Welcome to the Full Court Press, your weekly destination for offseason Ohio State basketball recruiting updates.
Dominiq Penn has Ohio State “up there at the top”
Following his unofficial visit this weekend, three-star 2020 point guard Dominiq Penn can’t count how many times he has visited Ohio State. It’s just not possible – for good reason.
Penn, the son of former Buckeye guard and Ohio State Athletics Hall of Famer member Scoonie Penn, lives in Columbus and plays for Dublin Coffman High School. He lives just down the road, and now, his dad works for the program as director of recruiting and player development.
Unlike most prospects who take unofficial visits to Ohio State, Penn doesn’t need certain things explained. He's familiar with both the university and the basketball program. He said some of the favorite parts of his visits come when he’s able to hang out with his friends who attend Ohio State.
“It's just a little different there just because I live here,” said Penn, the No. 130 prospect in the country.
Despite the family connection to the program, Penn said he’s treated the same by Ohio State as any other school.
For his visit this weekend, that meant Penn got to the Schottenstein Center at 11 p.m. Saturday to watch the entire practice. Then, he met with the coaching staff before heading to Skull Session prior to Ohio State’s football game against Indiana. Penn soon headed to the basketball team’s tailgate, where he spent a lot of his time getting to know the first-year players.
“I know basically the whole team, and I'm trying to talk to all the freshmen,” said Penn, noting he’s spent a lot of time recently talking to freshman guard Luther Muhammad.
Then, Penn headed to the football game where he hung out on the sidelines during pregame warmups, then watched from the stands. Coincidently, he sat just two seats away from five-star 2020 football commit Paris Johnson Jr.
Though he has been to Ohio State for visits at least 10 times and is one of three in-state 2019 prospects with scholarship offers from the program, Penn’s process of evaluating his options has just begun. He plans to start scheduling visits to other schools soon. He will take about four visits in December and many more in 2019.
At this point in the process, the Buckeyes sit in a good spot with Penn, but he emphasized he expects to take looks at many different schools to fully evaluate his options.
“I mean, I've been to Ohio State a whole lot of times, so Ohio State's up there at the top of the list, but I still have to take a whole lot of other visits first that I have not even done yet,” Penn said.
Penn holds offers from Ohio State and a variety of Mid-American Conference teams, but many other programs have shown interest, Penn said. Notre Dame, Auburn, Vanderbilt, Georgia Tech and the “majority” of Big Ten schools, including Michigan, Michigan State and Indiana, are among the schools that have expressed interest in him.
The 6-foot point guard said he would be the prototypical point guard for whichever team he ends up playing for.
“Basically, making plays is what I like to do the best,” Penn said. “I love to pass and shooting, as well. Any kind of scoring and getting my teammates involved are my mains things I like to do.”
Ohio State visit impresses Toneari Lane
Toneari Lane does not yet have a scholarship offer from Ohio State, but he certainly isn't shy in hiding his interest in the program. A 6-foot-5, 200-pound wing from Shiloh High School in Lilburn, Georgia, he visited Columbus last weekend for the first time ever.
Lane said he told Chris Holtmann that if the Buckeyes offered him a scholarship, they would be in his top two, along with Georgia, where he visited this weekend and visits "every other weekend."
"When I went there, it was comforting," Lane said. "I watched their practice and talked to the coaches and some of the players. They all say they love the coaches, the brotherhood."
Lane, unranked in the 2020 class, said Chris Holtmann told him he has to watch him play before offering him a scholarship. Ohio State is viewing him as a shooting guard, Lane said.
"He said he's going to try to come down for one of my games," Lane said. "The season's about to start here. He's going to come down and watch me play."
Most schools Lane has visited – Georgia, Georgia State, Tennessee, Clemson, Mississippi, Auburn and Middle Tennessee State – are from the south. But Lane was born in Chicago before moving to Georgia in fifth grade and often returns to the Windy City, so he feels comfortable considering a school in the Midwest.
After mainly speaking to assistant coach Mike Schrage, Lane met an "enthused" Holtmann for the first time during his visit. The head coach led him on a quick tour before practice began. Lane watched the entire three-hour practice, then met strength and conditioning coach Quadrian Banks, who impressed him.
