With three commits already in the fold class, the Ohio State basketball coaching staff is looking for a strong finish to their 2015 class.
Adding in the four freshman from 2014, the others currently on the roster, and, possibly, two more in the 2015 class, and the Buckeyes will have few, available scholarships for 2016. Attrition, due to transfers or early declaration for the NBA Draft, is natural and has affected Thad Matta's bench depth in the past. With an incoming roster as young as his, it's impossible to predict, however.
What all of this means is OSU will be forced to devote more energy on the 2017 class. Rising sophomores should expect their recruitments to intensify around this time next year, but this portion of their budding basketball careers is crucial. Coaches are not allowed periods of unlimited contact with recruits at this stage, but they're just getting an idea of who to offer and what kind of talent they could be working with.
It is incredibly early and elite players emerge at different rates, but establishing relationships this early can pay off in a commitment later. With that in mind, Ohio State has reached out to 2017 wing M.J. Walker, according to basketball journalist Jack LeGwin.
Helping the Buckeye staff in their evaluation is the time they spent watching Walker's AAU teammate, 2015 five-star big man Doral Moore. Even with a talent like Moore, Walker's athleticism will truly stand out when watching the Atlanta Xpress. Future150 already lists Walker as a top-10 player in his class. Based on his pure athleticism, it's easy to see why they would:
Outside of Walker, the Buckeyes have shown interest or hosted four other recruits in his class.
In March, Eleven Warriors spoke to Pike (Indianapolis) point guard Justin Roberts about his Feb. 22 visit to Columbus. He will attend "The Summit" basketball camp, an event hosted by Future150 which features some of the top 2016 and 2017 talent in the country. That will give us a better idea of how he's progressed since his high school season ended.
The Buckeye staff has also reportedly expressed interest in Zach Gunn, a 6-foot-7-inch forward from Fishers, Ind. Gunn spoke with Inside The Hall in April and said he's just focusing on winning with a group of longtime teammates during AAU play. Easier to do that when you already have an offer from Indiana.
Ohio State's reach among the midwest's top 2017 players also extends to Saginaw, Mich. Arthur Hill's Brian Bowen unofficially visited Columbus during the game against Michigan State. Prior to the commitments of guards A.J. Harris and Austin Grandstaff, OSU heavily recruited Bowen's high school teammate, Eric Davis. The Buckeye staff clearly caught a glimpse of what Bowen's ceiling can be:
Got first look at '17 Saginaw (Mich.) wing Brian Bowen. Has to be a top-25 kid nationally, hype is well deserved. Will be fun to follow.
— Corey Albertson (@Corey_Albertson) May 3, 2014
While these kids might be years away from possibly fulfilling a prophecy like the one above, it is necessary for a top program – such as Ohio State – to cultivate relationships early, especially if he is in the region and has five-star potential.