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They came in a flurry.
One after another, four-star 2021 point guard Kennedy Chandler heard from college basketball programs around the country on Saturday, the first day schools could directly contact players in his class. Florida shot him a text the moment midnight struck, and Alabama called him shortly after. He went to sleep and woke up to a host of missed calls and text messages, giving him a preview of his day.
By Sunday, he had picked up four new scholarship offers and heard from a bevy of teams, including Memphis, Mississippi, Vanderbilt, Tennessee, Florida State, Michigan, Notre Dame and Arizona. The challenge, as he soon realized, was keeping track of who contacted him.
“I actually had to call them, text them back to ask them who this was and stuff,” Chandler told Eleven Warriors.
Ohio State joined Nebraska, LSU and Troy as one of the four teams to extend an offer to Chandler on Saturday.
Blessed to receive an offer from Ohio State University pic.twitter.com/mBKLMNyeoj— Chef (@KChandler_1) June 15, 2019
Chandler, who attends Briarcrest Christian in Memphis, Tennessee, said he initially heard from assistant coach Jake Diebler on Saturday. Then, Chris Holtmann gave him a ring and caught him off guard, letting him know the Buckeyes wanted to offer him a scholarship.
“It was a good experience,” Chandler said. “I didn't think they were going to offer me this soon.”
As the 30th overall prospect and fifth-ranked point guard in his class, Chandler already has more than a dozen scholarship offers, and the list only continues to grow. Arizona State, Arkansas, Florida State, Georgia Tech, and Illinois are among the schools that have offered him a scholarship. He has visited Kentucky, too.
Vanderbilt originally offered Kennedy a scholarship when Diebler was on its coaching staff as an assistant. He wasn't the coach who extended the scholarship offer – head coach Bryce Drew had that honor – but he served as the Commodores' lead recruiter of Chandler. Their relationship dates back a year.
“We have a good relationship,” Chandler said on Wednesday. “I have a good relationship with him. I talked to him yesterday before my game. I FaceTimed him, he FaceTimed me. We've just got a good relationship together. He's going to head to New York with Darius (Garland, who Diebler recruited to Vanderbilt and the Cleveland Cavaliers selected with the No. 5 overall pick) for the NBA draft, and he's coming down to see me play Friday. He told me that today. We've got a good relationship.”
With DJ Carton possibly headed to the NBA after his sophomore season and CJ Walker running out of eligibility following the 2020-21 season, the Buckeyes will need at least one point guard in their 2021 recruiting class, especially since they aren't heavily recruiting the position in the 2020 cycle. Holtmann has already offered four 2021 prospects ranked in the top 100 – Chandler, Khristian Lander, Meechie Johnson and Devin Askew – who could help fill that void.
Chandler has known Diebler longer as a Vanderbilt coach than an Ohio State assistant, but it certainly remains early enough in the recruiting process for Ohio State to make an impression on him.
“I know they've had some great point guards come through Ohio State,” Chandler said.
With Briarcrest, Chandler averaged 18.7 points per game en route to claiming a state title and the state tournament most valuable player award.
College coaches, he said, have mentioned they're impressed with his ability to push the ball up the court, lead and attack the rim. As a child, he preferred to stick on the outside and fire up jumpers, but as a developing high school prospect, much of the 6-foot-1, 160-pound point guard's success comes on drives.
“Now, I like attacking the rim more and I just think I'm really good at it. I've got a finish,” Chandler said. “That's what I'm really good at now, attacking the rim. They might start backing off me more, but if they do, I'm going to knock down the 3. Because some people still think I can't shoot – but I can. They didn't know I could shoot. I can knock them shots down whenever I can.”
A New 2020 Offer
As of now, three-star power forward Zed Key doesn't have a recruiting ranking that would turn anybody's head. Per the 247Sports composite rankings, he's the No. 291 overall prospect in the 2020 class.
But it's fair to expect that to quickly change.
Key headed down from New York to Charlottesville, Virginia, last week to participate in the famed NBPA Top 100 Camp, an event showcasing some of the top high school basketball players from across the nation. For a portion of the six-day camp, college coaches were allowed into the gym to watch the action in person, and they saw Key shine. He averaged 13.5 points, 6.5 rebounds and 2.3 blocks in four games. Corey Evans of Rivals called him "the camp's top rebounder and most efficient scorer."
Less than a week has passed since the camp ended, and Key has already heard from more than a dozen college programs, per NY Jayhawks executive director and Long Island Lutheran assistant coach Jay David.
