Good luck finding a contending team in college basketball anymore without a transfer making an impact.
In this week's Associated Press poll, 21 teams feature a transfer on their roster, including guards on the top three squads: Gonzaga (Andrew Nembhard), Baylor (Adam Flagler) and Villanova (Caleb Daniels).
There was a time when certain programs that wanted to stay afloat relied heavily on transfers from junior colleges more than Division I schools because the latter had to sit out a year.
Then came the popular graduate transfers that could play immediately while seeking a master's degree, bringing a high level of experience and also freeing up the scholarship after one year.
This season, all sit-out transfers who came from another four-year school in good academic standing and enrolled in the fall were immediately allowed to play. The NCAA finally did the right thing in December by granting a blanket waiver because of the pandemic.
Former Wake Forest 7-footer Olivier Sarr, the No. 1 transfer in the country, hasn't lived up the hype and neither has his new team. Kentucky is 4-7, which included a six-game losing streak.
But teams such as the Gophers struck gold with transfers Liam Robbins, Both Gach and Brandon Johnson becoming starters. Gach, a Utah transfer and Austin, Minn. native, is averaging only 6.8 points on 28% shooting in Big Ten play, but he had 13 points in Sunday's 86-71 loss at Iowa.
"For me, it's trying to remain confident and just be myself out there on the court," Gach said. "Just putting other things aside and not thinking much out there. Just trying to be myself and have fun."
These five Top 25 teams have benefited the most from transfers this season:
No. 23 Minnesota
The Gophers were arguably the biggest winners of the transfer market in the country. Not only did they get three starters, but former Drake 7-footer Liam Robbins has been the most productive big man transfer out there (13.2 points, 7.2 rebounds, Big Ten-best 2.6 blocks). In a league loaded with elite centers, Richard Pitino desperately needed to replace NBA draft pick Daniel Oturu — and he surely did.
No. 7 Michigan
Watching the Wolverines dismantle Wisconsin on Tuesday, you couldn't help but notice the point guard leading the show looked a lot like last year's captain, Zavier Simpson. That's just how seamless the transition has been for Columbia transfer Mike Smith, who had 16 points and six assists in the 77-54 victory. Wake Forest's Chaundee Brown gives them scoring (9.0 points and 39% three-point shooting) and hard-nosed defense off the bench.
No. 15 Texas Tech
Former NBA star Patrick Ewing lost arguably his top player in Mac McClung. Georgetown's loss was the Red Raiders' big gain. The explosive junior leads them in scoring at 15.8 points per game, which included his 22 points and game-winning three in Wednesday's 79-77 upset at No. 4 Texas. Tech also relies on VCU power forward transfer Marcos Santos-Silva to man the paint.
No. 16 Louisville
The ACC is having a down year with Duke and North Carolina not themselves, but the Cardinals are leading the pack early behind Radford transfer Carlik Jones, who was the Big South player of the year last season. Jones leads Louisville with 17.2 points, 6.6 rebounds and 40% shooting from three-point range.
No. 22 Oregon
The Ducks are contenders for the Pac-12 title, but they wouldn't be there without five transfers in their rotation. Their top four scorers started their college career elsewhere, including Rutgers transfer Eugene Omoruyi (16.9 points per game), Duquesne transfer Eric Williams Jr. (12.4) and St. John's transfer L.J. Figueroa (10.1).
Marcus Fuller covers college basketball for the Star Tribune. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter: @Marcus_R_Fuller