Ohio State may have lost its first game in the 2014 NCAA tournament, but Thad Matta has been on an absolute roll off the court.
Matta landed one of the best 2014 recruiting classes in the country, brought in multiple impact transfers (Anthony Lee and Trevor Thompson) to help with the lack of big men and is off to a blazing start in the 2015 recruiting cycle.
Here are a few of the top early storylines from the Buckeyes’ recruiting trail.
Race for the Top Spot
As of Tuesday, Ohio State is sitting pretty with the No. 2 overall class in the country. Only Syracuse currently stands in the Buckeyes' way of the top spot, although there will clearly be plenty of movement between now and national signing day.
Matta already has three 4-star prospects in tow, and he is ideally far from done with this group.
Carlton Bragg is the big name to keep an eye on as an elite power forward from the Cleveland area—especially since the three recruits Matta has consist of a point guard, shooting guard and small/power forward hybrid.
The Buckeyes need future depth at the center and power forward positions, but Kentucky, Kansas and others also have their eyes on Bragg.
If Matta can land Bragg and perhaps another game-changing prospect or two, Ohio State could end up with the top class in the country. It is a lot to ask for, but it would be a surprise at this point if the Buckeyes don’t at least end up in the top 10.
Backcourt Already in Place
Matta already has a potential starting backcourt in his 2015 class in A.J. Harris and Austin Grandstaff.
Grandstaff is a scoring machine who can hit from behind the three-point line with ease from the shooting guard spot, which will be a breath of fresh air in Columbus after a season filled with bricks.
Grandstaff’s father, Wes, commented on his son’s fit at Ohio State in an interview with Mike Young of Eleven Warriors:
We really like Coach Matta's style of play, his players seem to play with quite a bit of freedom. Austin can push it and make plays off the dribble or he can come off screens. He has a high basketball IQ, knows how to read defenses really well and good with the pick and roll.
Harris, on the other hand, is a point guard who is perfectly suited to replace the tenacious defense of Aaron Craft and Shannon Scott. His speed stands out immediately when watching him play, and his athleticism and overall quickness allow him to harass opposing ball-handlers and create turnovers.
Harris also brings an explosive first step to the offensive side of the ball, which helps him get to the rim and either finish for himself or kick out to open shooters.
He also has shown gradual improvement in his perimeter shooting.
A Family Affair
There was a time when Ohio State football fans were thrilled about the prospects of linebacker Mike Mitchell. He was an Urban Meyer recruit who was supposed to come in and challenge for playing time right away, but he transferred out of the program to be closer to his family.
However, Mike’s younger brother, Mickey Mitchell, appears to be Columbus-bound as a basketball recruit.
Mickey is arguably the most important recruit in this class thus far because of his versatility and pure scoring ability. He can play power forward or small forward and score from inside the paint, with a mid-range jumper, off the dribble or even from the outside.
The Buckeyes need more scoring, and Mitchell provides just that.
He is also a solid rebounder and defender. Matta would be well-served to ensure that Mickey remains a part of this class.
Recruiting information courtesy of 247Sports.com.
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