Ohio State Basketball: Sales Pitch for Each Top 2014 Recruiting Target
Ohio State’s 2014 recruiting class is on pace to rank in the top two or three of the country, but if Thad Matta lands another top prospect or two he could put the finishing touches on the No. 1 group come national signing day.
The Buckeyes are heavy players for a number of the top remaining recruits, including Jahlil Okafor, Tyus Jones, Leron Black and Justise Winslow. Matta will have work cut out for him if he wants to beat out top notch programs such as Duke, Kentucky and Michigan State, but he has a track record as an excellent recruiter.
Read on to see a sales pitch he can give to these prospects as he attempts to land his fifth or sixth impact prospect for the 2014 class.
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There are programs across the country with a more prestigious history than Ohio State in terms of sending players to the NBA, but Thad Matta has established a reliable and consistent pipeline during his time in Columbus.
When Deshaun Thomas was selected by the Spurs in the most recent NBA draft, it marked the seventh consecutive year that Matta had a player picked. Included among that list of names are players such as Mike Conley Jr., Jared Sullinger and Evan Turner.
All Matta has to do is make it perfectly clear to the 2014 recruits that as long as they live up to their potential, the opportunity is there to play as a professional. A successful Buckeye is going to land on an NBA scout’s radar every single time, unlike someone who plays at a smaller school.
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Ohio State has made a habit of winning the Big Ten regular season, the Big Ten tournament and advancing deep in the NCAA tournament under Thad Matta.
However, this 2014 class (much like the 2006 one) has the chance to be ridiculously good and play at a national championship caliber. With high-caliber recruits Keita Bates-Diop, D’Angelo Russell and Jae’Sean Tate already aboard, this group is filling out at an impressive level.
The 2014 recruits could bring Matta that elusive first national championship to go along with his conference crowns and Final Four appearances. A legitimate chance to win a national title, especially right away, is about as good of a trump card as a coach can play on the recruiting trail.
Fortunately for Buckeye fans, Matta holds that card right now.
Learn from the Seniors
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A big part of having a successful college basketball career is learning from the right people, whether it is a coaching staff or the players currently in the program. Thad Matta has the opportunity to offer the 2014 recruits just that.
Assuming there are no early entrees in next season’s NBA draft (which is certainly a big assumption in LaQuinton Ross’ case), Shannon Scott, Ross, Sam Thompson, Trey McDonald and Amir Williams will all be seniors when the 2014 group arrives on campus.
That means the young guns will have a system in place that features a long list of accomplished upperclassmen. The transition will theoretically go smoother, the level of play in practice will be at a competitive level and the freshman will only get better.
Many teams can only offer the chance to learn from one or two talented seniors, but Matta could potentially have five under his wing to help the early development.
Play for One of the Game’s Best Coaches
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Thad Matta doesn’t garner the same type of headlines that coaches such as Tom Izzo, Mike Krzyzewski or John Calipari do, but he is one of the most successful and consistent coaches in the entire country.
Matta doesn’t necessarily have to toot his own horn on the recruiting trail to the 2014 prospects, but it wouldn’t hurt the Buckeyes’ chances if a few assistants reminded these recruits about Matta’s recent track record.
In nine seasons at the helm in Columbus, Matta has five regular season Big Ten crowns, four Big Ten tournament titles (including three of the past four), appearences in two Final Fours and four straight Sweet 16s, a long list of NBA players (including the aforementioned streak of seven consecutive drafts with a player drafted) and at least 20 wins every season (including his time at Butler and Xavier).
Matta may be recruiting against some of the game’s best names, but his resume stacks up against almost all of his peers.
Follow and interact with Ohio State basketball writer Scott Polacek on Twitter @ScottPolacek.