“He was a top-150 kid most of his high school career,” David told Eleven Warriors. “Took a little bit of a step back last year. He's continued to be uber-talented and will probably stay that way. It's just that he's continued to work really, really hard and show his work ethic, and people are now seeing it. That stage that he was on is not a small stage. That's a big-time stage to be able to come on board and do the things that he was doing. I think it's just the fact that people were able to see him, able to see his new and improved changes.”
Key (6-foot-8, 230 pounds) held offers from Florida, Cincinnati and others before the camp. And in the days following his performance at the camp, he has added more than an offer per day, earning them from Pittsburgh, TCU, South Florida, Rhode Island, Boston College, Wisconsin and Marquette.
Ohio State jumped into the mix, extending an offer to Key on Wednesday.
“(Ohio State has) talked to him a lot after (the camp),” David said. “Before, it wasn't as much. That's OK. It's part of learning and understanding who each one of these people are and trying to have a better judge.”
Like other schools, David said, Key's motor and efficiency impressed the Buckeyes' coaching staff, which was in attendance in Charlottesville.
“The fact that he plays super hard, and that he has been able to not only show that he plays super hard, but because he has a very good feel for the game, he's been able to show that on a consistent level as well,” David said. “And I think that's what they really like.”
Ohio State has not yet discussed the possibility of Key taking a visit to Columbus, per David. But it has extended offers to a few other big men in recent weeks, indicating an interest in taking one in its 2020 class.
Playing for Long Island Lutheran, one of the top teams in the country, Key played starter minutes off the bench and helped his team claim a state championship.
His biggest contributions come as a big-bodied post scorer who thrives inside but can extend his game beyond the high school 3-point arc, David said.
“He's always been a terrific scorer,” David said. “I think Zed is probably one of the best scoring power forwards in the entire country. There are very few people who have his patience and his footwork, high school 3-point line and in. He can still shoot that ball and kill you on the block a little bit. I think, it's just people now understanding and seeing that.”
Keon Johnson To Visit Soon
Before Keon Johnson even visited Columbus, he placed Ohio State among his trio of finalists. It was a testament to the relationship he built with Jake Diebler when the newest member of Holtmann's staff was a coach at Vanderbilt.
Johnson plans to visit Ohio State on June 28-30, his mother Conswella told Eleven Warriors.
Ohio State and Virginia are viewed as the underdogs to Tennessee, and all seven Crystal Ball projections on 247Sports are currently in favor of the Volunteers.
Johnson, a 6-foot-5, 180-pound shooting guard, is the No. 31 overall prospect in the 2020 recruiting cycle. He's one of the most athletic prospects in his class.
Offers to 2021 Prospects
In the days following the direct contact period opening for players in the 2021 class, Ohio State extended five publicly known scholarship offers, including one to Chandler.
Five-star center Chet Holmgren, five-star combo guard Devin Askew, five-star power forward Michael Foster and four-star shooting guard Randy Brady also picked up offers from the Buckeyes in the past week.
Holmgren, the No. 13 overall prospect and top-ranked center in 2021, picked up an offer from Holtmann on Monday.
Beyond blessed to have received an offer from THE Ohio State University. pic.twitter.com/v1tQkZGPsW— chet holmgren (@ChetHolmgren) June 18, 2019
Standing 7 feet tall and weighing 190 pounds, Holmgren has an uncommon game to match his rare frame. He's a surprising athlete for someone teetering at the 7-foot mark, and he pairs that with the ability and confidence to knock down jumpers from beyond the arc. Playing for Minnehaha Academy in Minneapolis, Holmgren averaged 18.6 points and 11 rebounds per game.
His biggest impact could come on the defensive end, though, where he averaged 5.5 blocks per game as a sophomore in high school. Using every bit of his length, Holmgren has experience blocking double-digit shots in games.
Given the uniqueness of his game, he holds offers from Minnesota, Purdue, Texas, Kansas, Florida, Maryland, Tennessee and Texas A&M, among others.
Foster, the No. 6 overall prospect and second-ranked power forward in 2021, also earned an offer from Ohio State on Monday.
A native of Wisconsin, he recently announced a move to Arizona to continue his high school career at Hillcrest Prep. The 6-foot-9, 220-pound big man holds offers from Arizona State, Florida State, Kansas, Marquette and UCLA, among others.
Askew, the 15th-ranked overall prospect and second-rated combo guard in 2021, picked up an offer from the Buckeyes on Monday.
The Californian plays basketball at Mater Dei, the same school incoming transfer Justice Sueing attended. Askew already holds offers from Arizona, Kansas, Louisville, Texas and others.
