Ohio State Basketball Recruiting Notebook: 11/14

By Mike Young on November 14, 2013 at 5:09p

A week ago, Thad Matta thought he had an early jump on his 2016 class.

Matta on Jae'Sean Tate: "He's a warrior." 

Four days later, he received a phone call dismissing that notion. Instead, the program moves onward without Payton Dastrup.

Otherwise, the beginning of the 2014 early signing period was uneventful, giving Matta and his staff a chance to officially assess how their class is shaping up.

Three other Big Ten schools added commitments in the past month, but only one is close to approaching the firepower of Ohio State’s 2014 group.

Plus, a trio of five-star recruits is announcing college decisions, Friday. All are former Buckeye targets, but will still affect OSU’s recruiting plans.

Matta scouts the 2014 signees

All four members of the current, 2014 Ohio State basktball recruiting class have signed and sent in their National Letters of Intent. This gave Matta the chance to publicly speak about each of these recruits for the first time, at a press conference today.

Keita Bates-Diop (6-7, 180, Normal, Ill.): "You're getting a long athlete who can really shoot the basketball. From the standpoint of playing multiple positions, he scores, he passes, he rebounds, he can defend, he can handle the basketball." 

Dave Bell (6-10, 225, Garfield Heights, Ohio): "He hasn't been playing basketball a long time, unlike a lot of these kids. He's long, he's athletic. He's one of those kids that wants to be at Ohio State. We'll bring his skill along, but he runs the floor, he blocks shots, he rebounds out of his area."

D'Angelo Russell (6-5, 176, Louisville, Ky.): "Getting another great guard at Ohio State. In terms of what position is he – a point guard or a two-guard? I don't know, exactly. I think we can run him at both. He's got the ability to make big-time plays with the basketball in his hands, be it three-point shots, driving and getting fouled. He makes guys around him better. He's a guy that won a national championship as a high school player. Montverde (Fla.) is one of the top high school programs in the country, so he's been coached." 

Jae'Sean Tate (6-5, 214, Pickerington, Ohio): "Everbody's asked me, 'what position is Jae'Sean?' and I don't know, but I do know he's going to be on the floor. He's a warrior. He's shot the ball better from deep, he's got a great first step, he can guard all five positions on the floor. His father, Jermaine, was a great player, as well. You're getting a great player, a guy who is a Buckeye." 

Overall, Ohio State has a consensus top-five class, well ahead of the rest of the conference. For now, Illinois and Indiana are the only two Big Ten schools in the top 25. The Illini would close the gap on the Buckeyes with a potential five-star commitment. 

Matta said he is excited about his class and highlighted the versatility of the group.

"We wanted to get Aaron [Craft] and Lenzelle [Smith Jr.] replaced. We feel, unequivocally, that we did that, with guys who can do a lot of different things," Matta said. "I like the position we're in." 

Signing day shock 

Dastrup was a Buckeye for about four days

It was a surprise to see Payton Dastrup break out a scarlet shirt at his college announcement last Thursday, as many felt his ties to BYU were too strong for him to go elsewhere.

In a roundabout way, that turned out to be true. Dastrup decommitted from the Buckeyes and will be a Cougar, after all. In the few days he was a verbal pledge to Ohio State, he wasn’t entirely at peace.

"I just felt more comfortable with BYU,” Dastrup told Scout.com, two days after informing Matta of his decision to flip. "After I did commit… I wasn’t miserable, but there was something missing."

The Mesa, Ariz. native was ready to make a cross-country trek to Columbus, but couldn’t leave behind his passion for BYU. His father, David Dastrup, told Eleven Warriors he supported Payton’s decision to chose Ohio State.

"Payton looks for opportunities that challenge him," David said. "Ohio State offers that in many aspects of his life."

David told the Deseret News it was a bigger challenge for his son to change his mind and choose BYU, after all.

"BYU was maybe the easy decision for Payton, and the one most expected, but I thought it was very courageous of him to go outside the norm and commit to Ohio State," David said. "As courageous as he was in committing to Ohio State, I think it was even more courageous to go with his feelings and act on them. It's an incredibly difficult thing for an 18-year old to make these type of decisions, but I couldn't be more proud of Payton and how he's handled it."

Payton still plans on serving a two-year mission before enrolling at BYU.

Alexander, Jones, and Okafor’s Announcements

Former Buckeye targets Tyus Jones and Jahlil Okafor have consistently stated their desires to team up in college

If they stay true to their word, they will announce what college they’ll be attending, Friday. In his USA Today blog, Jones said he’s still considering Baylor, Duke, Kansas and Minnesota.

