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The disturbing trend of reclassification of high school basketball transfers

VJ King is just the next player in line to transfer by reclassifying
VJ King is just the next player in line to transfer by reclassifyingwww.plaindealer.com, courtesy of Scott Shaw

The recruiting process, and its incessant need to get players has taken a new twist. This time however, the NCAA is not to blame. In what has become a growing concern with high school athletes, the idea of transferring to an out of state school for one's junior or senior year is becoming almost commonplace.

And it's really getting a bit out of control

Here in Northeast Ohio, we are even seeing our fair share of it. It the last month, three of the top players in the area have announced that they will be leaving the teams they had played on last year, and will instead head to power basketball programs out of state. Now, every situation is different, and there are many sides to each story. Before anyone judges the kids for doing what they are doing, maybe we should take a look at them on an individual basis:

V.J. King.... He was called the next Lebron when he arrived on the Akron St.Vincent-St.Mary campus two years ago as a freshman. He played JV basketball as a sixth grader and varsity basketball as an eighth grader. In his two years with the Irish, King led them to back-to-back state finals appearances. He is currently ranked as the 18th best player in the Class of 2016 by Rivals.com. Last Thursday, it was announced that King is transferring to Paul VI high school in Virginia for his junior year.

Omari Spellman.... The "man-child". Led North Royalton to two of its most successful seasons in school history. Came to North Royalton from New York as a freshman. He is currently receiving Division I college offers, his latest being from the University of Florida. He is currently ranked as the 24th best player in the Class of 2016 by Rivals.com. On June 16th of this year, it was announced that Spellman would be transferring to MacDuffie School in Massachussets.

Craig Randall.... The "do-everything" guard transferred from Girard and played at Medina High School last season. He is one of the rising seniors, not only in the state of Ohio, but in the country. He averaged over 20 points a game last season for the Bees. On June 9th, it was announced that Randall would be playing his senior year at Shadow Mountain High School in Phoenix, Arizona, whose head coach just so happens to be former NBA player Mike Bibby.

You might be asking yourself, WHY would these kids transfer to out-of-state schools for basketball reasons? They could very well be for legitimate reasons, like Craig Randall Sr. finding a job in Phoenix and his son following him out there to live with him. Or, in the cases of King and Spellman, taking advantage of something called "reclassifying".

Think of it as the the same thing as "redshirting" in college

The theory behind reclassification is for kids to catch up on their academics, by changing their projected graduation year back one year, or "reclassifying" to that year. A freshman in high school that may be struggling academically could then "reclassify", and instead of graduating in 2017, he or she would be graduating in 2018. These kids aren't necessarily "held back" a grade, it is choice they make. Unfortunately, it is becoming a huge trend now in athletics, with athletes thinking that their chance of a Division I offer for the sport they play is the ultimate goal. While there may not be anything wrong with that line of thinking, it does give the impression that these "vagabond" players aren't the most loyal. Start with the example of Omari Spellman mentioned above.

Spellman came to North Royalton during his "freshman" year from New York, where he attended two schools in New York the previous year. He was listed as a freshman at the first school, but at the second year, he was listed as an eighth grader. It was obvious that he had reclassified. What this brought up was an interesting issue of how eligible Spellman would be to play when he was a senior. Why? Because, according to the OHSAA requirements, each student athlete is allowed eight semesters of athletic play. Spellman was "deemed" a freshman when he entered North Royalton, so, with one of the high schools in New York saying he was a freshman before he transferred, he would have been ineligible to play as a senior, as the eight semesters would have been used up after his junior year.

The situation with V.J. King is very similar to what has gone on with Spellman. It was obvious that King had reclassified before coming to St.Vincent-St.Mary, so he also would have had questions on weather or not he would have been eligible his senior year. By transferring out-of-state, he can start at Paul VI as a junior.

One common trait with these reclassification cases, and why kids can actually get away with doing something like this, is because in most cases, they are transferring from a public school to a private school. Credits from public schools don't always transfer over to private schools, and PRESTO!, you can now repeat a grade and reclassify.

Reclassification is already taking place at the middle school and grade school level regarding a kid's athletic future. While trying to project your child's athletic ability as young as second grade sounds a bit silly (it IS silly), there is one case where reclassification really does make sense:

Injury

Say a kid blows out his or her ACL, and has to miss the sports seasons of his or her junior year. This athlete has shown some potential before the injury, improving at a fast pace, and colleges were beginning to notice. Wouldn't it be fair to the athlete to allow them to reclassify and have a chance at playing two more years? I think it is

This is what high school sports has gotten to. A year round showcase for vagabond kids, being meddled and manipulated like pieces of meat at a cattle call. While no one can blame parents for wanting what is best for their kids, and taking advantage of an extra year of high school....

It just doesn't feel right, now does it?