The top transfer portal commits and their fits: How Nijel Pack helps Miami

The next stage of college basketball free agency has begun with players picking their final (err, next) destinations.

We’ve already ranked the best players available, and now we’re ranking the best fits for the players who have announced their plans. Keep coming back to this, because we will update as more players pick their next schools.

1. Nijel Pack | 6-foot | junior guard | Transferred from Kansas State to Miami

The Scout: Pack can fit on pretty much any team in the country. He is capable of playing either guard spot but thrived moving off the ball this season next to Markquis Nowell, allowing him to focus more on scoring. He is one of the best knockdown shooters in the country and he can get it off quick, either off the bounce or the catch. He’s a career 42.9 percent 3-point shooter, made even more impressive by the difficulty of some of those shots. Pack should have no shortage of suitors, given he’s a high-character guy who can make shots and run a team. He is from Indianapolis, and the two Big Ten programs in the state of Indiana could both use a shot-making guard.

The fit: Miami needed a lead guard to take over for Charlie Moore and landed one of the best available in Pack. Pack will fit well in Miami’s offense, which leans heavily on the guards. Jim Larranaga spreads the floor and lets his guards go, whether in isolation or working out of ball screens. Pack is good working out of ball screens and he is an elite shooter. The more catch-and-shoot opportunities you can create for him, the better. He was at his best playing alongside another creator in Nowell, and he’d benefit from Isaiah Wong returning to school. Wong has declared for the draft but left open the possibility of returning to school. If he doesn’t return, Miami would be smart to go find another playmaking guard in the portal to pair with Pack.

2. Kendric Davis | 5-11 guard | graduate | Transferred from SMU to Memphis

The Scout: “What Remy Martin did for Kansas, KD could do that for somebody on steroids,” a coach in the American said of the AAC Player of the Year. If Davis ends up in the right spot, he could be the final piece to make someone a title contender. Davis is one of the best guards in the country when the ball is in his hands. He’s got a tight handle, quickness, ability to change speeds and score at all three levels. He’s crafty too. He’ll get defenders in the air and get to the foul line, where he shot 86.8 percent this year. He’s not just a high-volume scorer either; he can shoot it with efficiency. He averaged 19.4 points — shooting 37.2 percent from 3 and 50.5 percent inside the line — to go along 4.4 assists this season. When asked to be more of a facilitator, he can do that too. He averaged 7.6 assists and led the country in assist rate as a junior. The one knock: “Zero defensive instincts,” the coach said, “but when that ball’s in his hands, he is awesome.”

The Fit: Memphis had one very significant hole this season: the point guard position. Up until the later portion of the season, the Tigers really struggled to get in and out of efficient offensive sets in large part because they just didn’t have a player that could handle the responsibility. With Davis entering the fold, that will be absolutely no issue. This has been the expected outcome from college coaches from the moment that Davis hit the portal after Tim Jankovich’s departure from SMU. Coaches from significant basketball powers tried to get involved, but got very little traction. Davis brings his 19 points and six assists per game over the past two seasons to Memphis, where he’ll get to run the show and have the freedom in their uptempo offense to attack and make plays. It’s an enormous get for Memphis, the kind of move that could push them back into the NCAA Tournament in 2023.

3. Johni Broome | 6-10 center | junior | Transferred from Morehead State to Auburn

The Scout: Broome is one of the best long-term prospects coming from the the mid-major level in the portal. He still has three years of eligibility left and would be a valuable defensive anchor. He averaged a double-double (16.8 points and 10.5 rebounds) and was one of the nation’s top shot-blockers, averaging 3.9 blocks per game and ranking seventh nationally in block rate, per KenPom. He has great instincts as a shot-blocker. He doesn’t bite on fakes, stays down and can block shots with either hand. That allows him to stay out of foul trouble. He committed only 3.4 fouls per 40 minutes this season and fouled out of only one game in two years. Broome is also intriguing on the offensive end. He’s skilled enough to short roll and make a mid-range jumper or attack from that area of the floor. He moves well for his size and is more comfortable putting the ball on the floor than most centers. Morehead State posted him up off the block a lot, and he’s good at getting to his spots off dribble-down moves. He’s a lefty who can score over his right should and also has the Dirk Nowitzki one-footed jumper in his arsenal.

The Fit: It’s extremely easy to see what Auburn was able to pitch Broom on. He’s about as seamless a fit as you can imagine. Broome will slot perfectly into the role being vacated by Walker Kessler at the center position for Auburn as a terrific all-around defensive center. He’ll operate as a strong pick-and-roll big for the wild Auburn guards, and can play both with another big in Yohan Traore or in lineups where he is the lone big on the court. It’s an enormous get for Auburn to end up with Broome, and this is the exact kind of place for Broome that has a chance to develop him into being an NBA center.

