Welcome back to Part 3 of Immediate Impact Transfers. If you missed the first installments, make sure to check them out here: Part 1 and Part 2. This week, we profiled four more grad transfers at two projected Top 25 schools. Both North Carolina and Oregon lost talent to the NBA Draft and will each need to replace multiple starters. UNC looks to replace Cameron Johnson, Coby White, Nassir Little, and Luke Maye, and Oregon has only three scholarship players from last season’s team. This season, grad transfers Christian Keeling and Justin Pierce arrive in Chapel Hill, and Oregon landed Shakur Juiston and Anthony Mathis.
Christian Keeling and Justin Pierce
From: Charleston Southern (Keeling) / William & Mary (Pierce)
To: University of North Carolina
Roy Williams furthered UNC’s reload this offseason, landing grad transfers Christian Keeling and Justin Pierce. Keeling spent three seasons at Charleston Southern, and Pierce joined UNC by way of William and Mary. Keeling averaged 18.7 PPG and 2.8 APG last year. He was named to the 1st Team All-Big South after leading the Buccaneers in points, usage rate, and rebounds per game. The Augusta, GA native was a threat to score from anywhere on the court last season, averaging 38% from behind the arc and 59.1 TS%. He scored double-digits in all but one game, including 15 games with 20 or more points. However, Keeling is not just an offensive force. In 2018-19, he led the Big South in defensive rating and defensive win shares. Keeling also averaged 6.9 RPG last year, ranking 4th in the conference. A player like Christian Keeling is an ideal transfer for any school, but especially one like North Carolina that will have so many new faces this season. He can contribute in all aspects of the game and complement UNC’s young stars with his scoring and defensive abilities. Keeling projects to slide into a starting role in UNC’s talented backcourt alongside Top 5 recruit Cole Anthony.
Justin Pierce is a 6’7″ versatile athlete that contributed in all areas for William & Mary. In his three years with the program, Pierce was a two year starter and averaged 32.9 MPG over his last two seasons. In 2018-19, he averaged 14.9 PPG, 8.9 RPG, and 4.1 APG. Pierce led the Tribe in minutes played and RPG, and was 2nd on the team in PPG and usage rate. He finished the year with 9 double-doubles, and had 9 games with a 10/5/5 line. These stats landed Pierce a spot on the All-CAA 3rd team last season. In 2017-18, Pierce had similar stats but was much more efficient. That year, he averaged almost identical points and rebound numbers, but almost two fewer assists per game. However, the main difference between the two years was his shooting percentages. Despite attempting only 1.4 more field goals per game, his FG% dropped from 50.2% to 46.4%. His tremendous 3-point shooting year in 2018 (41.6%) fell to 32.4% in 2019. Finally, his 79% FT% was lowered to 59% last year. Although these decreases are concerning, Pierce is still a solid player that can contribute to this Tar Heel squad in multiple ways. While he might not have the same impact as fellow grad-transfer Christian Keeling, he expects to compete for a starting job in 2019-2020.
Shakur Juiston and Anthony Mathis
From: UNLV (Juiston) / New Mexico (Mathis)
Another projected Top 25 team that landed multiple grad transfers is Oregon. Coach Dana Altman bolstered this year’s roster with two probable starters in Shakur Juiston and Anthony Mathis. Juiston committed to the Ducks on July 12, and he was one of the most sought-after graduate transfers this offseason. Last year, the 6’7” forward suffered a knee injury that required surgery after 8 games with UNLV. Juiston was granted a medical redshirt and has since recovered. In 2017-18, he started all 33 games for UNLV, averaging 14.6 points and 10 rebounds per game. That year, he was Top 3 in the Mountain West in rebounds, FG%, and FGA. He is a dominant force on the glass, and his knack for rebounding is paired with his intense effort and hustle. While his defensive rebounding is elite, he is also an efficient scorer. He is not a pure shooter by any means, he can finish around the rim and occasionally hit a mid-range jumper if needed. In 2017-18, he shot 63.9% from the field with a .631 TS%. For what it’s worth, Juiston is used to impacting a new program in his first season there. Prior to his time at UNLV, he won the NABC Player of the Year award during his time at Hutchinson Community College (KS). Juiston’s length and athleticism should fit right into the Duck’s front-court, and he projects to be a major contributor for an Oregon team that has lofty goals.
Grad-transfer Anthony Mathis committed to Oregon for this season after four years in New Mexico. Through his first two years in Albuquerque, Mathis appeared in 35 games with zero starts. After appearing in only 10 games in his sophomore year, he requested a release from his scholarship, prior to the firing of then-head coach Craig Neal. After coach Neal was released, Mathis stayed at UNM and played two more years for the Lobos. In an interesting case, Mathis applied for and was granted a fifth year of eligibility and elected to transfer to Oregon for the 2019-20 season. Mathis is a potent shooter with deep range and a quick trigger. In 2018-19, he averaged 14.4 points, 2.2 rebounds, and 2.1 assists per game. He also shot 41.6% from three-point range and averaged 8.0 3PA per game. Mathis attempted 10+ three-pointers in 9 games last season and made four threes in 15 games. Although it was a surprise that he was granted an additional year of eligibility, his transfer destination was not surprising. Mathis is an Oregon native and played high school hoops with Oregon starting PG Payton Pritchard. Last season, Pritchard averaged 4.6 APG and will love the addition of a knockdown shooter like Anthony Mathis this year. The Pritchard – Mathis connection should help steady the ship during Oregon’s early season match-ups. With so many new players, their chemistry, experience, and leadership should steady the Ducks until the entire team meshes as a unit. Overall, Altman’s squad is full of offensive weapons, and they are currently one of the favorites to win the Pac-12.