If Thad Matta can find a way to finish his 2014 recruiting class with one impact big man, a national championship may be in the future cards for Ohio State.
After all, the Buckeyes already have the No. 2 class in the country per Scout.com, on the back of two 5-star prospects, a 4-star prospect and a 3-star long-term project. There is a point/shooting guard, two versatile small forwards and a center in that group, but big man Dave Bell is the one who needs the most polishing.
With only one more scholarship available for the 2014 class (potentially two if LaQuinton Ross decides to go pro, but that scholarship will still likely be banked for 2015), there are only a handful of players who could make or break this class.
Read on to find out who they are.
If Ohio State wants to land an impact big man to really round out its 2014 class, Myles Turner is its final chance.
The Buckeyes have already struck out on the likes of Jahlil Okafor, Elbert Robinson and Goodluck Okonoboh and are not considered the favorites to land Turner’s services, either. Kansas is the front-runner for now, and schools such as local Texas and perhaps even Kentucky and Duke are still in contention, depending on where Okafor goes.
The good news for the Scarlet and Gray is that Turner was on campus for a visit this past weekend, when the football team hosted Iowa for Homecoming. If Thad Matta has any hope of landing Turner, making a strong impression when he is touring the program is absolutely critical.
If Turner chooses to go elsewhere, it would mean another swing and miss for the Buckeyes in the big man department. It would be a tough way to finish a recruiting cycle that started out with such incredible momentum.
The same sense of desperation for Ohio State regarding the Myles Turner situation could be similarly applied to its pursuit of Payton Dastrup—but there is one caveat.
Dastrup does not plan on entering college until 2016 after serving what will be a two-year Mormon mission. Considering the Buckeyes’ poor luck with big men in the 2014 class, it’s rather unfortunate for Thad Matta and company that Dastrup isn’t an immediate option.
That being said, the Scarlet and Gray would still like to land Dastrup. He is a lengthy defensive stopper who would give Ohio State a formidable post presence. He has soft touch around the basket and can pass out of double teams.
Dastrup was on campus alongside Turner this past weekend. He isn’t the prize that Turner is because of the two-year wait, but Dastrup would still help round out a 2014 class that needs an impact big man.
For as much angst that has followed Ohio State’s failure to land an impact big man for its 2014 class, the Buckeyes could still be in a great position if Dave Bell turns into a diamond in the rough.
The Ohio native was a late bloomer in the recruiting world, as he just started to become a formidable option late in his high school career. The Buckeyes pounced on him early in the recruiting process, which did turn some heads, because he isn’t exactly of the same caliber as some of the other players Thad Matta was pursuing.
However, Bell is versatile and lengthy and makes his presence felt on the defensive end. He can swat shots away and clean up on the glass, which will make him valuable in Matta’s defense-first system.
Bell can also hit from mid-range, put the ball on the floor and back down smaller defenders. If he develops into a special player, Matta would already have the big man he has been looking for. Sure, it may be a lot to ask right away, but there have been plenty of 3-star prospects who have outperformed expectations at the collegiate level.
Follow and interact with Ohio State basketball writer Scott Polacek on Twitter @ScottPolacek.