Transfer Portal Notes: Spencer bolts on Rutgers

Transfer Portal Notes: Spencer bolts on Rutgers

Cam Spencer, who led Rutgers in scoring (13.2 points per game) and free-throw percentage (89.4%) this past season, entered the transfer portal last week. He also averaged 3.8 rebounds, 3.1 assists and 2.0 steals per game while hitting 43.4 percent of his 3-pointers.

Spencer, who played three seasons at Loyola-Maryland before starting all 34 games for the Scarlet Knights during his lone year in Piscataway, has averaged double figures in all four seasons. He is a 40.5 percent career 3-point shooter. Spencer has reportedly garnered interest from the likes of Indiana, Texas, UConn, Georgetown and Miami, among others. According to multiple reports, Spencer bolted for better NIL opportunities.

-In more bad news for Rutgers, 2024 four-star point guard Dellquan Warren decommitted on Tuesday.

Geo Baker, the former Rutgers point guard who played his final game for the Scarlet Knights in their crushing overtime loss to Notre Dame in the First Four of the 2022 NCAA Tournament, has founded The Knight Society along with former RU football player Eric LeGrand. It is “an organization aiming to build the Rutgers community while empowering athletes, fans, alumni and businesses.” Baker posted a twitter thread reacting to Spencer hitting the portal five days ago.

-All the news around Spencer’s departure created quite a bit of twitter conversation. In fact, Rutgers legend Ron Harper Jr. got into it with D-Bag Dan Dakich, which I found amusing.

-Clemson received great news today when its best player P.J. Hall elected to come back to school after testing the NBA waters. Hall averaged 15.3 points, 5.7 rebounds and 1.1 blocked shots per game for the Tigers this past year. Clemson also landed a veteran ACC guard in Joe Girard recently.

Kevin McCullar announced Wednesday that he’s returning for his super-senior campaign at Kansas. McCullar started 33 of 34 games for KU this past year, averaging career highs in scoring (10.7 PPG), rebounding (7.0 RPG) and steals (2.0 SPG). McCullar was at Texas Tech for three years before joining the Jayhawks for the 2022-23 season.

-Miami got great news earlier this week when two starters from its Final Four team, center Orchad Omier (13.1 PPG) and guard Nijel Pack (13.6 PPG), announced they’re coming back to school after going through the NBA Draft process. The Hurricanes lost Jordan Miller and Isaiah Wong, but they’ve added FSU transfer Matthew Cleveland, who averaged 13.8 points and 7.4 RPG for the Seminoles this past season. Cleveland also dropped a buzzer-beating 3-pointer on the ‘Canes to cap a 25-point rally by FSU to win 85-84 at Miami back on Feb. 25.

-Mississippi St. earned its biggest victory of the offseason early this week when star center Tolu Smith (15.7 PPG) announced that he’s coming back for another season in Starkville. Another nice score for Chris Jans and the Bulldogs came earlier this month from Andrew Taylor, who is transferring to Mississippi St. from Marshall after averaging 20.2 PPG for the Thundering Herd in 2022-23.

-Former UNC guard Caleb Love is looking for a new home. After initially entering the portal, Love committed to Michigan. However, he changed his mind eight days ago by decommitting and going back into the portal.

-Some of the top players remaining in the portal include North Dakota St.’s Grant Nelson, Love, Toledo’s RayJ Dennis, Tennessee’s Julian Phillips and Olivier Nkamhoua, Dayton’s Mike Sharavjamts and Creighton’s Arthur Kaluma, who (like Nelson) is also considering staying in the NBA Draft.

Keshad Johnson committed to Arizona over Kentucky, USC and Oklahoma on May 20. Johnson, a starter on San Diego St.’s team that lost to UConn in the finals of the 2023 NCAA Tournament, averaged 7.7 points and 5.0 rebounds for the Aztecs this past season.

-Oregon added to its roster this week with the addition of Jesse Zarzuela, who is transferring from Central Michigan. Zarzuela started his career at Coppin St. in 2021-22, averaging 14.7 points, 3.3 assists, 3.1 rebounds and 1.4 steals per game as a true freshman. Then he transferred to CMU, where he averaged 16.3 PPG for the Chippewas. However, the 6-foot-3 guard out of Houston was limited to 17 games due to a season-ending injury in late January. Zarzuela had scored 19, 19, 29, 20, 24 and 25 points in the six games leading up to his injury.

-South Carolina guard Meechie Johnson tested the NBA waters, but he announced Tuesday that he’s decided to return to school. Johnson, a transfer from Ohio St., started 29 of 30 games for the Gamecocks. He averaged 12.7 points, 3.7 rebounds and 3.6 APG.

