***UPDATED 5:23 PM, 11/19/15***
Class 5A No. 2 McIntosh tipped-off its season with a ho-hum 89-68 win over Morrow on Tuesday night. The usual suspects did their normal damage with Will Washington scoring 20 points and dishing out eight assists, Jordan Lyons scoring 24 points and Dishon Lowery and Chase Walter doing their expected yeoman’s work inside.
One new Chief however was unable to suit up. Make that, not allowed.
Isaac Kellum, a 6-foot-4 swingman that averaged 13.8 points per game, transferred over to McIntosh in the offseason for his senior season. This wasn’t a crazy out-of-state transfer or someone moving in from a school that is hours away, but a 13-minute transfer over from Fayette County High School. With over 60 known transfers and plenty of more that slipped through the cracks, you would think a simple move such as this would go unopposed, but for some reason the GHSA threw a red flag against little old McIntosh.
From all accounts, Kellum is a great student in the classroom (3.8 weighted GPA, ACT 24, SAT 1,580 and dual enrolled at Clayton State) and a good kid. So why out of all the transfers along the state, is one of the most logical transfers getting the kibosh? As of this week, the senior is still ineligible to play his final year of high school ball while seemingly every other transfer has already begun playing with their new team.
In July, Kellum and his parents moved to Peachtree City. Soon after moving, a rough patch occurred and his parents separated. Isaac, living in the McIntosh school district with his mother, was still set to play basketball until October 27 when he found out he would be ineligible. The family went to a hardship hearing in Thomaston, Ga. but was denied for some reason.
To make sure they had all the proper paperwork again, the parents even went to get official legal separation documents to soothe the GHSA if they had any inclination that something amiss was taking place. Charles Kellum, Isaac’s father, let me know that the family sat in the courthouse for six hours hoping to get the paperwork signed and have the issue eventually resolved. Upon the judge hearing the reasoning why they were there, to let their son play basketball, the judge said he had never heard of a governing body making a family go to such extreme lengths just to prove he is living in the district and has the correct custody.
When the verdict came down, the judge said he could not sign the document because Isaac is an 18-year-old adult and he can’t be signed over to a specific parent.
So the GHSA is now not letting an 18-year-old adult play basketball his senior year of high school in the correct school district after dealing with a whirlwind of unfortunate events. The GHSA denied him on the initial hardship hearing and the appeal last Tuesday and will not give the Kellum’s a straight answer to why he can’t play, not listing a violation of the by-laws or any other potential hangup.
Funny how your life can change in one day.
— Jūke❌Toes (@_Juiccee_) November 18, 2015
Even more motivation, we winning this for you @_Juiccee_ 🏀💍
— Chase Walter (@chasewa1ter) November 17, 2015
Wow. We are going to do it for you bro @_Juiccee_ . I love you ✊🏽
— Jordan Lyons ™ (@J_Lyons_23) November 17, 2015
It's crazy how when we try to succeed other people bring us down. #McIntoshBasketball
— Smitty ™ (@W_Washington3) November 17, 2015
I personally am not a huge fan of transfers, but I understand it is part of the game and it is not something I bemoan. Building super teams is good for the players to get exposure but of course bad for homegrown teams that have played together their entire life – like McIntosh. The Chiefs had a player fill out all the proper paperwork, but the GHSA won’t accept the simple move.
We can’t have double standards. If you are going to let almost every other school land their new move-ins, and ones that come from out of state, where is the reasoning behind a player who is 13 minutes away from his new school not getting the green light to play ball? And the worst thing about all this? It’s not that McIntosh has a realistic shot at a state title, but it’s the fact that basketball is being taken away from this 17/18 year-old, in his final season. Kellum will likely be able to find a home to play basketball at in college if he so chooses, but nothing will ever compare to going to school with your peers and lacing them up and playing in front of packed houses every Tuesday, Friday and Saturday as the team – or family – attempts to make their march to Macon and history.
Pray For My Brother. Won't Nun Make Me Happier Tommar Than To See My Guy Make It 🙏🏾 pic.twitter.com/QchaYGna34
— D. Lowery (@DLowery_15) November 17, 2015
What To Do?
Basketball fans and supporters of fair play can only hope that this issue gets resolved quickly and Kellum is cleared to play. There is too much player movement to single out one athlete and blow the whistle on them. It is either abolish transferring (too hard to do) or let everyone make the move as long as the proper paperwork is submitted. Right now, Kellum is devastated over the ruling and he, his family, friends and teammates are still trying to find an answer from the GHSA as to why he is unable to play.
We are in 2015, closing in on 2016. There is no place for a governing body to pick and choose who gets to play and who doesn’t. There needs to be one set guideline. There should be no foul play involved and everything should be on the up-and-up. No ‘Wizard of Oz’ act hiding behind the curtain and not answering why some players are allowed while others disallowed. Let’s hope for a New Year’s Resolution, the GHSA gets its act together and allows Kellum and every other properly filed transfer who got rejected a chance to play the game they love.