Full Court Press: Ohio State Offers Pair of Power Forwards, Chris Holtmann's Staff Hits the Road, Buckeyes Make Lists for E.J. Liddell and Zeb Jackson

By Colin Hass-Hill on September 24, 2018 at 10:15 am
Chris Holtmann

Welcome to the Full Court Press, your weekly destination for offseason Ohio State basketball recruiting updates.

In-state inroads for 2020 class

While Ohio State remains focused on completing its 2019 recruiting class, the coaching staff also has its eyes on the 2020 recruiting class.

In Chris Holtmann’s introductory press conference after accepting the job as Ohio State’s head coach, he emphasized the importance in-state recruiting, saying he will work to “close our borders and dominate the state of Ohio in recruiting.” Ohio State has landed one in-state player in the 2019 class thus far, Alonzo Gaffney, and it has a chance to lock down a couple Ohioans in the 2020 recruiting cycle, as well.

The Buckeyes have extended scholarship offers to three prospects in the 2020 class: center Zach Loveday and guards Zeb Jackson and Dominiq Penn. In order for Holtmann to close the borders in the 2020 class, he must hold off a few national powerhouses, along with the top schools in the Big Ten.

Loveday, a 7-foot, 200-pound center from Gallipolis, Ohio, is the No. 49 overall prospect in his class and the eighth-best center. The Buckeyes offered him a scholarship nearly a year ago, but he has since been offered by Louisville, Florida and Stanford.

The lanky center who has also been offered by Indiana and Purdue took a visit to Kentucky, as well. On Wednesday, Adam Jardy of the Columbus Dispatch reported, Chris Holtmann met with Loveday, who would be a massive addition if Ohio State could land him.

Jackson, who attends Maumee Valley Country Day High School in Toledo, seems closer to making a decision than Loveday. The 6-foot-2 guard chopped his list down to seven schools, and Ohio State made the cut.

The Buckeyes have ample work to do, however, since three other Big Ten schools appeared on his list.

The No. 66 overall prospect in his class, Jackson was visited by Holtmann on Thursday. Then, this weekend, both he and Loveday reportedly made unofficial visits to campus.

Loveday, Jackson and Penn are not the only in-state 2020 prospects to know.

John Hugley, a 6-foot-8, 240-pound center from Brush High School, has not been offered by Ohio State, However, an assistant coach reportedly met with the post presence on Tuesday. Grant Huffman, a shooting guard from St. Edward High School, does not hold an offer from the Buckeyes, but he has visited them before.

Pair of offers

Ohio State dished out a pair of offers this weekend, one to a four-star prospect in the 2020 class and another to a five-star prospect in the 2021 recruiting cycle. The Buckeyes have two commitments in its 2019 recruiting class, but do not have any in either the 2020 or 2021 classes.

Ben Carlson, a four-star power forward who attends East Ridge High School in Minnesota, was offered a scholarship by Ohio State on Friday. 

The 6-foot-9, 205-pound post player was reportedly on an unofficial visit when he picked up the offer.

Carlson is the No. 61 overall prospect in the 2020 class and the ninth-ranked power forward. He has offers from six other Big Ten schools and reportedly visited Michigan this weekend, as well, though the Wolverines have not offered him a scholarship.

One day after Carlson picked up an offer, Ohio State offered five-star power forward Caleb Furst a scholarship.

Standing 6-foot-8 and weighing 205 pounds, Furst is the No. 30 overall prospect in the 2021 recruiting class and the eighth-best power forward.

He attends Blackhawk Christian School in Indiana and already held offers from Butler and Purdue, which in April became the first school to extend him a scholarship. In his tweet announcing Ohio State’s offer, Furst said Holtmann and his staff visited the high-school sophomore this weekend.

Ohio State staff hits the road

Holtmann and the rest of the Buckeyes’ coaching staff has stayed busy on the recruiting trail the past couple weeks. Ohio State coaches were reported to have visited five out-of-state prospects in the 2019 and 2020 classes in the past week.

Zeke Nnaji, a four-star 2019 power forward from Minnesota, reportedly had an in-home visit with the Buckeyes on Thursday. He holds an offer from them and is the No. 34 overall player and the eighth-ranked power forward in his class.

Holtmann reportedly met with four-star 2019 wing Cam’Ron Fletcher on Wednesday. A 6-foot-6, 180-pound Missourian, Fletcher is the No. 41 overall prospect and the 11th-best shooting guard in his class.

Last week, an Ohio State coach reportedly met with 2020 five-star power forward Isaiah Jackson, a 6-foot-9, 190-pound Detroit native. He is the 18th-best overall prospect and the third-ranked power forward in his class.

Ohio State reportedly met with Brandon Boston Jr., a five-star 2020 shooting guard, on Thursday. The Norcross (Georgia) prospect is the 11th-best player in his class and the No. 4-ranked shooting guard.

On Monday, the Buckeyes will reportedly meet with four-star 2020 center Dain Dainja. A 6-foot-8, 240-pound post player, Dainja is the No. 56 overall prospect and 11th-best center in his class.

Finalist for Liddell

Over a week ago, four-star forward E.J. Liddell released his final three schools, a list that included Ohio State, Illinois and Missouri. In his video announcing the finalists, Liddell teased that a decision would be “coming soon.”

For a 2019 class that already includes five-star point guard D.J. Carton and four-star wing Alonzo Gaffney, picking up Liddell would be an absolute coup. The 6-foot-7, 220-pound power forward who attends Belleville (Illinois) West is the No. 48 overall prospect in the country and the 10th-best player at his position.

A commitment from Liddell would give the Buckeyes three top-50 prospects in the 2019 class. Ohio State has not done that since 2010, a class that included No. 4 Jared Sullinger, No. 19 Deshaun Thomas and No. 41 Jordan Siebert. The program had not even landed a single top-50 prospect since signing Jaquan Lyle in the 2015 class.

Newman not an option

Just three weeks after four-star guard Brandon Newman included the Buckeyes in his list of top-four schools, the 2019 prospect opted to end his recruitment and commit to Purdue over Indiana, Xavier and Ohio State.

The Valparaiso, Indiana, native who transferred to Montverde (Florida) Academy for his senior season is the No. 127 overall prospect in the country. A 6-foot-4, 175-pound shooting guard, Newman ranks as the 20th-best player at his position.

Earlier this month, it was reported that Newman would take an official visit to Ohio State this past weekend. The visit, however, did not happen.

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