Welcome back to our continuing look at one key question in this transfer-focused era of ours. Just how important have transfers been — whether due to addition or subtraction — to each program in Division I’s top seven conferences?
Last week, we considered the Big East. Next up, it’s the Big 12’s turn.
Note that we define a “transfer in” as someone who actually played minutes previously at a different four-year program. Conversely, a “transfer out” is simply a player who saw time at the Big 12 program in question.
Understood? Here are the most significant Big 12 transfers of the modern era.
Best transfer in: Davion Mitchell, 2019-21
Mitchell’s defensive excellence was captured succinctly by his nickname: “Off Night,” as in what the player he’s guarding is about to experience. He acquired this reputation at Baylor after coming off the bench for Bruce Pearl for one season at Auburn. As a junior, Mitchell was named the Naismith Defensive Player of the Year in Division I as the Bears marched to a 28-2 record and the 2021 national title. He was selected by the Sacramento Kings with the No. 9 pick in that summer’s draft.
Most significant transfer out: Allerik Freeman, 2014-17
For whatever reason, Scott Drew hasn’t seen a large or even average number of transfers depart from Baylor over the years. Freeman was one exception to that rule. He started 57 games over three seasons before transferring to NC State for his final year. Then again, if we go way back in time, we come across former Bears teammates John Lucas III (see below) and Lawrence Roberts. After leaving Waco in 2003, Lucas and Roberts earned 2004 conference player of the year honors at Oklahoma State and Mississippi State, respectively.
Best transfer in: DeAndre Kane, 2013-14
Kane wins this distinction by a nose over a veritable flock of ISU in-transfers and fellow first-team All-Big 12 honorees like Marial Shayok (2019) and, most recently, Izaiah Brockington (2022). Indeed, Kane would have been an excellent choice as 2014 Big 12 Player of the Year had that award not been won by teammate Melvin Ejim. A former Marshall star, Kane put up 17 a game for ISU while averaging nine free throw attempts per contest.
Most significant transfer out: Wes Johnson, 2006-08
Over the years Iowa State has built a well-deserved reputation for importing transfers in bulk while rarely exporting them. Sure enough, the list of Cyclones who transferred out is exceedingly short. Johnson ranks at the top of this select group. After recording 700 points over the course of two seasons with the Cyclones, Johnson earned first-team All-American honors as the leading scorer for a No. 1-seeded Syracuse team in 2010.
Best transfer in: Dedric Lawson, 2018-19
Lawson played a single season at Kansas after transferring from Memphis. Unfortunately for Lawson, that was the year KU was eliminated by Auburn 89-75 in the round of 32. Nevertheless, the first-team All-Big 12 selection had an outstanding tournament, recording 50 points, 21 rebounds and 11-of-11 shooting at the line in two games.
Most significant transfer out: J.R. Giddens, 2003-05
It has been a while since Giddens played for the Jayhawks, and that alone says something. Bill Self-era KU has not sent many transfers out to the rest of D-I. Giddens went against the trend by relocating to New Mexico after two seasons in Lawrence. He ranked No. 1 on the Lobos’ roster for points, rebounds, steals and blocks in 2008.
Best transfer in: Denis Clemente, 2008-10
While his K-State teammate and UConn transfer Curtis Kelly was perhaps the bigger name going into the 2009-10 season, Clemente averaged 17 a game as the second-leading scorer behind Jacob Pullen as the Wildcats went all the way to the Elite Eight. Clemente reached this pinnacle after a 30-36 run over two seasons at Miami.
Most significant transfer out: Marcus Foster, 2013-15
Foster was the focal point of the K-State offense throughout the first two seasons of his college career. He then continued in that role for two more years at Creighton. By the time he was a senior, Foster was hitting 41% of his 3s and connecting 54% of the time inside the arc as a two-time All-Big East first-team honoree.
Best transfer in: Romero Osby, 2011-13
Osby scored in the paint, cleaned the glass, defended the rim and drew a prodigious number of fouls as he earned first-team All-Big 12 honors in 2013. The season was a fitting final act for a onetime national top-50 recruit who spent his first two seasons coming off the bench in support of Jarvis Varnado at Mississippi State.
