The NCAA Transfer Portal is armed and operational, and there are lots of athletes whose names are already in it.
If you didn’t already know, new Hog basketball coach Eric Musselman likes transfers. None of Nevada’s top five scorers last season began their careers with the Wolf Pack, and while Musselman’s transfer strategy probably won’t be that extreme in Fayetteville, he’s going to need at least two transfers this off-season just to get enough depth on the floor for next year.
Arkansas is badly in need of an immediately-eligible forward, as the Hogs have just four that are likely capable of major minutes next year: Reggie Chaney, Gabe Osabuohein, Adrio Bailey, and Ethan Henderson. A transfer guard to replace the departed Keyshawn Embery-Simpson would be nice, although this particular spot doesn’t necessarily need to be immediately-eligible.
Several names have been linked to Musselman or the Hogs. Here, we’ll take a look at four of them. We’ll evaluate them using three statistics:
- Usage. This stat should be familiar to long-time readers at Arkansas Fight. Usage rate is the percentage of a team’s total possessions that are recorded to that player while they are on the court. As there are always five guys on the floor, the average usage rate over a season is 20% for each team. Players higher than 20% are considered “high usage” while players lower than that are “low usage.” Usage by itself isn’t an indicator of how good a player is, but low-usage players might not be able to maintain the same level of production if their usage goes up. High-usage players often get more efficient when their usage drops.
- Offensive/Defensive Rating. I’m using the standard NBA calculation, found here as an insanely complicated formula that takes every little statistic into account. Offensive rating (or offensive efficiency) measures the number of points produced per possession. Note that points produced is not the same as points scored: a player gets a small boost to points produced for dishing out an assist, for example. Grab an offensive rebound and you just produced points... the amount is based on how many the team would be expected to score on the new possession. Turn it over and you lose points... again, the amount is based on how many the team would have been expected to score had there not been a turnover. Defensive efficiency takes all relevant defensive statistics (rebounds, blocks, steals, fouls) and does the same thing. A lower number here is better.
- Win Shares. A player’s “win shares” are the number of a team’s wins their play was responsible for. There are offensive and defensive win shares, and they are added together to find the total. The sum of all players’ win shares should be approximately equal to the team’s total number of wins: in Arkansas’ case, the total team win shares was 18.98, and the Hogs won 18 games. So the statistics indicate that Arkansas played well enough to win about 19 games, and those wins are divded among each player based on their qualifying stats. The (also complicated) formula can be found here.
2018-2019 Advanced Player Stats
|Jahaad Proctor||High Point||29.3%||109.746||101.673||3.91||1.19||5.10||35.0%|
Let’s quickly evaluate the four players I’ve added to the Hogs’ roster, for comparison purposes.
- Connor Vanover, C, 7-3, California. A onetime star at Baptist Prep in Little Rock, Vanover averaged 7.5 points and 3.0 rebounds a game for 8-23 Cal this year. He was a freshman so he has three years of eligibility remaining. He’s an extremely raw prospect who is frequently out-athleted, but overall I think he did better at Cal that what a lot of people thought. He finished third on their team in win shares, and his 103.96 points produced per 100 possessions would actually rank fourth on the 2019 Razorbacks team. He hit 35.5% from beyond arc, which is a nice addition to his game. His defense, though, is another story. Cal’s entire team was pitiful on defense, but Vanover’s 110.33 points allowed per 100 possessions would easily be the worst on the Hogs. I have questions about whether he’d be able to play with SEC athletes, but if Musselman ends up with a free scholarship, there are worse options than Vanover. His eligibility for 2020 is in question, but Cal just fired its coach and he’d be moving back to his home state, so it’s hard to see the NCAA denying a waiver request.
- Jahaad Proctor, PG, 6-3, High Point. One of the big names in the transfer portal, Proctor will visit Fayetteville this month and is immediately eligible as a grad transfer with one to play. He averaged 19 points per game at High Point and was basically a one-man team. He maintained pretty good efficiency (third on the Hogs) despite a massive 29.3% usage rate, one of the highest in Division I. That rate will certainly come down if he comes to Fayetteville, which could push his efficiency up. Note that his efficiency numbers suggest he’s roughly equivalent to Mason Jones, production-wise. He’d be competing with Jalen Harris for minutes at the point guard spot - the position he played at High Point - as his mediocre 33.1% three-point percentage means he’ll have a hard time stealing minutes from Isaiah Joe at the 2.
- Jordan Brown, PF/C, 6-11, Nevada. The former five-star recruit will be coveted by blue bloods across the country despite mediocre numbers as a freshman. Brown’s efficiency numbers put him the range of Adrio Bailey but with a little better defense and more height. His offensive game needs some more polish. On the plus side, he’ll have three years of eligibility.
- Jazz Johnson, SG, 5-10, Nevada. Nevada’s three-point specialist was quick to announce he’s leaving the Wolf Pack after Musselman’s hiring. Johnson shot an eye-catching 45.2% from beyond the arc and 84.4% at the free throw line. His other contributions on the floor were fairly minimal, leading to a really low usage rate for a starter (15.5%). He’d likely come off the bench in Fayetteville, and his minutes would likely depend on how hot he could be from deep. Johnson started his career at Portland and would likely be a grad transfer with one year remaining.