Federal Way, Bothell and Rainier Beach are among already strong boys basketball programs that are even better this season with the addition of talented transfers.
In the offseason, when all is supposed to be still, the landscape of Seattle-area high-school basketball shifted seismically.
For starters, Mount Rainier guard Adrian Davis, who had a double-figure scoring average as a sophomore, transferred to well-stocked Federal Way. Then word came that 6-foot-8 Josh Martin, a UW recruit, had transferred to Bothell from Seattle Prep before his junior season.
And, finally, the big finish: Shaqquan Aaron, a silky, 6-foot-7 junior with offers from UCLA and Syracuse, had transferred to Rainier Beach from California.
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That doesn’t even include Ahmaad Rorie, a junior committed to Cal who transferred from Clover Park to a Lincoln team already featuring Colorado-bound Tre’Shaun Fletcher.
“You’ve got players who are going to good teams and making them great teams,” Rainier Beach coach Mike Bethea said.
Or, as one coach called the transfers in the spirit of the season, “gifts.”
All four teams are state-title contenders. Bothell and Federal Way are ranked first and second, respectively, in Class 4A. Rainier Beach and Lincoln are ranked first and second in Class 3A.
All four transfers were ruled eligible to play this season by either the schools’ athletic director or a district eligibility committee. The WIAA state office did not rule on any of the four.
“If they’re approved,” said John Miller, who deals with eligibility for the WIAA, “they never really come to our offices, other than we get a list of approved athletes. But that’s as far as our involvement goes.”
Longtime Bothell coach Ron Bollinger understands the perception.
“People are going to say there’s recruiting going on,” he said. “I know at our end I had nothing to do with Josh coming. I think Josh came to play with Zach (LaVine) when he decided to leave Prep. There were certainly some high-profile kids moving to good programs, but it also puts a lot of pressure on those kids.”
At Federal Way, Davis adds to a team that already had Brayon Blake and DeeShawn Tucker. The Eagles have won their first two games by an average off 33.5 points.
At Beach, the addition of Aaron adds yet another layer to a team dripping with talent. The Vikings returned Marquis Davis, MVP of the state tournament last year, as well as nearly every other contributor from last year’s championship team except guard Anrio Adams, now a freshman at Kansas.
The Vikings opened with a 110-52 win against Ingraham behind 19 points and 12 assists from Aaron.
“It could possibly be the best Rainier Beach team ever,” Bethea said.
At Bothell, the Cougars don’t have a deep bench, but have a big three of their own. Martin joins UCLA signee LaVine (26 points per game last year) and Idaho-bound Perrion Callandret (18 points per game).
The Cougars opened with a 72-39 win against Redmond, including 27 points from LaVine.
“By far the most talented team I’ve ever had,” Bollinger said. “And I’ve been coaching for 26 years.”
Rainier Beach and Bothell will meet on Jan. 21 in the King Holiday Hoopfest.
Until then, they will go separate ways in the same imaginary attire worn by all the title-contending teams enhanced by a transfer.
“We all have targets on our backs,” Bollinger said.
Jayson Jenks: 206-464-8277 or firstname.lastname@example.org