprise to see them flawlessly replace the top-tier guys they have to replace. Still, Aztec fans have every reason to trust that Brian Dutcher has identified players capable of keeping the program riding high.

2. Nevada

  • Number of Transfers: 6
  • Top Newcomer of the Year Candidate — Kobe Sanders

Name Yr. Pos. HT Prev School GP / GS Pts Reb Ast
Brandon Love Sr. F 6-9 Texas State 34 / 34 10.4 5.4 0.8
Chuck Baily So. G 6-5 Evansville 34 / 1 8.4 2.6 0.8
Justin McBride So. F 6-8 Oklahoma State 24 / 0 2.5 1.5 0.1
Kobe Sanders Sr. G 6-6 Cal Poly 29 / 29 19.6 3.7 3.2
Xavier DuSell Sr. G 6-4 Fresno State 33 / 33 11.5 2.1 0.5
Yuto Yamanouchi Jr. C 7-0 Portland 12 / 11 8.6 5.2 0.6

Nevada comes in near the top mainly because it landed potentially the most impactful transfer, Kobe Sanders. He’s the top scorer among incoming D1 transfers to the Mountain West (by a full 2.6 points) and should very nicely fill the void left by Jarod Lucas. And given he’s there to take that role, it makes Sanders one of the most compelling preseason NOTY choices.

It’s not just Sanders that makes the Wolf Pack’s class great, though. Xavier DuSell, already very familiar with playing in the Mountain West is a fantastic complimentary player to put on the wing as a shooter and Texas State transfer Brandon Love should slot in nicely into the frontcourt alongside Nick Davidson and Tre Coleman.

The trio of Sanders, DuSell and Love alone would put Nevada near the top of this ranking, but adding two quality depth pieces in Chuck Bailey and Yuto Yamanouchi make it even better. And to top things off, the Wolf Pack took a flier on Justin McBride, a former four-star recruit who saw limited time as a freshman at Oklahoma State. If he blossoms, Nevada will probably be hoisting a conference trophy or two in March.

1. Utah State

  • Number of Transfers: 7
  • Top Newcomer of the Year Candidate — Tucker Anderson

Name Yr. Pos. HT Prev School GP / GS Pts Reb Ast
Aubin Gateretse Sr. C 6-11 Stetsein 35 / 33 11.6 7.6 0.8
Braden Housley So. G 6-4 Southern Utah 31 / 31 10.8 3.5 3.6
Dexter Akanno Sr. G 6-5 Oregon State 30 / 25 10.9 2.9 1.3
Deyton Albury Sr. G 6-2 Queens 32 / 28 17.0 5.8 3.7
Drake Allen Sr. G 6-4 Utah Valley 30 / 27 11.9 3.4 4.3
Pavle Stosic So. F 6-9 Gonzaga 14 / 0 1.0 0.8 0.1
Tucker Anderson So.  F 6-9  Central Arkansas 31 / 29 14.5 3.7 1.5

It’s a pretty close race at the top for best overall class, but the Aggies have the edge not by the volume alone, but the volume of quality transfers. They added six starting-caliber transfers from across the country, from low-major, mid-major and even power conference schools. You could make a decent Mountain West starting five using just USU’s transfers.

USU added a trio of starting-caliber point guards — Deyton Albury, Drake Allen and Braden Housley — giving it arguably the deepest PG rotations in the conference. Add to that a pair of wings, Tucker Anderson and Dexter Akkano who will give USU a combination of shooting with Anderson and physicality in Akanno. And in the paint, Aubin Gateretse will be a rebounding/finishing threat.

USU’s true star-power should come from players who stuck around from last year’s team (Ian Martinez and Mason Falslev mainly) but a lot of support for a team fully capable of a run at a repeat conference title will come from these transfers.

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