The impact of the unprecedented and pandemic-influenced 2020-21 college basketball season will continue to be felt in ’21 -22 and beyond. The NCAA’s decision in ’20 not to count the likely interrupted year against player eligibility will allow dozens, if not hundreds, of “super seniors” to prepare for one more round. This should have important implications for the sport, which will be older and deeper than it has been in several years. It could also threaten several all-time records thanks to players playing more games.
Here’s a look at some of the best male players going back to college, both those who stay in the same school and those who use the extra year to transfer.
Stay in the same school
Collin Gillespie and Jermaine Samuels, Villanova
The returns of Gillespie and Samuels brought the Wildcats into the conversation about the preseason national title. Few players in the country are as successful as Gillespie, who owns a national title ring from his freshman season and a Big East Player of the Year trophy from last season. Meanwhile, Samuels’ versatility makes him a great fit on Jay Wright’s offense, and the 6-foot-7 forward has improved every season of his college career.
Jordan Bohannon, Iowa
Bohannon, known not only for his on-court skills but also for his outspokenness about naming, likeness and image rights, will become the longest-serving player in men’s college basketball history if he stays healthy. . He only needs 15 more games to pass former Ohio State point guard David Lighty for the all-time NCAA men’s Division I game record. And unless another extenuating circumstance arises that causes the NCAA to allow players to have a fifth season of eligibility, that record will never be broken.
Nate Watson, Providence
Watson finally pulled it off in his senior season at Providence, becoming one of the best pole players in the nation in a disappointing year for the Friars. His decision to return for the fifth year was huge for Ed Cooley’s club, which lost star guard David Duke to the NBA this spring. Watson could be another player to benefit significantly from the new NIL rules thanks to his more than 660,000 followers. on TikTok.
Alex Barcello, BYU
There may be no better shooter in the country than Barcello, who has helped lead BYU to the top 20 in a row at KenPom for the first time since the Jimmer Fredette era in Provo. Arizona’s transfer reached more than 47% of his 3s in 2020-21 despite being the Cougars’ number one offensive option. It should be ready for another strong season.
Geo Baker, Rutgers
Other leader of the #NotNCAAProperty movement, Baker has been a pioneer both on and off the court since he stepped onto the Rutgers campus in 2017. Once a little-known recruit, Baker helped lead Rutgers to their first NCAA men’s tournament victory since early 1990s. the 1980s and put the Scarlet Knights on a path to sustained success with Steve Pikiell. Rutgers loses three starters from the historic ’20 -21 team, but the return of Baker and Ron Harper Jr. gives Pikiell’s club a chance to dance again in ’22.
Grant Golden, Jacob Gilyard and Nathan Cayo, Richmond
Last season was supposed to be a special one for Richmond, and it started in a dreamy way with a win at Kentucky. But the Spiders collapsed after dealing with multiple COVID-19-related power outages and injuries, missing the Big Dance. The returns of Golden, Gilyard and Cayo give Richmond one last shot at A-10 glory with this core. Golden’s unique passing ability as a great makes him one of the toughest covers in the country, Gilyard is on his way to setting the NCAA men’s all-time steals record and Cayo is a 1,000-point scorer for own right.
Paul Scruggs and Nate Johnson, Xavier
The high-scoring duo of Scruggs and Johnson are back in Cincinnati for one more year with the Musketeers. Scruggs was leaning towards turning pro before changing course at the end of March, and should be considered one of the most well-rounded players in the country. He is one of six returning players in the country who averaged at least 14 points, 4.0 rebounds and 5.5 assists per game last season. Johnson’s biggest asset is his shooting ability: He shot 45% of three last season, second in the Great East.
Trent Frazier, Illinois
With more than 100 starts and nearly 1,500 career points, Frazier provides an experienced pitcher and defender for an Illinois team losing star guard Ayo Dosunmu. Frazier has adopted role changes throughout his career, becoming one of the best hit point defenders in the Big Ten, as well as a major weapon of three. His leadership will also be key as Illini continues to develop talented young point guard Andre Curbelo.
Taz Sherman, West Virginia
Sherman exploded in his second season at WVU in 2020-21, becoming one of the best scorers in the Big 12. The JUCO product averaged more than 13 points per game in less than 25 minutes per game. He also played in his team’s biggest games, with 26 against Baylor and 25 against Kansas in the final month of the regular season. His return to Morgantown is huge for the Mountaineers after the first career outings of star point guard Miles McBride and big man Derek Culver.
