Ohio State Buckeyes land Penn State transfer, Cincinnati native Evan Mahaffey
The final piece of Ohio State’s 2023-24 roster is set.
Evan Mahaffey, a Cincinnati native who played his first season of college basketball at Penn State, has transferred to Ohio State with three years of eligibility remaining. A 6-6, 200-pound wing with a 6-11 wingspan, Mahaffey appeared in 34 games for the Nittany Lions and averaged 2.8 points and 1.7 rebounds per game while shooting 56.9% in an average of 9.4 minutes per appearance.
"Ohio State, I really like their system," Mahaffey told The Dispatch. "I like what they do developing players. That’s a big part of my future, my development, and getting to that next step, next phase of my game. I feel like I can do that very well at Ohio State. If you look at the players that have gone through and the players they’ve put in the league, just how much better the players get throughout the years, I feel like you see a common pattern.
"It’s closer to home, too, which is nice. I think I have a really big opportunity over there where I can thrive on that stage."
A product of Cincinnati Moeller, Mahaffey was a three-star prospect in the class of 2022 who held offers from Cincinnati, West Virginia and Kansas State, among others. He signed with the Nittany Lions as the No. 3 prospect from Ohio, No. 130 nationally, and the No. 30 small forward in his class according to the 247Sports.com rankings. As a senior at Moeller, Mahaffey averaged 15.7 points, 7.1 rebounds, 3.1 assists and 1.6 blocks per game and shot 63.8% to earn first-team Division I all-state honors.
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He was a finalist for the Ohio Mr. Basketball award and was named conference player of the year as a senior after earning first-team all-conference honors as a junior. He was named the conference’s defensive player of the year in 2020-21 and projects as a two-way player in college.
"I think they see me as a playmaker but being able to do multiple things," he said. "Being able to defend multiple positions is a big part to being able to come and make an impact right away. That’s a big thing I was looking for as well. Being able to develop and get to where I know my game can get and then eventually help them get to a Final Four; a national championship really is the thing we’re looking for and really excited about. Big Ten championships and all that, yes sir."
Mahaffey is the third player to transfer into the Ohio State program and the second from within the Big Ten. He joins Minnesota forward Jamison Battle and Baylor guard Dale Bonner, both of whom will be in their final seasons of college basketball.
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A versatile forward, Mahaffey will likely help provide depth alongside incoming first-year players Scotty Middleton and Devin Royal. Should Mahaffey want to transfer a second time, he would have to sit out a year under current NCAA rules, making him a player who will likely provide some roster stability for the Buckeyes.
He's already familiar with some members of the roster including Bowen Hardman, a guard from Cincinnati Princeton who will be entering his second season. They spent some time together during Mahaffey's visit and were teammates during their younger years, he said.
"I spent some time with him and Felix (Okpara) as well," Mahaffey said. "They're really good guys. Being able to talk to them and see how they like the staff and like it there, they both had great things to say about it."
In one game against Ohio State last season, Mahaffey had 4 points, three rebounds and an assist while playing 19 minutes in a 75-71 win at Value City Arena on Feb. 23.
Notre Dame, led by former Penn State coach Micah Shrewsberry, was recruiting Mahaffey. Penn State, now under new coach Mike Rhoades, and Dayton were recruiting Mahaffey as well.
Ohio State assistant coach Jack Owens was Mahaffey’s primary recruiter with the Buckeyes. Owens was the head coach at Miami (Ohio) from 2017-18 through 2021-22 before joining the Buckeyes, and Mahaffey’s father, Jamie, played for the Redhawks from 1991-95 and averaged 9.5 points and 6.5 rebounds in 122 career games including 60 starts.
"My dad knows some of the coaches on the staff a little bit because my dad has played and some of those guys were coaching," Mahaffey said. "There was some familiarity."
His addition gives Ohio State the maximum of 13 players on scholarship for 2023-24. Brice Sensabaugh, a projected first-round NBA pick after one season with the Buckeyes, has not made an official announcement on his future plans but is unlikely to return for a second season.
How the Ohio State roster stands:
Sixth year: Jamison Battle, Dale BonnerFourth year: Zed KeyThird year: Kalen EtzlerSecond year: Roddy Gayle Jr., Bowen Hardman, Mahaffey, Felix Okpara, Bruce ThorntonFirst year: Taison Chatman, Scotty Middleton, Austin Parks, Devin Royal