Getting riled up about transfers? While the numbers of transfers has been trending up over the past 10 years with little anyone one can do to slow it down — as the Hoops Report delved into in a previous transfer blog — it’s obviously been going on for decades.
In addition to the many high-profile transfers the Chicago area has witnessed in recent years, some of the biggest names in Illinois prep basketball history have changed schools at some point in their career. In fact, I might be able to put together an All-Transfer team and play with — and beat — the All-I-Stayed-At-One-High-School-For-4-Years Team.
The six uber-talented, high-profile transfers listed below are the six the Hoops Report believes made the biggest impact. All six were McDonald’s All-Americans at their new school, with four winning Mr. Basketball their senior year. All six took their team to state at least once, with three winning state championships.
Were there six bigger transfers in state history that made a more monumental impact on the prep game than these six?
Kevin Garnett (Mauldin to Farragut)
There was no bigger transfer than this one back in the mid-1990s. Can you imagine the likes of KG, the top prep player in the country, arriving in Chicago today for his senior year? He wasn’t just the best player in the country; he was ELECTRIC!!!!!! (Yes, that deserved six exclamation points.) For a guy like me who sits in gyms all winter long, it would be orgasmic.
During the summer before his senior year, Garnett was involved and in the middle of a racially-charged incident in South Carolina. Garnett soon left Mauldin High for Chicago. And one of the biggest shows in Chicago prep basketball history began. He led Farragut to a 28-2 record and a trip to Champaign. He was Mr. Basketball and the National High School Player of the Year by USA Today. He was MVP of the McDonald’s All-American Game and, a few months later, the No. 5 pick in the 1995 NBA Draft. And Garnett began the preps-to-pros wave, becoming the first player to be drafted directly out of high school since 1975.
The nickname “The Freak” is thrown around easily these days. In Illinois high school basketball, KG was the original — and probably still the only — freak. That size, length, gracefulness, skill and athleticism all rolled into one highly-charged body and competitive spirit? We only had him for one year in Illinois, but to this day, he’s the best and most dominant high school player the Hoops Report has ever watched play in Illinois.
Marcus Liberty (Crane to King)
Most people forget Liberty began his career at Crane. He transferred to King in the fall of his sophomore year after leading the Cougars to a sophomore city title as a freshman. While at King, the 6-8, multi-skilled Liberty became one of the iconic prep players in state history. He helped lead King to a state title as a junior. In four state tournament games during his senior year, which resulted in a state runner-up finish, he poured in remarkable 143 points as the No. 1 ranked player in the country.
Shaun Livingston (Peoria Richwoods to Peoria Central)
This transfer certainly changed the landscape of high school basketball in Illinois a decade ago. And though then-Richwoods coach Bob Darling always seemed to take the high road, it was controversial in Peoria. Livingston’s arrival at Peoria Central for his junior year ultimately led the Lions and coach Chuck Buescher to back-to-back state titles and a combined record of 62-3. The 6-7 pure point guard was a McDonald’s All-American, skipped college after signing with Duke, and became the No. 4 pick of the Los Angeles Clippers following high school.
Mark Aguirre (Austin to Westinghouse)
So what would have happened if the roly-poly Aguirre had stayed at Austin in the late 1970s? In a Sports Illustrated article during his freshman year at DePaul, Aguirre was quoted as saying, “If I had stayed at Austin, I probably wouldn’t even have finished high school.” He made the move to Westinghouse and became one of the state’s all-time greats, leading the famed basketball program to a city championship and a trip to the Elite Eight in Champaign his senior year.
Nelison “Nick” Anderson (Prosser to Simeon)
Another transfer people forget about. He played two years at Prosser for coach Gene Ideno, where he averaged 19 points a game as a freshman and 28 as a sophomore. Then he transferred to Simeon, which was fresh off winning a state title in 1984, for his junior and senior years. Even after the tragic death of Ben Wilson in November of his junior year, Anderson still led Simeon to the Elite Eight in Champaign during his junior year. Anderson, who was Mr. Basketball in Illinois and a McDonald’s All-American, averaged 20.5 points, 10.5 rebounds, 4 blocks and 5 assists for a 27-1 team his senior year. Anderson and unbeaten Simeon lost to King in the Public League championship game.
Quentin Richardson (Brother Rice to Whitney Young)
The Brother Rice faithful at the corner of Pulaski and 99th are probably still reeling from what might have been. For a basketball school like Rice, this was the player to put the program over the top — if he had stayed. As a freshman, the promising and talented Richardson helped lead the Crusader sophomore team to a 24-0 record. He went to Brother Rice to play with his senior cousin, star Rico Hill. But when Hill graduated and headed to Illinois State, “Q” was off to Whitney Young. He was a star at Young as a rugged rebounding machine who put up double-doubles in his sleep as he played with a non-stop motor. He led the Dolphins to a state championship his senior year and became a McDonald’s All-American.
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