Duke has been the rumored favorite for a while, but Kansas has reportedly made up significant ground. If the Jayhawks end up landing the superstar duo, it might affect their recruitment of Ohio State target Myles Turner.

Perhaps Turner will be less inclined to play with another big man in Okafor or – since they have dramatically different skill sets – he would play well off of him. If they don’t land Okafor and Jones, Kansas coach Bill Self might push that much harder to land Turner.

Cliff Alexander is another five-star recruit who will be deciding Friday. Kansas is after him, as well, but so is his home state Fighting Illini.

Landing the Chicago native would push Illinois’ 2014 class into the top-10 nationally and signify John Groce’s ability to land in-state talent. The program is already on the rise and a commitment from Alexander would expedite the Illini’s resurgence.



Comments Show All Comments

skid21's picture

This is an awesome class for Matta. Russell will start as a freshman IMO, Bates-Diop hasn't gotten the attention he deserves (even as a 4-5*) and Tate has gotten bigger and stronger. I haven't seen Bell play but if Matta thinks he has the potential then welcome aboard. Best of luck to Dastrup.

ibuck's picture

Russell will start as a freshman
Only if he plays D well. He's got the name for it, and Thad says "he's been coached," so I hope you're right.

Our honor defend, so we'll fight to the end !

If you can't win your conference, just quietly accept your non-playoff bowl game.

zisbal's picture

Why wouldn't Dastrup wait until after his mission to decide where he wanted to play ?

skid21's picture

I've heard he changed his mind and will postpone his mission, then I heard that isn't true. I don't know what his plans are. However I found this statement a bit ridiculous. I have no ill feelings towards the kid but don't make a worthless commitment seem like a heroic act. http://www.deseretnews.com/article/865590494/BYU-basketball-Payton-Dastrup-signs-with-BYU.html

BYU was maybe the easy decision for Payton, and the one most expected, but I thought it was very courageous of him to go outside the norm and commit to Ohio State," David said.

d5k's picture

Indeed, I have no ill will towards the kid but the dad sounds like a tool using the word courageous twice in that quote.

buck-I.8's picture

Because you can't really go on visits or have contact with coaches when you're in (likely) another country for multiple years

Poison nuts's picture

Get Turner!

"Do not pass me, just slow down - I can move right through you" Superchunk - Precision Auto.

ibuck's picture

With Hooch ?  ; )

Our honor defend, so we'll fight to the end !

If you can't win your conference, just quietly accept your non-playoff bowl game.

ap2538's picture

Hooch is crazy!

d5k's picture

No, really, Hooch is crazy.

chowoon97's picture

Really great recruiting class!

Hayze's picture

So we as Buckeye fans should be hoping that Okafor and Jones go to Kansas, right? That could give us an advantage in Turner.

EDUGOON's picture

Great class. I wonder who has most NBA Potential out of the group? Watch out for Groce and Illinois. If he can start to get into Chicago Watch Out rest of the country.

"We Don't Believe You, You Need More People"- Hova #GOBUCKS #FreeElGuapo #Famthik

d5k's picture

Keita has the body for it.  In terms of what scouts think, draftexpress doesn't have any of these guys as a 1 and done possibility.  They have Laquinton as an early 2nd rounder this year, and Shannon Scott getting drafted late next year.

oregonianbuckeye's picture

Sportscenter this morning (Friday) said that Myles Turner is committing today on ESPNU. I know a lot of big time guys are committing today, but this is the first I've heard Turner in that group. Anyone know if this is true or not? 

jaxbuckeye's picture

That is not correct.  Turner is not part of the group.  He plans to commit in Jan or Feb.

d5k's picture

I live in Pickerington and plan to go watch some games and see David Lighty 2.0 play.

Mark's picture

I live in Pickerington too.  I have gone to about 10 Pick Central hoops games in the past 2 years.  Tate has been dominant in every one of them.  Even 2 years ago when they won the state title. 
I often tell the story of walking into the first game I attended after moving into town a few years ago.  Me and my then 4 year old boy were a bit late and walked into the gym at the baseline munching on some popcorn in the 1st period.  Right as i walked in Levert (scUM) made an alley-oop pass to Tate who was on the baseline near me and he soared above everyone and slammed it home against Grove City.  My jaw dropped.  And then it dropped even further once I sat down and looked him up in my program & learned he was a sophmore!

Hayze's picture

Okafor and Jones to Duke.
Alexander to Kansas.