The Top Transfers to Ohio State's Football and Men's Basketball Programs Over the Years

By Chris Lauderback on April 2, 2020 at 11:05 am
Justin Fields left Athens for Columbus and became a Heisman finalist in his first season for the Buckeyes.
Jeff Blake – USA TODAY Sports

Ohio State's football and men's basketball programs haven't made a living bringing in  transfers, but both received a boost in the past two weeks doing exactly that. 

Ryan Day's squad – upon losing J.K. Dobbins to the NFL and Master Teague for an unclear period of time to injury – picked up former Oklahoma running back Trey Sermon via the transfer portal.

Sermon, a graduate transfer, gives Ohio State immediate depth at the position and could very well be in line to start for the Buckeyes this fall. (I refuse to ponder – yet – a reality in which there is no college football this fall.) 

One day earlier, Chris Holtmann's basketball Buckeyes picked up a commitment from Seth Towns, a graduate transfer from Harvard. 

Towns missed the last two seasons due to knee injuries, but he was considered the top graduate transfer on the market. If healthy, the former Ivy League player of the year should snag a spot in the starting lineup. 

If they perform up to expectations, both Sermon and Towns will have a chance to enter the conversation of the best transfers to play for Ohio State football or men's basketball. 

Here's a glance at some of the most celebrated transfers to Ohio State from either a FBS football or Division I basketball school in the history of each program. 

Justin Fields (Georgia)

On the gridiron, Justin Fields easily serves as the scarlet standard for a FBS transfer to Ohio State. 

Arriving in Columbus fresh off Dwayne Haskins' departure to the NFL, Fields stepped right in and guided Ohio State to a Big Ten championship and a berth in the College Football Playoff. 

Fields cranked out 51 total touchdowns, becoming the first Big Ten quarterback to throw for at least 40 scores (41) and rush for at least 10 in the same season. 

His accolades in year one in Columbus included a spot in New York as a Heisman Finalist, Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year and second-team All-American honors. 

And he still has another year to go. 

Brad Sellers (Wisconsin)

Some of you youngins may not be hip to Brad Sellers, but the 7-footer turned in some pretty dominant performances for the basketball Buckeyes in his two years in Columbus following two strong seasons in Madison. 

Sellers averaged 15 points and nine rebounds across two seasons at Wisconsin, but didn't quite jibe with the coaching staff, leading to his departure. 

Despite being forced to pay his own way after transferring within the conference, Sellers sat out a year before averaging 17.8 points and 10.8 rebounds during two seasons playing for Eldon Miller's program. 

As a senior, Sellers was dominant, averaging 19.8 points, 12.6 rebounds and 2.9 blocks. He turned in 26 double-doubles in 33 games, tying Jerry Lucas for the most in a single-season in school history. 

Sellers was the ninth pick in the 1986 NBA draft. 

Scoonie Penn (Boston College)

After two seasons at Boston College, Scoonie Penn followed his head coach Jim O'Brien to Ohio State and promptly led the Buckeyes to a 1999 Final Four appearance. 

Ohio State entered the Dance as a 4-seed but behind Penn and Michael Redd, won the South regional, of which Penn was named Most Outstanding Player. The Buckeyes fell to eventual national champion UConn in the Final Four. 

Penn averaged 16.3 points, 4.3 assists, 4.1 rebounds and 2.1 steals in 60 games over two seasons in Columbus. 

The two-time captain earned the 1999 Big Ten Player of the Year award. In 2000, he was named a second-team All-American and won the Francis Pomeroy Award, given to the nation's best player under 6-feet. 

Lawrence Funderburke (Indiana)

A local product of out Columbus Wehrle, Lawrence Funderburke was kicked off his high school team six games into his senior season, but that didn't stop Bobby Knight from luring the 6-foot-8 baseliner to Bloomington to play for the Hoosiers. 

That scenario went bad almost right from the jump, and Knight reportedly refused to let Funderburke transfer to Kentucky before he landed in Columbus to play for Randy Ayers. 

Admittedly immature, Funderburke finally started to grow up once back home, and the lefty averaged 14.7 points in 80 games across three seasons for the Buckeyes. 

He was a starter on Ohio State's 1991-92 team that went 26-6 before losing to Michigan's Fab Five in an NCAA Tournament regional final. 

