Thad Matta has made a habit of reeling in four-star and five-star recruits during his time at Ohio State.
The Buckeyes head man, however, found himself stuck in recruiting and scholarship purgatory for the class of 2012.
Unsure if stars Jared Sullinger and Deshaun Thomas would depart for the green pastures of the NBA and unable to predict pending transfers, Matta missed out on many big fish recruits.
The only player signed by the Buckeyes this season was the lightly-heralded Italian guard, Amedeo Della Valle, from Findlay Prep in Las Vegas.
The three-star recruit was overlooked by many schools, but that doesn't mean he won’t bring anything to the table for the Buckeyes.
In fact, here are seven reasons why Della Valle can be a crucial pickup for Ohio State.
One notable missing piece from Ohio State’s Final Four squad last season was a consistent three-point shooting threat.
Believe it or not, starting center Sullinger actually led the team in three-point percentage.
Della Valle reportedly shot better than 50 percent from downtown during his one season at Findlay Prep–numbers that may remind Buckeye fans of the sharp-shooting Jon Diebler.
While the Diebler comparisons may be a bit premature, Ohio State made the Final Four without a reliable shooter last year.
If Della Valle provides the same three-point touch he showed in high school, it will certainly improve the Buckeyes’ chances at returning.
With the losses of William Buford and Jared Sullinger, it is no secret that Thomas is the Buckeyes’ top returning offensive threat.
Thomas, who never met a shot he didn't like, is likely to face increased defensive pressure and maybe even the occasional double team.
If Della Valle proves to be a consistent long-range threat, defenses will have to respect his shot, making doubling Thomas much more difficult.
The Diebler comparison comes into play again, since his shooting helped spread the floor for Sullinger during the big man’s freshman season.
One of the obvious consequences of losing one player to the NBA, one player to graduation and two players to transfers is a lack of depth for the next season.
Before inking Della Valle, the Buckeyes only had nine scholarship players on the roster—in other words, not even enough to run a full five-on-five scrimmage in practice.
In addition to providing Matta with enough players to rest his starters at the end of early season blowouts (and ensuring that there won’t be too many empty seats on the team bus), Della Valle should help Ohio State overcome some attrition from its recent transfers.
While Aaron Craft is mister everything when it comes to the defensive side of the ball for the Buckeyes, the one thing he cannot provide is the height to match up to some of the bigger guards in the Big Ten.
Conference title contenders Michigan (Tim Hardaway Jr.), Indiana (Victor Oladipo and Verdell Jones III) and Michigan State (Branden Dawson) each have guards who play significant minutes that are listed at 6’5” or taller by ESPN.
Della Valle, who is listed at 6’5” by Scout.com, provides Matta with a taller defensive option to help account for these players.
In a stat that would make your fundamentals-loving high school coach cringe, the Buckeyes finished 146th in the nation in free throw shooting during the 2011-12 season.
What’s more, William Buford, the only regular to shoot better than 80 percent, is no longer on the roster.
With a difficult schedule on the horizon, Ohio State is going to need someone to step up and hit clutch free throws down the stretch of many games.
Returning guards Craft and Lenzelle Smith Jr. both struggled from the charity stripe at times, so if Della Valle can demonstrate a consistent free-throw stroke, Matta may not lose as much sleep at night.
While there may not be as much pressure at Findlay Prep than in the Big Ten, Della Valle is no stranger to the bright lights.
The Italian guard helped the team win its third ESPN National High School Invitational Championship during his senior year.
Furthermore, Della Valle led the Italian national team in scoring during the Under-18 European Championships. Playing in such a prominent international tournament is an experience that few high-school-aged recruits can include on their resume.
If nothing else, there was a time when Ohio State’s primary rivals showed strong interest in Della Valle. He would have likely helped fill the three-point shooting roles of departures Stu Douglass and Zack Novak.
While Michigan’s recruiting class is notable and did not require the services of Della Valle to be impressive, at least Buckeye fans will not have to worry about him making clutch three-pointers for the hated Wolverines.
Nevertheless, they will be hoping those clutch threes are falling for the Scarlet and Gray.