Hoops Recruiting Notebook: A Key Visitor for Virginia Tech & Thoughts on Carlton Bragg

By Mike Young on September 4, 2014 at 4:10p

The lead recruiter for the class of 2015 is at it again. 

Ohio State pledge Austin Grandstaff aided in landing Daniel Giddens, has previously tweeted about his recruiting exploits and isn't done with his efforts in finding fellow classmates. This weekend, while confirming his official visit to Eleven Warriors, Grandstaff will be focusing on a fellow Texan.

As he told Eleven Warriors in August, Grandstaff is not giving up on Mickey Mitchell, even though the former Buckeye commit recently re-opened his recruitment.

"Mickey's one of my best friends and I still think we have a shot at getting him for sure," Grandstaff said. "I'm still going to recruit him and hope to bring him to Ohio State, but it's his choice and I respect him doing what he needs to do for himself."

Point guard commit A.J. Harris will join those two during the Virginia Tech game weekend. Harris is one of Ohio's best in 2015, but if that's not enough to sway Mitchell, perhaps the best basketball player born in Buckeye State will change his mind: 

Mitchell originally committed to Ohio State in August of 2013. Recruits are allowed to take official visits as of Jan. 1 in their junior years. In February, Eleven Warriors reported Mickey's brother, Mike, would transfer from OSU. Mickey has not openly disclosed a visit to Columbus since.

Harris has previously attended Ohio State football games and is frequently in Columbus for summer basketball activities, while Grandstaff committed on his only visit to campus. 

Four-star guard Curtis Jones, a 2016 recruit who recently transferred Huntington Prep, is also expected to take an unofficial visit this weekend. 

Ahmad Sets Another Visit

Regardless of whether Mitchell decides to re-commit, the Buckeyes are firmly seeking a pledge from Shaker Heights' Esa Ahmad.

The four-star forward was in Maryland this past weekend.

"[Maryland] was awesome," Ahmad's father, Ibby, told SNY.tv. "They have a good vision for Esa and a super team with excellent pieces coming in."

Following his trip to College Park, the Ahmads will head to Morgantown, to check out West Virginia again. After that, he'll be back in Columbus, according to Cleveland.com's David Cassilo and confirmed through Ahmad's twitter account: 

Cassilo watched Ahmad at a Shaker Heights open gym and also reported Ahmad received an offer from Oregon, last week. The 6-foot-7-inch, versatile forward has cut his list of schools to five: Ohio State, Maryland, Oregon, West Virginia and Wisconsin. 

Bragg and The Buckeyes

Meanwhile, another Cleveland-area forward is not currently considering Ohio State.

Carlton Bragg, in his senior year at VASJ, tweeted his top five schools and it did not include OSU. Perhaps it was a matter of how Thad Matta's offense operates. Bragg thinks Arizona, Illinois, Kansas, Kentucky and UCLA can better utilize an explosive wing.

"They like to play open and my style of play matches their style of play," Bragg told Cleveland.com. "I think these schools were the best fit for me, and Ohio State was not the best fit for me."

Seemingly every fall, Buckeye hoops players maintain the team will play more up-tempo. When the season begins, the shooting limitations become apparent and we all realize that isn't possible.

For a player who thrives, largely, in the open court, it is a fair criticism. Obviously, Matta is capable of adjusting to a player of Bragg's skill set, but he is unique in terms of someone with his size and athleticism – there are no proper comparisons for the coaching staff and Bragg to make with former or current Buckeyes.

In general, the other schools on his list had the proper personnel and, as a result, have been better in transition. Illinois might seem out of place, but, head coach John Groce has recruited at a high, national level with the Illini before – e.g. Cliff Alexander. Plus, as Bragg's mentor, Michael Graves, told BigStageHoops.com, Groce has been incredibly vigilant in recruiting Bragg.

Regardless of how it all shakes out, Kentucky has been the presumed leader for a while. Yes, leaving the Buckeyes out of his top five is surprising. In the end, Bragg committing somewhere other than Ohio State would hardly be considered a shock.

Around The B1G

Nebrasketball and head coach Tim Miles keep the program's momentum going through the offseason by adding a commitment from four-star point guard Glynn Watson (Westchester, Illinois):



Seattle Linga's picture

Thanks Mike for the write up - so glad Esa will be in town in next weekend. Austin is starting to remind me of LeBron in his recruiting passion. Love this kids heart and ability on the court. We need to have that Open Door and roll out the Red Carpet for Mitchell 

+1 HS
BrutusB's picture

It's cool that Mickey's visiting, but I feel like his brother transferring basically kills the chance of him signing.  Would be nice if Lebron can talk up Harris or Ahmad though.

+1 HS
camcop71's picture

Harris is already committed. Esa is the one LeBron needs to spend some quality time with. Would have been nice to have Bragg at least visit this weekend and let LeBron chat with him as well. :-\

"I was tired of trying to work my way around the back so I just ran him over.” -Joey Bosa, PSU 10/25/14

Gametime's picture

Glad to see Austin hasn't given up on Mitchell and Bragg's evaluation is definitely a fair one, but he has to consider who he'll be playing with too. The guys in the class before and with him wouldn't be brick layers... plus he'd have some true floor generals to run with too.

Still, I do hope Coach Matta gets some better offensive assistants because wide open offense with ball movement, tempo, solid 3pt shooting, & fast break points is they way to go... (of course along with great team defense). 

Between goals and achievement is discipline and consistency. That fire you have inside to do whatever you love is placed there by God. Now go claim it. ~ Denzel Washington

d5k's picture

For what it's worth, Arizona and Kentucky actually had slower pace stats than OSU last season.  UCLA and Kansas were definitely more of an uptempo style.

