More than three dozen local players enter NCAA basketball transfer portal

Updates on where all the former local stars are heading.

SHARE More than three dozen local players enter NCAA basketball transfer portal
Bloom’s Martice Mitchell (2) throws down a shot against Marian Catholic.

Bloom’s Martice Mitchell (2) throws down a shot against Marian Catholic.

Allen Cunningham/For the Sun-Times

The movement among college basketball players is endless. Whether it’s first-year freshmen or graduating seniors granted an extra year of eligibility, a high percentage of players are on the move.

The list of former Illinois high school players in the NCAA transfer portal alone is close to three dozen.

The top two prep players from last year’s class in Illinois won’t be back at their schools as both DJ Steward of Young and Adam Miller of Morgan Park left Duke and Illinois, respectively.

Steward declared for the NBA Draft after putting up 13 points, 3.9 rebounds and 2.4 assists as a freshman at Duke this past season. Currently, Steward is not projected in anyone’s NBA first-round mock draft.

Miller started for an Illinois team that earned a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament and is now in the transfer portal. The 6-3 guard who averaged 8.3 points a game as a freshman while shooting 34 percent from three announced he is making his decision this Saturday.

NIU’s Rashon Burno has been busy

Northern Illinois officially named Rashon Burno as its next head basketball coach March 6.

While he hasn’t officially added anyone to his coaching staff just yet, Burno has not wasted any time in assembling a roster. Burno has added six new pieces to his program, including a pair of high-major big men transfers.

Former Chicago area prep stars Keshawn Williams and Martice Mitchell are returning home. Williams, an athletic guard who played his freshman year this past season at Tulsa, and the long, wiry 6-9 Mitchell, who is transferring in from Minnesota, played together at Bloom.

Chris Osten has transferred in from Arizona State where Burno was coach Bobby Hurley’s associate head coach. The 6-9 Osten played in 24 games for the Sun Devils this past season and started six games.

Burno also landed Darweshi Hunter from Weber State. The 6-5 guard was a Division II star as a freshman two years ago. Hunter’s 20.7 points a game were the second most among all Division II freshmen in the country in 2019-20. He transferred to Weber State last year and is now headed to DeKalb with three years of eligibility remaining.

In addition to the incoming transfers, NIU will welcome three freshmen next season.

Burno signed Houston Christian’s Noah Kon, a 5-11 point guard who is the all-time leading scorer in his high school program’s history. The Class of 2021 also includes Montavious Myrick, a 6-8 forward from Atlanta, and 6-0 point guard Zion Russell from Maryland.

Red-hot Joseph Yesufu makes jump from Drake to Kansas

Following a monster finish to the season, which included averaging 23.2 points in the final nine games of the season, former Bolingbrook star Joseph Yesufu is transferring from Drake to Kansas.

The explosive 6-0 sophomore guard scored 12, 21 and 26 points in three NCAA Tournament games this past March for the Bulldogs. He finished the season averaging 12.8 points a game.

Elyjah Williams back in Evanston

After putting up some significant numbers over the course of his career at Fairleigh Dickinson, Evanston product Elyjah Williams will return home for his final year of college basketball and play at Northwestern.

In his four seasons at FDU, the 6-6 Williams scored 1,050 career points. This past season he averaged 13.9 points, 7.6 rebounds, 3.1 assists and 1.5 blocks a game.

DaJuan Gordon in at Mizzou, Xavier Pinson out and off to LSU

After two productive years at Kansas State, former Sun-Times Player of the Year DaJuan Gordon of Curie has transferred to Missouri. Gordon averaged 6.3 points as a freshman and 9.1 points and 5.5 rebounds a game this past season as a sophomore.

Meanwhile, former Simeon point guard Xavier Pinson left the Missouri program after averaging 13.6 points and 2.9 assists for a NCAA Tournament team.

The 6-2 Pinson stayed in the SEC and is headed to LSU.

Other former Illinois prep players on the move

▪︎ Charlie Moore will attend his fourth school in his six-year college career. After stops at California, Kansas and DePaul, the former Morgan Park all-stater is off to Miami-Florida. The 5-11 guard has already scored 1,243 career points after averaging 15.5 and 14.4 points a game the past two seasons at DePaul.

▪︎ Former Young star point guard Xavier Castaneda left South Florida and will play at Akron for former Illinois head coach John Groce. Castaneda averaged 8.5 points and 2.6 assists a game this past season.

▪︎ After averaging 8.6 points a game as a sophomore at Boise State, 6-2 guard Ray J Dennis of Oswego East is transferring to Toledo.

▪︎ UIC will welcome the addition of Damaria Franklin, the former Niles North star who averaged 13.3 points and five rebounds a game as a junior this past season at Tennessee Tech.

▪︎ Lemont’s PJ Pipes, who scored 1,103 career points in four seasons at Wisconsin-Green Bay, will take advantage of the NCAA granting an extra year of eligibility and head west. Pipes will play his final college season at Santa Clara.

▪︎ Proviso East’s Quinlan Bennett, who played two seasons at Triton Junior College before averaging 9.6 points a game this past season at Lamar, is transferring to Western Illinois.

▪︎ The Ivy League didn’t have a season this past year due to COVID-19. West Chicago product Tai Bibbs was able to earn his Ivy League degree and is headed to Howard University. Bibbs started all 30 games as a junior two years ago at Columbia, averaging 6.5 points a game.

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