NEWS 8 INVESTIGATES
DALLAS — They are the pride of DISD athletics: The Kimball Knights, state basketball champs two years in a row.
But new questions are being raised about how some of the top athletes in the state ended up on the same team.
News 8 has already reported on star player Keith Frazier and his mother's move from Irving to Kimball just before the start of last season. The transfer was approved by the District 11-4A University Interscholastic League Executive Committee, which is supposed to reject students who “transfer for athletic purposes."
One key indicator of an illegal transfer, according to UIL rules, is that a family's old "rental agreement must be terminated."
Last month, we asked Frazier's mother why she moved her family to Kimball without notice. Both the landlord and the Dallas Housing Authority said the mother broke her lease. Frazier’s mother denies it.
DISD officials are now investigating Frazier's eligibility following our report.
But News 8 has learned that Frazier is not the only player on this year's championship team to transfer to Kimball from an outside school, city, or even state.
Using a variety of sources to develop this roster, we have found evidence to suggest nine players on Kimball's team this year transferred from another school or city:
- Keith Frazier transferred from Irving
- Torrey Henry transferred from Arlington
- Randelle Jones transferred from Fort Worth
- Darian Hancock transferred from South Oak Cliff
- David Tucker transferred from Cedar Hill
- D'Angelo Allen lives in Cedar Hill
- Shannon Lilly and Gabe Lilly live in DeSoto
- Sheldon Yearwood transferred from New York City
Two star players on last year's Kimball state champs were also transfers: Jalen Jones from Mansfield, and Jordan Williams, who played at Lincoln his sophomore year and The Colony his junior year.
Williams transferred to Kimball his senior year after being ruled ineligible to play his senior season in The Colony.
Yet DISD's 11-4A executive committee ruled unanimously that Williams' transfer to Kimball was not for “athletic reasons."
Tim Onkst, who runs the largest basketball scouting service in Texas, TexasRoundball.com, said Kimball High School has a reputation for accruing athletes from other districts.
“They are recruiting them,” Onkst said. “They actively go out and actively try to get the best players they can get to come."
Onkst said Kimball Coach Royce Johnson has a history of stacking his teams with players who have transferred from other schools.
In 2003, Coach Johnson was caught by a rival coach driving two of Kimball's top players from where they actually lived, in Cedar Hill, to school at Kimball High.
State UIL officials handed Johnson a three-game suspension and one-year probation.
No punishment was administered by DISD's Athletic Department, where the assistant director and head of basketball is Goree Johnson. Johnson was a long-time head basketball coach at Kimball, and is also the father of current Kimball coach Royce Johnson.
Royce Johnson declined an on-camera interview, but said by phone, "We went through the process and were found not guilty of recruiting. Both kids were paying out-of-district tuition to go to Kimball."
"[W]e are not in the business of telling a kid you can't come to Kimball, but I don't recruit kids," Royce Johnson added. "I really don't."
But one parent who saw our story on Keith Frazier said she's not so sure.
Helen Delaney of Irving said two Kimball coaches — one football, one basketball — contacted her separately last year about her son, Brien. She said the Kimball coaches tried to convince her to move.
"The coach made it clear he wanted me to move into his attendance zone,” Delaney said. “He even told me there were some new houses out there they could help me get into. I was telling him, 'No, I just don't want to be in Oak Cliff.'"
Delaney said one coach suggested she wouldn't have to move from her home in Irving.
"They made it clear that I could just stay where [I] was, just bring my child to them,” Delaney said.
DISD Athletic Director Jeff Johnson has repeatedly declined requests from News 8 for an on-camera interview.
In a statement provided to News 8, Jeff Johnson said:
"Our staff pays very close attention to UIL rules and properly follows the procedures provided by the UIL. The Dallas ISD is not the only one with the student transfer dilemma and does its very best to police it."
At least three times in the past two years — despite objections from area coaches who were losing their players — the DISD 11-4A Executive Committee approved transfers of high-profile athletes to Kimball. Each time, the committee said there was no reason to believe the students were transferring for athletic purposes.