Matta attracting more top talent
Wednesday was the first day college basketball prospects in the class of 2014 could sign with college programs. What follows is a a quick look at Ohio State's class of 2014 -- and where the Buckeyes may go from here in continuing to build and fortify a program Thad Matta has turned into one of the nation's best.
D'Angelo Russell - A natural scorer who can play both guard spots, the 6'4 Russell is a native of Louisville who's been playing at Montverde Academy in Florida. He was a national five-star recruit and will arrive expecting not just to play but to play a significant role immediately.
Keita Bates-Diop - At 6'7 and probably still growing, the Illinois native was a priority recruit for programs across the Midwest. He committed to Ohio State last November after a relatively short courtship and became a Scout.com five-star prospect with his shooting on the travel circuit last summer.
Jae'sean Tate - A local product (Pickerington Central HS) and rising four-star prospect, Tate is listed as 6'5, 205 and is already built like a college player. The son of former Ohio State and Cincinnati player Jermaine Tate, Jae'sean has been committed to Ohio State for almost a year and could be game ready a year from now.
Dave Bell - Cleveland area big man is a legit 6'10 and already a gifted shot blocker. He's adding strength and learning the game on the fly, and Matta saw enough in Bell's first full season of high school basketball last winter to offer him the chance to continue to grow as a Buckeye.
Scout.com ranks Ohio State's 2014 class as third nationally, behind Kentucky and North Carolina.
Scout.com lists Russell as the third-best shooting guard prospect and Bates-Diop as the sixth-best small forward prospect nationally. On the FOX Sports/Scout.com ultimate 100 list of high school recruits regardless of graduation year, Russell is No. 36 and Bates-Diop is No. 45.
Scout.com's Signing Day roundup lists Russell as the Big Ten's best prospect to sign today and Tate as the best athlete and rebounder to sign with a Big Ten program.
Ohio State got a visit last month from 7-foot Texan Myles Turner, the No. 3 player on the Scout.com Ultimate 100, and he is yet to make his college decision. Current big men Amir Williams and Trey McDonald are juniors this season, making recruiting the post a priority in this class and next. With 6'9 Arizona native Payton Dastrup giving the Buckeyes a late commitment and then changing his mind just before Wednesday's Signing Day, the big-man priority level gets higher.
There was some level of uncertainty that Dastrup would ever play for the Buckeyes -- he plans to take a two-year mission upon high school graduation -- but he'd been a four-star recruit before changing his mind and picking BYU.
Where do the Buckeyes go from here? Aaron Craft and Lenzelle Smith Jr. are gone after this season, and LaQuinton Ross could end up giving up his final college season to go to the NBA, too. Shannon Scott is the immediate heir at the point, and the Buckeyes are stacked with athletic wings whether or not Ross is on the 2014-15 roster -- and potentially really deep there with the additions of Russell, Tate and Bates-Diop.
Matta already has two commitments in the class of 2015 in 6'7 wing Mickey Mitchell of Plano, Texas, the younger brother of Ohio State football player Mike Mitchell, and Dayton Dunbar point guard A.J. Harris. Mickey Mitchell ranks No. 42 on the Scout.com Ultimate 100.
Three Ohioans are on that list, too: 6'8 Carlton Bragg of Cleveland Villa Angela-St. Joseph (2015/No. 26), 6'5 Luke Kennard of Franklin (2015/No. 41) and 6'7 V.J. King of Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary (2016/No. 49). The Buckeyes have offered all three and are believed to be in the mix for all three, but there's no indication any of those players are close to a decision.
Harris plays summer ball with Kennard and King for the King James program. That King James guy has his own locker amidst the hundreds of other Nike swooshes in the Ohio State locker room. Ohio State has at least been linked to five or six other players in the top 60 of the Scout.com Ultimate 100 list, and Matta has proven he can recruit the big boys and recruit with the big boys.
Now after the MISSING PIECE for the 2013 Thad 5!!!!