4. Brandon Murray | 6-5 wing | sophomore | Transferred from LSU to Georgetown

The Scout: Murray is a terrific, ready-made two-way teenager at the wing position. With Will Wade and the Tigers’ coaching staff turning over following the season, Murray entered the portal. A former four-star, top-100 recruit out of IMG Academy, Murray had about as good a freshman season as could have been expected, averaging 10 points and saving his best for conference play, averaging 11 points and shooting 49 percent from the field and 35 percent from 3. On top of that, he was pretty good defensively this season switching within LSU’s scheme across the perimeter positions. He was rewarded for his play with All-Freshman SEC honors after the season. He is from the Baltimore area and was recruited by Kevin Nickelberry, who recently went to Georgetown as an assistant under Patrick Ewing. He’s a clear high-major wing, and potential NBA player down the road.

The Fit: Murray lands in a place with some familiarity because of the connection to Nickelberry. The Hoyas need an influx of real talent after going winless in the Big East, and Murray is that. An SEC coach described him as one of the best 3-and-D options in the portal. Murray’s defensive versatility should help what was by far the worst defense in the Big East. The Hoyas also need some scoring pop, and Murray is talented enough to emerge as a legitimate go-to guy.

5. Tristen Newton | 6-5 guard | junior | Transferred from East Carolina to Connecticut

The Scout: Unquestionably one of the best offensive creators this year in the American Athletic Conference, Newton departs East Carolina following the changeover in head coach from Joe Dooley to Mike Schwartz. He averaged 17.7 points, five rebounds and five assists last year, possessing the ability to play both on and off the ball as a lead or secondary offensive creator. He’s still really thin, but he reads the floor and will be significantly helped by playing with better players around him than he had at East Carolina. He sees skip passes and high-level pick-and-roll reads. He makes live dribble passes from creative angles and plays unselfishly. He’s conscientious on defense and knows where he needs to be rotationally and helps generally despite his thin frame. But more than that, he’s twitchy but plays with great pace off the bounce. He can attack the basket and finish. As a shooter, he’s got a good set shot and looks more comfortable off the catch, although there is some real ability to hit pull-ups if he has time behind ball-screens. He has more touch than his 33.3 percent mark from 3 would indicate, but he does need to clean up that shot off the bounce. This is a no-doubter high-major guard who should immediately step in as a starter at a good location next year. There is a real chance he develops into an NBA player if he gets the jumper mechanics down consistently as opposed to the twisting shot he has right now.

The Fit: The Huskies had a real need in the backcourt for a lead guard following R.J. Cole’s decision to start his professional career. In Newton, they get arguably the best one available in the portal. Whereas Cole was a smaller floor-general type following two high-scoring years at Howard, Newton is more of a creative combo guard who can really score off of pull-ups, make high-level passing reads, and attack in transition. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Connecticut speed things up a bit more next year, led by Newton as well as athletic wings Andre Jackson and Jordan Hawkins. With that trio and Adama Sanogo, the Huskies are now some transfer portal depth additions away from competing at the top of the Big East in 2023.

6. Trevon Brazile | 6-9 forward | sophomore | Transferred from Missouri to Arkansas

The Scout: Brazile is a high-upside forward who was a late-bloomer in the 2021 recruiting class. He started his junior season in high school as a 6-foot-1 guard, but he hit a growth spurt and spiked up to his current 6-9 size with long arms and twitchy athleticism. He’s still working through some skill-based adjustments to his new frame, but his upside is as high as any player’s in the portal currently. He averaged seven points and five rebounds last year while stepping away occasionally as a four man who can shoot from 3, but teams will be most intrigued by his 1.9 blocks per game that were third in the SEC. Essentially, he profiles extremely well as a shot-blocking floor-spacer at the forward position, a skill set that is exceptionally difficult to find at any level. A few NBA scouts have even told The Athletic that they have some interest in Brazile as a potential pre-draft two-way player they know isn’t quite ready for the league yet, but has a real ceiling if his development goes right.

The Fit: This partnership makes a lot of sense on paper. Arkansas center Jaylin Williams is one of the best charge-takers in the country, and now Eric Musselman has a pogo-stick shot blocker to run in behind Williams in Brazile. That sort of arrangement worked splendidly for Texas Tech a few years ago when Tariq Owens was roaming behind a bunch of charge-takers. But will Williams be back? Arkansas has recruited a lot of bigs in recent days, seemingly preparing for a potential departure from their all-around center. With or without Williams, Brazile is a high-upside big that has shown defensive success in the SEC already. Surrounded by elite talents such as Nick Smith, Anthony Black and Jordan Walsh, he should get clean looks from 3 more often. He just needs to cash in on them regularly.

Author: Lucy Green