Ohio State Basketball Recruiting: Where Buckeyes Stand with Top 2014 Targets

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured ColumnistSeptember 16, 2013

Ohio State Basketball Recruiting: Where Buckeyes Stand with Top 2014 Targets

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    Thad Matta and the Ohio State basketball program got off to a blazing start in the 2014 recruiting cycle and should finish with one of the highest-ranked classes in the country.

    In fact, Matta’s group of four commits was recently ranked No. 2 by 247sports.com behind only North Carolina. Three of Ohio State’s four prospects are expected to contribute right away. Per Scout.com, D’Angelo Russell and Keita Bates-Diop are 5-star recruits, while Jae’sean Tate is a 4-star and Dave Bell is a 3-star.

    The Buckeyes are not done recruiting and are desperately searching for a big man to provide some long-term depth behind the inconsistent Amir Williams. Read on to see where the Scarlet and Gray stand with some of their top targets in 2014.

Jahlil Okafor

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    Jahlil Okafor is the ultimate prize for teams looking for big men in the 2014 class. Ohio State is certainly one of those teams.

    If the Buckeyes are going to shock the nation and land Okafor though, they are going to have to make up a lot of ground against some of the nation’s best programs.

    As the roster stands now, Thad Matta has only one remaining scholarship to hand out (it would become two if LaQuinton Ross declared for the NBA after the season), and Okafor insists he is playing college ball with point guard Tyus Jones.

    Duke has to be considered the favorites to land both Okafor and Jones at this point. In fact, Ohio State probably won’t even receive an official visit from Okafor despite Jared Sullinger’s early efforts in mentoring the prospect.

    If you are hoping Ohio State lands a Greg Oden and Mike Conley Jr. 2.0 combination in Jones and Okafor, you will in all likelihood be quite disappointed.

Myles Turner

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    Right now all signs are pointing in the right direction for the Kansas Jayhawks when it comes to Myles Turner’s recruitment, but Ohio State is in better standing than it was even just one week ago.

    The Buckeyes officially offered Turner a scholarship recently and will likely be able to get the Texas native on campus for an official visit in October. However, he will attend Kansas’ “midnight madness” event on Oct. 4, which will certainly be an impressive first impression for the program that is considered the favorite.

    For now, programs like Arizona, Duke, Kentucky and Louisville are also showing interest in Turner, who is probably the nation’s best big man this side of Jahlil Okafor.

    Ohio State certainly has a chance here assuming Thad Matta can get Turner on campus for a visit, but the Jayhawks are still the team to beat.

Elbert Robinson

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    Ohio State is clearly still looking for a big guy in the 2014 class, and Elbert Robinson is about as big as high-school prospects come.

    He is listed as north of 300 pounds on Scout.com and will likely be a force in the middle at the collegiate level. He doesn’t shy away from contact, which will certainly be beneficial in the physical Big Ten.

    The Buckeyes probably have the best chance to land Robinson of all the post players they are currently pursuing. They are considered one of the three finalists to land his services, meaning their only real competition lies in the form of Georgetown and Louisville.

    Granted, those are two of the elite programs in the nation, one of which has Rick Pitino, so Thad Matta has his work cut out for him. Ohio State could be in this race until the end, and landing Robinson would truly round out an impressive group for the Buckeyes.

Goodluck Okonoboh

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    While Goodluck Okonoboh’s impressive name is the first thing that jumps out about him on paper, he has a game to match.

    He is an athletic shot-blocker who would give Thad Matta the inside presence he is looking for to finish out this class. However, the Buckeyes were a bit late to the part in pursuing Okonoboh, which may ultimately be their undoing in the end.

    Now premier programs like Duke, Indiana, Florida and UNLV are all recruiting Okonoboh, which means the Scarlet and Gray have an uphill battle in front of them if they are going to land his services.

    That being said, this is still a fairly wide open battle and fluid situation with the interested schools, so stay tuned. Matta definitely still has a chance.

JaQuan Lyle

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    There once was a time when Ohio State was one of the primary pursuers in JaQuan Lyle’s recruitment, but the versatile point guard gave a verbal pledge to Rick Pitino and Louisville.

    However, Lyle parted ways with the Cardinals recently and reopened his recruitment. Whichever program lands his talents will have someone who can effectively fill the point or shooting guard spot, handle the ball with ease, overpower a lot of defenders and finish through contact.

    The logical thought process from a Buckeye point of view would be that Thad Matta jumps back in on Lyle since he was so interested before, but the Scarlet and Gray have D’Angelo Russell and a deep backcourt in the fold at this point. 

    What Ohio State really needs is a big man to finish out this class, which means that despite Lyle’s incredible talent, it would be somewhat surprising to see Matta go down this road again.

    Follow and interact with Ohio State basketball writer Scott Polacek on Twitter @ScottPolacek.