Eli Brooks, Michigan
He was certainly overshadowed by the likes of Hunter Dickinson, Isaiah Livers and Franz Wagner, but Brooks was an elite player last year for the Wolverines. He shot 40% from three, had nearly three times as many assists as turnovers and was an annoying defender on the other end of the court. His comeback is huge for an otherwise very young Michigan team, with Dickinson a sophomore and several key freshmen from the nation’s highest-ranked recruiting class.
Transfer for the last year
Kellan Grady, Kentucky
Grady, a 2,000-point scorer at Davidson, heads to Lexington for his extra year with the opportunity to help lead Kentucky’s revival in 2021–22. The Boston native offers something the UK seriously lacked last season: consistent shooting and the ability to create your own shots. It’s part of a loaded transfer class for John Calipari that also features Sahvir Wheeler (Georgia), CJ Fredrick (Iowa), and Oscar Tshiebwe (West Virginia).
Remy Martin, Kansas
Bill Self went after Martin when he was a high school student at California powerhouse Sierra Canyon, and now he will finally have a chance to coach the high-scoring point guard. Martin averaged more than 19 points per game in each of the past two seasons for Arizona State in the friendly system with Bobby Hurley’s guards. If you improve your decision making, you could be the next great shooting guard creating undersized shots for Self.
Brady Manek, North Carolina
Manek could end up coming off the bench for new coach Hubert Davis and the Tar Heels after the late addition of Marquette transfer Dawson Garcia, but he remains one of the most successful players returning for the fifth year in the country. The big one who spread out on the floor scored nearly 1,500 points in his four years at Oklahoma. His addition points to a revamping of the Roy Williams-era Carolina offense, which traditionally deployed more traditional great players who didn’t shoot.
Garrison Brooks, Mississippi State
Brooks heads to Starkville to play for his father, George, a longtime Bulldogs assistant coach. While Garrison’s senior season in North Carolina was somewhat disappointing, he averaged just under 17 points and 8.5 rebounds as a junior for the Tar Heels. He is also well regarded for his leadership skills and should be an essential piece for a Bulldogs team looking to return to the NCAA tournament.
Bryson Williams, Texas Tech
After spending the first five years of his college career playing for Rodney Terry (two years at Fresno State, three years at UTEP), Williams will spend his extra year playing for Mark Adams at Texas Tech. He provides a significant scoring hit on the inside. and a proven track record against top-level competition, including 23 points and 13 rebounds earlier this year at Kansas. It will pair nicely with Oral Roberts transferring Kevin Obanor to the front in Lubbock.
Darryl Morsell, Marquette
Morsell, known as a defensive specialist in Maryland, could show more of his offensive game in a transitional year for Shaka Smart and the Golden Eagles. Morsell is an elite glue: he defends, bounces, passes and cuts at a high level. But with Marquette lacking in scoring experience, we’ll see how Smart deploys his versatile veteran.
Fatts Russell, Maryland
Sometimes plagued by inefficiency issues throughout a checkered career in Rhode Island, Russell joins a talented roster from Maryland to fill the void at point guard. His best season at URI came as a junior, when he averaged nearly 19 points, five assists and three steals per game surrounded by top talents like Jeff Dowtin, Tyrese Martin and Cyril Langevine. Can Russell rekindle that level of success with a strong supporting cast in College Park?
Stanley Long, Arkansas
Umude has had a remarkable career arc, going from averaging 1.1 points per game as a freshman in South Dakota to becoming one of the best players in the show’s history and a great talent of course. In 2020-21 he became the fifth national player in the last 10 seasons to average at least 21 points, seven rebounds and three assists. That versatility packed into his athletic 6’6 “frame should fit nicely into Eric Musselman’s system.
Marreon Jackson, State of Arizona
Last year, Carlik Jones moved from Radford to Louisville as a graduate transfer and became one of the ACC’s top players. I could see a similar trajectory for Jackson going from Toledo to ASU, where he will replace Remy Martin in Tempe. Jackson is dynamic with the ball in his hands and capable of taking over from three. It’s worth noting that Jackson won MAC Player of the Year honors in 2020-21 over Ohio’s Jason Preston, a potential first-round pick of the 21 NBA draft.
Michael Flowers, Washington State
Flowers poured into buckets in his only season in South Alabama and will now use his extra season of eligibility for a Washington state team positioned for a breakthrough year. WSU Head Coach Kyle Smith adores high-end guards who can create ball screens, from Isaac Bonton at WSU to Frankie Ferrari in San Francisco and Maodo Lô in Columbia. Flowers should fit that mold well, serving as a strong companion for star wing Noah Williams.
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Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.