Six Former MW Players Set To Make A Splash On New Teams In 2020-2021
New Season, new teams & new opportunities
Taking a look at former Mountain West players and their new programs next season.
This past January, I wrote a piece documenting every traceable outgoing transfer from the Mountain West still playing college basketball somewhere around the country at all different levels. Keeping track of players that have exited the conference along with their progression or regression has always been an interesting part of covering the game for myself.
It seems important to follow outgoing players from the conference as it is just as important to follow players coming into the conference to fully understand the Mountain West’s dynamics and it’s place within the game nationally.
Some players that were left off of that original list were guys who were sitting out the year due to NCAA transfer rules with no real update besides just that. This list is a lot shorter but here are six players who will make an impact on their new teams next season.
Vladimir Pinchuk, Redshirt Junior Center-San Diego (New Mexico)
2018-2019 Stats: 3.0 PPG 2.9 RPG 0.6 BPG in 31 games (11 starts)
Pinchuk came to Albuquerque with a solid international resume after playing for his home country. During his two years with the Lobos, he was primarily used as a role player off the bench in a perpetually thin frontcourt. With an influx of talented transfers over the course of Pinchuk’s career as a Lobo, the potential of an increase in future playing time seemed bleak, so the 6-11 German big man moved on.
He landed in the WCC with the San Diego Toreros who are in a constant struggle with most of the rest of the conference to topple the conference’s big 3 of Brigham Young, Gonzaga and St. Mary’s.
The Toreros had a tough time in 2019-2020, finishing 9th in the conference with a 2-14 record and 9-23 overall. Their fortune might change next season with key returning players & have multiple eligible transfers that could make an impact including Pinchuk, who will be one of only two players on San Diego’s roster at the moment standing 6-foot-8 or taller. He may find himself in a competition for the starting five spot with fellow European big man Yauhen Massalski, but he will definitely find playing time for a re-surging San Diego program in 2020-2021.
Pinchuk’s game always looked a bit raw in Albuquerque, with a great touch around the rim but coupled with a look of unease banging around with older players. A year away from live action should have been purely beneficial for the big man and the lack of size on San Diego’s roster should provide plenty of opportunities for him to grow on the court.
Jonathan Tchamwa Tchatchoua, Redshirt Sophomore Forward–Baylor (UNLV)
2018-2019 Stats: 3.8 PPG 3.5 RPG 0.7 BPG in 31 games (11 starts)
Tchatchoua was a physical force during his one year with the Runnin’ Rebels program, which was the last year of the Menzies era. Like other UNLV players brought in during the previous coaches tenure, Tchatchoua opted to transfer upon arrival of new head coach T.J. Otzelberger following the 2018-2019 season.
Unlike Joel Ntambwe who also transferred to a Big 12 school, Tchatchoua wasn’t earning regular starting minutes at UNLV, but boasted a combination of raw talent and physical tools needed to take a step up in competition at his new stop. So while Ntambwe landed at Texas Tech for his redshirt year, Tchatchoua chose to play for another one of the Big 12’s top coaches in Baylor’s Scott Drew.
Baylor had a stellar 2019-2020 season, finishing the abbreviated year ranked No. 5 in the entire country and with tremendous momentum heading into March. Not too many teams would have been excited to see the Bears in their corner of the bracket come tourney time, but sadly the season never got that far. The Bears are looking to build on their 2nd place conference finish with majority of their team back in 2020-2021, and sit-out transfers like Tchatchoua & former Presbyterian guard Adam Flagler waiting in the wings.
The Bears have the opportunity to dethrone the Jayhawks going forward and make the next ten years the decade of the Bears. That’s a tall task I know, but Baylor is beautifully set to take control atop the conference next season with key returning players with multiple years of eligibility and more arriving each season. Their 2020-2021 ceiling will heavily depend on the NBA draft decisions of guards Jared Butler & MaCio Teague.
Michael Steadman, Redshirt Senior Forward Montana (San Jose State)
2018-2019 Stats: 13.2 PPG 8.5 RPG 0.9 APG in 31 games (29 starts)
Steadman’s departure from San Jose was a part of an ongoing trend of the team’s top scorers leaving year in and year out looking for greener pastures at other programs. He only hung around for one season in the Mountain West after transferring in from junior college, but was a dominant force down low in that short time amassing 13 double-doubles while starting all 29 of his 31 games played.
Steadman had a frame that allowed for racking comfortably achieved double-doubles as well as making it difficult for opposing front courts in the Mountain West. But in keeping with the Spartan trend of outgoing transfers at the time, opted to transfer.
