Hoops Recruiting Notebook: How Thad Matta Builds His Roster

By Mike Young on April 9, 2015 at 4:10 pm

Thad Matta and Bo Ryan have different philosophies when it comes to roster construction.

Naturally, the end goal is the same – and many times the results are, as well. For six straight seasons, either Wisconsin or Ohio State ended the regular season in the top two in the Big Ten standings. Both schools finished among the top five in eight of the 11 seasons since Matta arrived at OSU. The methods of building those teams aren't similar despite the shared success.

Ryan's philosophy is something Matta strayed away from in recent years. The Ohio State staff considers itself a national recruiting power and it's justified with success on the trail. In their last five classes, including 2015, the Buckeyes signed players from Georgia, Texas, Florida, Maryland, Nevada (via Italy) and New Jersey (via Mississippi). OSU is no longer building classes with exclusively midwestern-born talent. 

This might change coming off back-to-back Final Four appearances but Wisconsin is staying in the immediate area for its most highly-rated talent. Then, the staff branches out for the lower-star gems Ryan is known for developing. 

Going back to 2002, the only players rated four-stars or higher – using 247Sports' Composite rankings – who signed with the Badgers and attended high school outside of the contiguous area are Joe Krabbenhoft (South Dakota) and 2015 signee Alex Illikainen (New Hampshire). Ryan brought in 11 other recruits of the same caliber, all from Wisconsin, Minnesota or Iowa. 

As far as sustaining success, it helps Ryan is able to retain his players for four years. Sam Dekker might declare for this year's NBA Draft but that would be unusual for the program. Unless my research deceives me, only Devin Harris declared before his eligibility expired. Matta, on the other hand, had to deal with nine early draft declarations and that doesn't even include Amedeo Della Valle's professional venture. 

It's too early to forecast what kind of pro potential the incoming OSU class has – remember, D'Angelo Russell wasn't a highly-coveted NBA prospect before this past season started. Neither NBADraft.net nor DraftExpress.com have have a single incoming Buckeye freshman among their top 60 players.

So, like the Badgers of the past two seasons, the Buckeyes might have a chance to build a roster ripe with chemistry. If only there was a way to combine the Wisconsin player development department with Ohio State's recruiting reach, forming some sort of unstoppable, basketball Voltron. 

Giddens Highlights

Oak Hill Academy is a national powerhouse and consistently plays the top amateur competition in America. As a result, ESPN picks up several Oak Hill games per year and we've already covered how Giddens looked in a January game on ESPNU.

Oak Hill took part in the Dick's Nationals Tournament this past weekend, featuring eight of the top programs in the country – at least the ones who were allowed to compete by their respective state high school sports governing bodies. 

Giddens had several highlight-reel dunks throughout the weekend, displaying his ability to run the floor:

He doesn't need flawless fast-break execution to finish off a dunk. Here he is in the championship game at Madison Square Garden, creating for himself and fooling Montverde (via our Tim Shoemaker):

Of course, if we've learned anything about Giddens' game, it's he's more than a leaper. His defensive skills can translate immediately to the next level and his athleticism manifests itself in more ways than just protecting the rim. Watch as he quickly hedges on this screen and then recovers to contest this shot: 

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