Posted On: 11/10/18 5:00 AM

Transfers — everyone’s least favorite offseason talking point that people will never shut up about. But, we’re all talking about transfers because in a sport with just five guys on the court for each team, one player can make all the difference.

Of those in the discussion room over the last several months was the Ohio High School Athletic Association (OHSAA). They made significant adjustments to the transfer bylaw, namely moving eligibility into the first half of the season instead of the second half and playoffs. There are several exceptions, all of which you can check out on the OHSAA official website. And, to be honest, we don’t know which of (if any) these players meets those exceptions. So, in putting together the list of Northeast Ohio’s Impact Transfers, we’re working on the assumption that these kids are allowed to play.

Jaelyn Withers (2019), 6’8” W/F [North Mecklenberg, NC → Cleveland Heights] &

Nigel Martin (2019), 6’6” W/F [John Hay → Cleveland Heights]

Cleveland Heights touted a well-rounded roster of 2018 seniors, led by Yahel Hill and Tyreke Smith, last season. After their elimination in the District Tournament, it looked like the Tigers were in for a rebuild. Enter Withers and Martin; so much for a rebuild.

Withers, Ohio’s no. 1 overall 2019 prospect, is a Louisville commit from down South. We can only go off others’ opinion on him, but Withers appears to be a singular talent at his size. While being able to defend the five, he will stretch out his matchup on the other end with athleticism and shooting ability.

Plus, Martin is an athletic forward in his own right. The former John Hay stud has some overlapping skills with his new teammate in terms of rebounding, defending multiple positions, and finishing ability. It will be interesting to track the development of his ball skills for scouts; nonetheless, Martin should be able to play to his strengths alongside Withers, making for maybe the most dominate frontcourt in NEO this year. We really hope they play these two at the four and five, by the way — it would cause havoc for the other team, as they try to matchup with the athleticism. 

VannAubrey Thomas (2019), 6’1” G [St. Vincent-St. Mary → Copley]

After winning a pair of State Championships with the Irish, it’s time for Thomas to showcase his ability in a leading role. He’s a scoring-minded combo guard who is quick off the dribble. Thomas likes to get into the lane and finish with length and creativity. In practice, we imagine that he’s trying to build chemistry with 6’6” forward Sam Emich, a Charleston commit who is very effective in the pick-and-pop.

Kevin Bishop (2019), 6’4” W/F [Shaker Heights → Benedictine]

Bishop has an opportunity to contribute to a potential State Champion team. And the Bengals need his services to get there, considering their void around the basket. Although he showed a lot of promise as a face-up four in July with All Oho Black, expect Bishop to defend the five and focus on rebounding for Bene. They’ll need him to bring a physical edge inside when it comes time to play teams like VASJ and Lake Catholic in the Regional Tournament.

Anthony Maxie (2020), 6’4” F [Benedictine → Richmond Heights]

Maxie’s departure from Benedictine is part of Bishop’s importance. In Maxie, they lost an electric leaper who is primed for a specific role as a rebounder and rim protector. Although thin, Maxie has a presence around the rim because of his vertical. At Richmond Heights, Maxie will likely be a starter and very important player for the Division IV State Championship hopefuls. He’s also fast enough to get out in transition and defend wings. Maxie is also an excellent screener and it just so happens that teammates Curtis Houston and Gbolahan Adio like to attack in the pick-and-roll. 

Tevin Jackson (2020), 5’9” PG [St. Ignatius → Cleveland Central Catholic]

Jackson is a player we didn’t get to see at all this summer. So, based on his Ignatius days, CCC’s up-tempo brand of basketball is more suitable to Jackson’s game. He’s very effective when he’s able to get out in transition, finishing well with either hand at the basket. Jackson is flat-out fast, also. Excellent defensive instincts. Although size could limit him as a prospect, Jackson is an quality high school point guard.

Devin Hightower (2020), 6’1” G [St. Edward → Hoban]

The two-sport athlete (football) should finally assert himself on the NEO basketball scene after waiting his turn the last two years at Ed’s. He didn’t play a ton of grassroots ball this summer, but we know Hightower to be an excellent mid-range scorer. He’s very crafty off the dribble, although too often unassertive as a scorer. The powerful athlete can defend on the perimeter very well.

Brenton Walker (2021), 6’6” F [ Wayne → Canton McKinley]

Walker, along with classmate Kobe Johnson, is a key to the McKinley rebuild after a couple seasons of mediocrity. In the Dayton-area transfer, they’ve acquired a sophomore man-child. The powerfully-built Walker is the most imposing athlete in the 2021 class statewide. He rebounds and finishes with authority while being mobile enough to run the floor and switch onto guards. If he becomes more comfortable shooting and/or putting it on the floor, he could rise up Division I recruiting boards across the region.

Colin Albert (2021), 5’11” PG [Beachwood → Lutheran East],

Sirr Hughes (2021), 5’11” G [Beachwood → Lutheran East] &

Jalin Billingsley (2021), 6’7” W/F [Western Reserve → Lutheran East]

From Beachwood, our preseason no. 1 team in Division IV receives a pair of quick guards who will headline their backcourt for three years. Both are able to create their own shot with their shifty handle and finishing ability. They will also need to find their teammates, like classmate 6’4” guard EJ Farmer, a pure scorer.

Billingsley, meanwhile, we’re told will have to sit out significant time this season. In the years to come, he has the potential to develop into an inside-outside scoring threat that will be recruited at the Division I level.