Ohio State Basketball Recruiting Notebook: 1/16

By Mike Young on January 16, 2014 at 4:15p

The exposure Ohio State receive is almost unparalleled in the world of college athletics, but some get a small taste of what it will be like before they even step on campus.

Not the first time he's been on ESPN, definitely not the last. 

For example, D'Angelo Russell and his Montverde Academy squad appeared on ESPN, Saturday. While the majority of sports fans were, presumably, tuned into the Saints-Seahawks NFL playoff game, it was still a solid introduction to Russell for the Ohio State fans that were watching. If you missed it, Eleven Warriors has the recap. 

In-state, one of the Buckeyes' top 2015 targets visited Columbus for an uninspired OSU performance. This weekend, he'll be participating in a national showcase close to his Southwest Ohio hometown. 

Thad Matta and his staff still have work to do on their 2016 class, and they'll get a visit from one of the top guards graduating in that year.


Ohio State's highest ranked recruit is also the lead guard for the top-ranked high school basketball team in the country, according to USA Today. The No. 1 Montverde Academy (Fla.) Eagles sit at 15-0 after dismantling Oak Ridge (Fla.) on national TV.

First off, the game was televised on ESPN – the "mother ship," the main channel – but the best Montverde could do for announcers Mike Couzens and Paul Biancardi was the front row of the bleachers? As far as on-court action goes, I took a few notes on Russell's play:

  • Russell started things early by jumping all over a telegraphed pass, taking it end to end with fluidity and finishing with a solid left-hand jam.
  • Montverde loves to get out in transition. There's no more perfect example of that than when – off a made bucket – Russell launched an alley-oop pass from beyond the timeline and over the entire Oak Ridge team to LSU commit Ben Simmons. Ridiculous athleticism on Montverde and a perfect set-up from the Buckeye signee. 
  • As a result of their fast-break style, Russell didn't create as much offense in the half-court as he did in AAU ball. However, that didn't mean he wasn't active in the half court. On one possession, he dove towards the basket while a teammate had the ball in the post and got in great position on the offensive glass. Ultimately, Russell kept the play alive by tipping a rebound to a teammate.
  • He did initiate the offense almost every time down. On a few possessions, he was able to create for others, including a hesitation dribble off a pick-and-roll which opened up a three on the wing. He kicked it out to the "hot hand" at the time, Xavier signee Makinde London, who drilled the shot.
  • On other occasions, Russell resorted to a quick, pull-up jumper when he saw some separation. The touch on his jump shots is outstanding.
  • I wasn't able to see enough of his on-ball defense as I would've liked. On one possession, he chased the opposing Oak Ridge player out to the timeline and immediately found himself out of position. 
  • There are a few things I want to see before I deem him ready to step in and play immediately at point guard. Based on his game, he will soak up everything Thad Matta will teach him next fall, and I expect him to play in some capacity. He has a high basketball-IQ and, as far as I counted, only took two bad shots all game. 

Meanwhile, Ohio State target and 2015 four-star recruit Noah Dickerson will transfer from North Atlanta High School to Montverde. Talent just keeps flowing in to the Central Florida school.

Kennard visits

Buckeye fans might not want to revisit what went down, Sunday, against Iowa. Understandable, but for the purposes of basketball recruiting, it wasn't all bad. 

Franklin (Ohio) guard and five-star, 2015 recruit Luke Kennard sat behind the Ohio State bench and was summarily treated to a slew of turnovers. At least it wasn't his first impression of the university – he visited multiple times in the fall, which included an unofficial visit for the Wisconsin football game. 

According to Scout.com, Kennard would like to make a decision in March or April. If you haven't seen him play, here's Kennard dropping 46 points on Oakwood (video courtesy of Scarberry Media): 

National showcase in Kettering

Another chance for fans to see Kennard will be Saturday at 6:45 p.m. His Franklin squad will be one of 37 schools competing in the "Good Samaratin Flyin' To The Hoop" invitational in Kettering, Ohio.

It's not all about one player, as Trent Arena will host an array of talented squads. Local recruits include 2015 Ohio State commit A.J. Harris, whose Dayton-Dunbar squad will take on Marian Catholic (Ill.) and Kentucky signee Tyler Ullis at 8:30 p.m., Saturday. 

