Which schools benefited the most from the portal?

The transfer portal was busier than ever this offseason, with many big-name players changing programs. How they each acclimate to their new surroundings will be one of the biggest storylines of the 2022-23 women’s college basketball season.

Plenty has changed since our last transfer rankings in April. Ten of the players on this list, including four of the top six, hadn’t picked their next school at that point. And while Tennessee and Maryland remain big winners, schools such as Arizona, Baylor, LSU and Virginia Tech benefited the most from the portal since our previous rankings, luring veteran talent to their rosters.

How much have things changed? At the end of last season, LSU didn’t look worthy of being ranked; now the Tigers are likely a top-four team in the SEC and have Sweet 16 potential after adding Angel Reese. Reigning national champion South Carolina needed a point guard — and got one in Kierra Fletcher. Virginia Tech and Louisville both needed scoring on the perimeter — and have a combined four players in our ranking.

But take note: Some players high on the list might not put up gaudy numbers, but their predicted impact on their new team — whether they filled a specific positional need or bring leadership and experience — was weighed heavily.

A look at our top-30 impact transfers:

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1. Angel Reese, 6-3, F, Jr., LSU

Reese’s decision to leave Maryland was the biggest story of the offseason at the time. She was the most highly rated recruit in Terrapin history and led the team with 17.8 points and 10.6 rebounds per game last season. But now she’s the foundation of the program in Baton Rouge, and landing Reese means the Tigers can be a serious challenge to LSU and Tennessee in the SEC. A post player with growing range, Reese can also impact the defensive end. The best Baylor teams under Kim Mulkey had at least one dominant post player. Now the coach has one in her second season at LSU.

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2. Ashley Owusu, 6-0, G, Sr., Virginia Tech

Much like Reese’s move to LSU, Owusu to the Hokies completely changes their outlook for 2023. Without her, Virginia Tech was a NCAA tournament-team with Elizabeth Kitley a potential first-team All-American. But with Owusu, and Taylor Soule from Boston College, the Hokies can win the ACC and threaten for a deep run in March. Owusu and incumbent point guard Georgia Amoore in the same backcourt should create plenty of playmaking opportunities.

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3. Aijha Blackwell, 6-0, G, Sr., Baylor

No player in the country gets more rebounding production out of her size. Last season Blackwell ranked second in the country with 13.0 RPG and led Missouri at 15.4 PPG. A suspension for three games for undisclosed disciplinary reasons late last season seemed to signal the end of her career with the Tigers. Now Blackwell gets a fresh start with the Bears, who needed a quick influx of veteran talent to help hold off challenges to their streak of 12 consecutive Big 12 regular-season titles.

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4. Rickea Jackson, 6-2, F, Sr., Tennessee

When Jackson decided to leave the Mississippi State in January, she was leading the SEC in scoring at 20.3 PPG. Given the talent that now surrounds her in Knoxville, she might not score as much, but she gives the Lady Vols the kind of versatile scorer they didn’t have a season ago. Jordan Horston should have more freedom with Jackson on the opposite side of the floor, and Tennessee will have a more potent offense.

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5. Lavender Briggs, 6-1, G, Sr., Maryland

Briggs was on her way to College Park before Reese and Owusu decided to transfer, slightly softening the blow. If she is completely over the shin injury that ultimately ended her Florida career in January, Briggs and Diamond Miller could form one of the highest scoring duos in the country. Briggs averaged 19.5 points per game in 2020-21 with the Gators.

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6. Saniya Rivers, 6-1, G, Soph., NC State

After winning a national championship with South Carolina, the 2021 Gatorade Player of the Year decided to look for a new start in Raleigh following an uneven freshman year with the Gamecocks. Rivers will still have moderate expectations with all the veterans on the Wolfpack, but NC State offers more opportunity for playing time. She can be a difference maker in a highly competitive ACC.

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7. Morgan Jones, 6-2, G, Gr., Louisville

For the second straight year, Jeff Walz has used the transfer portal to quickly rebuild. Last season, the plan got the Cardinals to the Final Four. If it works again, it will be because Jones was a huge success after an intra-ACC transfer from Florida State. She averaged 13.8 PPG last season, including games of 28 and 26 points against Louisville.

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8. Diamond Battles, 5-8, G, Gr., Georgia

If the Lady Bulldogs are going to challenge South Carolina and Tennessee in the SEC under new Georgia coach Katie Abrahamson-Henderson, Battles will have to be every bit the player and leader she was at Central Florida. Battles, who averaged 13.9 points, 3.4 assists and 2.1 steals last season on her way to AAC player of the year and defensive player of the year, could have entered the WNBA draft, but instead elected to follow Abrahamson-Henderson to Athens to spearhead the program’s transition.

