Out of State Transfers Hit Michigan Hard

5 Aug

mhsaa_logoSince the 2013-2014 school year ended, there have been a total of six out-of state transfers who have decided to leave Michigan and continue their basketball careers elsewhere.  An underlying theme throughout many of the player’s decision’s to transfer was the problem of gaining greater exposure opportunities on the national stage.  Other states are more lenient towards allowing their member athletic institution schools to compete on the national level, traveling greater than 300 miles, having 30-40 game seasons, and playing on TV such as ESPN and CBS Sports, which are the basis of many programs across the country.  However, all of which have been banned in Michigan, influencing many of Michigan’s best to finish their high school careers elsewhere.

Billy Thomas, a former 2016 point guard at University of Detroit Jesuit, was the first to announce he was leaving on June 18th, roughly two weeks when classes ended of U of D.  Thomas, by many whom would agree as one of the state’s top shooting guards for the rising junior class, will attend Genesis Academy, a prep school in Lynchburg, Virginia, and reclassify to the class of 2017.

The next out of state transfer hit Michigan the hardest, as the number one player in the class of 2016 according to Rivals.com, Josh Jackson, will not return to Detroit Consortium next season, instead returning to his home state of California, to attend Justin-Siena High School on July 10th.  Jackson, a member of 1Nation 17U and also of National Team USA 17u, received his first collegiate offers in July, coming from Arizona, Michigan State, Auburn, and Kansas.

Only five days later, Flint Southwestern rising senior wing Jaire Grayer stated in an interview with MLive’s Eric Woodyard, he will not return to Flint City to complete his final year of high school eligibility.  Despite after successful AAU stints with The Family and Michigan Mustangs receiving offers from Cleveland State, Oakland, U of D Mercy, Eastern Michigan, Buffalo, Texas-Arlington, and Bowling Green.  According to the interview with MLive, Grayer is considering Sunrise Christian Academy in Kansas, or IMG Academy in Florida.  Grayer is now the second division one caliber kid to leave Southwestern, as prior to last season, Miles Bridges, ranked by many National recruiting sites as a top 20 prospect in 2016, left to attend Huntington Prep in West Virginia.

Less than two weeks later, former Southfield Christian 2015 guard Bakari Evelyn tweeted he will play his senior year at Gilbert Christian in Arizona,  Gilbert Christian is coached by former Detroit Country Day head coach, Kurt Keener, winner of nine state titles for the Yellow Jackets, while producing NBA stars such as Chris Webber and Shane Battier.  Evelyn won three straight Class D state titles with the Eagles, and has a offer from Oakland.

On July 30th, the most surprising of the six transfers came way from Detroit Cass Tech, when class of 2017 Donnie Tillman announced via his Twitter account, he will attend the prestigious Findlay Prep in Henderson, Nevada next year.  Tillman was just coming off a Summer in which he received three collegiate offers, Cleveland State, Iowa State, and UNLV, and was top 5 prospect for his class in the state.

The last of the six transfers was rising senior Tariiq Jones, who will attend Deon Sander’s Prime Prep Academy in Dallas, Texas.  Jones was a integral member of Mt. Clemens district and regional championships from a year ago.  However, when head coach Jermaine Jackson was fired, and rumors of the school closing all together, it was time for Jones to move on.  Tariiq earned his first offer from Division 1 Fairfield after playing in July for 1Nation.

These student-athletes aren’t the first or the last to follow the out-of state transfer route, but what can Michigan do to prevent the mass exodus from continuing?  It’s good kids want to play against the so-called “top players in the country” on a regular basis in front of the premier college programs in America, thus why AAU and travel basketball is popular the way it is today.  However, high school ball is still important and should be valued just the same as AAU.  Michigan is heading towards a long deemed unavoidable crisis which for years has been brewing but is now just beginning to gain greater and greater attention.  If no action is done by the MHSAA to prevent transferring out of state, the once storied reputation and image of basketball in Michigan will begin to deteriorate into pieces, one transfer at a time.

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