While I was calling the Jimmy V Classic between Florida and Memphis on Tuesday, I saw several transfers having a big impact. Florida's Dorian Finney-Smith (Virginia Tech) and Memphis tandem David Pellom (George Washington) and Michael Dixon Jr. (Missouri) all played important roles in the Gators' exciting 77-75 win.
That game was an example of how this has been a very important season for transfer players all over America. The rules have changed, and the NCAA has allowed a number of newcomers to play immediately in situations where they previously would have been required to sit out a season. Other players who became eligible after sitting out last season have stepped in and performed admirably right away. And I'm already looking forward to next season, when two transfers who were required to sit out 2013-14 -- Angel Rodriguez of Miami and Ahmad Starks of Illinois -- could both be difference-makers.
Every season, I put together my All-Marco Polo team of transfers -- players who, like the great explorer, have made a difference by seeking out new destinations. Coming up with this year's squad was not easy, as I considered about 20 candidates, and a case could be made for several others. Here are the seven players who made the cut:
• Rodney Hood, Duke (Mississippi State): One of four transfers to play for Hall of Fame coach Mike Krzyzewski at Duke, Hood has been a major factor at forward. In his Blue Devils debut, he made 9 of 10 field goals, scored 22 points and grabbed 9 boards in a win over Davidson. He followed that up with a career-high 30 points against East Carolina, making 8 of 10 shots from the field and all 12 of his free throws. Hood is averaging 18.9 points and five rebounds per game in his first 10 games for Duke.
• DeAndre Kane, Iowa State (Marshall): A prolific scorer who averaged more than 15 points per game in three seasons with the Thundering Herd, Kane has been a vital part of the Cyclones' surprising success. The senior guard is averaging 14.1 points, 7.4 rebounds and 5.8 assists per game. While he struggled against rival Iowa with just five points, Kane has come up big at other times, including a 21-point, 11-rebound effort against BYU.
• Joseph Young, Oregon (Houston): With Dominic Artis sitting out the Ducks' first nine games, Dana Altman needed a boost in the backcourt. He got it from Young, who scored 24 in his Oregon debut, a win over Georgetown. Young scored 36 against Western Carolina and has been a consistent scoring threat, leading the Ducks in scoring with 19.3 PPG while shooting 55.5 percent from the field.
• Mike Moser, Oregon (UNLV): Moser, the Ducks' second-leading scorer, has stepped in alongside Young and made an impact for the undefeated Ducks. A senior forward, Moser is averaging 14.9 points and 7.4 rebounds per game and had a big double-double in an overtime win over Mississippi (24 points, 10 rebounds).
• T.J. McConnell, Arizona (Duquesne): McConnell has provided stability and leadership at point guard for the No. 1 team in America. As the floor general for Sean Miller's Wildcats, McConnell is averaging 6.5 assists per game and taking good care of the basketball. In Arizona's win over Duke, he played 39 minutes and had 10 points (including 6-for-6 from the free throw line), eight assists and just two turnovers.
• Jordan Clarkson, Missouri (Tulsa): The Tigers have been a surprise under Frank Haith, and Clarkson -- along with past transfers Earnest Ross (Auburn) and Jabari Brown (Oregon) -- has been an important part of that success. A junior guard, Clarkson leads the Tigers with 19.4 PPG; he scored 25 against West Virginia and 21 in Mizzou's upset of UCLA.
• Maurice Creek, George Washington (Indiana): It is nice to see Creek, a guard who endured four injuries in four years at Indiana, bounce back and take a leadership role at George Washington, which is off to a 9-1 start. Creek is averaging 15.7 PPG and scored 25 big points in a nail-biting win over Maryland.