Cole Martin and Deshaun Buchanan, two of the state’s top recruits in the 2023 class, have withdrawn from Hamilton and transferred to Basha to continue their high school football careers.
The two transfers come more than a week after Chandler Unified School District officials investigated an incident involving a coach within the Hamilton football program using a racial slur. According to Terry Locke, the district spokesperson, inappropriate music was being played in the weight room when a member of the coaching staff entered and said it had to be turned off.
Locke said when the coach was describing the words used in songs that were inappropriate, the coach said the ‘N-word.’
Buchanan said the incident played a role in his departure from the program.
“It definitely played a role in it, that was mostly the reason why,” Buchanan said. “I just didn’t feel right in that environment anymore. Basha is a young program that is building. We are close to a lot of guys over there. They’re like family.”
Both Buchanan and Martin announced their intentions to transfer to Basha Friday morning on Twitter. Martin, like Buchanan, said the weight-room incident at Hamilton played a role in his decision to leave.
“The incident in the weight room was a big reason as to why I decided to make the move from a really good program,” Martin said in a Twitter message. “It took a lot of conversation and consideration to do so as well. Just like all big decisions though, there can never be one reason, a program as a whole, can cause an athlete to want out.”
Martin burst onto the prep football scene as a freshman when he started at cornerback for the Huskies. The 5-foot-9, 175-pounder quickly rose to the top of the 2023 ranks as he showcased his skill at the highest level of high school football.
He helped lead Hamilton to the inaugural Open Division semifinals in his first season, where the Huskies narrowly lost to eventual runner-up Saguaro. This past season, he and the Huskies narrowly lost to rival Chandler in the Open Division state championship game.
Martin accounted for 77 total tackles in his two years with Hamilton and three total interceptions. He also established himself as one of the most dangerous return men in the state, recording 733 total return yards on kickoffs and punts.
His accolades on the field have helped him earn dozens of major Division I college football scholarships, including from USC, Alabama, LSU and Oregon.
He now hopes to bring his explosiveness and big-play ability on the field to Basha, which was already on the verge of a potential birth in the Open Division playoffs for the upcoming season.
“Basha has a great future, from the athletes to coaches, and the whole program itself,” Martin said. “I feel as playing with such a talented team would be a really fun and exciting atmosphere.”
Martin’s younger sister, Kori, a standout freshman on the track for Hamilton who competed and medaled in several events this past spring, said in a Twitter message she will remain with the Huskies and head girls’ track and field coach EJ Martin.
"I really believe with me staying put at Hamilton, I will have a greater chance at excelling in my track career,” Kori said. “I’ve had nothing but great experiences with my team this past track season. In addition to having overcome major milestones with my track coach EJ Martin.
“He’s definitely a father figure on and off the track for me and I am a big part of the culture he wants to bring in for my next few years at Hamilton. He’s really helped bring forth that next threshold in the sense of my mentality and physical abilities.”
Buchanan saw his first varsity action this past fall as a sophomore. He recorded 21 total tackles at defensive back and had 214 rushing yards at running back. He also scored two touchdowns for the Huskies.
Now entering his junior season, he received his first offer from Northern Arizona University on Thursday, June 10. He also recently took an unofficial visit to the University of Arizona.
“I want to help bring leadership,” Buchanan said. “They’re a good team. I think I can go over there and help them win and do everything we need to in order to get to the next level.”
Mike Zdebski, head coach of the Huskies, could not comment on the district investigation into the racial slur. He did, however, wish Martin and Buchanan the best going forward.
“We wish them nothing but the best,” Zdebski said. “People make decisions to move all the time. It’s the society we live in. The good thing is we have depth and guys who can step up. If there is anything I can do to ever help them out, I will do it. I wish them nothing but success and a great future.”
Both Martin and Buchanan will now join a Basha roster that is already outfitted with several highly recruited prospects, many of whom are sophomores or juniors.
Quarterback Demond Williams and defensive backs Miles Lockhart and Bryson Dedmond will be sophomores after starting on varsity as freshmen. Standout linebacker Wyatt Milkovic, who transferred from Hamilton after his freshman year, will be a junior and second-year starter along with Jackson Browning for the Bears’ talented defense.
Junior James Durand, a 6-foot-5 tackle, will anchor a Basha offensive line that has shined at big man competitions throughout the spring and into the summer.
“The team is super excited,” Basha coach Chris McDonald said. “I think those two look forward to joining a strong culture that has been built by the school, the players and this program. I believe they want to help promote the Basha community and the strong foundation we have created.”