Momentum in recruiting is very valuable. And right now, Ohio State has quite a bit of it. Can the Buckeyes keep it rolling in July? Let's take a look.
Within the last week, Ohio State added a pair of verbal commitments — one in 2017 and the other in 2018. The Buckeyes landed a pledge from four-star guard/wing Musa Jallow last Friday and Jallow also announced his intentions to reclassify to 2017. Then, on Monday night, Ohio State landed its first verbal in the 2018 class when four-star guard Torrence Watson committed.
Chris Holtmann and his staff are on quite a roll as the calendar now shifts to the July evaluation periods — the first of which begins Wednesday. There are three this month — July 12-16, 19-23 and 26-30 — and coaches will travel all around the country to check out their top targets and evaluate new ones. July is the most important month in college basketball recruiting and it's officially go-time for Holtmann in his first year leading the Buckeyes.
Ohio State's 2018 recruiting class will be huge in determining the shape of the future of the program. The Buckeyes have plenty of room, too, as they currently have five available scholarships for their 2018 haul even after the commitments of Watson and Jallow. Ohio State likely will not use all five as this class is expected to be anywhere between three and five players total.
Who, exactly, are the Buckeyes targeting most in this critical month of July? We're glad you asked. Let's take a look at some of Ohio State's top options in the 2018 class.
|Name||Position||Rank||Rating||Others in Mix|
|JEROME HUNTER||SF||1||★★★★||Michigan, Xavier, Indiana, Pitt|
|DWAYNE COHILL||G||2||★★★★||Texas, Dayton, Virginia Tech, others|
|ERIC AYALA||G||3||★★★★||Syracuse, UConn, Maryland, others|
|ROBERT PHINISEE||PG||4||★★★★||Indiana, Purdue|
|ELIJAH WEAVER||PG||5||★★★★||Villanova, Florida, Maryland, others|
|DEVON DOTSON||PG||6||★★★★||Kansas, Arizona, Maryland, Florida, others|
|AYO DOSUNMU||G||7||★★★★||Illinois, Kansas, others|
|LUTHER MUHAMMAD||SG||8||★★★★||St. John's, Notre Dame, others|
|TALEN HORTON-TUCKER||SF||9||★★★★||Illinois, Northwestern, others|
|DARIUS DAYS||PF||10||★★★★||Florida, USC, Virginia, others|
|WILL RICHARDSON||SG||11||★★★★||Alabama, Georgia, others|
|ERIC HUNTER||SG||12||★★★★||Purdue, Xavier, Minnesota, Butler, others|
There is going to be a lot of movement on this board in the next couple of weeks as it's pretty tough to peg where all of these new offers need to be placed prior to the evaluation periods. However, the top two targets on this board are both in-state prospects.
Jerome Hunter is the No. 1 target on the pre-July board because he's arguably the state's best player and he is a Columbus native. A 6-foot-7 wing who could play either forward spot in college, Hunter is only scratching the surface of what he can become and he's had a huge spring. Additionally, the top competition for Hunter appears to be a pair of Big Ten schools (Michigan and Indiana) and another in-state school (Xavier). Losing him to either of those three would be tough to swallow.
The No. 2 target on this board is Dwayne Cohill, a top-100 guard out of Cleveland. Cohill can play either guard position which makes him such a coveted prospect, and Ohio State desperately needs guard help — specifically point guard help. Cohill would fill that need and he's an in-state prospect. Like Hunter, Cohill should be a top priority in 2018.
Eric Ayala is an interesting option on this board at No. 3 because there is a chance he could also reclassify to 2017. Ayala is reportedly expected to make that decision at the end of this month, and if he does, he immediately becomes a top target for the Buckeyes as he could provide instant help in the backcourt. Ayala can play either guard spot and would be another huge lift to next year's roster if this works in Ohio State's favor.
A combination of five of guards come in at Nos. 4 through 8 (notice a trend here yet?) in Robert Phinisee, Elijah Weaver, Devon Dotson, Ayo Dosunmu and Luther Muhammad. And, truth be told, they are probably somewhat interchangeable. Phinisee and Dotson are viewed more as natural point guards while Weaver and Dosunmu can probably be viewed as players who can play either backcourt spot. Muhammad is a bit more of a natural two-guard.
An Indiana native, Phinisee may be a tough pull from the home state Hoosiers while Dosunmu — a Chicago native — may be considered an Illinois lean. Weaver is a top-40 prospect from Florida, but it may be tough to pull him from top programs like Villanova and Maryland. St. John's has a bit of momentum right now with Muhammad, a New Jersey native.
Things get a bit murkier from here, though, as we reach a pair of forwards in Talen Horton-Tucker and Darius Days. Horton-Tucker seems like a similar player to Jallow, so he may no longer be as high of a priority with Hunter still out there as the top wing target. Days is interesting because Ohio State certainly wants a big man in this class and he's the only reported offer still on the board now that Marcus Bingham committed to Michigan State. It wouldn't be surprising at all to see the Buckeyes extend a handful of scholarship offers to big men during this July period.
We close out with Will Richardson and Eric Hunter, a pair of guards. Richardson and Hunter are a pair of prospects Holtmann and Co. pursued hard at Butler and they could still be options if that's the route Ohio State opts to go.
Again, this list is extremely fluid. There are going to be some massive changes over the course of the next three weeks as Ohio State zeroes in on the players it really wants in this 2018 class.
Holtmann knew he was in for a challenge when he accepted this job in June — a far from ideal time to make a switch. However, he's done a solid job acquiring talent on the recruiting trail in just a short period of time.
In this incredibly important month, we'll see if Ohio State's new coaching staff can keep this current momentum rolling.