Signing day is not exactly right around the corner, yet recruiting news has dominated the college basketball headlines recently.
The Harrison twins and James Young made Big Blue Nation very happy with their decisions, Jabari Parker speculation is as rampant as ever, and prospects are making college visits left and right.
Yes, the headlines will change once actual games get under way, but college sports fans seemingly can’t get enough news about the decision making of 17 and 18 year old kids.
One coach and program that hasn’t made a ton of noise on the recruiting front so far this offseason is Thad Matta and Ohio State.
While the Buckeyes received a verbal pledge from Kameron Williams recently (and already have one from Marc Loving), there don’t seem to be any Greg Oden or Jared Sullinger lined up for the 2013 class.
This can certainly change quickly, because Matta is not done recruiting.
Read on to see five reasons why.
This reason may seem overly obvious, but it’s hard to overestimate the impact that scholarship uncertainty can have on a recruiting situation.
Buckeye fans don’t have to look far into the past to see what I mean.
Last year, Thad Matta was unsure how many, if any, scholarships he would have available because he did not have any seniors on the roster outside of William Buford.
What’s more, the NBA fates of Jared Sullinger and Deshaun Thomas were hanging in the balance all season long, and neither player made a decision until after Ohio State was defeated by Kansas in the Final Four.
By then, most of the big fish that Matta may have recruited with more urgency had already decided where they were attending college.
According to the Columbus Dispatch, there seems to be three scholarships still on the table for Matta and company, even after the verbal commitments of Kameron Williams and Marc Loving.
With that kind of flexibility in his back pocket, expect Matta to make a strong push for some of the best remaining players the class of 2013 has to offer.
As mentioned, there was a significant amount of uncertainty regarding the entire recruiting process for Ohio State and Thad Matta last year.
In fact, the Buckeyes only landed one 2012 recruit—relatively unheralded prospect, guard Amedeo Della Valle.
That’s typically not how Matta operates when it comes to recruiting.
According to Scout.com, he brought in 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 No. 2 ranked class in 2006.
Matta’s prowess on the recruiting trail is a major factor in the basketball resurgence in Columbus that has taken place under his watch, and there's no way Ohio State is the three-time defending Big Ten champion or coming off of a trip to the Final Four without it.
Look for Matta to seek redemption as a recruiter with the class of 2013 after pulling in a less than stellar 2012 group.
The Thad Matta era at Ohio State has been defined by a litany of star players.
First there was Big Ten Player of the Year Terence Dials, then there was the “Thad Five” of Greg Oden, Mike Conley and company, which was followed by Evan Turner and eventually Jared Sullinger and Aaron Craft.
One thing that Buckeye fans could almost always count on during Matta’s tenure has been a future to look forward to, primarily because of his recruiting ability.
But as of right now, that future insurance policy is not in place behind this year’s group of Craft, Deshaun Thomas and the supporting cast.
This is the direct result of last year’s recruiting class, even though that was not entirely Matta’s fault.
If Ohio State can land a formidable group of prospects in its 2013 class, the future will look much brighter, especially considering the fact that the impressive class of 2011 will be coming into its own in the next couple of years.
As mentioned previously, by the time Jared Sullinger and Deshaun Thomas made their respective decisions regarding their NBA futures, most of the elite prospects from the 2012 class were already off the board.
That’s not the case for the 2013 group.
Yes, players such as the Harrison twins have been claimed by powerhouses such as Kentucky, but there is plenty of enticing talent still undecided.
The Columbus Dispatch indicated that there were seven players the Buckeyes were actively pursuing, but since Wayne Selden has given his verbal pledge to Kansas, that leaves six prospects for Matta’s three scholarships.
Those six players are BeeJay Anya, Nigel Hayes, Ishmail Wainright, Noah Vonleh, Troy Williams and Devin Williams.
Of those six players on Matta’s radar, four are considered 4-star prospects and one (Noah Vonleh) is considered a 5-star prospect by Scout.com. What’s more, there is a variety of positions and skill sets among that group.
Clearly, Matta and his staff realize there is still talent for the taking in the 2013 class, and they will do everything they can to convince these players to don the scarlet and gray of the Buckeyes.
This reason is more about the long-term future than the class of 2013, but Thad Matta could use another impressive recruiting haul to remind future prospects that Ohio State is indeed a desirable landing place.
While it would be an overreaction to put too much stock in last year’s disappointing recruiting effort because there were circumstances beyond Matta’s control, the loss of Wayne Selden to Kansas and the fact that only one of Scout.com’s top 25 prospects has Ohio State listed as a school of interest, should be somewhat worrisome to Buckeye fans.
Considering that the Midwest is loaded with elite programs such as Kentucky, Indiana, Louisville, Michigan State and even mid-major squads like Xavier and Butler, Matta needs to remind future players that Columbus isn’t just a football town.
An impressive recruiting class and a Final Four in the course of a calendar year would probably do the trick.