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.


Comments Show All Comments

laishley15's picture

I have read that Giddens has serious interest in OSU, but I have not heard of Jaylen Brown.  Does Brown have serious interest in OSU, or could it be a repeat of Okafor and Jones where Jones had no interest in going to OSU? I think that lead to Okafor not really considering OSU since he was always going to play with Jones.

+1 HS
c92996p's picture

I'm no expert on the situation, but I don't think Brown is nearly as high on OSU as Giddens is.  Also, I don't think the package deal is completely set in stone, they just hinted at the prospect of it.  I could be completely wrong though, so take my word as a grain of salt

+1 HS
bergy22's picture

Rotation should be wide open for playing time next year. Excited to see what these guys can do!

+1 HS
gm3jones's picture

You have scott, thompson and Q if he comes back (which I dont think he will) as starters in my eyes.

There is nothing more remarkable as learning to think better.

+1 HS
bdegroff's picture

As long as Matta sticks to his defense first mentality, there aren't going to be many freshman who see playing time. I understand there are nuances to playing D. Understanding screens, when to help, standing tall in the lane. Effort on D is huge as well. However, Matta has proven his way works. Just hoping the bucks find scorers who play D!

-1 HS
ghalephoto's picture

D'angelo will see a lot of playing time from day 1.  He is that good.

+3 HS
Adam21's picture

Marc Loving, Aaron Craft, Deshaun Thomas, Jared Sullinger, William Buford, and Jon Diebler all saw pretty significant playing time (top 7/8 of rotation) as freshman since the Thad 5. I'm sure I'm missing some, as those are just off the top of my head.

+1 HS
buckeyehub's picture

Personally haven't heard much of what people think of the three recruits outside of D'Angelo Russell. Bates-Diop, Tate, and Bell. Specifically Bell, what's the big man look like in the paint, being 6'9?

“Anyone can run the option. I can run the option.” - Urban Meyer
Let's beat the snot out of *ichigan.

2002osubuck's picture

I read that he's grown like 2" this past year and is now 6'11". I hope he can bring something to the center spot next year.

+1 HS
MikeEagleBuckeye's picture

Any news on the Mickey Mitchell front?

+2 HS
bukyze's picture

KBonay with the question of the year!

+1 HS
Fowle13's picture

Gotta get kennard kid can shoot lights out. Can't lose him to anyone!

+1 HS
Knarcisi's picture



In state



Buckeye Chuck's picture

The recruiting of Kennard and Bragg is a pretty My sense of the history of Ohio State basketball is that, possibly because we're not one of the true blueblood programs, once a coach loses his recruiting mojo, it never comes back. That was certainly the case with Eldon Miller and Randy Ayers, the two coaches in my time here who were fired for record-based reasons. When you can't get the in-state players you really want, your status as an elite program is wobbly.

The most "loud mouth, disrespect" poster on 11W.

-2 HS
buckguy10's picture

A top 3 recruiting class in 2014 with the chance to be higher if we get Turner and Matta has "lost his recruiting mojo?" Everyone was praising Urban Meyer for his top 5 class a few months ago...

+3 HS
bucksfan92's picture

You really can't compare Matta to Miller and Ayers.  Miller was a doofus who didn't know how to motivate or get his players to perform at their highest level.  Ayers was a bad hire.  The dude was 34 and had never been a head coach.  His recruiting skills were best as an assistant when there was someone above him to say "no" to the bad apple kids.  Matta will be fine.  In his 10 years here this is the first team he's had that has disappointed.  I think that gets corrected next year.

+1 HS
DenBuck's picture

Please can we get an angry high energy big man that puts out max effort every second on the court? 

Buckeye For Life

+4 HS
buckeyedude's picture

I knew(who didn't?) there were going to be offensive issues for the Buckeyes after Sullinger and Diebler left.



+1 HS
jamesrbrown322's picture

Everything I have read indicates that OSU is not getting any of these guys - Turner, Kennard, or Bragg. Am I missing something? Bragg and Kennard were BIG TIME UK leans from everything I have been reading, and Turner wasn't really that serious about OSU. I guess I must have misunderstood what has been written, but I am not getting my hopes up about any of them. I am just assuming that they are all going somewhere else, and clinging to the very slim hope that they can hang onto Mitchell.

Also, Thad really has never relied THAT much on in state elite talent. Sullinger was a given to OSU. Koufos and Mullens were nice gets. However, it seems to me that the guys were very highly rated that we landed were mostly out of state kids...however I could be wrong.

"Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts." - Winston Churchill

d5k's picture

Diebler was also an in-state talent, along with Buford and Daequan Cook.  The whole junior class was from out of state though.  But recently Loving, Tate and Bell are foundational players for the next batch of Buckeyes from Ohio.  But the majority of next year's roster will be from out of state and possibly the entire starting 5 if Loving does not earn a starting spot.  He's pulled a lot of guys from Indiana and Illinois but recently got guys from the south (Ross, Scott, Russell) and east coast (Kam Williams) as well.

jamesrbrown322's picture

He's well rounded I guess. it is disappointing to see Ohio kids go elsewhere. I'd love to see these kids stay home.

"Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts." - Winston Churchill

AlwayzABuckeye614's picture

If we do not get the top instate talent our basketball team will continue to be average, that just shows how much the young talent thinks about our basketball program. 


-3 HS
d5k's picture

Huh?  Average even for a B1G team would be being on the NCAA bubble every year.  We are far from average.  I don't understand where comments like this come from.

+4 HS
Ball-Z-Buck's picture

Matta should tell Turner he starts from day one and then camp out in his front yard until he commits to OSU!

+3 HS
TLeeUpInThisJ's picture

Myles Turner sounds quite unlikely for Ohio State. We're stuck with another year of hoping Amir Williams can turn into something useful offensively. OSU's 2015 class must get a true post guy, so landing Daniel Giddens would be a tremendous boost to this program. I think a lack of a true post presence hurt OSU's jump shooting this year b/c they got less good looks than they did when teams had to double team Jared Sullinger, and even DeShaun Thomas, down low.

We'll see what happens with Mickey Mitchell. As much as I like watching him showboat (he's a great athlete) on his YouTube videos, I think he's probably going to de-commit. 

If OSU can land Giddens and Carlton Bragg to go along with this very nice 2014 class, this program will be right back there contending for a Big Ten title in coming years.

2002osubuck's picture

Everyone forgets about Kam Williams because he had to RS but he's gonna be ready to play at a high level next year. I expect him and Russell to provide us with instant offense. Really look forward to seeing Bates-Diop, Russell, Tate and Williams on the court.

+1 HS
bergy22's picture

I think Esa Ahmed? (sp) has a chance to be a good player here if he were to get offered. Bragg would be nice.

We missed on a big time guy in Nigel Hayes by waiting too long. Let's hope that's not the case with Ahmed. Omari Spellman from North Royalton has a chance to get an offer as well. It would be nice to build up solid depth on the front line. 

I trust Matta to get good wings and guards. Missed on a few recently with his frontline players. Go Bucks!