Ohio State will open its 2019-20 men's basketball season by hosting Cincinnati for the first time in nearly 98 years. The Buckeyes and Bearcats will meet Nov. 6 in Value City Arena, marking only the 12th time the in-state programs have met and the second time in as many years that they’ve played each other within state lines after having not done so since 1921. In preparation for the start of the season, The Dispatch is counting down with power rankings for each member of the Ohio State roster.
These rankings are an educated guess at which players will have the most significant on-court impact during the course of the season.
No. 9: Alonzo Gaffney
Height/weight: 6 feet 9 / 198 pounds
Jersey number: 0
Background: A native of the Cleveland area, Gaffney began his prep career at Villa Angela-St. Joseph, where he played his first two seasons before transferring to nearby Garfield Heights for his junior season. A five-star prospect at the time and the top overall Ohioan in the class of 2019, Gaffney considered a run at Ohio Mr. Basketball as a senior but opted to transfer to Wolfeboro (New Hampshire) Brewster Academy for his final year of high school. As a sophomore, Gaffney averaged 14.6 points and 6.9 rebounds per game while helping lead VASJ to a Division III state title. At Garfield Heights, he averaged 18.2 points, nine rebounds and four blocks per game. He was a four-star recruit and the No. 50 player in the nation per the 247Sports.com composite rankings.
2018-19 stats: Gaffney averaged 10 points per game and a team-high six rebounds per game.
Need to know: His father, Kevin, played basketball for Cincinnati. Gaffney has a 7-foot-4 wingspan. He was voted the second-best dunker on the team in an anonymous poll of his teammates. ESPN included him in a 2021 NBA mock draft. Gaffney is six days older than junior teammate Musa Jallow, who graduated high school in three years.
2018-19 recap: The year away from home brought some ups and downs. The level of competition was higher than what he would have experienced staying at Garfield Heights, and Gaffney found himself struggling to score for stretches of the season. At one point, he went scoreless in consecutive games, leading to a sit-down meeting with coach Jason Smith to remind him that a player of Gaffney’s caliber shouldn’t ever go that long without scoring. He played more consistent basketball from that point and helped Brewster Academy win a national championship, grabbing 16 rebounds during one tournament win. He was selected to play in the Jordan Brand Classic, a national all-star game.
2019-20 outlook: Gaffney brings all the physical tools to be a major player for the Buckeyes. With his length, athleticism and explosiveness, he can be among the most impactful offensive players from the moment he takes the court. The qualifier, though, is that he has to figure out how to play at a high level for a consistent length of time while also maturing as rapidly as possible. He was recruited to be able to play alongside classmate E.J. Liddell and presents a different profile, one that coach Chris Holtmann likened to Big Ten player of the year Keita Bates-Diop — provided that he can be patient while he matures and develops.
“He obviously presents a tremendous physical, tangible self: length and size and the ability to move at his size is really good,” Holtmann said. “I think the biggest thing is the challenge for him has always been the consistency of his effort and his play. I think that’s the exciting thing for us, to be able to attack that.”
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