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9. Lauren Fields, 5-9, G, Sr., Arizona

Fields was the primary transfer that Adia Barnes targeted as she remade the roster around Cate Reese, Shaina Pellington and Lauren Ware. Fields struggled as a 3-point shooter in her career at Oklahoma State, but she is an aggressive player at both ends who averaged 15.4 points and 2.4 steals last season. Fields and Jade Loville, who moved to Tucson from rival Arizona State, should give the Wildcats’ backcourt scoring punch it lacked a year ago.

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10. Kierra Fletcher, 5-9, G, Gr., South Carolina

The defending champs are the favorites to win it all again, but a proven point guard was the one element they lacked with the graduation of Destanni Henderson. Fletcher, who is coming off a foot injury that cost her last season at Georgia Tech, should provide insurance if highly regarded Raven Johnson, who missed most of her freshman season with a knee injury, isn’t completely ready.

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11. Taylor Jones, 6-4, F, Jr., Texas

A shoulder injury forced Jones to miss most of last season with Oregon State. She now gets closer to her Forney, Texas, home and gives the Longhorns a scoring post presence. Before the injury, Jones was on the verge of becoming one of the Pac-12’s best players and has career averages of 12.1 points and 7.7 rebounds with 57.8% shooting.

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12. Jasmine Powell, 5-6, G, Sr., Tennessee

Of all the players in Kellie Harper’s impressive transfer haul this offseason, Powell, by virtue of the position she plays, might be the most important. As the point guard she will have the on-court responsibility of meshing new faces. Powell was a double-figure scorer in each of her three years at Minnesota and was averaging 5.7 assists through 19 games a season ago before leaving the Gophers.

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13. Sara Scalia, 5-10, G, Sr., Indiana

One can only imagine what a shooter like Scalia could have meant to the Hoosiers the last two seasons, when they ranked 209th and 191st in 3-point attempts. Last year at Minnesota, Scalia was 11th in shots from beyond the arc and made 41.3% on her way to averaging 17.8 PPG.

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14. Dre’Una Edwards, 6-0, F, Gr., Baylor

Edwards joins Blackwell as the bridge to the next phase of the Baylor program in Nicki Collen’s second year after NaLyssa Smith and Queen Egbo moved onto the WNBA. Edwards has been successful, if not always consistent, in her two previous stops. She was the 2019 Pac-12 Freshman of the Year at Utah and was Kentucky’s second-best player behind Rhyne Howard last season, with 16.9 points and 8.2 rebounds per game.

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15. Chrislyn Carr, 5-5, G, Gr., Louisville

The pairing of Carr with 5-foot-7 Hailey Van Lith makes for a diminutive but potentially explosive backcourt. The well-traveled Carr will be counted upon as one of the Cardinals’ top scorers, and she has already done that in the ACC. After two seasons at Texas Tech, Carr averaged 14.2 points and was a 37.2% 3-point shooter at Syracuse in 2021-22.

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16. Jasmine Franklin, 6-2, F, Gr., Tennessee

Coach Harper has tried to build the Lady Vols the same way Pat Summitt did — with rebounding and defense — so she knew where to go in the transfer portal to find more of both. Recruited to Missouri State by Harper five years ago, Franklin was the 2021 MVC Defensive Player of the Year and was second in the country in rebounding at 12.1 boards per game last season before tearing her ACL in December. A healthy Franklin next to Tamari Key should make Tennessee, already fourth in rebounding margin a year ago, even more dominant on the glass.

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17. Esmery Martinez, 6-2, F, Sr., Arizona

Martinez originally committed to LSU but changed her mind in early May, deciding to bring her rebounding prowess to Tucson. A first-team all-Big 12 choice at West Virginia in 2021 while averaging 13.6 PPG and 11.6 RPG, Martinez’s numbers weren’t as impressive last season, but her presence should make Reese and Ware even more dangerous in the Wildcats’ frontcourt.

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18. Abby Meyers, 6-0, G, Sr., Maryland

There shouldn’t be any adjustment period for Myers moving from the Ivy League to the Big Ten. She scored 29 points and outplayed No. 1 WNBA draft pick Rhyne Howard in Princeton’s upset of Kentucky in the NCAA tournament. Meyers, who is from Potomac, Maryland, was the unanimous choice for Ivy Player of the Year after averaging 17.9 PPG for the Tigers.

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19. Sonya Morris 5-10, G, Gr., Texas

In Morris, Vic Schaefer has a player he hasn’t had yet at Texas: a proven veteran who can score with consistency. Morris averaged 17.5 PPG in her final three seasons at DePaul. Like new backcourt mate Rori Harmon, Morris is an adequate deep shooter but does most of her damage inside the 3-point line.

