Alonzo Gaffney’s transfer from Garfield Heights, Ohio, to Brewster Academy in New Hampshire for his senior season has been finalized, his father Kevin Gaffney told The Dispatch.
The move, which has been the subject of speculation for weeks since rumors surfaced in June that the five-star Ohio State verbal commitment for 2019 was considering leaving the state, came from a desire to give Alonzo Gaffney the best preparation possible for him to get to Ohio State and become an immediate impact player.
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“I just felt that being in the big city, along with getting all this exposure that he needed to go somewhere where he could really focus both academically and on the basketball court,” Kevin Gaffney said. “I had just heard such great things about them, so I reached out to them and they were familiar with Alonzo. I thought that it would be a great opportunity for him, especially for his last year, to try and get his body right. It’s a boarding school and they’re really big on weight lifting and nutrition and stuff like that there.”
A 6-8, 185-pound power forward who is ranked as the No. 24 recruit in the nation by ESPN, Gaffney began his prep career at Villa Angela-St. Joseph in Cleveland before transferring to Garfield Heights for his junior season. There, under coach Sonny Johnson, Gaffney continued to climb in the recruiting rankings while playing in front of the likes of LeBron James.
But the decision to transfer to Brewster Academy was something Gaffney’s father said was a significant possibility even before going to Garfield Heights.
“I thought about it last year, me, Alonzo and his mom,” he said. “But the prep schools we looked at like Huntington Prep and there were some other small ones, I just didn’t feel comfortable with them. If I would have known about Brewster Academy last year, because I did reach out to a couple schools like IMG and Montverde but I never got a response. I got a response from Brewster and we decided to make that move.”
Gaffney’s father said he spoke with Cleveland native JaKarr Sampson, who played at Brewster Academy before attending St. John’s and ultimately spending parts of three years in the NBA, about his experiences there. Ohio State coach Chris Holtmann, who can’t publicly comment on Alonzo Gaffney until he officially signs a letter-of-intent this November, has said that he supports players both remaining at their schools or transferring to academies. Alonzo Gaffney is the first five-star Ohioan to commit to the Buckeyes since Jared Sullinger in 2010.
Kevin Gaffney said he didn’t consult much with Holtmann on this specific decision.
“My thing with coach Holtmann is that you’ll have my son the next four years if he’s there for four years,” he said. “This was a decision that me and Alonzo and his mom thought about. We thought about it last year, but we weren’t comfortable with the schools we were looking at. This year is going to fly by and before you know it you’re driving two hours down to Columbus. This may just help him out tremendously. It’s going to be like in practice: you can’t take a day off. He’s going to be competitive at practice and they play in big-time tournaments where the level of competition is a lot higher.”
The move will remove Gaffney from considering for Ohio’s Mr. Basketball award. He had been considered a front-runner for the honor, but that did not weigh heavily on his decision either.
“That Mr. Basketball title didn’t really mean a lot to him,” Kevin Gaffney said. “What meant more to him was trying to be a McDonald’s All-American, going down to Ohio State, helping them go really far in the tournament and becoming an All-American down there and hopefully fulfilling his dream of going to the NBA. It’s like, sure, your chance of being Mr. Basketball is so high it’s ridiculous, but he just wants to get better as a player.”
Alonzo Gaffney will start at Brewster Academy on Sept. 6.