Ohio State freshman Alonzo Gaffney is leaving Ohio State and his next step is unknown, The Dispatch has confirmed.
At one time a five-star recruit from the Cleveland area, Gaffney was the first member of Ohio State’s class of 2019 and signaled that coach Chris Holtmann was making in-roads in his in-state recruiting efforts.
At the time of his commitment, Gaffney was rated the No. 3 power forward in the nation and the No. 18 overall prospect in the country. He also held offers from Michigan State, Kansas and Florida, among others.
His father, Kevin Gaffney, told The Dispatch on Sunday that while Gaffney will leave the university after finishing his spring semester, whether he transfers to another school or pursues a professional career has not been decided. Sources have told The Dispatch that the decision between Ohio State and Gaffney was mutual between the player and the program.
“He’s not wanted down there,” he said. “It’s a shame they would treat an Ohio kid like that. That’s real tough for him, especially mentally. He’s finishing spring semester, and I talked to the compliance office about the transfer protocol. We’ll leave our options open.”
Rumors of Gaffney signing with an agent or turning pro are untrue, his father said.
“That’s just a rumor,” he said. “He’s going to finish this semester up and go from there.”
With his departure, Ohio State is down to maximum roster capacity for the 2020-21 season. The Buckeyes also lost freshman D.J. Carton on Thursday, then added Harvard graduate transfer Seth Towns on Saturday night.
When he committed, Gaffney was the highest-rated player to pledge to the Buckeyes since D’Angelo Russell was the No. 16 national recruit in 2014. Gaffney had just completed his first season at Garfield Heights, after spending his first two high school seasons at Cleveland’s Villa Angela-St. Joseph. But after his lone season at Garfield Heights, Gaffney transferred again, this time to Wolfeboro (New Hampshire) Brewster Academy, where he sought better competition to prepare himself for college.
The results were mixed. Surrounded by other high-level talent, Gaffney averaged 10 points and a team-leading 6 rebounds per game but struggled to find consistency. At one point, he had a sit-down meeting with coach Jason Smith after Gaffney had put together consecutive scoreless games. You can read an in-depth look at his senior season by clicking here.
When he arrived at Ohio State, Gaffney was a four-star recruit who was rated No. 47 nationally and No. 12 at his position. He briefly participated in the voluntary Kingdom Summer League, then reported to camp looking to carve out a role on this year’s roster.
“It felt like a dream come true,” Gaffney said after playing 14 minutes, scoring five points and grabbing one rebound in an Oct. 30 exhibition win against Cedarville. “I grew up being a Buckeye fan. To be here felt surreal. Just glad to play with my brothers. It’s a special group and glad we got to play together and play well.”
He did not play in the season opener, a 64-56 win against Cincinnati, his father’s alma mater. Gaffney then played in nine of Ohio State’s next 10 games, seeing a season-high 18 minutes in a 90-57 home win against Morgan State on Nov. 29.
As the Buckeyes reached Big Ten play, though, his role diminished. Gaffney appeared in nine of 20 Big Ten games, totaling 27 minutes of action. He scored four points and did not grab a rebound. For the season, he averaged 1.8 points and 1.4 rebounds in 6.7 minutes per game while making 17 appearances.
He was not with the team for the final four games of the season for reasons that have not been disclosed.