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Part 1: Eligible transfers that could have an impact on NCAA Tournament bids

After a year on the bench, these players are ready to help their new programs.

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament- Miami vs Buffalo
Lamonte Bearden has a new home at Western Kentucky.
Mark L. Baer-USA TODAY Sports

More than 700 players across the nation have swapped schools this season with each program hoping to catch lightning in a bottle as the second, and in some cases third, team these players will have suited up for.

Last year, Arkansas transfer JaCorey Williams was the CUSA POY for Middle Tennessee and helped the Blue Raiders score a first round upset over Minnesota. Over a multi-part series, we’ll be taking a look at transfers that sat out the 2016-17 season, but could have a similar impact on NCAA Tournament bids.

NOTE: This does NOT include 2016-17 transfers, only players that transferred during the 2015-16 season and sat out last season.

Lamonte Bearden, Western Kentucky

Rick Stansbury has received major props for attracting a nationally-ranked class to Bowling Green, one that could have the Hilltoppers dancing for the first time since 2013. That march to March could hinge on Bearden. As a sophomore at Buffalo, the 6’3’’ combo guard averaged 13.7 points and 4.2 assists per game. He was especially tough in the Bull’s push to the NCAA Tournament, putting up 16-5-5 in his final five games, including 19 points and three assists in a 79-72 Round of 64 loss to Miami. His perimeter jumper needed some work, something sitting out 2016-17 should help, but the Milwaukee product is one of the most athletic non-power conference guards you’ll see. He should help take pressure off of Mitchell Robinson and allow JuCo standout Jordan Brangers to play extended periods off the ball.

Joe Burton, Valparaiso

Valpo must adjust to life after Alec Peters and it’s new home in the Missouri Valley Conference. Peters isn’t the only Crusader that will be missed, as Matt Lottich will have to replace the perimeter scoring of Shane Hammink and power forward Jubril Adekoya. Potentially the biggest key to their season will be the play of Oklahoma State transfer Joe Burton. Burton was a four-star prospect coming out of high school and ranked 59th in the Class of 2014 by ESPN. He struggled to find minutes for the Pokes, but his shooting, versatility and athleticism will allow him to play either forward spot in The Valley. He will be a natural fit with a team that loves to shoot the three.

Brekkott Chapman, Weber State

Chapman is one of two players on this list that was the No. 1 player in his state coming out of high school, inked with a premier program in that state and is now seeking greener pastures at a mid-major program in said state. Whew! The Utah native was an ESPN four-star, top-50 prospect that showed flashes in two seasons at Utah without ever getting consistent minutes. However, he will be a perfect fit in Ogden. Randy Rahe will get to play Chapman as a stretch four next to big body Zach Braxton, which should form the best front court in the Big Sky. Keep in mind Arizona, UCLA and Gonzaga also offered Chapman back in 2014. This is an elite talent.

Kameron Chatman, Detroit Mercy

See above. Chatman was the No. 1 player in Michigan in 2014 and the No. 38 prospect according to ESPN. He never received a ton of minutes over two years at Michigan, but did hit a game-winning three against Indiana in the 2016 Big Ten Tournament. Chatman is a 6’9’’ athlete that does several things really well. Although Bacari Alexander went just 8-23 in his first year, the Titans return their top three scorers. Chatman’s versatility will make him an ideal fit in the lineup. This could be a sleeper to win the Horizon.

Wes Clark, Buffalo

Remember when nearly every kid that signed with Mizzou during the Kim Anderson era ultimately transferred or was removed from the team? Well, Clark was one of those players. The 6’0’’ guard was productive, averaging 10 points and three assists per game in his final two seasons as a Tiger. He showed an improved jumper as a junior and his ability to score and facilitate, along with his frame, will make him a match up nightmare. Clark also will allow C.J. Massinburg to remain off the ball, where he is a more natural scorer.