Hoops Recruiting: Matta Turning to In-State Talent

By Zach Fleer on May 12, 2016 at 4:10 pm
2018 Pickerington North forward Jerome Hunter

Home is where the heart is. Home is also where a ton of basketball talent is located. And for Ohio State, 'home' is Ohio.

With yet another Ohio State men's basketball scholarship offer going toward an Ohio prospect in Massillon Jackson's Kyle Young on Wednesday, the Buckeyes' coaching staff has answered a common criticism of the last few years. Grilled for letting several top Ohio prospects outside of the state borders over the years, it appears Thad Matta and company are intent on its roster returning to the great state of Ohio.

Five of Ohio State's six current verbal commits and signees are in-state prospects, with the only exception being junior college point guard CJ Jackson. Incoming freshmen Andre Wesson, Derek Funderburk and Micah Potter each come from Ohio and have winning pedigrees, as each player won a Division I state championship at some point in their careers (Wesson, Westerville South 2016; Funderburk, Lakewood St. Edward 2014; Potter, Mentor 2013).

The latest offer, Young, could be next in line as Massillon Jackson appears to return one of the state's most talented rosters. 

We had a chance to speak with Young on Wednesday night, just hours after receiving the coveted in-state offer from the Buckeyes.

"I would like to say I'm still wide open, but I'm very glad I got that offer," Young told Eleven Warriors. "[It's] great obviously being in-state like it is."

While on a visit to the Columbus campus on Wednesday, Matta spoke in-depth of Young's ability to fit in with the Ohio State offensive scheme.

"Coach Matta discussed with me how he sees me as a basketball player, meaning I can play multiple positions," Young said. "He sees me anywhere from a two, three and four positions. I love the fact that I would be able to play my game, being able to just go and do my thing."

With no other planned visits coming up, Young will focus his attention to a big weekend coming up for his King James AAU squad in Session 3 of the EYBL in Hampton, VA.

"I love the EYBL," Young said. "It's great competition and it's great being able to play in venues like this in front of so many coaches. It makes you so much better as a player."

While Young's recruitment still appears to be wide open, Ohio State still has a lot to look forward to in the 2017 and 2018 classes within the state.

Ohio State's lone underclassmen commitments, Westerville South's rising senior center Kaleb Wesson and Upper Arlington's rising junior wing Dane Goodwin, are both hometown prospects that are atop their respective classes in the area. With so many in-state prospects slated to become Buckeyes, Ohio State has not stopped there. 

Who else have the Buckeyes coveted from Ohio? Let's take a look.

Kyle Young (6'7 SF, Massillon Jackson / 2017)

Offered by Ohio State while on an unofficial visit on Wednesday, Young has a chance to join Kaleb Wesson in Ohio State's 2017 class. While many have him predicted to head to Michigan State, Young, who was offered by the Spartans on April 20, becomes Ohio State's latest target on the wing. Long and versatile, Young fits the profile of the type of rangy wing that Matta is accustomed to recruiting and using within his scheme. A terrific shot-maker with a great feel for the game, Young would be a welcomed fit into an Ohio State offense that has been anything but smooth for most of the last few seasons.

Markell Johnson (6'1 PG, Cleveland East Tech / 201?)

If Markell Johnson is in the class of 2017, he's the state's top guard. If he is 2016, he could be Ohio State's next commitment in the backcourt. For Johnson, however, that remains to be seen as the Cleveland East Tech product has gone back and forth with the idea of reclassifying. While it was believed Johnson was indeed going to reclassify to 2016 on May 2, the four-star guard backtracked last week, saying the decision was not 'official' just four days later. As athletic as they come, Johnson brings excitement and star power to the lineup each time he is out on the floor, and appears to be the only guard in Ohio's 2017 class worthy of an offer from the Buckeyes at this point.

Darius Bazley (6'8 SF, Finneytown / 2018)

While Bazley may not be a household name at the moment, we promise that you will be hearing about the 6-foot-8 wing very soon. With as much upside as any player in Ohio, regardless of class, Bazley is a freak on the wing, showcasing an elite level of agility, dexterity and athleticism with the ball. When he is playing with a motor, Bazley is nearly an impossible matchup on the wing, as his wingspan and length is tough to keep out of the lane. Leading a very talented King James team this AAU season, look for Bazley's stock to continue to rise. 

Dwayne Cohill (6'3 SG, Parma Holy Name / 2018)

A player that Ohio State has kept close tabs on for the last two years, but has yet to receive an offer, Cohill is Northeast Ohio's top guard outside of Johnson. Scorching the nets from his first day at Holy Name, Cohill has done nothing but win and put up great numbers. Leading a talented Ohio Basketball Club team on the Adidas circuit, Cohill features offers from Northwestern, Penn State, West Virginia and Xavier. Cohill is slated to take an unofficial visit to campus on Sunday, as Ohio State continues to close in on the Cleveland area star.

Jerome Hunter (6'7 SF, Pickerington North / 2018)

Hitting his stride as of late, Hunter is a prospect Ohio State has kept an eye on in the last year or so. Coming to campus for a few unofficial visits since last fall, Hunter has responded from an up-and-down sophomore season at Pickerington North by absolutely tearing it up on the AAU scene with OH-Nova Village. Scoring from the inside-out, Hunter has a great deal of versatility and skill, able to score from anywhere on the floor, in addition to being a committed rebounder and shot blocker from around the basket.

Jordan Mitchell (6'6 SF, Gahanna / 2019)

Offered by Ohio State in February, Mitchell is Ohio's top prospect in the 2019 class, and even debuted at No. 22 nationally according to Prep Insiders. Mitchell is a two-way stud that is as advanced defensively as any prospect we have scouted at his age. Super long with room to grow, Mitchell will take over a Gahanna program that he helped lead to the Division I regional final a season ago, where the Lions lost to the Wesson Brothers and Westerville South. 

Jeremiah Francis (6'2 PG, Pickerington Central / 2019)

For Francis, Ohio State makes too much sense. After all, his father, former Ohio State 1,000-point scorer Jerry Francis, was a Buckeye standout and has remained close to the program over the years. Tracked by the Ohio State program all the way back to even before his eighth grade year, Francis is a physically developed point guard who is tougher and stronger than most of the guards his age. Taking over the reigns of the Pickerington Central backcourt from day one of his high school career, Francis has been nothing short of spectacular at the high school level. Leading an All-Ohio Red 15u bunch that is as good as any team we've seen on the circuit, Francis' stock is just beginning to heat up. 

Taylor Currie (6'8 PF, Worthington Christian / 2019)

Considered by many as one of Ohio's top five prospects, Currie is an intriguing 'stretch four' that has a chance to be pretty good. With great size and touch, Currie is effective out to 16-18 feet, but unlike many of younger big men with perimeter ability, Currie doesn't spend all of his time around the three-point line. A dedicated rebounder, Currie is effective in multiple facets of the game, and has been high on Ohio State's list in 2019. Taking multiple unofficial visits last season, Currie is among a terrific 2019 top four in Central Ohio that includes himself, Mitchell, Francis and Westerville North point guard Jeremiah Keene

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