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By Rod Thornburg / Special to The Californian
BY ZACH EWING Californian staff writer firstname.lastname@example.org
Tis the season for transfers ... well, no, that's not right, because these days, every season is the season for transfers in high school athletics. But as school starts, this is definitely the season we start to notice new transfers.
Here's what's going on...
• Two of the better wrestlers in Kern County, the Hokit brothers from Wasco, have moved to Clovis with their family and transferred to Clovis High. Isaiah Hokit, a junior, is a two-time state placer (fourth at 106 as a freshman, sixth at 113 last year) and Josh Hokit, a sophomore, qualified for state at 126 as a freshman. Josh Hokit also was in competition to be Wasco's starting quarterback this year, a job that now falls to Austin Sutton.
This one has a huge impact on wrestling, obviously, and a smaller one on football, and I know people get up in arms about recruiting whenever something like this happens. But hey, families move. And when they do move, they're not supposed to pick new schools motivated by athletics, but it certainly didn't hurt Clovis that it's a three-time defending state wrestling champion. I mean, if your kids were good wrestlers and you were moving to the Fresno area, where would YOU want them to go? Talent attracts talent, plain and simple.
• Another situation we've been following for a week or two is that of Bakersfield Christian quarterback Brandon Jones, who transferred from Bakersfield High in January and was declared ineligible for the first 30 days of football season (six games) early this month. Jones and his family appealed, and yesterday the CIF approved the appeal based on a hardship waiver, details of which were not disclosed. So Jones, who is the clear No. 1 quarterback at BCHS and should excel in its spread offense, is free to play when the Eagles travel to a solid Southern Cal school in Huntington Beach two weeks from today.
• This is older news, but I've just become aware of it: Three players from last year's 32-2 boys basketball team at Independence, plus a standout incoming freshman, have transferred to Centennial. That includes rising senior Derek Check, rising sophomore Malcolm Johnson, both All-Area players last year, and Brandon Robinson, who is Johnson's half-brother. The incoming freshman is Alec Check, Derek's younger brother, and he's supposed to be a legitimate star.
So this has a huge impact on the Southwest Yosemite League basketball scene, clearly. Independence will remain relevant with guards like Isaac Clark and D.J. Reed, but the nucleus of a very young, very successful team has been gutted. Centennial has been down for several years (since Cody Kessler stopped playing basketball, really) but now has to be considered a league contender.
As for the recruiting allegations that surely have come with this one — first bit of information you should know is that Centennial's new coach, Hernan Santiago, is the Check's uncle. Central Section commissioner Jim Crichlow said he's aware of that fact and that the Checks made a full family move into the district. There isn't any trouble anticipated with their eligibility.
Crichlow did say that Johnson and Robinson might face an investigation into their involvement with a summer team affiliated with Centennial before they were students there — something that could be gauged as the precursor to an athletically motivated transfer and render both students ineligible for the basketball season. But Crichlow said paperwork has just come through and that the investigation hasn't yet started. In any case, both are fully eligible for football and are practicing with the football Golden Hawks.
• I've got a little more news to share, but I'll sit on it until tonight. In the mean time, a Highland football preview is coming later this afternoon.