Thursday, July 25, 2024

Dribble Handoff: Aaron Bradshaw, AJ Storr lead college basketball transfers with 2025 NBA Draft potential

Three of the top 20 selections in the 2024 NBA Draft were players who transferred in 2023 to new college basketball programs and thrived. Kel’El Ware, Dalton Knecht and Jaylon Tyson each parlayed the success they found after hitting the portal to solidify themselves as professional prospects and show how an extra year of seasoning in the right system can do wonders for some college players.

Ware went from Oregon to Indiana, earned all-conference honors and wound up with the Miami Heat as the No. 15 pick. Knecht transferred from Northern Colorado to Tennessee, turned in an All-American campaign and was taken No. 17 by the Los Angeles Lakers. Tyson transferred from Texas Tech to Cal, where he shined before the Cleveland Cavaliers drafted him No. 20 overall.

The trio stand out as prime examples of the potential benefits available to players in the mass-transfer era. Instead of being forced to sit out a season after transferring or to remain in a program where their development may have been stunted, all three found quick success in new systems that benefited their careers.

So, as the 2024-25 college basketball season creeps closer, who are the transfers from the 2024 cycle that will be first-round picks in 2025? Our writers weighed in for this week’s Dribble Handoff.

Aaron Bradshaw, Ohio State (via Kentucky)

Kel’El Ware was a five-star prospect in the Class of 2022 who only averaged 6.6 points and 4.1 rebounds in 15.8 minutes per game as a freshman at Oregon. After that, he transferred to the Big Ten. Last month, he was the 15th pick in the 2024 NBA Draft. Yes, I believe Bradshaw could have a similar path to professional basketball. The 7-foot-2 center was ranked fifth in the Class of 2023, according to 247Sports, before struggling as a freshman at Kentucky after suffering a broken foot in March 2023 that cost him much of the first month of the season. When John Calipari left UK for Arkansas, Bradshaw left UK for Ohio State, where he’ll likely start in the middle for a team ranked 15th in the CBS Sports Top 25 And 1. Like Ware, he has all of the physical tools to re-enter the lottery conversation. And if he bounces back strongly for the Buckeyes this season, there’s a decent chance that he’ll do exactly that, if only because 7-footers who can rim-protect, guard in space and shoot 3-pointers are immensely valuable these days. — Gary Parrish

Rylan Griffen, Kansas (via Alabama)

If I set the over/under on 2024 transfers picked in the first round of the 2025 draft at 0.5, what are you taking? I think I’d go over. Go back and scan the draft picks coming out of Lawrence in the past decade and you’ll see three-fourths of them have been wings. The past two years, Gradey Dick and Johnny Furphy turned their college careers into pit stops after becoming clutch deep shooters. Griffen plays in a similar style to those two, standing 6-6 and less than 200 pounds. He shot 39.2% from 3-point range at Alabama last season and will almost certainly average at least four 3-point attempts per game for Bill Self next season. I’m banking on Kansas being one of the 10 best teams in the country. If that comes true, Griffen’s chances at averaging north of 13 points (he averaged 11.2 last season for the Tide) will help his stock as a back-half-of-the-first-round shooter in what is anticipated to be a fairly loaded draft class.  — Matt Norlander

Mark Mitchell, Missouri (via Duke)

Mitchell is a former five-star prospect and McDonald’s All-American with the requisite size to slot in as a big wing or stretch four in the NBA. He made the understandable decision to leave Duke after a solid sophomore season as the Blue Devils restructured their roster around incoming freshman forward Cooper Flagg. Mitchell made a good choice with Missouri, where he should have ample opportunity to shine as the Tigers seek to rebound from an 0-18 SEC campaign. Mitchell is a versatile defender who has shown enough of a 3-point shot (31.9%) to catch the attention of NBA scouts. He is No. 7 in my transfer rankings and is a potential breakout star in the SEC. With great size, athleticism and 67 college starts already under his belt, Mitchell should thrive in his new home and burst onto NBA Draft boards in the 2024-25 season. — David Cobb

AJ Storr, Kansas (via Wisconsin)

Storr will be at his third school when he takes the floor for Bill Self and Kansas this season. The former St. John’s and Wisconsin forward was the No. 4 player in the CBS Sports Transfer Portal Rankings. Storr is walking into an ideal situation at Kansas where he can showcase his ability to be a first-round talent. The 6-6 wing had a breakout season with the Badgers this past season, averaging 16.6 points. Where Storr has the chance to grow the most is his efficiency, as he shot just 43.4% from the floor for Wisconsin. Storr has the tools to be a first-round talent, and players with his archetype are coveted at the next level. If he takes an individual jump and helps Kansas get back in the national title conversion, his stock will soar. — Cameron Salerno

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