Ultimately the 6-10 big man headed to Montana, a dominant big sky program who will count on Steadman to help lead a young group of returning players in Missoula. After finishing 3rd in the Big Sky this past season, the Grizzlies will experience significant roster turnover with the graduations of their top-three scorers. Steadman will have some talented young players around him like sophomore guard Derrick Carter-Hollinger and Josh Vasquez, but will likely have to do a lot of the heavy lifting next season.
Noah Baumann, Redshirt Junior Guard USC (San Jose State)
2018-2019 Stats: 10.8 PPG 2.7 RPG 1.8 APG in 31 games (27 starts)
Baumann’s departure like Steadman’s was a bit expected, but the loss of the 6-6 shooting guard from Phoenix, AZ still hurt the Spartan’s program building efforts. Baumann will suit up for the USC Trojans this fall who are looking to top their conference for the first time in several decades, after a 3rd place finish in a re-surging PAC-12 in Andy Enfield’s 7th season in charge. They’ll be led by the Mobley brothers, but Baumann who sat-out this past season due to NCAA transfer rules will be a part of a blend of talented underclassmen and veteran graduate transfers.
Baumann has the potential to break into the Trojan’s starting lineup on opening night, as Southern California’s strengths lie in their frontcourt. The backcourt will feature Baumann along with sophomores Ethan Anderson, Drake London & graduate transfers Tahj Eaddy & Isaiah White. Though there is some promising young talent & proven veteran transfers to beat out for a starting role, Baumann has the added advantage of being a part of the program for the last year sitting out per transfer rules.
To jump from the basement of the Mountain West to a PAC-12 title contender is a major transition, but Baumann will be one to keep an eye on during those nationally televised games, thanks to potential lottery pick & incoming freshman Evan Mobley.
Joel Ntambwe, Redshirt Sophomore Forward–Texas Tech (UNLV)
2018-2019 Stats: 11.8 PPG 5.5 RPG 0.5 SPG in 31 games (31 starts)
Ntambwe had an impactful freshman year back in 2018-2019, but a change in leadership at UNLV prompted his move out of the Mountain West a little further south in Lubbock, TX. Texas Tech has seen a major ascension nationally in the Chris Beard era, and even though 2019-2020 didn’t mirror the success of 2018-2019’s Final-Four run, Beard has established the program as a Big 12 powerhouse with a high ceiling year in and year out.
Ntambwe was on NBA scout’s radar as a freshman in the desert and will move on to a much bigger stage in the Big 12 this season with an opportunity to showcase his natural talent against some of the nation’s best. Though Ntambwe was a bit of a raw prospect during his time with the Runnin’ Rebels, a year on Chris Beard’s roster preparing for a key role on one of the country’s most talked about programs will benefit him greatly.
The Red Raiders may have finished as a part of one of the more stranger four-way ties for 3rd place (right?) in the Big 12 in recent memory, but continue to bring in countless talented players via the transfer portal and top-100 big boards alike. Ntambwe will need to serve as the glue that helps bring all of this together in Lubbock. Alongside a top-10 nationally ranked recruiting class and several other highly touted prospects, he should do just fine.
Jordan Brown, Redshirt Sophomore Forward–Arizona (Nevada)
2018-2019 Stats: 3.0 PPG 2.1 RPG 0.5 BPG in 33 games (1 start)
Brown arrived in Reno as one of the highest-ranked recruits in Wolf Pack history, which had been a direct correlation to former head coach Eric Musselman‘s successful tenure in the Mountain West before leaving for the SEC. Even though Brown didn’t stick around like some other Musselman era recruits, he played a solid role for a Nevada team that finished the season ranked in the AP top-25, won the regular-season conference championship & made the NCAA tournament as an at-large bid.
Being recruited by newly minted Wolf Pack head coach Steve Alford at UCLA, many expected Brown to stick around and be the star in Alford’s first season back in the Mountain West. Brown opted to transfer to the Pac-12 where many saw him playing his freshman season initially. But his new destination wasn’t in Los Angeles, instead Brown opted to join Sean Miller‘s squad in Tuscon at Arizona.
Arizona will rely heavily on the 6-11 forward as Brown will be one of few experienced big men on the Wildcats roster next season. Chase Jeter and Zeke Nnaji are gone, and there aren’t many other players with experience at this level on next year’s roster besides Ira Lee (13.0 MPG) and Christian Koloko (8.3 MPG).
It’s hard to see players leave your favorite team, especially when they choose to play out their remaining eligibility at another program somewhere in the region like many of the players on this list decided to do. Instead of just opting for professional careers, which can produce a more out of sight out of mind situation.
Ultimately you got to be happy for these young men and stay true to those age old and reused mantras like “Once a (insert mascot here), always a (insert mascot here)”. I plan to keep track of these guys and others, so stay tuned for more Where are they now content as we inch closer to the restart of college sports in the coming months.