Brady, the No. 46 overall prospect and eighth-ranked shooting guard in 2021, picked up an offer from the Buckeyes on Saturday.
A year ago, Brady transferred to Brentwood Academy in Tennessee, the same high school that Garland attended when Jake Diebler recruited and landed him as an assistant coach at Vanderbilt. Now, Diebler returns to the school, this time to go after Brady. Florida State, Tennessee, Vanderbilt, LSU and Mississippi have also offered Brady.
Eleven Warriors will have more on Brady in a story scheduled to publish Saturday.
Reaching out to 2021 prospects
When the direct contact period for 2021 prospects began at 12:01 a.m. Saturday, Ohio State's coaches – along with coaches from every other team in the country – began calling rising juniors to express interest in them.
The Buckeyes' coaches contacted dozens of prospects, and many of the calls were reported on by other outlets. Here's a rundown of every 2021 prospect Ohio State reportedly contacted in the hours and days after the direct contact period opened.
- Five-star shooting guard Terrence Clarke heard from Ohio State, per Stockrisers. He's the No. 2 overall prospect in 2021 and attends Brewster Academy in Massachusetts. Duke, Alabama, Indiana, Georgia, Baylor, Pittsburgh and Connecticut are among those who reportedly reached out.
- Five-star point guard Cam Hayes heard from Ohio State, per ZagsBlog. He's the No. 22 overall prospect and third-ranked point guard in 2021, and he attends Greensboro Day School in North Carolina. Michigan, VCU, Pennsylvania, Pittsburgh, North Carolina State, Clemson, Arizona, Louisville and Virginia Tech also reportedly reached out.
- Five-star point guard Zion Harmon heard from Ohio State, per ZagsBlog. He's the No. 19 overall prospect and second-ranked point guard in 2021, and he attends Marshall County in Kentucky. Kansas, Western Kentucky, Michigan, Arkansas and Seton Hall also reportedly reached out.
- Five-star power forward Paolo Banchero heard from Ohio State, per ZagsBlog. He's the No. 4 overall prospect and the . top-ranked power forward in 2021, and he attends O'Dea in Seattle. Memphis, UCLA, Duke, Kentucky, Baylor, and Arizona are among the schools that also reportedly reached out.
- Four-star power forward Caleb Furst heard from Ohio State, per Stockrisers. He's the No. 34 overall prospect and 10th-ranked power forward in 2021, and he attends Blackhawk Christian School in Fort Wayne, Indiana. Texas, California, Michigan State, Michigan, Purdue, Indiana, Butler and Cincinnati are among the other schools that have reportedly reached out. Furst holds an offer from the Buckeyes.
- Unranked shooting guard EJ Farmer heard from Ohio State, per Endless Motor Sports. He attends Cleveland Heights High School. Kansas State, Michigan State, Akron and Ohio also reportedly reached out to him.
- Unranked combo guard Seth Wilson heard from Ohio State, per Endless Motor Sports. He attends Lorain High School. Penn State, Youngstown State, Holy Cross and Ohio also reportedly reached out to him.
- Unranked small forward Bryce Hopkins heard from Ohio State, per Endless Motor Sports. He attends Fenwick in Oak Park, Illinois. Butler, Texas, Creighton, Nebraska, Illinois, California, Michigan State and Miami also reportedly reached out to him.
- Unranked guard Terence Harcum heard from Ohio State, per Phenom Hoop Report. Charlotte also reportedly reached out to him. He attends Granville Central in Stem, North Carolina.
- Five-star power forward Jabari Smith heard from Ohio State, per Hoopseen. He's the No. 19 overall prospect and seventh-ranked power forward in his class, and he attends Sandy Creek in Tyrone, Georgia. Florida, Alabama, Georgia Tech, Georgia and Mississippi also reportedly reached out to him.
- Four-star shooting guard Luke Goode heard from Ohio State, per Stockrisers. He's the No. 70 overall prospect and 14th-ranked shooting guard in his class, and he attends Homestead in Fort Wayne, Indiana. Purdue, Northwestern, Indiana, Butler, Xavier, Texas, TCU, Illinois, Iowa, Maryland, Ball State and Pennsylvania also reportedly reached out to him.
- Four-star small forward John Camden heard from Ohio State, per Stockrisers. He's the No. 65 overall prospect and 16th-ranked small forward in 2021, and he attends Archbishop John Carroll in Wayne, Pennsylvania. Villanova, Connecticut, Notre Dame, Michigan, Marquette and Stanford are among the other schools to have reached out to him.
