By Joe Henricksen
The transfer in high school basketball has become as common to the game here in Illinois as the three-pointer, Division I prospects signing in November and holiday tournament hoopla. But not this year.
Over the past decade the transfer has become a much larger issue, with the number of transfers increasing and certainly the number of high-profile players changing (well, sometimes) addresses. Think about the names that have moved from school to school over the last several years.
Wayne Blackshear from Curie to Morgan Park was the biggest one in the last couple of years. But there were so many others, including Jereme Richmond from North Shore Country Day to Waukegan. Marcus Jordan from Loyola Academy to Whitney Young. Cully Payne from Burlington Central to Schaumburg. Ben Brust from Hersey to Mundelein. Dyricus Simms-Edwards from Peoria Central to Washington. Stan Simpson from Leo to Simeon. Jordan Walker from Champaign to Hales to Seton Academy. D.J. Cooper from Hales to Seton Academy.
How about a few more?
Crandall Head from Rich South to Crane and back to Rich South. Diamond Taylor from St. Joseph to Bolingbrook. Jacob Williams from St. Patrick to Bartlett and back to St. Patrick. Nik Garcia from Niles West to Evanston. Jamie Crockett from Rich Central to Crete-Monee. Brandon Spearman from Hales to Simeon. Terry Johnson from Seton to St. Rita to North Lawndale.
The list goes on and on, but the aforementioned list of players gives an idea of the transfer significance in high school basketball. And this list isn't going back too far.
This season, however, figures to be a little different. There are very few high-profile transfers and the overall numbers of players moving are certainly down in comparison to recent years. The reasons? The economy and poor housing market, maybe? The IHSA cracking down? Kids accepting where they're at? Who knows why the cycle has turned -- for the better, I might add -- but the fact is the move of players will have less of an impact on this upcoming season than in seasons past.
Here is a quick look at the small amount of impact transfers around Illinois.
Michael Orris may be the missing piece at Crete
Perhaps no move was more significant this offseason than junior point guard Michael Orris transferring from Palatine to Crete-Monee. The 6-3 Orris may be just what the doctor ordered for first-year coach Matt Ryndak, who now has Orris, veteran Kentrell King and young sophomore Marvie Keith all capable of providing point guard minutes. But make no mistake, Orris could be the missing piece that propels the Warriors to a new level as he has the makeup, mindset, size and skill to be a difference-maker at the point guard position.
New Trier gets an Angel
The graduation of 6-5 guard Alex Rossi and 6-10 Fred Heldring, who are playing at Cal and William and Mary, respectively, left a void for a New Trier team that won 22 games and a regional title year ago. While New Trier does have a promising junior to build around in rugged 6-7 Connor Boehm, along with some solid young talent in the program, the arrival of transfer Austin Angel is a huge lift. Angel is a strong 6-4 junior guard with scoring ability. Last season as a sophomore at Rockford Boylan he averaged 12.3 points, 2 assists and 2 rebounds a game. Angel's arrival makes New Trier one of the favorites in the CSL South.
Wheaton Academy re-stocks
Star player Tim Rusthoven may have graduated, but Wheaton Academy is in position to repeat in the Suburban Christian Gold with the arrival of two transfers -- scoring guard Wes Koral from Joliet Catholic and athletic 6-3 junior Larry Reynolds from East Aurora. Those two will join returning big man Luke Johnson, a 6-8 senior, to give Wheaton Academy three talented and athletic players.
Downstate impact transfers
The addition of T.J. Bell at Charleston and Travis Britt at Rantoul are simply two players returning home after attending school and playing last season in the state of Indiana. The pair of 2012 standouts are among the top 15 junior prospects in the state. Bell is a 6-8 power forward while Britt is a talented 6-3 combo guard.
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