Two future Buckeyes will also take part in the invitational. Dave Bell and Garfield Heights (Ohio) will match up against Prime Prep (Texas), Sunday at 6:45 p.m. Prime Prep features stud point guard and SMU signee Emmanuel Mudiay, among others.

Keita Bates-Diop and University (Ill.) play twice – the second of which is Monday at 6:30 p.m. against Beavercreek (Ohio). OSU target and 2016 five-star recruit V.J. King will travel with his St. Vincent-St.Mary (Akron) to take on Bates-Diop and University, Sunday at 5 p.m. 

For a full list of games, the schedule is listed here. Those in Southwest Ohio and the surrounding area might want to check out tickets, which can be found on the Flying To The Hoop web site.

future visit from 2016 guard

Matta and the Buckeye basketball staff will soon receive a visit from a top-tier 2016 guard, according to SNY.tv

New Jersey native and five-star guard Tyus Battle is scheduled to attend the Michigan State game, March 9, in Columbus. Battle's father, Gary, confirmed the future visit and spoke of his son's desire to see a game at The Schott.

"Ohio State’s really working hard," Gary Battle told SNY.tv. "We’re definitely going to get out to Ohio State, this year, because we haven’t been there."

Indiana, Syracuse, UConn and Villanova, among others, also have offers out to Tyus Battle. For those unfamiliar with Battle, check out these highlights, via Iowa Elites. 


Comments Show All Comments

BuckeyeSouth's picture

Wow, Kennard has a sweet stroke!  That fade-away jumper from nearly the 3 point line was impressive.  Hope we land him.

Champions.  Undisputed.  

UrbanAssaultVehicle's picture

Kennard looks like he might add a nice three point dimension that we don't really have right now (no offense Amadeo).

Seattle Linga's picture

This class is so smooth - can't wait until it gets rolling. The haters will surely rise to the top.

chirobuck's picture

Ohio is loaded the next couple years, we really need to keep the talent in the state


^ best post ever ^

Woodshed's picture

Man, I really hope osu can keep kennard and bragg in state.
Reading the tea leaves is certainly not very encouraging on kennard but I suppose a bit more encouraging on bragg.
With the 2 commits already in hopefully it helps encourage these guy to come in and complete one of the best classes in the country.

skid21's picture

I've always heard Kennard was UK's to lose. Heard he and his family are huge Wildcat fans. He has an offer from UK so I'm surprised he hasn't committed yet. Mike, do you know if his UK offer is committable? I would think it is. I really have very little hope he ends up at OSU. I hope I'm wrong.

tennbuckeye19's picture

From what I've read, Kennard and Bragg are both very much Kentucky's to lose. Bragg recently picked up a UK offer, which was a described as a "dream offer". Kennard narrowed his list down to 7 with Kentucky, Louisville, OSU, UM, Duke, UNC, and Florida.

skid21's picture

How much would that suck to lose both of them to UK? I understand UK is a basketball school with a lot of history (not all good) but why go be just another highly ranked player on a stop to the NBA? If you're good you'll go to the NBA regardless of where you play. It's not like UK players are all NBA all-stars.

Iwearmocs's picture

For the same reason football players want to come here.  I think we have the best of both worlds when it comes to football and basketball, but we're a football school.

skid21's picture

I understand that OSU is a football school and never implied differently. Basketball is different than football (duh!) because of the numbers. The number of recruits per year isn't comparable. There are 5 players on the floor playing offense and defense. The opportunity to stand out is much greater. if you're good, you stay for one year. Football OTOH you have at least 3 years in the program. I just don't think UK is preparing players for the NBA any better than OSU. They get the top recruits so they have a lot of first round picks who would be first round pick anywhere they went. I just think Cal is WAY overrated in terms of developing talent.

cdub4's picture

Just like OSU football, players want to practice against the best and have the chance to win championships. Kentucky is an elite basketball power. To me it would be like comparing OSU to MSU in football. A player could get coached up at MSU and play for a top 10-15 team, and make the NFL, but if Urban Meyer and OSU offer the same kid, the majority would have OSU above MSU IMO.

Deadly Nuts's picture

The other team with the best of both worlds is Michigan State.... Both in the Big Ten.