Although it will be without drama in the halls of the Schottenstein Center in Columbus, college basketball’s 2013 spring signing period is officially among us.
Ohio State has had its two prospects officially signed and in tow for quite some time, but as official commitments roll in across the country it is worth reintroducing ourselves to the newest members of the Buckeyes. Marc Loving and Kameron Williams will provide Thad Matta with much needed depth and versatility in a 2013-14 season that will not see Deshaun Thomas suiting up in scarlet and gray.
Without further ado, let’s meet Ohio State’s 2013 class.
Ohio’s Mr. Basketball Award counts Trey Burke, Jared Sullinger, William Buford, Jon Diebler, O.J. Mayo, Jamar Butler, Jim Jackson and some guy named LeBron James as past winners, so Marc Loving is in some pretty elite company.
The Toledo-native was given the award by the Associated Press after a senior season that saw him score better than 21 points and grab 8.4 rebounds a night. Loving also finished his prep career as his school’s all-time leading scorer.
Loving measures in at 6’8” and approximately 200 pounds, which means he will ultimately assume the role of stretch forward that Thomas left vacant by departing for the NBA. It is unfair to expect Loving to fill that type of scoring role right away (Thomas led the Big Ten this year), but he should pose as the type of matchup nightmare that Thomas was during his three years in Columbus.
He can play either forward position and is comfortable scoring in a variety of ways. Loving can post up smaller defenders, face up and drive around slower opponents or hit the mid-range jump shot with soft touch. That type of versatility will be critical if he hopes to play significant minutes as a freshman.
Defensively, Loving uses his length and athleticism to contest shots, rebound and get inside passing lanes. He’s not exactly Aaron Craft on that side of the ball, but he won’t have much of an issue acclimating to Ohio State’s defensive-oriented culture.
If there is anything Loving has to particularly develop, it may be his strength and toughness on the blocks, but that is something that will quickly follow consistent playing time at the collegiate level.
Look for him to see plenty of action next season off the bench for Matta. He is capable of spelling LaQuinton Ross or Sam Thompson in the 3 or 4 spot or even filling Thomas’ vacant role as the “big man” in Matta’s center-less lineup.
Loving’s fellow 2013 signee will also find himself as part of those quicker and smaller rotations.
If there is any doubt why Kameron Williams is a part of Matta’s 2013 class, consider the fact that Ohio State ranked a disappointing 110th in the country in points per game and 79th in the country in three-point percentage.
The high-scoring native of Baltimore weighs in at 6’3” and about 170 pounds, and should fit right in with the Buckeyes, even as a freshman. Williams will have a number of different roles to fill in scarlet and gray, but his primary one will be the game’s most basic—putting the ball in the basket.
He had no issues scoring against his local high school competition, and he even showed off his prowess against elite opponents in the Nike Elite Youth Basketball league, a spring/summer circuit consisting of the nation’s top traveling teams. Williams was the top scorer (22.2 points per game) and hit 53 percent of his field-goal attempts, 47.9 percent of his three-point shots and 84.8 percent of his free throws.
The Buckeyes are going to need those numbers after Thomas, their only legitimate scoring option for much of the 2012-13 campaign, elected to go to the NBA. Williams may also give Matta his first automatic three-point threat since Diebler (although there is hope among Buckeye Nation that Ross joins him with that distinction).
Which freshman are you more excited to watch?
Williams adds an intriguing option on the defensive side. He is small, shifty and quick, which will fit in perfectly with the Craft and Shannon Scott full-court press that Matta utilized down the stretch last season. The Buckeyes gave a number of grind-it-out Big Ten teams fits with their athleticism, and Williams should only exacerbate that.
Look for Williams to spell Craft, Scott and Lenzelle Smith Jr. at times in 2013-14, but if he can find the basket with a fraction of the consistency that he did in high school, he will see significant minutes even as a freshman.
If Ohio State hopes to return to the Final Four after a one-year hiatus, it is going to need solid production from each of its members of the 2013 class.