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Ranking KU’s Transfers, Part One: Incoming

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KU has had some transfers that have been major contributors on the court while others have floundered. Today, we examine the incoming transfers and determine which were the best and which should have opted to play somewhere else.

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This is the first part of a two part series examining transfers into and out of Kansas. Today, we will feature the incoming transfers and group them according to success. In each category, the players are listed in the chronological order that they attended Kansas.

The Best

Rex Walters. The story of Rex Walters is well documented, and there is really not that much of an argument to be made that the former Northwestern star is one of the very best players to ever transfer to Kansas. He was an instant success under Roy Williams, averaging over 15 points and four assists per game in his two seasons at KU. In a day and age when transferring was not nearly as common as it is now, Rex Walters was a huge pickup for Kansas. The run to the 1993 Final Four would not have happened without him.

Jeff Withey. This is the best transfer of the Bill Self era. From skinny stick when he came to Kansas from Arizona to rim protector extraordinaire, the transformation was amazing. If you watched Withey in those first few months at KU, there is no way you would have imagined him being one of the most prolific defenders in KU history. His junior and senior seasons saw Jeff come to life. He averaged 9.0 points and 6.3 blocks as a junior and 13.7 points and 8.5 rebounds in 2012-13. But Withey is best known for blocking the basketball. He tallied 286 of his 311 blocks in his final two seasons.

The Next Best

Greg Dreiling, Terry Brown, and Alonzo Jamison. I wrote about these three players for the Know Your KU History series (click on their names for the links) and all played key roles in their time at Mount Oread. All of them played significant minutes, assumed leadership roles, and played in the Final Four.

Rick Calloway played only one season in Lawrence after playing three for Bob Knight at Indiana and sitting out the probation year of 1988-89.  His one year in Lawrence was pretty good however, as he averaged  13.1 points, 4.3 rebounds, and 3.0 assists in 1989-90.

Jerod Haase. This was a good pick up for Roy Williams. He averaged 12.5 points per game in his three years in Lawrence and picked up academic All-American honors along the way. The one stickler for me on Haase was the fact that he had perhaps his most unproductive day in a KU jersey in Arizona’s 85-82 win over one loss Kansas in the Sweet 16 of the 1997 NCAA tournament. One three Jarod, all we were asking for was one three.

Jeff Graves was almost the hero we never knew we needed. He played like a man possessed in the 2003 NCAA title game against Syracuse and almost went down in KU folklore because of that 16 point/16 rebound performance. He got his real break when Wayne Simien went down with an injury, but he did what you’d want out of any of your bench players- he played as well as the starter (almost) when he was called upon to do so.

Kevin Young. Raise your hand if you thought Kevin Young was going to be an impact player at KU. Didn’t think so. But man, that guy had some energy, didn’t he? He played a key role in KU’s run to the NCAA title game in 2012, and assumed the starting spot on the team in his senior season

Tarik Black. The senior transfer from Memphis was integral in KU’s success in 2013-14. He came on strong and gave KU a chance at success after Joel Embiid went down with an injury. He’s also had a solid start to his NBA career. In his rookie season, the undrafted Black is averaging 4.5 points and 5.1 rebounds per game as of this articles publication date.

Could’ve Been Better

Darrin Hancock. This guy was the JUCO Player of the Year as a sophomore when he averaged 22 points per game at Garden City Community College. He played one year at Kansas and made it to a Final Four while averaging 7.5 points per game. He played only that season in Lawrence before taking his talents to France and eventually being drafted into the NBA where he played three seasons.

Luke Axtell. I was so excited when Luke Axtell announced that he was transferring to Kansas. He averaged 13 points per game in his freshman campaign at Texas and I figured that we were going to see more of that in Lawrence. It never happened. Axtell averaged just seven points per game in two seasons under Roy Williams and only hit 37% from three-point land. He had a lot of potential when he came to KU, so the move made sense, but it just didn’t materialize.

Lester Earl. For all the hype that came along with Lester Earl, he never really lived up to the "Free Lester" hype. That being said, the guy was an athletic freak before his knee injuries, and I once saw him miss a dunk so badly that it almost hit the scoreboard. That’s impressive. He averaged 5.1 points and 4.2 boards in his time in Lawrence.

Rodrick Stewart transferred from USC and got a National Championship ring while at KU, so it was probably worth it, but with Mario Chalmers, Russell Robinson, and Sherron Collins ahead of him in the rotation for much of his Kansas career, big time numbers were never going to happen for Rod.

Mario Little. A junior college transfer that was pretty important for Kansas. A little off the court trouble probably taints his time in Lawrence a bit, but the fact that he came in after the national title and NBA depleted the roster makes him more important than he probably seemed at the time. He averaged 4.9 points and 3.0 rebounds per game in two seasons with KU.

Why?

Jelani Janisse. The junior college transfer scored a total of 25 points in 39 career games for KU. The 6’3" guard probably could’ve gone to a smaller program and made an impact.

Ashante Johnson. He started at Utah, went to junior college, and ended up at KU. The 6’9" forward played in 38 games and averaged 2.9 points and 1.7 boards. He did have a somewhat effective career in Europe and Asia.

CJ Henry. He was a package deal in order to get his talented brother Xavier to Lawrence.

Justin Wesley falls in this category even though not many had any expectations for a transfer from Lamar who averaged 1.2 points per game.  He played for three seasons at KU and averaged 0.9 PPG.  On the upside, he portrayed Wilt Chamberlain in a movie. 

Unknown

Hunter Mickelson came to Kansas from Arkansas but has barely played since he became eligible in the fall. We’ll see if he ever gets a shot under Bill Self. If he doesn’t, you’d have to think that moving from Fayetteville will have been a mistake.

Next week we’ll have a run down of the players that have left KU as transfers.