Moving often in HS hoops

The recent sports headlines got me thinking.

With so many U.S. Open stories and TV broadcasts, it was impossible to avoid the mention of "moving day," PGA golf slang used to describe Saturday.

The golf stories were mixed in with tidbits on other moves, these involving talented high school basketball players like Adrian Hubbard (Peachtree Ridge to Norcross) and DeVonta White (Central Gwinnett to Centennial). High school athletes don't have a "moving day" like golfers. But, especially in high school basketball, any day can be called that.

The frequency of transfers - and the typically high-profiled players involved - have changed the landscape of prep basketball in Georgia. If you aren't stocking up on transfers, you aren't winning a state title. At least that's the situation in Class AAAAA boys.

Since the 1997-98 basketball season (and before), there hasn't a been boys team win in Georgia's largest class that didn't have the help of a transfer or transfers.

Norcross' past three titles have been fueled by move-ins like Jodie Meeks, Gani Lawal and Al-Farouq Aminu. But it took that for someone to overcome the transfer talent pool at Wheeler, which won state in 2002, 2003 and 2005.

South Gwinnett's 2004 title team relied heavily on Mike Mercer, who transferred to join his buddy Louis Williams. Berkmar's back-to-back champions in 2000 and 2001 also featured transfers.

People want to blame the coaches, claiming they use illegal tactics to get move-ins. I'm sure some do and some don't, but if a family wants to move from Apartment A in a lesser program's district to Apartment B in the Norcross or Wheeler district, that's a pretty easy choice for a high school hoops star.

Most of the recruiting is done by kids who talk their AAU teammates into playing high school ball with them. It's why Worldwide Renegades AAU players move to Wheeler and Georgia Stars AAU players do the same at Norcross.

What's left is a good program like Central Gwinnett that could be building a state title contender around Richard Howell (who left for Wheeler before last season) and White. Instead, coach David Allen's team is on the wrong side of the transfer power shift.

Policing the legitimacy of transfers is tough, so the best solution for the Georgia High School Association is to take a hard stance.

Make transfer students ineligible for athletics for a year.

That would slow down the moves considerably.

Until then, we're going to see high school sports' moving day. Every day.

Will Hammock can be reached via e-mail at will.hammock@gwinnettdailypost.com. His column appears on Thursdays.