-Vanderbilt finished the 2022-23 season playing great basketball. Before losing at home to UAB in the NIT quarterfinals, the Commodores had gone 12-2 straight up and 10-4 against the spread in their 14 games since the start of February.

Therefore, it was a bit surprising to see a mass exodus of players shortly after the season ended. Jordan Wright transferred to LSU, Quentin Millora-Brown bolted for The Citadel, Malik Dia transferred to Belmont, Myles Stute left for South Carolina, Trey Thomas transferred to Bowling Green and Noah Shelby went to Rice.

The biggest blow, however, was when Tyrin Lawrence hit the portal. Lawrence was on a serious heater late in the season. He scored at least 13 points in nine straight games prior to the loss to UAB, producing 16 or more in eight of those contests, including 24 and 25-point efforts vs. Yale and Michigan in the first two rounds of the NIT. Lawrence also buried a game-winning trey at the buzzer to beat Tennessee, which eventually made it to the Sweet 16.

Although Lawrence hasn’t officially announced a decision yet, there are a lot of folks that seem to think that he’s going to come back to Vandy. Memphis and Texas have reportedly been eliminated from the picture, with his final decision expected to come soon between Texas Tech and the Commodores.

Jerry Stackhouse’s team has added a bunch of key pieces in recent weeks. Vandy has imported three transfers, including ex-Lehigh forward Evan Taylor, former Notre Dame forward Ven-Allen Lubin and ex-South Dakota center Tasos Kamateros.

Lubin is a four-star transfer who spent one season with the Fighting Irish, starting seven of 28 games while averaging 17.4 minutes per contest. He averaged 6.2 points, 4.4 rebounds and 0.8 blocked shots per game.

Kamateros is only 6-foot-8, but he has lots of muscle on his 240-pound frame. He started 80 of 100 career games in four seasons with the Coyotes. During the 2022-23 campaign, Kamateros averaged career highs in scoring (12.5 PPG), rebounding (6.4 RPG), minutes (28.1 MPG) and 3-point accuracy (40.1%). He’s also an 81.7 percent career shooter from the free-throw line.

Taylor started 88 of 105 career games for the Mountain Hawks. The 6-foot-6 guard averaged 14.2 points, 6.5 rebounds and 1.1 APG this past year. Taylor drained 43.0 percent of his 3-pointers and 80.0 percent of his free throws.

Vandy also has five incoming freshmen. According to 247Sports, four of those five players are ranked in the Top 175 players nationally, including 6-foot-6 guard Jason Rivera-Torres (No. 163), 6-foot-2 guard Isaiah West (No. 166), 6-foot-9 center Carter Lang (No. 167) and 6-foot-6 forward Malik Presley (No. 175). The fifth player is 6-foot-7 forward JaQualon Roberts (No. 218), who is the No. 8 prospect out of the state of Indiana.

If Stackhouse can get Lawrence to return, Vandy might become a team that can threaten to earn its first NCAA Tournament bid since 2017. Remember, starting point guard Ezra Manjon is back after averaging 17.6 PPG in the Commodores’ last seven contests, including a 25-point effort in an 80-73 win over Kentucky at the SEC Tournament.

-Ex-Kentucky forward Daimion Collins is transferring to LSU. Collins averaged just 7.7 minutes per game in 52 career appearances for the Wildcats over the last two seasons. He’s a former five-star recruit and McDonald’s All-American. Another former UK player, Lance Ware, has transferred to Villanova. John Calipari and Big Blue Nation are still awaiting news on whether or not Oscar Tshiebwe will stay in the draft or come back to Lexington.

-Tennessee’s bruising (dirty?) center Uros Plavsic confirmed in the past week that he’s going to purse a professional career overseas and won’t be back in Knoxville.

-Other players who have announced that they’re returning to school in recent weeks: UNLV’s Luis Rodriguez (10.7 PPG), SMU’s Zhuric Phelps (17.5 PPG), Villanova’s Eric Dixon (15.3 PPG), Texas A&M’s Tyrece Radford (13.3 PPG), Arizona’s Pelle Larsson (9.9 PPG), Duke’s Jeremy Roach (13.6 PPG) and NC St.’s Casey Morsell (11.8 PPG).

-Former Harvard and Ohio St. forward Seth Towns has transferred to Howard. Towns, who has missed three entire seasons due to injuries and hasn’t played since the 2020-21 campaign, will be in his eighth year of playing college basketball.

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