Key transfer players to watch this season

Duke will lean heavily on a transfer. Miami is counting on a transfer as it replaces five starters. Arizona State lost a key player to another school, but is gaining two transfers in return. Memphis won a key NCAA decision that allows a transfer to play this season. And many other schools are plugging holes with players who’ve transferred, many of whom bring gaudy numbers from their former schools. With transfers playing a big part in college basketball, it’s no surprise many will be featured in ESPN Events’ early-season tournaments. Here are 10 transfers to watch at these events:

Rodney Hood, Duke: The Blue Devils enter the season with national title aspirations, and Hood’s versatility may be the key to their chances. The 6-foot-8 Mississippi native sat out last season after leaving Mississippi State following a coaching change. He averaged 10.3 points and 4.8 rebounds as a freshman. Hood will team up with Rasheed Sulaimon and incoming freshman Jabari Parker by playing multiple positions. Expect Hood to see time at both forward positions, shooting guard and even point. The Blue Devils will be leaning on Hood on Nov. 12 when they face Kansas in the State Farm Champions Classic in Chicago.

Tarik Black, Kansas: The Jayhawks also get immediate veteran help in Black (pictured), who graduated from Memphis in the spring and can play immediately. Black averaged 8.1 points and 4.8 rebounds, and shot nearly 59 percent from the field for the Tigers last season. Black and No. 1 recruit Andrew Wiggins give Kansas plenty of depth despite the loss of Ben McLemore to the NBA.

Michael Dixon, Memphis: The Tigers are celebrating the NCAA’s decision that made Dixon eligible to play this season. The 6-2 guard sat out last season at Missouri after being accused of sexual assault. (No charges were ever filed.) Dixon, who has one year of eligibility remaining, averaged 13.5 points and 3.3 assists two years ago, but will have to compete for playing time in a crowded backcourt for Memphis. The Tigers play in the Old Spice Classic (Nov. 28-Dec. 1) in Orlando and against Florida Dec. 17 in the Jimmy V Classic in New York.

Jermaine Marshall, Arizona State: While the Sun Devils lost guard Evan Gordon to Indiana, coach Herb Sendek snagged a transfer of his own to replace him. Marshall averaged 15.3 points a game at Penn State last season, and is eligible to play immediately after graduating. He’ll be paired with Jahii Carson in one of the Pac-12’s top backcourts. Arizona State also got transfer Brandan Kearney from Michigan State, but he’s ineligible until December, after the Sun Devils play in the Wooden Legacy (Nov. 28-Dec. 1).

Josh Davis, San Diego State: The 6-8 Davis, who averaged 17.6 points and 10.7 rebounds for Tulane last season, should provide coach Steve Fisher with instant offense. Davis, another graduate student with immediate eligibility, was one of the most sought-after transfers and spurned Gonzaga to join the Aztecs. After starting his career at North Carolina State, Davis considered turning pro but decided another year on the college stage would suit him best. He’ll get that spotlight in the Wooden Legacy (Nov. 28-Dec. 1).

Donnavan Kirk, Miami: Angel Rodriguez was supposed to be Miami’s top incoming transfer, but the Hurricanes decided not to appeal to the NCAA to make Rodriguez eligible immediately, in part because the ex-Kansas State guard has knee issues. He’ll play next season. Enter Kirk, who’s a familiar face in Coral Gables. He played in 17 games at Miami over two seasons before transferring to DePaul. The 6-9 forward averaged 6.2 points and 3.9 rebounds for the Blue Demons last season. He graduated from DePaul, so he’s eligible to play immediately. The Hurricanes, who lost all five starters, will need Kirk when they play in the Wooden Legacy (Nov. 28-Dec. 1).

Derrick Gordon, UMass: The last time we saw Gordon he was averaging 11.8 points and 6.7 rebounds for Western Kentucky’s NCAA tournament team in 2011-’12. The 6-2 Gordon left following a coaching change and wanted to be closer to his New Jersey home. Now he’s expected to play both backcourt positions for the Minutemen, who play in the Charleston Classic Nov. 21-24.

Terrance Shannon, VCU: Shannon might get a chance to play against his former team, Florida State, in the Puerto Rico Tip-Off (Nov. 21-24). The 6-8 Shannon is another graduate transfer who can play immediately. In a career plagued by injuries, he averaged 7.8 points and 5.6 rebounds for the Seminoles last season.

Ty Johnson, South Carolina: The 2011 MVP of the ESPN RISE high school tournament averaged just 3.3 points and 2 assists while starting nine of 32 games as a freshman at Villanova. But he’s expected to contribute immediately and play a leadership role on Frank Martin’s young team. The 6-foot-3 Johnson won’t be eligible to play until December, meaning the Hawaiian Airlines Diamond Head Classic (Dec. 22-25) in Hawaii could be his first big test in a Gamecocks uniform.

Joshua Smith, Georgetown: It’s uncertain if the former UCLA big man will be eligible to play in the Puerto Rico Tip-Off (Nov. 21-24), but if he’s cleared he’ll be an intriguing player to watch. Highly touted out of high school, Smith was plagued by weight issues and averaged just 13 minutes a game before leaving the Bruins early last season. If Smith is fit and engaged—he’s listed as 6-10 and 350 pounds—he’ll provide a nearly immovable presence as the Hoyas rebuild their frontcourt.

Recommended reading: “Top impact transfers, remaining targets” by ESPN.COM’s Jeff Goodman