Since Thad Matta arrived at Ohio State, the Buckeyes have won five regular season conference championships and four Big Ten Tournament titles. It should come as no surprise his recruiting classes dominated the rankings in that span.
Matta brought in the top class in the B1G seven times according to 247Sports' composite rankings: 2006, 2007, 2008, 2010, 2011, 2014 and 2015. The 2016 class probably won't join them even if Kobi Simmons commits. Several Big Ten teams – many of which don't typically recruit this well – landed more highly-rated talent. Coincidentally, two schools signed Ohio recruits to help them vault over the Buckeyes.
Michigan State, regardless of whatever grading system you use, has the most impressive 2016 class in the conference. Miles Bridges is a legit one-and-done threat and one current Spartan is already calling Joshua Langford a "poor man's Kobe." While MSU brings in the occasional five-star or highly ranked four-star, Tom Izzo's never had a class like this. It also includes Gahanna Lincoln's Nick Ward, who committed to the Spartans after Derek Funderburk Jr. and Micah Potter chose OSU.
John Beilien's class leans heavily on Ohio, which the notebook covered in September. Three of Michigan's four signees hail from the Buckeye State: Xavier Simpson, Jon Teske and Ibi Watson and all had varying degrees of interest from OSU. Teske was the only one with an offer, however, and he committed to the Wolverines before Funderburk Jr. and Potter made their decisions.
Overall, it might be the most talented crop of Ohioans in quite some time. The top recruits left the state to graduate from prep schools but spent more time being recruited and playing for high school or AAU teams in Ohio. For the purposes of this discussion, Funderburk Jr., Potter, Omari Spellman (Villanova), V.J. King (Louisville) and Matthew Moyer (Syracuse) are Ohioans. Jarron Cumberland (Cincinnati), Seth Towns (Harvard), Frankie Hughes (Louisville), Willie Jackson (Missouri), Trey Landers (Dayton) and Henry Baddley (Butler) also committed to some of the nation's best basketball programs.
To the best of Matta's knowledge, the staff focused more on recruiting in state than usual.
"Yeah, it seemed that way," he said, in a press conference, Thursday. "We were pretty set on what we wanted and, fortunately, both guys accepted early in their recruitment and stayed true to their word."
Matta, Tate Scout Funderburk Jr.
Ohio State's head coach believes Funderburk Jr. will bring a lot of energy when he takes the floor. It's not to dissimilar to what they might have in Trevor Thompson and Daniel Giddens:
"Derek is long and athletic ... we've seen him expand his game. He's a high-energy type player. He plays with a lot of emotion. With his size and his length, that's something that's hard to teach."
Buckeye forward Jae'Sean Tate is familiar with Funderburk Jr. after watching him on the AAU circuit – both played for Nike-sponsored squads and competed in the EYBL:
"He's long, lanky and looks like he can help us when he gets here after he puts on a few pounds. I'm excited to see what he does his senior year and what he can bring to the table."
Matta Scouts Potter
Between Dave Bell, Funderburk Jr., Giddens and Thompson, OSU will have a frontcourt rotation with substantial athleticism. Not to say Potter isn't athletic, his overall skill set is just substantially different from Funderburk Jr. or anyone on the current roster brings.
"He's very good around the basket but has really expanded his game since we first started recruiting him – in terms of a stretch big guy ... One of the things, watching him this summer, I loved how he rebounded the basketball. He understood angles, he understood positioning. Those are the things that are, sometimes, hard to teach."