This article is part of our College Basketball Waiver Wire series.
The first few weeks of the college basketball season represent a critical waiver wire period that can often make or break your year. It has become increasingly difficult to predict how roles will line up going into each new basketball season, as there's suddenly a massive amount of roster turnover thanks to the transfer portal. Some players in new roles take need to adjust after an offseason transfer, while others become standouts right from the jump.
Every Monday during the season, we'll take a look at some of the top pickups to consider across the entire college basketball landscape. We'll split the column up to focus on the three major positional groups of Guards, Forwards and Centers. Week 1 focuses on a handful of impact transfers with higher ceilings than previously thought, as well as some upperclassmen that appear primed to take the next step, and a freshman that could very well help some win their league.
Jahmir Young (Maryland):
Young was a standout for Charlotte over the past three seasons. His most recent saw him post averages of 19.6 points, 5.9 rebounds, 3.7 assists, 1.8 three-pointers and 1.1 steals per contest. He tested the NBA Draft waters but elected to return to school and transfer to a Power-5 program. Young is averaging 15.0 points, 6.0 rebounds, and 2.5 assists through his first two games with Maryland, and there is no real competition to have to deal with going forward.
Zhuric Phelps (SMU):
Phelps played just 14.4 minutes per game as a freshman but is a clear breakout candidate, as a sophomore with Kendric Davis departing to Memphis. Phelps had an impressive line in the team's exhibition game, going for 27 points, 10 rebounds, five assists and five steals. In two regular season games Phelps is averaging 20.0 points, 4.5 rebounds and 2.5 assists in 35 minutes per contest. He should continue to have heavy usage going forward.
Tyree Appleby (Wake Forest):
Appleby was always a solid role player in his time with Florida, but after a number of offseason departures from a Wake Forest team that challenged for a spot in the NCAA Tournament, Appleby has a chance to be a star. Through his first two games with the team, he is averaging 15.0 points, 5.0 rebounds and 4.5 assists. Utah Valley, La Salle and either Georgetown or Loyola Marymount are up for Wake Forest next week.
Brandin Podziemski (Santa Clara):
Podziemski played less than five minutes per game last season with Illinois and now is off to an amazing start to his sophomore season with Santa Clara. He put together a 30-point, nine-rebound and five-steal performance against Eastern Washington in the opener and then went for 34 and 11 with six three-pointers in the second game. There's no reason for him to slow down anytime soon.
Kyrell Luc (St. Bonaventure):
With Jaren Holmes, who was the team's point guard for the last three seasons, now moving on to Iowa State, Luc has the keys to this offense. He had a strong freshman season at Holy Cross where he averaged 13.0 points, 3.6 rebounds, 2.4 assists, 1.5 steals and 1.2 three-pointers. Through two games with the Bonnies he is averaging 18.0 points, 7.0 assists, 4.0 rebounds, 2.0 three-pointers and 1.5 steals per contest. South Dakota State and Bowling Green should provide little resistance next week.
Sam Griesel (Nebraska):
Griesel spent four years at North Dakota State where he got better every season. As a true senior, he averaged 14.3 points, 6.6 rebounds and 3.4 assists per contest. Griesel notched a 22-point, nine-rebound effort in the opener and followed with an 18-point, seven-rebound contest against Omaha in Game No. 2. There aren't a lot of proven commodities on this Nebraska team, so the Huskers will likely keep leaning on this veteran.
Landers Nolley (Cincinnati):
Nolley's transfer to Cincinnati went pretty under the radar in the offseason. This is a guy that has shown he can be an impact player at two other good schools in Virginia Tech and Memphis. Nolley is poised for his best season yet. Through three contests, he is averaging 16.3 points 4.7 rebounds, 2.3 assists and 1.3 steals. If he's still out there in any league that uses the American conference, Nolley is definitely worth scooping up.
Taylor Hendricks (UCF):
There are not many freshman in the American conference that you can count on to be reliable, but Hendricks deserves a look. This four-star recruit is the second-highest rated prospect in program history. Hendricks stood out in fall practices and has taken over as a starter in the frontcourt right away. Through two games, he is averaging 19.0 points, 8.5 rebounds, 2.0 three-pointers and 1.5 blocks in 35.5 minutes per contest.
Robbie Beran (Northwestern):
Beran has been a pretty consistent starter for Northwestern over the last three seasons, but has never really developed into a strong fantasy asset. He is now, however. Beran is averaging 17.0 points, 6.0 rebounds and 2.0 blocks through the team's first two games. Northwestern is a team with a ton of experience and should be a much better offensive squad this season, which will play to the benefit of Beran's fantasy numbers.
Keyontae Johnson (Kansas State):
Maybe the best story in the first week of college basketball. Johnson has played in five games the last two seasons after one of the scariest collapses we've seen at a sporting event. Kansas State was a team trying to put together a reasonable roster this offseason with new coach Jerome Tang coming in, and he was able to get a commitment from the 2020-21 Preseason SEC Player of the Year. There weren't a lot of expectations coming into the season, but Johnson has already helped his team to an impressive road win at Cal with a 16-point, nine-rebound performance. There is just so much potential here.
Grant Basile (Virginia Tech):
Virginia Tech got hot at the right time last year, and as the Hokies looked to replace Keve Aluma, they picked up a really nice piece in the offseason from Wright State. Basile averaged 18.4 points, 8.5 rebounds, 1.6 blocks and 1.1 three-pointers per contest in his senior season with the team. His debut with the Hokies was excellent, going for 30 points, 10 rebounds and six three-pointers. Basile can help owners out in a lot of different categories and has a few more really nice matchups upcoming.
Mitchell Saxen (St. Mary's):
Saxen played behind Matthias Tass the last two years and wasn't able to show his true potential. With Tass now out of the picture, Saxen is in position for a big season at a position that has been productive over coach Randy Bennett's tenure with St. Mary's. Saxen is averaging 11.7 points, 9.3 boards, 2.3 assists and 1.0 blocks through the first week of the season. He should be able to dominate against Southern and Hofstra next week.
Dain Dainja (Illinois):
Dainja barely saw the floor last season with Baylor, but man has he already made a big impact with the Illini. He went for 17 points and 10 rebounds in the opener and followed that up with 20 points, 15 rebounds and five blocks in just 23 minutes in the second contest. Dainja won't be coming off the bench much longer -- or left on the waiver wire, for that matter -- if he continues to be this effective.