Hoops Recruiting Notebook: Buckeyes Aim to Improve Backcourt in 2016

By Mike Young on August 20, 2014 at 2:25 pm

While Ohio State's efforts with the class of 2016 haven't been particularly successful so far, Thad Matta and his staff continue to look for the proper fits within the rising junior class.

Last week, I detailed the issues facing the Buckeyes for that year, including the amount of available scholarships. Currently, barring transfers or early NBA Draft declarations, the staff only has two. That number could dwindle with an addition to the 2015 class.

That hasn't stopped Ohio State from handing out scholarship offers, however. Monday, during a rough night for people named Braxton, you might have missed news on one highly-touted prospect:

Both Matta and Boals watched Braxton Blackwell work out in April, while the two OSU coaches were on recruiting swing through Nashville. Blackwell, from Christ Presbyterian Academy, is a composite four-star wing ranked within the top thirty in his class.

According to Future150.com, he is highly versatile.

"Blackwell is a strong, smooth player maker. He is terrific at making plays with the ball in his hands. He can penetrate and kick, drop off or finish himself," the scouting report said. "He is also very good when coming off ball screens and makes the right decision at a high percentage of the time. He also uses his body and quick first step to get to the basket at will."

With his athleticism and length – standing at 6-feet, 8-inches tall – Blackwell is also capable of guarding three positions. He moved out of state for AAU ball, suiting up for the Atlanta Celtics – the same program that produced Joe Johnson, Amare Stoudemire, Josh Smith, plus Los Angeles Lakers legends Dwight Howard and Andrew Goudelock. Also noteworthy: Blackwell's AAU teammate is point guard Kobi Simmons, who recently received an offer from Ohio State.  

Here are some highlights of Blackwell's championship-caliber performance at the Adidas Gauntlet:

Buckeyes also offer Winston

OSU commit A.J. Harris is one of the most confident players in his class. There's assuredly little doubt in his mind about his ability to be the starting point guard in 2016. Still, two years from now, there might be little depth behind him at the position. 

If current freshman D'Angelo Russell is still around – with his talent, he might not be – the point guard spot won't be a concern. Without him, the Buckeyes will look to add another player at that position, out of high school or by transfer.

With that in mind, the staff is looking up north for help:

Cassius Winston visited Columbus last October, prior to the start of basketball season. He is a four-star point guard with offers from Michigan and Michigan State, in addition to OSU.

"Cassius is tough to stop in the open court and really plays well in transition," said a Future150.com scout, who watched Winston at the Nike Peach Jam in July. "He also shows the ability to pick his spots on the offensive end, while still getting his teammates involved."

While his offer list is impressive, Donnelly told MLive.com Winston isn't the kind of kid who makes a big deal about it.

"Cassius is a humble kid; he goes about his business and doesn’t talk about it," Donnelly said. “You wouldn’t even know he is being recruited."

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