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Transfer Troves

A series of recent high school basketball transfers in the New York City area could have a significant impact on the upcoming season.

At the start of the school year, we reported on some of the noteworthy transfers that had occurred during the summer recess. Since that time, several additional transfers have come to light that are likely to have an immediate impact.

According to, senior KC Ndefo has transferred from Elmont High School in Nassau County to Abraham Lincoln in Brooklyn. Last year, as a junior, Ndefo led Elmont to its second straight Nassau County Class A title. Lincoln is the defending PSAL AA and New York State Federation AA Champion. 

Sophomore Jaylen Murray announced that he transferred from Wings Academy to Cardinal Hayes, both in the Bronx. Hayes is the defending CHSAA AA City Champ and Murray has already had an impact, scoring 25 points and netting eight 3-pointers for the Cardinals in Tru-Ballaz action last Thursday.

Sophomore Quaran McPherson has transferred from The Patrick School in New Jersey to Christ the King, adding depth to a roster that already boasts junior Kofi Cockburn and senior Tyson Walker.

St. Francis Prep has bolstered its roster with Cassidy Roberts, a junior transfer from Long Island Lutheran, and Jeanna Cunningham, a sophomore transfer from Brentwood in Suffolk County. The Lady Terriors already have a national prospect in senior Emily Engstler, who was recently ranked 11th in the espnW top 100. The additions could put St. Francis Prep in a position to challenge the likes of The Mary Louis Academy, Monsignor Scanlan and Christ the King.

Under applicable transfer eligibility guidelines, Ndefo, Murray, McPherson, Roberts and Cunningham will all be eligible to suit up for their new schools this season.

Transfer eligibility in New York is governed by a patchwork of regulations promulgated by the PSAL, the NYSPHSAA, the CHSAA and the NYSAISAA. With the exception of the NYSAISAA, each association generally requires that transfers from schools within the same association (i.e. intra-association transfers) sit for one year. As an example, Engstler had to sit her sophomore year after transferring to St. Francis Prep from Christ the King. On the other hand, transfers to another association (i.e. inter-association transfers) are, as a general matter, immediately eligible. All of the transfers referenced above fall into this latter category.

There are nuances. For PSAL and NYSPHSAA intra-association transfers, players who have a bona fide change of residence are still eligible. In the CHSAA, inter-association transfers are ineligible if they transfer in their senior year. 

The restrictions are not new (even Chris Mullin had to sit a year after transferring from Power Memorial to Xaverian), but there have been tweaks in recent years.

In 2014, the CHSAA, facing declining enrollment, decided to grant immediate eligibility to PSAL transfers, except in their senior year. Prior to this change, transfers from the CHSAA into the PSAL were immediately eligible, but not vice versa.

Also in 2014, the NYSPHSAA took a step in the other direction, eliminating its educational hardship waiver, an exception for transfers to schools offering coursework not available at the prior school. Several private and charter schools sued to challenge, but the courts sided with the NYSPHSAA, validating its concerns over recruiting and athletic shopping. Interestingly, according to the producer of the recent ESPN 30-for-30 film "Baltimore Boys," Muggsy Bogues took advantage of a similar loophole to gain eligibility after transferring to Dunbar back in the 1980s.

Transfer eligibility has become a hot topic in college basketball. The NCAA is considering a proposal that would make all transfers immediately eligible, subject to unspecified academic criteria. That proposal sparked a heated debate, with some fearing that it would open the floodgates and result in a free-for-all.

The other side of the coin is that, as students, players should be able to play wherever they like so long as they are performing in the classroom. From the perspective of the high school student-athlete, they have just four precious years to attract the attention of college coaches. The right platform can be crucial in that endeavor. Taking a year of eligibility away is a fairly drastic measure that should not be minimized. 


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