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Michigan State Basketball: Quantifying Impact Transfer Eron Harris

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Taking a look at just how big of an impact Eron Harris could have for the 2015-16 Michigan State Spartans

Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Bryn Forbes, Rayvonte Rice, Ahmad Starks, Jon Octeus, Anthony Lee, Nick Zeisloft, Carlos Morris, Joey King, Deandre Mathieu, and Terran Petteway. Just some of the recent transfers that have affected Big Ten play recently. On a national scale some of the well-known guys are Kyle Wiltjer (Gonzaga), Rodney Hood (Duke), DeAndre Kane (Iowa State), and TJ McConnell (Arizona). Right now the B1G has a few incoming transfers including Eron Harris, Rasheed Sulaimon, Duncan Robinson, and Robert Carter. ESPN’s Jeff Goodman had Harris as the #1 transfer last year and Sulaimon as the #2 transfer this year (Sterling Gibbs was listed #1 and is considering Ohio State). Now the question is what kind of impact can these guys have? (On a related note, Jonathan Williams III’s mother told Kyle Austin that he hopes to make his decision by the end of the month)

Different types of transfers

Most transfers are of the common variety in that they have to sit out a year before playing. Then there are graduate transfers and junior college transfers that are allowed to play immediately. There are also exceptions (like Bryn Forbes) such as hardship waiver that allows players to move closer to home to be closer to an ill family member. However, I believe that the NCAA is getting rid of that rule.

The next type of difference between transfers is where they come from and how good they really are. Most transfers are either mid-major (or Juco) stars looking for something more or fringe high-major players unhappy with their playing time. MSU in the past has picked up a couple of the former in Brandon Wood and Bryn Forbes who both averaged greater than 15 points in the Horizon league but averaged 8.8 and 8.5 points respectively when they got to the Big Ten. Eron Harris and Rasheed Sulaimon are somewhat rare cases in that they were good players in power conferences who have played against very good competition.

Their Actual Impact

To have some kind of idea how a transfer’s role and efficiency changes when joining a new team, I looked at their PORPAG (Points over replacement per adjusted game) differences of some B1G transfers (I couldn’t do it for Juco players because PORPAG is a KenPom-based stat. Also this list is comprised of B1G transfers, players from college basketball talk’s impact transfer lists from the last two years, and anyone else that came to my mind).

Previous Team New Team
Player School ORtg %Poss %Min PORPAG School ORtg %Poss %Min PORPAG Difference Redshirt
Terran Petteway Texas Tech 75.1 20 29.6 -0.47 Nebraska 102.4 31.7 79.2 2.24 2.71 Yes
Kyle Wiltjer Kentucky 112 21.5 58.9 1.88 Gonzaga 128.2 25.5 69.3 4.40 2.52 Yes
DeAndre Kane Marshall 94.4 28.4 80.5 0.91 Iowa St. 110.4 27 84.7 3.18 2.27 No
Mike Moser UNLV 89.6 21.7 42.5 0.09 Oregon 111.2 23 69.6 2.30 2.21 No
Trevor Lacey Alabama 100.1 22.9 77.5 1.33 NC State 113.9 23 86.6 3.20 1.87 Yes
Rodney Hood Mississippi St. 113.1 16.2 77.8 1.96 Duke 119.8 22.5 81.9 3.63 1.67 Yes
Rayvonte Rice Drake 97.8 29.2 79.8 1.42 Illinois 107.3 26.6 81.6 2.60 1.18 Yes
Dorian Finney-Smith Virginia Tech 92.8 18.1 72 0.39 Florida 103.2 23.4 61 1.35 0.96 Yes
Antonio Barton Memphis 104.5 17 29.9 0.52 Tennessee 109 16.9 62.5 1.38 0.86 No
Jermaine Marshall Penn State 98.3 26.1 85.8 1.43 Arizona St. 108.9 21.7 75.3 2.12 0.69 No
Jordan Clarkson Tulsa 106.3 27.2 82.5 2.55 Missouri 109.8 27.3 86.8 3.20 0.66 Yes
Joey King Drake 100.8 20.5 46.9 0.76 Minnesota 114.7 15.7 53.8 1.40 0.64 No
Nick Zeisloft Illinois St. 115.5 12.9 63.9 1.41 Indiana 139.1 12.6 48.7 1.94 0.54 No
Tarik Black Memphis 100.8 20 45.8 0.73 Kansas 122.5 17.4 31.6 1.18 0.45 No
Matt Carlino BYU 104.9 26.6 66.6 1.86 Marquette 107.2 24.2 71.6 2.06 0.21 No
Bryce DeJean-Jones UNLV 105.6 27.5 63.7 1.91 Iowa St. 111.2 23.6 55.9 1.90 -0.01 No
Rodney Purvis NC State 97.9 18.2 63.6 0.71 UConn 94.9 24 67.4 0.69 -0.02 Yes
Katin Reinhardt USC 98.6 19.2 72.7 0.92 UNLV 96.8 23.9 68.2 0.89 -0.03 Yes
Matt Stainbrook W Michigan 114 22.1 64.5 2.30 Xavier 111.5 24.3 58.9 2.09 -0.21 Yes
Jon Octeus Colorado St. 110.3 20.9 85.4 2.47 Purdue 116.2 18 71.1 2.24 -0.23 No
Gerard Coleman Providence 94.2 23.5 79.5 0.72 Gonzaga 94.2 31.7 25.9 0.32 -0.40 Yes
Byron Wesley USC 107.7 25.4 80.2 2.49 Gonzaga 111 21.9 66.7 2.08 -0.41 No
TJ McConnell Duquesne 112.4 18.9 85.3 2.44 Arizona 111.6 17.2 79.6 2.00 -0.44 Yes
Lasan Kromah G Washington 99.4 23.4 60.9 1.01 UConn 96.6 16.8 55.7 0.50 -0.51 No
Brandon Wood Valparaiso 108 26.5 73.9 2.43 Michigan St. 114.9 16.4 66.9 1.83 -0.60 No
Ahmad Starks Oregon St. 107 17.8 72.9 1.53 Illinois 97.1 20.2 59.7 0.68 -0.85 Yes
Kedren Johnson Vanderbilt 98.6 28 78.7 1.45 Memphis 98.3 18.5 49.1 0.58 -0.87 Yes
Angel Rodriguez Kansas St. 107.4 25.8 66.4 2.06 Miami 98 29.1 60.4 1.09 -0.97 Yes
TaShawn Thomas Houston 111.4 24.7 78.8 2.82 Oklahoma 105.9 21.6 73.6 1.76 -1.06 No
Bryn Forbes Cleveland St. 115.2 20.9 82.5 2.91 Michigan St. 119.1 14.5 64.1 1.79 -1.12 No
Michael Dixon Missouri 122.7 24.4 66.5 3.49 Memphis 114.7 23.4 56.8 2.20 -1.29 Yes
Anthony Lee Temple 106.9 23 68 1.83 Ohio St. 106.5 16.2 16.3 0.30 -1.53 No
Antoine Mason Niagara 106.8 31.1 94.1 3.41 Auburn 104.7 24.4 52.4 1.32 -2.09 No
Josh Davis Tulane 110.4 27.4 89.3 3.40 San Diego St. 98.4 17.5 74.2 0.84 -2.56 No
Eron Harris West Virginia 113.4 24.8 77.8 3.04 Michigan St. ? ? ? ? ? Yes
Rasheed Sulaimon Duke 117 20.1 62 2.24 Maryland ? ? ? ? ? No
Robert Carter Georgia Tech 101.3 24.2 46.1 0.92 Maryland ? ? ? ? ? Yes

