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What addition of Penn State transfer Evan Mahaffey means for Buckeyes

4 min read
What addition of Penn State transfer Evan Mahaffey means for Buckeyes

COLUMBUS — The Ohio State 2023-24 roster looks to be complete. With Wednesday’s addition of Penn State transfer wing Evan Mahaffey, the Buckeyes have hit the 13-scholarship limit.

Mahaffey is the third transfer player head coach Chris Holtmann and his staff has brought aboard this offseason. The 6-foot-6, 200-pound Cincinnati native has three years of eligibility remaining.

He’s returning to his home state after being part of a Nittany Lions squad that was the Big Ten Tournament runner-ups and made the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2010-11.

Mahaffey hopes to help Ohio State return to March Madness after missing out on The Dance for the first time since 2016-17 and posting a losing record for the first time since 2003-04.

Lettermen Row is breaking down what the soon-to-be second-year wing brings to the table, plus what his transfer means for the Buckeyes.

We have a clear picture of what the 2023-24 Buckeyes look like

Lettermen Row has created a projected Ohio State scholarship chart. (Andy Backstrom/Lettermen Row)

Ohio State now has 13 scholarship players on its roster for next season: four freshmen, six sophomores (counting redshirt sophomore Kalen Etzler) and three seniors/graduate students.

The only potential change on the horizon could be if Brice Sensabaugh decides to withdraw his name from the NBA Draft and return to Columbus for his sophomore season. That, however, seems unlikely, given that Sensabaugh — who led Ohio State with 16.3 points per game last season — is widely projected as a first-round pick.

Mahaffey’s transfer marked the Buckeyes’ third portal addition of the offseason. Ohio State also reeled in former Minnesota forward Jamison Battle and former Baylor guard Dale Bonner. The Buckeyes had three scholarship transfers last year, too: guards Sean McNeil (West Virginia), Isaac Likekele (Oklahoma State) and Tanner Holden (Wright State). McNeil and Likekele graduated, and Holden has entered the portal and is looking for a new destination to spend his final year of eligibility.

Owen Spencer was technically a scholarship transfer for part of last season. Spencer, a forward from The Citadel, joined the Buckeyes as a preferred walk-on ahead of the 2022-23 campaign and wound up earning a scholarship midseason. The Buckeyes had one to give after forward Seth Towns retired in September, following a string of injury-riddled seasons. It was a special moment for Spencer and a recognition of his work on the scout team.

But Spencer no longer being on scholarship freed up an extra slot for Ohio State, which helped Holtmann get Battle, Bonner and Mahaffey in the portal.

Evan Mahaffey gives the Buckeyes positional flexibility

Mahaffey made an impact on the defensive end of the floor for Penn State last season, drawing praise from then-head coach Micah Shrewsberry. He also pulled down four or more rebounds in five games last season, including at Northwestern, where he grabbed an offensive board that led to Cam Wynter’s overtime game-winner on March 1.

Mahaffey has great length and athleticism, both of which helped him see the court as a freshman on a veteran-heavy Penn State team last season. But Mahaffey averaged only 9.3 minutes, 2.8 points and 1.7 rebounds per game. He did shoot 56.9% from the field, though, and recorded six-plus points seven times. Mahaffey played fewer than 20 minutes in six of those seven outings, and he tallied a season-high 12 points in a mere 13 minutes of action during a Jan. 11 win over Indiana.

Mahaffey did a bit of everything at Archbishop Moeller, where he emerged as the sixth-best prospect in Ohio, according to the On3 Industry Ranking. He averaged 15.7 points, 7.1 rebounds, 3.1 assists and 1.6 blocks per game as a senior while becoming a finalist for 2022 Ohio Mr. Basketball. He can play the point, but, with his frame, he can guard shooting guards and forwards, too.

Holtmann likes having players similar to Mahaffey, who offer positional flexibility, particularly on the defensive end of the floor, hence why Likekele and Eugene Brown III played the roles they did last year despite their offensive limitations.

Ohio State’s sophomore class grows even larger

The Buckeyes have a chance for some much-needed continuity in the years to come, in large part thanks to a budding sophomore class, which will make up a good chunk of the scholarship roster next season. Mahaffey is now part of a group of rising sophomores that features point guard and captain Bruce Thornton, guard Roddy Gayle Jr. and center Felix Okpara. Sensabaugh, of course, is in that class, too, but he’s NBA-bound.

Mahaffey has three years of eligibility remaining, so he should be sticking around at Ohio State for a while, especially considering that if he wanted to transfer a second time, he’d have to sit out a year according to current NCAA rules.

Mahaffey’s longevity lends itself to helping the Buckeyes fortify a sustainable core, something that’s hard to come by in today’s college basketball.

The post What addition of Penn State transfer Evan Mahaffey means for Buckeyes appeared first on On3.

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