It’s been an up-and-down roller coaster of a time thus far in the Mike Rhoades era of Penn State basketball, as the newly-hired coach has had his share of successes in landing some big-time transfer portal targets (Ace Baldwin, Zach Hicks, Qudus Wahab, etc.) as well as solidifying a couple key current players on the roster (Kayne Clary and Jameel Brown), but also his share of misses in seeing top portal targets go elsewhere.
Yesterday saw Rhoades suffer perhaps the biggest blow of his brief tenure thus far, as small forward Evan Mahaffey officially announced via social media that he was taking his talents to Columbus, Ohio to suit up for Ohio State.
First, I would like to thank God for this opportunity. Second, I want to thank Penn State and the amazing people that made my freshman year great! With that being said, I have decided to further my academic and athletic career at The Ohio State University! #BuckeyeNation ‼️ pic.twitter.com/gVtlJBZ9Bs— Evan Mahaffey (@EvanMahaffey5) May 3, 2023
While Mahaffey’s stat line doesn’t stick out much, only averaging nearly three points and two rebounds per game, he became a key guy in Micah Shrewsberry’s rotation this past season, coming in to provide some athleticism and spark on both ends of the floor. He also will go down as having one of the most clutch heads-up plays in program history that helped Penn State upset Northwestern on the road and revive their NCAA Tournament hopes similar to how John Travolta revived Uma Thurman with the adrenaline shot to the heart in Pulp Fiction. It’s truly a shame, as he would have been a natural fit in Rhoades’ “havoc” system which emphasizes pressing, getting steals, and fast break layups/dunks.
On the other hand, Evan is a native of Cincinnati, and it’s quite possible with the coaching change, his family really got in his ear about him playing closer to home (Columbus is only about a 90-minute drive from Cincy), which makes this particular PSU-to-OSU transfer in a way feel less stinging than when Jamari Wheeler did the same thing a couple years ago. Unfortunately, because Mahaffey is a rising sophomore, this means PSU will have to go against him for the next three years (unless he decides to transfer again if he’s unable to carve out enough playing time to his satisfaction).
Best of luck to you, Evan (except for a couple games every year).