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20. Taylor Soule, 5-11, F, Gr., Virginia Tech

Soule hadn’t even announced her intention to transfer prior to our first addition of the rankings in April. Now she could be significant difference-maker in what should be a tight ACC race. In her final three seasons at Boston College, Soule averaged 14.5, 15.7 and 16.0 PPG and was the ACC’s Most Improved Player in 2020. While not a 3-point threat at all (just 24 3-point attempts in her career), Soule is a scrappy rebounder and defender who should draw double teams away from Elizabeth Kitley.

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21. Sydney Parrish, 6-2, G, Jr., Indiana

Getting back to her home state after two years at Oregon, Parrish arrives in Indiana at a good time. Graduation losses depleted the Hoosiers backcourt, but the arrival of Parrish and Scalia might make Indiana better than the team that went to the Elite Eight and Sweet 16 in the last two season. Parrish isn’t quite the shooter Scalia is but offers a nice complement and provides more length defensively.

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22. Mimi Collins, 6-3, F, Gr., NC State

With her versatility to mix it up physically (nearly five rebounds in her career at Tennessee and Maryland) and ability to step out and shoot 3-pointers (38.3%), Collins should be able to replace the production of Kayla Jones. She joins another transfer, River Baldwin (Florida State), and holdover Camille Hobby in the Wolfpack’s rebuilt frontcourt after the loss of Elissa Cunane, one of the program’s all-time greats.

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23. Elisa Pinzan, 5-8, G, Gr., Maryland

Pinzan is one of five transfers beginning anew at Maryland this season, but as the point guard, she might be the one to pull the lineup together. She is not the shooter that Katie Benzan was at the point the last two seasons, but she averaged 5.0 assists per game in her four seasons at South Florida.

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24. Myah Taylor, 5-7, G, Gr., Ole Miss

In order to continue the momentum she has built over the last two years, Yolett McPhee-McCuin will need production to replace Shakira Austin and a point guard to lead after the graduation of Lashonda Monk. Taylor led the SEC with 5.4 assists per game at Mississippi State last season and should help Madison Scott and Angel Baker become even bigger scorers.

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25. Shaylee Gonzales, 5-10, Gr., Texas

Strong with the ball and supremely confident, the two-time WCC Player of the Year could be the final piece to the Final Four puzzle for the Longhorns. Combined with Harmon and Morris, Texas now has three guards who are equally adept at scoring and distributing. Gonzales averaged 2.3 SPG last season to go with her 18.3 PPG and 4.5 APG.

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26. Haley Cavinder, 5-6, G, Sr., Miami

The already large NIL and social media opportunities for Haley and twin sister Hanna will only grow in South Beach. But now a team that might have been in rebuilding mode could challenge for an NCAA berth thanks to the Cavinders. Haley was an all-Mountain West selection all three of her seasons at Fresno State and was the conference’s player of the year as a sophomore. She averaged 19.8 PPG last season.

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27. Dyaisha Fair, 5-5, G, Sr., Syracuse

It shouldn’t shock anyone if Fair leads the ACC in scoring this season. After averaging 23.1 PPG in three seasons at Buffalo, Fair chose to follow coach Felisha Legette-Jack to Syracuse. With so many defections from the Orange in the past two years, Fair should have plenty of opportunity to do what she does best: hunt her shot. Only Jasmine Dickey of Delaware launched more field goal attempts in 2021-22 than Fair.

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28. Lauren Ebo, 6-4, C, Gr., Notre Dame

Coming out of last season, Niele Ivey knew her team would have plenty of offensive talent. What the Irish didn’t have was a physical presence. Then Ebo chose Notre Dame for her final season after leaving Texas and a problem was solved. With Ebo setting screens and anchoring the middle, Olivia Miles, Dara Mabrey, Maddy Westbeld and Sonia Citron should have space to create plenty of scoring.

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29. Lou Lopez-Senechal, 6-1, G, Sr., UConn

With Paige Bueckers out for the season, Lopez-Senechal’s role became bigger. Frankly, every Huskies’ role took on added importance, but in Lopez-Senechal, UConn has a player who can get her own shot and score from long distance. That is, if her tremendous success at Fairfield — where she was the 2022 MAAC Player of the Year — translates to the Big East and to the national stage.

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30. Aliyah Matharu, 5-7, G, Sr., Florida

With so much youth on the roster, duplicating 2021-22’s surprising season was going to be difficult for the Gators until Matharu, along with KK Deans and Leilani Correa, transferred to Gainesville. Any one of the three could have been on this list, but Matharu led an Elite Eight team (Texas) in scoring (12.0 PPG) and shot 42.1% from 3-point range. She is the most explosive of the group and can carry a team in short spurts.

Also considered: Brynna Maxwell, Gonzaga; LaDazhia Williams, LSU; Greta Kampschroeder, Michigan; Dru Gylten, South Dakota State

https://www.espn.com/womens-college-basketball/story/_/id/34769174/women-college-basketball-transfer-rankings-2022-23 Which schools benefited the most from the portal?

Emma Bowman

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