Ohio State Basketball: 6 Biggest Sells Thad Matta Can Make to Buckeye Recruits
Thad Matta has an impressive track record when it comes to recruiting during his eight-season tenure at Ohio State.
According to Scout.com, Matta brought 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 to Columbus.
The 2006 group was the one that included the “Thad Five” prospects of Greg Oden, Mike Conley Jr., David Lighty, Daequan Cook and Othello Hunter.
However, thanks in large part to uncertainty regarding the scholarship situation during the season, Matta did not sign a notable class for 2012. Because of that, he is out for redemption this year with his eyes on a number of top-notch prospects.
Here are six selling points Matta can bring up when he is talking to recruits and their families before national signing day.
Personal Track Record
Thad Matta has basically single-handedly made basketball relevant for the first time in decades at football-crazed Ohio State.
In only eight short seasons in Columbus, Matta has led the Buckeyes to two Final Fours, five Big Ten titles (including three in a row), a No. 1 or 2 seed in the NCAA tournament five of the past seven years and three Big Ten tournament titles.
Perhaps most impressively, Matta has accomplished this level of success while losing seven non-seniors to the NBA draft, most of which were only freshmen.
It’s not exactly easy to build a program around dynamic stars such as Greg Oden, Mike Conley Jr. and Jared Sullinger if they are always leaving after a year or two.
Matta also won at least 20 games every season he was the head man at Xavier and even led the Musketeers to an Elite Eight.
Tradition of Winning
Every college sports fan knows about the tradition and history that surround the Ohio State football program. Anytime someone makes a visit to the hallowed Horseshoe, the history, energy and relevance of the structure and team is palpable.
But the Buckeye basketball team has its own tradition of winning, and it is a pretty formidable one at that.
In fact, there are only five programs in the history of college basketball that have been to more Final Fours than Ohio State, and each of those teams is the bluest of blue bloods when it comes to college basketball relevance (Duke, North Carolina, Kentucky, Kansas and UCLA).
The Buckeyes have also won 22 Big Ten regular-season titles, which is tied with Purdue for the most in conference history, according to Sports-Reference.com.
Ohio State may always be known as a football school, but it has an impressive resume when it comes to hoops as well.
Perhaps you have heard the phrase "keeping up with the Joneses." Well, that is exactly what Ohio State is trying to do right now.
Thad Matta has relentlessly attempted to convince the higher-ups of Buckeye Nation (read, the donors and athletic department) to build a top-notch basketball-only practice facility, and he is finally getting his wish.
Matta’s cause was undoubtedly helped by the construction of similar venues at Indiana, Michigan and Michigan State. After all, OSU doesn’t want to fall too far behind its conference rivals.
The Schottenstein Center is one of the best game buildings across the country (although, arguments can be made that it doesn’t get as loud as the old St. John’s Arena did), but everyone has a stadium that is used for games.
Ohio State will open up its multimillion-dollar practice facility prior to the 2013-14 season, and when it does, future players will be ready to once again assume the role of the Joneses instead of just trying to keep up with them.
One thing the Ohio State basketball program has plenty of is national exposure.
While every game may not be televised in prime time on ESPN like Duke’s are, the Buckeyes enjoy the spotlight of the television cameras every time they lace it up.
There are the nationally relevant games like those against Duke in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge, the premier conference showdowns against the likes of Indiana, Michigan and Michigan State and even major non-conference battles against teams like Kansas that Matta tries to schedule every year.
But there is one thing that the best programs in the Big Ten benefit from that those in other conferences do not. Even when the Buckeyes play against the cupcakes on their slate, they are on television thanks to the Big Ten Network.
Matta should certainly sell this point to those out-of-state recruits that he attempts to lure to Columbus. After all, what high school prospect’s family wouldn’t want to watch him every time he takes the court?
Chance to Play in the Best Conference
You think that coaches like Nick Saban and Les Miles don’t stress to high school football players that the SEC is by far the best conference in the country every season when it comes to football?
Hoops coaches in the Big Ten have the chance to do the same with basketball.
If Thad Matta, Tom Crean, John Beilein, Tom Izzo and Bo Ryan were smart (which I think they are), then they would be telling every high school player across the country that the Big Ten is the best basketball conference in the country.
While this factor may mean more to some prospects than it does to others, if all else is equal, this has to play a role in the recruitment of those players that want to challenge themselves.
Like it or not, a large portion of the best prospects across the country want to go to whichever school will give them the best chance to reach the NBA.
Since 2007, eight of Matta’s Buckeyes have been drafted to the professional ranks. Seven of those eight were taken in the first round, and three of them were selected as one of the first four picks.
While some of those players can definitely be criticized for their lack of production (Greg Oden and Kosta Koufos come to mind) in the NBA, no Big Ten program came close to logging as many professional minutes in the 2011-12 season as Ohio State did.
In fact, the second-place program (Michigan State) was more than 3,000 minutes behind the Buckeyes, per OhioStateBuckeyes.com.
Ohio State may not be Kentucky or North Carolina when it comes to funneling players into the Association, but it can hold its own against the majority of schools across the country. That means something to recruits in today’s basketball climate.