Franklin Howard will be celebrating his birthday with Scarlet and Gray balloons, if Thad Matta has any say.
Howard, a composite four-star guard in the 2015 class, will make his college decision, Monday, which also happens to be his 17th birthday. The Buckeyes will have heavy competition from Syracuse, in particular, while Howard will also consider Georgetown, Maryland, N.C. State and Virginia.
The Paul VI Catholic High School guard (Fairfax, Va.) is attempting a comeback from ACL surgery and missed all of his junior year while rehabbing it. According to his AAU coach, Keith Stevens, Howard is close to returning. He injured his knee while playing for Team Takeover (Washington D.C.) last summer.
Stevens told Syracuse.com about Howard's dominant ball-handling abilities.
"He's definitely a point guard," Stevens said. "He's a very good passer. He has a very good feel for the game, he's athletic and he makes shots."
If he plans to be Ohio State's next point guard, he'll have instant competition from 2015 commit A.J. Harris and, possibly, sophomore D'Angelo Russell. As good as his AAU coach claims his 6-foot-4-inch guard is at passing, Howard is just as adept at slashing. It's most evident in the open court – where he can pull up – but Howard also displays terrific touch around the rim and in traffic.
Howard visited Columbus, Nov. 9, for the Buckeye's home opener against Morgan State. He's not revealing much in regards to his decision, but Howard did talk to CSN about his combo guard abilities.
"Throughout my career, I kind of had the ball in my hands most of the time," Howard told CSN. "I just think I kind of had a point guard mindset and was kind of molded into being a shooting guard and a shooting mindset."
If he does commit to OSU, he'll join Mickey Mitchell, someone else who recently recovered from a knee injury. To draw your own conclusions about Howard's playing style, check out this mixtape (understandably, from over a year ago):
Russell Can Pass Too
The desperation caused by Ohio State's lack of scoring has caused all of us to focus on what Russell, Keita Bates-Diop and redshirt freshman Kam Williams can bring in terms of outside shooting.
His Montverde (Fla.) Academy squad rolled to another high school national championship, and, as Cleveland 92.3 The Fan's Anthony Lima points out, Russell dished out a few assists along the way:
Harris Leads Loaded AAU Squad
The 2015 Buckeye commit couldn't quite will Dunbar (Dayton) past the regional semi-finals. At least his King James AAU team will ease the pressure on him.
At the King James Cincinnati Icebreaker, they showed flashes of what their team is capable of. OSU target and 2016 five-star V.J. King, as well as Kent State commit Devon Andrews, Jibri Blount (Mel Blount's son – yeah the one that played for the Pittsburgh Steelers), Derek Pardon (has a Northwestern offer), and Caleb Tregre (Cincinnati Walnut Hills) joined Harris for their first weekend of AAU action.
Embiid's Absence Might Be Kansas' Gain
Now, it's official – Jayhawks center Joel Embiid is headed to the NBA to, probably, be a lottery selection.
The impact on recruiting (other than Bill Self sending another big man to the NBA) could be huge for KU and bad for any other school that wants Myles Turner. He maintains he has no favorites, but Kansas has been considered the front-runner since offering him.
With Embiid declaring for the draft, that might seal Ohio State's fate as an unlikely landing spot for the top remaining prospect in 2014. As Turner said in a live chat with USA Today, he wouldn't consider going to the Jayhawks with Embiid there.
"Coach [Bill] Self told me himself," Turner said, "if Embiid stays it's not worth my time."
Around The B1G
While Rutgers continues to prove it is the unwanted stepchild in an attempted marriage to the New York market, the other future Big Ten school is quietly positioning itself as an incoming, basketball power.
The Terps also had three players transfer out of the program – Shaq Cleare, Nick Faust and Roddy Peters – but the incoming talent should more than make up for their losses.