Penn State Transfer Forward Evan Mahaffey Commits to Ohio State

By Griffin Strom on May 3, 2023 at 5:23 pm
Evan Mahaffey
Ron Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

Make it three transfer portal additions in the past month for the Ohio State men's basketball program.

Former Penn State forward Evan Mahaffey will join Minnesota transfer Jamison Battle and Baylor transfer Dale Bonner on the Buckeye roster as the Cincinnati native announces his commitment to the scarlet and gray.

Mahaffey chose Ohio State over Notre Dame and several other programs that showed interest in the three-star high school recruit who transferred out of the Nittany Lion program on March 27 after just one season at Penn State. The Archbishop Moeller product has ties to the Buckeye state and was rated the sixth-best prospect in Ohio in the 2022 class.

In his freshman year at Penn State, Mahaffey averaged 2.8 points per game on 56.9% shooting and pulled down 1.7 rebounds a night in just 9.4 minutes per game across 34 appearances. Mahaffey's best scoring performance came in a Jan. 11 matchup with Indiana in which he put up 12 points on 4-for-4 shooting in just 13 minutes of action. Mahaffey logged double-digit minutes in nine Big Ten matchups in his first season of college basketball.

The Mahaffey File

  • Class: Sophomore
  • Size: 6-6, 200 pounds
  • Pos: SF
  • School: Penn State
  • Stats (2022-23): 2.8 PPG, 1.7 RPG
  • Eligibility: Three years

Ohio State saw Mahaffey play up-close-and-personal Feb. 23, when the freshman scored four points and pulled down three boards in 19 minutes during a Nittany Lion win over the Buckeyes at the Schottenstein Center.

Early in the 2022-23 season, Penn State head coach Micah Shrewsberry spoke about the potential of the 6-foot-6, 200-pound forward, but said his skill set would still need refining.

“Once you start stepping up to a higher level of competition, the athleticism, the length, the speed, all those things are really important. And he’s got all three,” Shrewsberry said in an interview with 247Sports. “You can throw him out there and see what he’s going to do because he has the ability to make some plays that frankly, other people can’t make, just because they haven’t been blessed with the wingspan or athleticism that he has. 

“He still makes mistakes. There are still things that he’s doing offensively and defensively that, he’s still unsure of himself a little bit offensively. So how we’re using him and what we’re doing right now is not who he is going forward. He is just trying to help us win in any way possible.”

But Ohio State will still have plenty of time to develop Mahaffey as the second-year wing has three years of eligibility remaining.

What it Means For Ohio State

Mahaffey's commitment likely wraps up any roster movement for the Buckeyes ahead of the 2023-24 season, barring any unforeseen developments.

As mentioned above, Mahaffey is Ohio State's third transfer portal addition after Battle and Bonner, with guard/forwards Eugene Brown and Tanner Holden both exiting the program as transfer departures this offseason. 

Mahaffey's commitment increases the likelihood that Brice Sensabaugh, who entered his name in the 2023 NBA draft after his freshman season, will remain in the draft rather than come back to Ohio State for a second year. Including Sensabaugh, Ohio State would have 14 scholarship players for the 2023-24 season – one over the 13-man limit. Should Sensabaugh remain in the draft as expected, Ohio State would be set at 13 scholarship players.

Ohio State's latest transfer portal commitment also decreases the chances that the Buckeyes could add a last-minute addition to their four-man 2023 high school recruiting class. Alongside USC, Ohio State was considered a frontrunner to land five-star combo guard Bronny James, who took his first documented college visit in Columbus this past September. However, James had already received multiple crystal ball predictions to wind up with the Trojans, and now appears all the more likely to commit to USC.

Pos Seniors Juniors Sophomores Freshmen
TOTALS 3 0 6 4

Not including Sensabaugh, the Buckeye roster would have three seniors next season in Zed Key, Battle and Bonner, no juniors and six sophomores; Mahaffey, Bruce Thornton, Roddy Gayle, Felix Okpara, Bowen Hardman and redshirt sophomore Kalen Etzler. The Buckeyes also have four incoming freshmen in Austin Parks, Devin Royal, Scotty Middleton and Taison Chatman.

Battle is a likely Game 1 starter for Ohio State at the small forward position, given his experience and pedigree, but Mahaffey will add depth at the wing following the departure of Justice Sueing, Brown and Holden, and the expected departure of Sensabaugh.

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