Happy Recruitmas Eve, Buckeye fans. This week, an event that we've been waiting for and talking about for many months finally arrives.
I am, of course, referring to the return of Community on Thursday. But I guess National Signing Day tomorrow is a big deal, too.
Here at 11W, we'll have lots of coverage and gray boxes as we all welcome the new Buckeyes into the fold. Alex, Derek, and Miles have especially worked hard this year to bring everyone the latest developments in the recruiting world, so hopefully they'll be able to take it easy for about a day until they focus all their attention on the class of 2014.
Exciting as it may be to think about the potential of the 2013 class, ranked right now No. 2 in the nation by most services, some of us also probably agree with Dontre Wilson when he said that he was "ready to get it over with now," right before he became the latest commitment for
the University of Ohio State The Ohio State University.
To be fair, his announcement on a local news station followed numerous macabre stories in the greater Dallas area, so you can't blame him for wanting to declare for Ohio State and then get out of there ASAP.
But the one-time Oregon commit most likely was tired of a turbulent of sorts recruitment in the past month or so. He no doubt felt betrayed by Chip Kelly leaving for the NFL, and the Ducks' loss is Ohio State's gain. I think we all feel pretty good about Urban Meyer adding another speedy playmaker to his arsenal.
However, something entirely different demands our attention tonight when the No. 10 Ohio State basketball team heads to Ann Arbor to face the No. 3 Wolverines for the second time this season. Even though the Buckeyes won the first meeting, it'll be a tough task — after all, last year's team couldn't even pull off the win in Crisler Arena.
Then again, Thad Matta is 17-3 against Michigan in his career.
YOU AIN'T NOTHIN' BUT A GUTLESS YELLOW TURD. Aaron Craft's defense on Player of the Year candidate Trey Burke was one of the biggest factors in Ohio State's win last month. Given Craft's history of frustrating Burke, it's no surprise that John Beilein will try to play keep away:
Although there is mutual respect between the two players, it's clear that the matchup means a lot to both, not just because it's Ohio State-Michigan, but also because each represents a huge challenge to the other.
Still, they both claimed that the real competition isn't between the two of them. As Burke told reporters yesterday:
"I don't take it personally at all," Burke said Monday. "Like I said, it's going to be between Ohio State and Michigan. It's not going to be Aaron Craft-Trey Burke. It's going to be a team thing. I'm going to do whatever it takes to get my team a win."
Getting the win is obviously most important, but you just know that it's a source of pride, too, and Craft wants to continue to get the better of Burke while Burke would love to get revenge on Craft.
Beilein's other strategy to hinder Craft involves trying to blind him with Michigan's Day-Glo uniforms and matching Punky Brewster-esque shoes. Considering Ohio State's alternate uniforms tonight and their "new" athletic logo, maybe we shouldn't mock Michigan too much — just kidding. There's no such thing as mocking Michigan too much.
SON OF A GUNNER. As anyone who has watched Deshaun Thomas play since his freshman year can tell you, he has matured a lot on the court. The B1G's leading scorer will never stop loving to shoot, but he's a much more complete player now, and he has matured off the court, as well.
On the most recent episode of BTN's The Journey, Thomas was profiled and his son, Deshaun Jr., was included in a segment2. The Lantern provided a few more details about how his son, who was born the same day that Ohio State beat Cincinnati in the Sweet Sixteen, has been motivation for Thomas to work harder.
With a young child and the burden of being the only reliable scorer for a top 10 team, Thomas has a lot on his shoulders, but it doesn't seem to be adversely affecting him. Kyle noticed how Thomas beams when he discusses his son, so the opposite could probably be said.
His coach, for one, is impressed with how he's handled everything:
“Deshaun has obviously blossomed as a person in terms of from where he started on day one to where he was now,” said coach Thad Matta. “I know the parenting situation is something he takes very serious. His life is a little different now than most college guys and him accepting that responsibility, very proud of how he handled that situation.”
Now I guess someone should break it to Mike DeCourcy that Deshaun loves something more than shooting the basketball.
OH, WE'RE HALFWAY THERE. Tonight kicks off the second half of Big Ten season, and though we've also learned quite a bit from the first nine games, a lot can change over the course of the final nine.
Joe Rexrode of the Detroit Free Press and BTN's Tom Dienhart and Brent Yarina offered their midseason All-B1G awards. There's mostly an agreement among the three when it comes to the first team. Deshaun Thomas joins Trey Burke and Indiana's Victor Oladipo and Cody Zeller on all three lists, but the writers disagree when it comes to the fifth player. Rexrode chose MSU's Keith Appling while Dienhart went with Appling's teammate Adreian Payne. Yarina's pick was Tim Hardaway Jr.
At this point, Burke is the consensus POY in the league while Oladipo has unseated Craft as the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year. Gary Harris leads the way for Freshman of the Year and Beilein, Tom Izzo, and Bo Ryan (?) were all mentioned for Coach of the Year, though because it's not football, that award will probably go to whoever wins the conference.
That, obviously, won't be decided for a while, but among the contenders for the title, Dienhart thinks that Indiana, who will come to the Schott on Sunday, has the toughest row to hoe and Michigan has the easiest. They may have games against Ohio State, Indiana, and Michigan State remaining, but the Wolverines still have two games against Penn State on the schedule, so that's probably an accurate assessment.
THE QUIET MAN. Mackensie Alexander is one of the top players in the state of Florida, a five-star cornerback with offers from nearly every major program. He'll make his choice known tomorrow on ESPNU. ESPN wrote a story about him.
So naturally, he probably can't get enough of all the attention, right? Well, not according to said ESPN story. Alexander does his best to avoid any of it. From the impoverished town of Immokalee, Florida, Alexander has a small circle of trust that includes his twin brother, Mackenro, who will also play college football, and his parents, who emigrated from Haiti and don't speak much English.
Another member of that circle is his algebra teacher, Jori Mason, a graduate of Ohio State who helped both brothers, as well as other students, get their academics in order so that they could attend college.
Life isn't easy for many in Immokalee, and one person who did make it out was former Ohio State linebacker Brian Rolle, who put it, "Immokalee made me learn how to work."
For Mackensie, who has worked hard but maybe not talked much about it, he'll leave for college somewhere and his reason for continuing to work hard is "I want to take care of my parents one day. That's why I'm so driven."
YOU GOTTA LINK ABOUT IT, LINK, LINK ABOUT IT. Ohio State baseball is picked to finish second in the B1G... Accident or not, Jordan Hulls is very punchable... Bama's weight room is the largest city in Alabama... S-E-C!... Fire Mack Brown... Don't you forget about The Avengers meets The Breakfast Club trailer... The Adventures of Pete & Pete 20th (!) Anniversary Reunion... How rude: The best insults from 90s TV kids.