Buckeyes bring in another top 10 class
Thad Matta signed his second consecutive top 10 class Wednesday, securing signatures from highly regarded prospects in Ohio, Texas and Georgia.
Austin Grandstaff, a 6-foot-5 shooting guard from Rockwall, Texas, is the highest rated player according to Scout.com, checking in at No. 46 nationally. He is the nation’s No. 13 shooting guard after averaging 27.1 points, 6.9 rebounds and 3.1 assists as a junior.
"He can flat out shoot the basketball with tremendous range," Matta told reporters Wednesday. "And he’s got size and athleticism to go with it. He’s a gym rat."
Daniel Giddens, a 6-10 center from Marietta, Ga., who is playing at Oak Hill Academy in Virginia, is the No. 50 overall prospect after averaging 12 points, 10 rebounds and four blocks as a junior at Wheeler High School in the Peach State.
"You’re looking at a tremendous athlete with great toughness," Matta said. "I’ve seen him dominate basketball games with his defense and his rebounding and his shot blocking."
A.J. Harris of Dayton Dunbar is just 5-9 but brings a big reputation with him from one of Ohio’s top prep programs, where he averaged 14.5 points, 6.1 assists and 2.9 steals per game last season. He helped the Wolverines to an undefeated season and state title as a freshman, and he is a member of the talented King James Shooting Stars AAU program.
"I’ve watched him play a long, long, long time and I think that he has something about guys that come out of Dunbar that we like," Matta said. "He’s gonna be able to come in and run a basketball team."
Joining Grandstaff in making the trip to Ohio from the Lone Star State next year will be Mickey Mitchell, a 6-8 small forward from Plano, Texas, who Matta said could play four positions in Ohio State’s system.
"I’ve loved his game from the first time I saw him," Matta said. "He’s probably, maybe the best passer I’ve seen in a long time in terms of his vision, making guys better."
Mitchell initially committed to Ohio State in August 2013 then reconsidered last summer before recommitting in September. In the interim, his brother, Mike, was a highly regarded linebacker prospect who spent his freshman year on the Buckeye football team in 2013 before opting to transfer to Texas Tech.
"We asked him point blank when Mike left if it had any bearing on him and he said no," Matta said. "But in his particular situation there was no turning up the heat, it was more of saying, ‘Hey how can we help you? We’re here for you if you need it. Whatever happens happens. We want what’s best for your life in terms of (your) development.’"
Scout rates this class No. 1 in the Big Ten and No. 9 nationally after tabbing the 2014 class 10th nationally, one spot behind conference newcomer Maryland.
Follow on Twitter @marcushartman