Frankly I’m not sure what to do with this all of this data. Something important that should be pointed out is that PORPAG is contextual and doesn't translate objectively. Because it doesn't take SOS into account it you shouldn't compare players from different conferences when those conferences are on very different levels of play. However, it does show how much they contributed offensively to their particular team during that year.

The most obvious case of a star player at a bad school transferring to a high-major and not panning out is Antoine Mason who went from leading the country in scoring the year before to simply becoming a decent player at Auburn. Terran Petteway led the way as someone who was awful as a freshman before transferring to Nebraska and became a surprise first team All-B1G player while leading to the Cornhuskers to the big dance. I do find it interesting that 6 of the top 8 players that increased their PORPAG after transferring had a redshirt year and the two that didn’t were Mike Moser who was much better the year before as he didn’t have to compete with future #1 pick Anthony Bennett, and DeAndre Kane who was 24 during his senior and improved due to Iowa State’s up-tempo system and having efficient offensive players around him. Obviously Kyle Wiltjer benefitted from getting to play in the WCC but he also used his offseason to work on his post-game. That redshirt allowed him to go from a stretch four who shot more 3’s than 2’s as a sophomore to one of the best and most well-rounded offensive players in the country last season.

What it might mean for the incoming transfers

I’ve been of the opinion that Eron Harris will likely start for MSU and will be a top 2 scorer on the team along with Denzel Valentine. With that being said, it would be very surprising if his PORPAG did not decrease as he’ll likely have both a smaller offensive role and fewer minutes at MSU than he did at West Virginia (similar to what happened with Bryn Forbes). My guess is that he'll average somewhere between 12-15 points per game. Here are his closest B1G comparisons from his last season at West Virginia using Alex Cook’s similarity score sheet.

This is a very good group of scoring guards from the last few years and Spartan fans should be excited about getting a guy that compared to these before he had an offseason of development. Izzo and the players this year often talked about Harris being their best offensive player and if one of the guys wanted to work on defense, they would guard Eron in practice.

Maryland's transfers

As for Maryland's incoming transfers Rasheed Sulaimon and Robert Carter, they will likely give the Terps a nice boost as at least one of them is likely to start alongside Melo Trimble, Jake Layman, and Diamond Stone. Sulaimon gives them an option as a both a slasher and shooter as he's a career 39% 3-point shooter. He had a very similar freshman season when compared to Gary Harris but unlike Harris, Sulaimon's role decreased after that point when Duke brought in Rodney Hood, Jabari Parker, Justice Winslow, and Tyus Jones in the next couples years. Despite his decrease in minutes he still used right around 20% of possessions while he was on the court and was most efficient as a sophomore when he played against college 2's rather than 3's.

(Comparisons are from his sophomore year as he only played half of his junior year)

His comparison list is very interesting as most are smaller players that didn't shoot a particularly high percentage. Regardless of how good these comparisons really are, he will likely be a valuable player to Maryland.

Regarding Robert Carter I know next to nothing about his play style. Looking at his stats he's 6-8, a decent shot-blocker, attempts 2 three-pointers per game (despite being just a 27% career 3PT shooter), and he wasn't particularly efficient in his two years at Georgia Tech but that may have also been because the team wasn't particularly good (Sub-100 in KenPom both years).