Thad Matta has made a name for himself as one of the best recruiters in the Midwest, if not the nation.
However, you wouldn’t have guessed it if you just looked at the 2012 recruiting class.
Largely due to the uncertainty regarding the number of available scholarships (was Jared Sullinger going to the NBA? What about Deshaun Thomas?), Matta only signed one recruit to the 2012 class. That recruit was the relatively unheralded Amedeo Della Valle, who should help Ohio State from behind the three-point line.
While Buckeye fans concentrate on the upcoming opponents for the 2012-13 season (or, more accurately, the upcoming football game on Saturday), you can bet Matta has his eye on a handful of recruits in the 2013 class.
He has already gotten in-state power forward Marc Loving to join the fold. Loving is a 4-star recruit and the 15th best power forward in his class, thanks largely to his versatility and ability to score inside and outside.
Here are seven more recruits Matta should chase for next season.
(All star rankings and scouting reports courtesy of Scout.com.)
Thad Matta has had success before recruiting out of the Chicago area (see Evan Turner), and he should once again dip into the Windy City well.
Kendrick Nunn is a 4-star shooting guard who stands at 6'1" and is considered the 10th best prospect at his position. With Lenzelle Smith Jr. entering the realms of the upperclassmen, Nunn, who is a very similar player, would help fill the eventual vacancy.
In fact, Nunn is a lefty as well who demonstrates excellent three-point range and an impressive level of athleticism. Much like Smith, he takes equal pride in his defensive and offensive approach.
Ohio State has plenty of athletic wing players in the fold (LaQuinton Ross, Sam Thompson, etc.) but he could use another true guard.
While the Buckeyes may have a handful of athletic wing players, that doesn’t mean they couldn’t always use another one.
Troy Williams is a 4-star small forward (ranked as the 10th best prospect at his position) who stands at a versatile 6’6.” He isn’t the best three-point shooter, but he is a lock down defender and a great penetrator on offense.
There is one trait that many of the prospects that Ohio State shows interest in share: tremendous defense.
It is no secret to anyone who has watched a Buckeye game recently that Matta and his coaching staff stress defensive prowess. I mean, how could they not with someone like Aaron Craft on the roster?
If Matta is able to land Williams, it will be yet another impressive defender that the Buckeyes can add to their stable.
If Thad Matta continues to pursue Troy Williams, he should spend a little extra time at Oak Hill Academy in Virginia and also recruit Williams’ teammate, Sindarius Thornwell.
Thornwell is probably the bigger prize of the two considering he is a 5-star shooting guard (the fourth best prospect at his position). He is a similar height to Williams (6’4”) and boasts incredible athleticism.
Thornwell also brings a lethal shot from behind the arc and is a tremendous passer, especially for his height and position. The only real knock on his game is his lack of strength, which somewhat impacts his effectiveness driving the lane.
But if Matta lands Thornwell, you can bet he will utilize his talents in a way that the strength won’t be much of an issue.
As long as we are on the subject of 5-star studs that Matta should pursue in the class of 2013, let’s talk about the nation’s fourth best small forward prospect.
Wayne Selden is a 6’5” forward who was originally supposed to be in the class of 2014. However, he reclassified over the summer, meaning that eager coaches will have to step their recruiting games up if they hope to land his services.
Fortunately for Ohio State fans, the Buckeyes have been serious players in Selden’s recruitment for some time now. His good shooting range, passing abilities and strength driving the lane would make him a huge (and earlier than anticipated) get for Matta.
Jordan Mickey’s scouting report may remind the most devoted Ohio State fans of Sam Thompson.
Mickey is a 4-star small/power forward who stands at 6’7” and is incredibly athletic. He uses this athleticism to run the floor extremely well and often finishes in an impressive manner.
However, much like Thompson, Mickey is not the best low block scorer or noticeably effective from behind the three-point line. He does most of his damage in transition and occasionally from midrange.
If Matta is able to land Mickey in the class of 2013, he can experiment with an incredibly fast and athletic lineup that could include Mickey, Thompson, Aaron Craft and Shannon Scott. That kind of speed is not something you see every day in the grind-it-out Big Ten.
If Thad Matta is going to focus on only one thing with the class of 2013, it needs to be big guys.
Barring something unexpected, Aaron Craft, Lenzelle Smith, LaQuinton Ross, Shannon Scott and Sam Thompson will all be back for the 2013-14 season. However, there is a realistic chance that Deshaun Thomas will leave for the NBA, and Evan Ravenel will graduate after this season.
That means the Buckeyes will be razor thin in the paint behind Amir Williams.
I am sure Matta is perfectly aware of this, since there are two centers in particular that Scout lists as potential Ohio State targets.
BeeJay Anya is a bit undersized at 6’8,” but the 4-star center has a tremendous wingspan that helps make up for his lack of height. Furthermore, he is incredibly strong and an effective rebounder who is not afraid to mix it up in the paint. That will certainly come in handy in the physical Big Ten.
As for the other center, 4-star prospect Karviar Shepherd is also somewhat smaller for the position. He stands at 6’9” and is considered the fifth best center in class. Like Anya, Shepherd is a solid rebounder and a decent scorer who has the ability to improve.
It is vastly important that Matta locks up some size for the 2013 class.