Funderburke led the Buckeyes in scoring and rebounding the following two seasons with 16.3 and 15.2 points per game, respectively, along with 6.8 and 6.0 boards. He paced the program in field goal percentage all three seasons. 

The team's MVP in 1993 and 1994, Funderburke played seven seasons in the NBA, averaging 9.5 points and 4.5 rebounds as a rookie for the Sacramento Kings. 

Justin Boren (Michigan)

Another local product, Pickerington native Justin Boren chose Michigan out of high school, partly because his dad was a star linebacker for Bo Schembechler in the 1980s. (Justin's mom also ran track for the Wolverines.) 

Justin's time in Ann Arbor, however, overlapped Schembechler disciple Lloyd Carr leaving the program and Rich Rodriguez taking over. Citing an “erosion of family values,” Boren transferred to Ohio State after two seasons in maize and blue. 

After sitting out a year, Boren became a fixture at left guard for the Buckeyes, earning first-team All-Big Ten honors in both 2009 and 2010 while snagging second-team All-American honors during that 2010 season. 

Justin's success and comfortability at Ohio State paved the way for his brothers, Zach and Jacoby, to also enjoy productive careers for the Buckeyes. 

Anthony Schlegel (Air Force)

It was quite the blow to Fisher DeBerry's program when Anthony Schlegel decided to leave Air Force after two seasons, concluding a career in the military was no longer his goal. 

Schlegel had just become the school's first sophomore to earn a first-team all-league nod after finishing third in the Mountain West Conference with 118 tackles. 

Upon his transfer to Jim Tressel's program, Schlegel sat out the 2003 season before starting back-to-back seasons at middle linebacker, flanked by A.J. Hawk and Bobby Carpenter. 

Schlegel ranked third in stops during his first season in Columbus while leading the defense with 10.5 tackles for loss. As a senior, he ranked second on the team in tackles behind Hawk. 

The New York Jets selected Schlegel in the third round of the 2006 NFL draft. 

Jonah Jackson (Rutgers)

A graduate transfer looking for a home, Jonah Jackson left Rutgers to join Ryan Day's program last year and turned in a hell of a season. 

Jackson held down the left guard spot while giving the offensive line a much-needed mean streak. 

With Jackson's experience slotted alongside first-year starter Josh Myers at center and an elite right guard in Wyatt Davis, Ohio State's interior offensive line made a strong case for being the best trio in the country. 

Jackson's efforts were recognized via a first-team All-Big Ten selection from the league's coaches. 

Ron Lewis (Bowling Green)

Shooting guard Ron Lewis starred for Columbus Brookhaven in high school before taking his talents to Bowling Green. Lewis averaged 14.6 points per game over two seasons for the Falcons before head coach Dan Dakich let him explore greener pastures. 

Lewis opted to come back home, becoming Thad Matta's first recruit. 

He came off the bench and averaged 11.2 points per game for the 2005-06 Buckeyes before becoming a full-time starter as a senior for Ohio State's Final Four team mostly remembered for the exploits of freshmen Mike Conley Jr. and Greg Oden. 

Lewis, however, was a clutch performer for the Buckeyes, particularly in March. He poured in 27 points, including a three-pointer to force overtime, in an eventual win over Xavier. He added 25 points and five boards in a huge comeback win over Tennessee and notched 22 points and six rebounds in a win over Memphis. 

Best of the Rest

  • J.J. Sullinger (Arkansas): 3 seasons, 9.9 ppg, 5.7 rpg
  • Evan Ravenel (Boston College): 2 seasons, 4.2 ppg, 3.1 rpg
  • Tony Stockman (Clemson): 2 seasons, 12.7 ppg, 2.6 rpg
  • Sean Connolly (Providence): 3 seasons, 8.5 ppg, 2.9 rpg
  • Rick Yudt (Austin Peay): 2 seasons, 11.5 ppg, 3.7 rpg
  • Trevor Thompson (Virginia Tech): 2 seasons, 8.5 ppg, 7.5 rpg
  • Keyshawn Woods (Wake Forest): 1 season, 8.1 ppg, 3.1 rpg
  • CJ Walker (Florida State): 1 season*, 8.7 ppg, 3.1 rpg, 3.5 apg
  • Grady Mateen (Georgetown): 2 seasons, 8.2 ppg, 4.3 rpg
  • Kent Graham (Notre Dame): 2 seasons, 1,213 passing yards, 7 TD, 8 INT
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