Most significant transfer out: Brady Manek, 2017-21
Manek’s 3-point shooting was an essential ingredient in North Carolina’s run to the 2022 national title game. In fact, his presence was so vital that the Tar Heels very nearly blew a 25-point lead against Baylor in the round of 32 after Manek was ejected early in the second half. The four-year Sooners starter is but one example of an unlikely but unmistakable OU-to-ACC pipeline: Alondes Williams excelled at Wake Forest last season, while Kameron McGusty reached the Elite Eight at Miami.
Best transfer in: John Lucas III, 2003-05
Lucas shot 41% from beyond the arc and 90% at the line over the course of two seasons at OSU after transferring from Baylor. The Cowboys earned NCAA tournament No. 2 seeds in each season with Lucas and reached the Elite Eight in 2004. That was also the year when he was named AP Big 12 Player of the Year. Oklahoma State thrived in the mid- to late-aughts with transfers like Lucas, Joey Graham (UCF) and Mario Boggan (Florida).
Most significant transfer out: Tyree Griffin, 2014-16
Griffin was a 5-foot-10 point guard who came off the bench as a freshman and then variously played alongside or behind Jawun Evans as a sophomore. At that point he elected to transfer to Southern Miss, where he started every game over two seasons and led the Golden Eagles in scoring in 2019.
Best transfer in: Timmy Allen, 2021-22
Allen was the only Longhorn to start all 34 games in 2021-22, a feat he accomplished after earning first-team All-Pac-12 honors at Utah in 2021. His 26-10 double-double at West Virginia in late February was just enough to give Texas a crucial one-point road win. In a rotation that featured balanced workloads on offense and no shortage of transfers, Allen ranked as the leading scorer at 12 a game.
Most significant transfer out: Sheldon McClellan, 2011-13
McClellan was an occasional starter and frequent shooter over the course of two seasons at Texas before he transferred to Miami. He remained assertive on offense with the Hurricanes and, in time, those shots started to fall. In 2016 McClellan converted 41% of his 3s and 57% of his 2s as UM earned a No. 3 seed and advanced to the Sweet 16.
Best transfer in: Kevin Langford, 2006-09
Langford was TCU’s leading scorer for three straight seasons after he transferred back to his hometown of Fort Worth from Cal. As a senior in 2008-09 he shot 77% at the line while drawing nearly seven fouls per 40 minutes.
Most significant transfer out: Kevin Samuel, 2018-21
Samuel formed the inside half of an effective inside-outside duo with Tavian Dunn-Martin at Florida Gulf Coast last season. The 6-foot-11 senior converted 64% of his 2s and ranked tops in the A-Sun for block percentage. Samuel dominated the paint for the Eagles after starting every game over the course of three seasons with the Horned Frogs.
Best transfer in: Bryson Williams, 2021-22
Williams was one of just two unanimous first-team All-Big 12 selections last season. (The other was Ochai Agbaji.) In a Red Raiders rotation brimming with transfers and renowned for its defense, it was Williams who stood out as a highly efficient featured scorer. It was a role he had filled previously for both Fresno State and UTEP.
Most significant transfer out: Dusty Hannahs, 2012-14
Hannahs made 27 starts and averaged about seven points per contest over two seasons at Texas Tech. Though he continued to alternate between starting and coming off the bench at Arkansas, his scoring jumped to 15 per game over his last two years. As a senior Hannahs teamed with Jaylen Barford and Moses Kingsley in a Razorbacks rotation that hung with eventual national champion North Carolina before falling in the round of 32.
Best transfer in: Mike Gansey, 2004-06
Gansey teamed with Kevin Pittsnogle on the remarkably efficient John Beilein-era teams that reached the Elite Eight and Sweet 16 in consecutive years. As a senior, Gansey connected on 66% of his 2s and 43% of his 3s, putting him in the top 10 nationally for effective field goal percentage. His two seasons as a Mountaineer extended a four-year run of impeccable shooting accuracy that had begun at St. Bonaventure.
Most significant transfer out: Oscar Tshiebwe, 2019-21
Tshiebwe took home both the Wooden and the Naismith awards for 2022 after averaging a 17-15 double-double over an entire season for Kentucky. The 6-foot-9 junior’s rebounding was phenomenal but not necessarily surprising to anyone who saw him play 41 games over two seasons at West Virginia. As a freshman in 2020, Tshiebwe ranked No. 1 in the nation at KenPom for offensive rebound percentage.