Penguins may lose Simmons

YOUNGSTOWN — College basketball always has its coming and goings, but that has been more in the limelight in recent years with the NCAA transfer portal.

This week was one of those cases as Youngstown State sophomore Jelani Simmons, a 6-foot-5 guard and former first-team All-Ohio standout from Columbus Beechcroft High School, entered the NCAA transfer portal on Wednesday. He’ll have two years of eligibility remaining wherever he lands.

Simmons averaged 6.7 points per game, and shot 42 percent from the floor and 79.2 percent from the foul line for YSU. He scored a career-high 23 points against Cleveland State in a 67-55 Penguins win on Feb. 8 in Youngstown.

Enter Alex Vargo, a 6-6 guard from Wheeling Park High School in Wheeling, W.Va. He made a verbal commitment to the YSU program on Friday, but cannot officially sign with YSU until April 15. The Penguins coaching staff cannot comment until Vargo signs with YSU.

The moves have YSU at 13 scholarship players for the 2020-21 season.

Returning scholarship players for next season include current juniors Garrett Covington, Naz Bohannon, Christian Bentley, Jamir Thomas and Michael Akuchie; sophomores Tyler Foster, Darius Quisenberry and Olamide Pedersen; and freshman Daniel Ogoro (redshirted).

Freshmen Kenny Ganley Jr. and Mohamed Konate, and sophomores Justin Bofenkamp and Geoff Hamperian are non-scholarship players scheduled to return.

Four players are scheduled to come into the program next year — William Dunn (6-foot-8 forward from Quincy, Mich.), Myles Hunter (6-5 guard from Charlotte, N.C.), Cheick (pronounced SHAKE) Traore (6-8 forward from Concord, N.C.) and Vargo.

Vargo is a four-year letterman and three-year starter who averaged 27.8 points and 7.7 rebounds per game. He shot 43 percent from 3-point range and 88.6 percent from the foul line.

He led Wheeling Park to an 18-6 mark, the Region I championship and a state tournament berth.

Vargo holds school records for points in a single game (53), and free throws in a game, season and career. He scored 1,634 career points.

Vargo was a Class AAA first-team, all-state player as a junior and Class AAA second-team player as a sophomore.

He was also a nominee for the 2020 McDonald’s All-American Game, which has been canceled due to the coronavirus.


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