"I liked how the strength and conditioning coach, he said when they work out, he works on basketball stuff," Lane said. "You know how some colleges, when they work out, they try to be bulky? He said he works that stuff basketball-wise. Like, when you're done squatting, he makes you jump up and touch the rim 10 times. When you're done benching, he makes you shoot a basketball afterward. It's not all about bulkiness."
Lane then headed to the video room, where he watched clips of Jae'Sean Tate and others.
"I like how they all share the ball and how the coach, he lets them play," Lane said. "Not everything is all systematic."
During the tour, Lebron James' honorary locker in Ohio State's locker room stood out to Lane, who called the Los Angeles Lakers forward his favorite player. Lane then got a tour of campus – everything from the dorms, to the library, to the places the team eats.
The Buckeyes have not offered Lane a scholarship, so he said he's keeping his options open. But, he expects to begin taking official visits in December and began plans last weekend to take an official to Ohio State.
Lane said Ohio State's coaching staff caught wind of him at an event in Dallas when he went up against Brandon Boston and Anthony Edwards, a pair of five-star guards and Georgia natives who Lane has befriended.
The challenge of facing some of the nation's top prospects excited Lane, who knew most coaches in attendance weren't watching him. Instead, he took advantage of the opportunity with the eyes of college coaches on him to put himself on the radar.
"I'm a tough player. I'm fearless," Lane said. "I don't care who I go up against. I don't care what their name is because everybody be scared because the mixtapes and stuff. But when people play against me, I don't allow that to happen."
Pair of five-star offers
With last week’s commitment from four-star forward E.J. Liddell likely rounding out Ohio State’s 2019 recruiting class, the Buckeyes can fully turn their attention to the following two recruiting cycles. Holtmann didn’t waste time dishing out offers to some of the best prospects in the following two classes.
Five-star small forward Jalen Johnson reported an offer from the Buckeyes on Wednesday. The 6-foot-8, 215-pound Milwaukee, Wisconsin, native is the No. 5 overall prospect in the country and the second-best small forward in the 2020 class. Ohio State will certainly be fighting an uphill battle for Johnson, who holds offers from Duke, Wisconsin, Kentucky, Arizona, Purdue and a bevy of other high-level programs.
The top point guard in the 2021 recruiting cycle, Khristian Lander, announced on Saturday that Ohio State offered him a scholarship. The 6-foot-1 guard is the No. 14 overall prospect in his class. The Evansville, Indiana, native has garnered interest from in-state programs. Indiana and Purdue, along with a few other programs, have already offered him scholarships.
Red, white and blue for D.J. Carton
Ohio State point guard commit D.J. Carton headed west from Bettendorf, Iowa, to Colorado Spring, Colorado, this weekend to take part in the USA Basketball Men’s Junior National Team minicamp held at the United States Olympic Training Center. The event, featuring 87 players, included 24 players from Carton’s 2019 class.
Though Carton ranks as a five-star prospect, he won’t be the highest-rated player at the minicamp. The top seven prospects in the 2019 class, including Cole Anthony, the top guard in the country, will attend the event.
“Even if I’m not trying out for a team, I’m still going to try to prove myself — prove why I’m one of the best guards in the country," Carton told the Des Moines Register. “I feel like I’m one of the best players in the country, one of the best guards. So I feel like going into this camp, competing against these guys, I have the ability to prove that.”
It won’t be the first time Carton, the No. 24 prospect and second-ranked point guard in the country, dons the Team USA jersey. He tried out for the U18 National Team this summer, but did not make it through the final cut.
Spending time around the top prospects this weekend allowed Carton become a recruiter for the Buckeyes, a role he embraced.
“I’ll be all over them,” Carton told the Des Moines Register. “I’m always looking to improve this team.”
NAACP awards E.J. Liddell
Sunday evening, the East St. Louis Chapter of the NAACP honored Liddell with the Youth Athletic Achievement Award. Liddell sported a bowtie while picking up his latest award, one of many.
Enjoying an evening w @EasyE2432 who is being honored by the @NAACP as their Youth Athletic Achievement Award. Congratulations EJ. @eliddell68 @docjdoz @MaroonsHoops @L21Meyer pic.twitter.com/JHBWNXXg2J— BW Athletics (@BWestAthletics) October 8, 2018
Following his state championship-winning season this spring, Liddell was named Mr. Basketball in Illinois. He also was first-team all-state and made the St. Louis Post-Dispatch All-Metro team.