The Sullinger freshman year offense was #1 in the country in offensive efficiency and the following 2 years were top 10 if I recall.  Last year was a disaster but I think that had a lot more to do with personnel and scheme combined rather than just scheme.  Matta's scheme sort of requires a guy who can suck in the defense with the ball in his hand, either posting up like Sullinger or creating like Turner.  We didn't really have that last year.

+3 HS
SaltyD0gg's picture

Does anyone ever remember a recruit re-committing to the Bucks? I can't recall any...

Pain of Discipline

Pain of Regret

Take Your Pick

d5k's picture

You don't really get a lot of de-commits in basketball let alone re-commits.  I think when Urban came in the door for football there might have been some situations where you might call it a re-commit.

dubjayfootball90's picture

Big things on the horizon for the basketbucks. I sense good things are coming

You can feed a bobcat all the chili it wants. That don't mean it's going to crap out diamonds.

jralvarez's picture

I would meet Mitchell at the airport.... with his ticket back home.  No thanks kid.


-10 HS
sb97's picture

Not me.  He has done nothing wrong at this point.  The situation is very different now than it was when he originally committed. I think it is perfectly understandable that he wants to re-evaluate things.

+3 HS
Go1Bucks's picture

Maybe we could play more up tempo if only the players that can, decide to come.  

Go Bucks!

+1 HS
sb97's picture

I wont lie, I am disappointed we aren't getting Bragg and that Mitchell de-commited.  I am curious to see how Mitchell's visit goes.  Is this a courtesy thing or is he still really interested, etc.  Even so, the three guys we have right now are a fantastic class.  I still really want to see us pull in Ahmad and/or Mitchell to round this out.

+1 HS
tcm1968's picture

Never expected Bragg to come here. He wants to be in the NBA after one year of college. He's going to pick a school that does +/- for playing time. Thad doesn't do that. You earn playing time by playing defense first. Any kid a year away from the NBA is being told two things. Go where you can score points and don't worry about defense ( you'll learn that in the NBA). Bragg is just not a good fit with Thad Matta basketball.

+1 HS
Nutty's picture

Thad doesn't do that.

Yes Thad does. When he has the 1 and done talent, just like any other college coach. The elite basketball schools are going to get the 1 and dones. Their coaches then get credit for high NBA draft picks. OSU is a football school which has questionable support for their basketball program. I think Thad has done a great job considering. Prior to Thad how many NBA picks did OSU have?

tcm1968's picture

Thad does not +/- kids. You play/learn defense then you can hit the floor. That's why OSU is always a top 10 defensive school. Coach K at Duke, routinely a horrible points against team, does the +/- thing as do other coaches. If I put player x on the floor and he gives me 10 points and his terrible defense allows 6 points I'm ahead four points. Thomas, Ross and others sat forever until they learned to play defense. We're never going to get some of these five stars kids who can score from anywhere and have no interest in playing defense.

Nutty's picture

OSU has had top 10 classes in 3 of the last 5 classes. Not bad for a football school considering in one of those classes they had only one freshman.

tcm1968's picture

Never said Thad wasn't doing a great job. Just that any time a five star kid passes on OSU people seem to forget what Thad does isn't always a good fit for some of these five star kids. No different in football. You don't see us chasing five star drop back QBs because it's not what we do. Unless Thad changes how he coaches were never going to chase the Carmelo Anthonys of the world.

GOSU's picture

I wish that OSU would take more one and done kids.  I think that the basketball recruiting has been great, however the team still struggles to score.  We need to get guys that can open it up and create their own shot.  

I wish we got Bragg, however I don't fault any player for going where they feel they will best utilized.  

-1 HS
rosenbuck's picture

I get that Bragg never really saw himself as a Buckeye and sure, maybe it makes sense for him and all.  My issue is that Thad hasn't always been able to lock down the top in-state kids, or identify lower-tier guys who are better than their rankings.  Ohio is a great basketball state and I just feel like he could do more in-state, especially considering his low rate of success with elite-tier national guys who we always seem to make lists for but never get.  Spend some more of that time on Ohio.  All that being said I hope Thad stays for a long time, this is just one of very few things that has bothered me about the Thad era.

-3 HS
HoopHal's picture

ILLINOIS.....Seriously...we all know he is going to end up cashing one of Calipari's check but he could have least put OSU in his top 5 as a courtesy to the in-state school.

+2 HS
Knarcisi's picture

Great class, but it just doesn't sit well with me losing the top 2 kids in Ohio. 

Knarcisi's picture

Figures this gets a downvote. Homers. 

-4 HS
IGotAWoody's picture

There are 4 OH kids in the top 100 players nationally, and Thad has one of them committed (Harris) and is working hard to get another (Ahmad). As much as we would want Matta to get EVERY great player in OH, the reality is that he won't. The other reality, too, is that Matta has talent all over the country that he needs to look at, and adding Giddens and Grandstaff, 2 other players in the top 100, to this class is proof that he's up to the task of bringing in elite talent.

“The good life is a process, not a state of being. It is a direction, not a destination.” ~Carl Rogers

+1 HS
OSU2002Grad's picture

Whatever on Bragg. He's wrong about Ohio State's tempo. We, as all college teams do, cater to the talent we have. If he wants to leave the state, go ahead, but I'll feel no desire to root for his success. In his own backyard, we have the greatest basketball player on the planet and he loves the Great State of Ohio and The Ohio State University. That means a lot more to me.

+1 HS
buckeyestu's picture

Good luck to Bragg wherever he goes. Hopefully Ahmad chooses the good guys.