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October 22, 2006

Giddens, Johnson raise Lobos' expectations

Tubby on the hot seat
Preseason Top 25
The College Basketball Wire

Get the inside scoop on your favorite team:

Transfers can be a quick fix for what ails a basketball program.

One good transfer can solve a lot of problems. Two can make you a contender.

Players transfer for a variety of reasons. Some players at big-time programs don't believe they are getting enough court time. Often, they'll seek out mid-majors where they know they will be the focus. Sometimes players transfer from mid-majors to the higher ranks when they discover they may be more ready for big-time college hoops than they thought when they left high school.

Still others just aren't good fits and seek a more comfortable shoe. The SEC will be home to several of this year's top transfers, including two who transferred within the conference.

Whatever the reason, an impact transfer can be the difference in making it to the NCAA Tournament.

Here are Rivals.com's top 20 transfers for the 2006-07 season:

Rivals.com 2006-07 Preseason Top Transfers
1. J.R. Giddens, G, New Mexico, Jr., 6-5, 205 (from Kansas)
Giddens was a 2003 McDonald's All-American, and was talented enough to have averaged double figures in scoring in both seasons he played for the Jayhawks. He led KU in 3-pointers made as a sophomore, and he steps into the Mountain West Conference as one of the league's top players. The Lobos have high expectations for Giddens and fellow transfer Aaron Johnson (No. 7 on the list).
2. Drew Lavender, G, Xavier, Jr., 5-7, 153 (from Oklahoma)
The cat-quick Lavender was another 2003 McDonald's All-American. He dropped 31 points on Texas A&M in a game during his freshman season in Norman, the most by an OU frosh in 20 years. As a sophomore he averaged 9.7 points, 3.2 assists and 1.6 steals in 27.9 minutes per game under then-coach Kelvin Sampson. He'll team with Stanley Burrell to give the Musketeers potentially the Atlantic 10's best backcourt.
3. Toney Douglas, G, Florida State, So., 6-1, 196 (from Auburn)
Douglas is a big-time scorer who exploded on the scene during his one season on The Plains. He was one of the SEC's leading scorers and a third-team freshman All-American after posting 16.9 points, 5.3 rebounds, 1.8 assists and 1.4 steals per game for the Tigers. He has added 15 pounds of muscle to his frame while sitting out in Tallahassee. The knock on Douglas is he sometimes doesn't get his teammates involved enough.
4. Fred Peete, G, New Mexico State, Jr., 6-4, 200 (from Kansas State)
Peete played one season for the Wildcats and was a mainstay, averaging nearly 35 minutes a game and posting a scoring average of 13.0. He also showed a well-rounded game, adding 5.0 rebounds, 3.8 assists and 2.1 steals per game. Peete also may be the best defensive player on this list. He's a junior because he spent his freshman season at Northeastern Oklahoma A&M.
5. Mike Cook, G, Pittsburgh, Jr., 6-4, 220 (from East Carolina)
Cook led East Carolina in scoring (15.0 ppg) as a sophomore and added 4.0 rebounds and 3.4 assists. He figures to step into the starting lineup and provide instant scoring punch for the Panthers, who are ranked eighth in the Rivals.com preseason top 25. He's a physical player for his size, and is an excellent defender.
6. Dameon Mason, G, LSU, Jr., 6-5, 190 (from Marquette)
Mason performed quite well in his first two seasons with the Golden Eagles, averaging 9.0 points per game as a freshman and 11.9 points per game as a sophomore while playing in all 31 games each season. He's an excellent all-around player who will see time at the shooting guard and small forward positions. He added 5.6 rebounds and 1.8 assists per game as a sophomore.
7. Aaron Johnson, F, New Mexico, Sr., 6-8, 255, (from Penn State)
Another top transfer for the Lobos, Johnson led the Big Ten in rebounding as a junior for the Nittany Lions. He averaged 9.9 boards and 11.8 points. He was the only player in the country to have three 20-plus rebounding games in the 2004-05 season. Johnson never averaged less than 6.5 rebounds per game in his three seasons in State College.
8. Lorrenzo Wade, F, San Diego State, So., 6-6, 228 (from Louisville)
Wade had several suitors when he left Louisville, chief among them Washington. Instead, SDSU nabbed him. He played in 35 games for Louisville as a freshman, averaging 9.9 minutes, 4.1 points and 1.8 rebounds as a backup to All-American Francisco Garcia. Wade is a tremendous leaper with a decent offensive game who needs to work on his defense.
9. Kevin Kruger, G, UNLV, Sr., 6-2, 186 (from Arizona State)
Kruger will play his final season for his father, Lon, in Las Vegas. He took advantage of the rule that allows a player who graduates early to be eligible immediately should he transfer. He would have been the Sun Devils' leading returning scorer, having averaged 15.0 points per game last season. Kruger also shot 40 percent from 3-point range. He'll team with Wink Adams to give the Rebels a top-notch backcourt.
10. Gary Ervin, G, Arkansas, Jr., 6-0, 176 (from Mississippi State)
Ervin proved he can be one of the top assist men in the SEC. He averaged 4.7 assists per game for the Bulldogs in 2004-05, good enough for third in the conference. He added 7.4 points, 2.4 rebounds and 1.1 steals per game. Ervin is an excellent penetrator and can draw and dish, but he needs to work on his outside shooting to keep defenses honest.
Best of the rest
11. Justin Cerasoli, So., Ole Miss (from Seton Hall)
12. Gary Forbes, Jr., UMass (from Virginia)
13. Trent Meacham, So., Illinois (from Dayton)
14. Terry Martin, So., LSU (from Texas Tech)
15. Ross Neltner, Jr., Vanderbilt (from LSU)
16. Patrick Ewing, Jr., Georgetown (from Indiana)
17. Micah Downs, So., Gonzaga (from Kansas)
18. Alex Galindo, So., Florida International (from Kansas)
19. Martin Iti, Jr., New Mexico State (from Charlotte)
20. Justin Hawkins, Jr., New Mexico State (from Utah)



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