Basketball Recruiting Mailbag: Offense Wanted, Looking towards 2015

By Mike Young on March 20, 2014 at 8:00p

From the looks of it, Luke Kennard and Myles Turner (pictured above) enjoyed their visit to Duke. I've received numerous questions regarding both of them since Ohio State offered, and have a few more from you in today's basketball recruiting mailbag:

Do you think we have a realistic chance at Myles Turner? It seems as him and D'Angelo Russell would play well together, hopefully he'll see that at the McDonald's All American Game. - Ab1993

The Buckeyes have made it this far – along with Duke, Kansas, Kentucky, Oklahoma State, SMU and Texas – so, of course, it's realistic. Plus, he took one of his four official visits to Columbus.

I wouldn't categorize it as "likely," but his relationship with Thad Matta is one reason not to count them out. He's previously described his relationship with Matta as "simpatico" and told Bleacher Report that Matta is "one of the most genuine coaches" he's ever talked to. 

An interesting report recently surfaced, regarding Turner's recruitment. According to 105.3 The Fan in Dallas, Turner is close to committing to SMU. That would contradict multiple other reports – from the Fort-Worth Star-Telegram, for example – which say he'll decide in late April. 

He may still end up at SMU, but I don't expect an announcement anytime soon. He still wants to take an official visit to Texas, possibly an unofficial to Kentucky, and wants to see how he plays with fellow recruits at the McDonald's All American Game and Nike Hoops Summit. 

I'll stick with Kansas as his landing spot, but if Joel Embiid returns – another reason to delay his commitment – his recruitment will be wide-open. 

Who is your favorite player in the 2014 class? - Smanpoint10

Trollinois One of my favorite players in 2014. Not just because of this.

Naturally, I'm most excited to see D'Angelo Russell at the next level. 

As dynamic a guard as there is in his class, Russell can create his own shot, spot-up from anywhere, has high awareness in the pick-and-roll game, and is a strong finisher around the rim. I'm sure he'll be frustrating early in his career, as he learns proper shot selection. A lead guard with a scoring mentality and the ability to match will be a welcome change, however.

Outside of future Buckeyes, there aren't necessarily many transcendent talents in the 2014 class, but I am interested in watching Cliff Alexander at Kansas. His trolling abilities notwithstanding, I'll enjoy the matchup problems he creates with his pure bruising and physical play in the post, as well as his shot-blocking skills.

What are the current statuses of Calton Bragg and Luke Kennard? I've seen Kennard trending towards Kentucky, most recently Duke, and haven't heard a whole lot regarding Bragg. It would be a pretty big blow to lose that kind of in-state talent. - Lawver_5

As you can see at the top of the page, Luke Kennard is at the point where he's already taking official visits to the schools on his list. 

Last week, I wrote about his plan to "officially" visit Ohio State some time in April. In January, reported he wants to make a decision in March or April, but that timeline might be pushed back a little bit, as he schedules more officials. The one thing the Buckeyes have that no other school recruiting him can compete with: A.J. Harris, his AAU teammate and point guard. 

Bragg isn't nearly as far along in his recruitment, for a couple reasons. One, his VASJ team is in the Ohio Division-III State Finals and he can't take visits during the playoffs (although, I'm sure Matta and the OSU staff will find a way to say "hello" if they happen to return to Columbus this weekend). Bragg also doesn't have an offer from Duke, so I'm sure he'd like to work towards that, even if he doesn't inevitably end up there. 

Who would be your best guess, as our next commit, for 2015 and Thad? - Osubuck57

Kennard still feels like a long shot, while Bragg isn't likely to decide soon.

So – again, guessing, don't believe anyone is particularly close to making a decision that leans towards Ohio State – I'm going with Daniel Giddens (Wheeler, Ga.). 

He might even join high school teammate Jaylen Brown in college, making them a so-called "package deal." That would be a monster class for Ohio State and address all major team needs. In this hypothetical, maybe you're not totally disappointed by losing Bragg and Kennard to out-of-state schools. 

What under the radar prospects in Ohio or the Midwest could wind up with an offer down the road? - Buckeyebowhunter 

The one to keep an eye on, as both Jordan Wagner and I have brought up before, is Shaker Heights' forward Esa Ahmad. That's particularly true if Bragg goes elsewhere.

He's not as athletic as Bragg, but he might be more versatile. Ahmad has point guard skills with power forward size, which is evident when he runs the fast break. He has range out to the three-point line, can take guys off the dribble and displays a tremendous amount of touch around the rim. Essentially, he's a great fit in the LaQuinton Ross / Deshaun Thomas role as the "four" in Matta's system. 

Indiana recently offered, so he's no mid-major talent. Even though the Buckeyes haven't offered, the staff is not completely ignoring Ahmad (via Shaker Heights coach Danny Young):

Is there any talk about only recruiting guys that can hit above 60 percent from the free throw line? - KBonay

Not only is there talk – very clear action on the part of the staff, as you can see this year.

Seriously, though, Russell hit 81 percent of his free-throws during last year's AAU season and Keita Bates-Diop is also a very capable free-throw shooter. I suspect it won't be an issue going forward. Other than this year, Matta's teams have, largely, been an average free-throw shooting team, hitting around 70 percent.

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