Thad Matta has developed a reputation among Ohio State fans and college basketball followers across the nation as an excellent recruiter.
That reputation is not without warrant. According to Scout.com, Matta landed the No. 8 ranked class in 2011, No. 3 ranked class in 2010, No. 2 ranked class in 2008, No. 7 ranked class in 2007 and the No. 2 ranked class in 2006.
That 2006 class was especially notable because it was the “Thad Five” that included Greg Oden, Mike Conley and David Lighty. Those freshmen were the primary contributors for the Buckeye team that made it to the national title game in their first season.
Despite Matta’s recruiting prowess, 2012 was not exactly a banner year in that department. The relatively unheralded Amedeo Della Valle was Ohio State's only signed prospect.
The major reason why Ohio State’s 2012 class only had one player was that Matta was unsure how many—if any—scholarships would be available. Jared Sullinger and Deshaun Thomas were both considering the NBA until the season drew to a close, but only Sullinger entered the draft.
By the time Sullinger’s decision was made, the majority of the nation’s top recruits had already committed to various programs.
However, the 2013 class should more closely resemble a Thad Matta class that Buckeye fans have become accustomed to.
Marc Loving, a Toledo native and 4-star power forward per Scout, gave his verbal commitment in August to get the ball rolling. Furthermore, the Buckeyes are listed as a school of interest for four of the top 15 uncommitted recruits on Scout.
Additionally, 4-star shooting guard Kameron Williams out of Baltimore gave his verbal pledge to Matta in mid-September.
Ironically enough, Williams was all set to commit to Miami before his father urged him to take a bit more time to make such a crucial decision. Luckily for the Buckeyes, Williams did just that.
In an interview with the Columbus Dispatch, Williams said his visit to the Ohio State and California football game in the Horseshoe had a lasting impact on his decision.
They showed me what a big-time atmosphere is all about. But the thing that stood out to me was, later that night, people were still walking the streets relishing their win, slapping high fives, giving hugs. They really embrace their sports at Ohio State.
Williams should fit right in with the Buckeyes, even as a freshman. He was the top scorer in the Nike Elite Youth Basketball League (22.2 points per game) and is one of the best shooters in the entire class of 2013.
In fact, he hit 53 percent of his field-goal attempts, 47.9 percent of his three-point shots and 84.8 percent of his free throws at the Nike league, which is a spring/summer circuit consisting of the nation’s top traveling teams.
Those numbers highlight the three primary ways that Williams will effectively fit in with the Buckeyes.
First and foremost, the Scarlet and Gray need the scoring. They ranked 35th in the nation in points per game, which, while not terrible, isn’t exactly incredible for a Final Four team. Williams will give the Buckeyes (whose scoring will probably decrease without Jared Sullinger and William Buford) a much-needed scoring option from the outside.
While Williams will help in the overall scoring numbers, his ability to shoot from behind the three-point arc and from the free-throw line is much more important for Ohio State.
The Buckeyes ranked a putrid 241st in the nation last season in three-point percentage (.329), with their starting center, Jared Sullinger, leading the team. That placed them behind such powerhouses as Lamar, Furman, St. Francis, Quinnipiac and Canisius.
That’s right, the Buckeyes, who reached the Final Four, were worse from behind the arc than Quinnipiac.
To make matters worse, Ohio State ranked 146th in the country in free-throw percentage.
This is why the addition of Williams is so critical for Thad Matta. He is a lethal shooter from three-point range and the charity stripe, which were glaring weaknesses for the Buckeyes last year.
Williams also adds an intriguing option on the defensive side. He is small, shifty and quick, which will allow Matta to utilize a full-court press that could include Williams, Aaron Craft and Shannon Scott.
That kind of speed could give slow, grind-it-out Big Ten teams fits, especially if Matta mixes it in with other types of defensive looks.
Looking at the big picture, Kameron Williams is a solid addition to the 2013 class at the shooting guard position, especially considering the fact that Matta has already signed one power forward and is in the process of recruiting a handful of other big guys.
He will give Matta an additional piece to use on defense, but more importantly, he will give the Buckeyes a dangerous three-point shooter and someone who can hit free throws down the stretch of close games.
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