- Five-star small forward William Jeffress heard from Ohio State, per Andrew Slater. He's the No. 17 overall prospect and fifth-ranked small forward in 2021, and he attends McDowell in Erie, Pennsylvania. Wisconsin, Michigan, Michigan State, Baylor, Alabama, Harvard, Princeton, Pittsburgh, Penn State, Yale, Miami, Cincinnati, Stanford, Maryland and Auburn have also reportedly reached out to him.
- Four-star shooting guard Alexis Reyes heard from Ohio State, per Stockrisers. He's the No. 115 overall prospect and 26th-ranked shooting guard in 2021, and he attends Cushing Academy in Roxbury, Massachusetts. Marquette and Temple also reportedly reached out to him.
- Unranked wing Jayden Brewer heard from Ohio State, per Endless Motor Sports. He attends Avon High School in Avon, Indiana. Toledo, Louisville, Xavier, Tulsa, Miami (Ohio), Cincinnati and Loyola also reportedly reached out to him.
- Unranked forward Doug Konieczny Jr. heard from Ohio State, per ZagsBlog. He attends Saint Joseph in South Bend, Indiana. Notre Dame, Virginia, Louisville, Purdue, TCU, Butler, Creighton, Valparaiso, Miami (Ohio), Liberty and Navy also reportedly reached out to him.
- Four-star combo guard Meechie Johnson heard from Ohio State, per ZagsBlog. He's the No. 76 overall prospect and sixth-ranked combo guard in 2021, and he attends Garfield Heights High School. Alabama, Wisconsin, Michigan State, Butler, Miami, Florida, Georgetown and Duke have reportedly reached out to him.
- Five-star small forward Kendall Brown heard from Ohio State, per ScoopmanTV. He's the No. 18 overall prospect and sixth-ranked small forward in 2021, and he attends East Ridge in Cottage Grove, Minnesota. Kentucky, Michigan, Michigan State, Illinois, Nebraska, Purdue, Iowa, Creighton, Oregon, California, Marquette, Texas, Minnesota, Arizona and Iowa State have all reportedly reached out to him.
- Unranked point guard Josh Bascoe heard from Ohio State, per Vermont Academy Basketball. Yale, Furman, Stonybrook, American, Pennsylvania, Vermont and Elon also reportedly reached out to him.
Other Schools Offer Ohio Prospects
Before the direct contact period began, Ohio State had already dished out four offers to in-state 2021 prospects, including one to four-star forward commit Kalen Etzler. Four-star combo guard Meechie Johnson, four-star shooting guard Malaki Branham and unranked center Logan Duncomb also hold offers from the Buckeyes. They also have an offer out to potential five-star 2022 wing Chris Livingston.
Ohio State has identified 2021 and 2022 as being the strongest in-state classes since Holtmann arrived in Columbus in 2017, and it intends to take advantage of the talent in its backyard.
The Buckeyes can't hide the talent in Ohio, though. So in the past week, multiple in-state recruits in the 2021, 2022 and even 2023 classes earned offers from other programs.
Duncomb picked up his offer from the Buckeyes after impressing with Archbishop Moeller at Ohio State's team camp in front of Holtmann and multiple assistant coaches on June 7, which spurred a couple other programs into action. Xavier followed up by offering the big man on June 12. And less than 24 hours into the direct contact period, Duncomb picked up an offer from Iowa, which his father attended for law school. The Hawkeyes could prove to be stiff competition, considering he grew up watching them.
Xavier extended an offer to Branham, who earned an Ohio State offer in mid-May. The St. Vincent-St. Mary wing is the No. 41 overall prospect and the top-rated Ohioan in 2021. His star will continue to grow.
EJ Farmer, the second-ranked in-state 2021 shooting guard per Triple Double Prospects, picked up offers from Ohio and Miami (Ohio) in the past couple weeks. He also visits to both Cincinnati and Xavier on Monday, per Endless Motor Sports. The recent transfer to Cleveland Heights is on Ohio State's radar.
Lorain's Seth Wilson, who has visited Ohio State on multiple occasions, earned offers from Penn State and Youngstown State this weekend, per Endless Motor Sports. He's the second-ranked in-state 2021 point guard, per Triple Double Prospects.
Lutheran East's Jalin Billingsley earned offers from VCU and Ohio, per Endless Motor Sports. Both offers came once the direct contact period opened, and coaches could talk to him. He's the second-ranked in-state 2021 power forward, per Triple Double Prospects, behind only Etzler.
Jamiya Neal, of Toledo St. Francis, picked up offers from Kent State and Akron in the past couple weeks. He's the top-ranked in-state 2021 small forward, per Triple Double Prospects. Holtmann and his staff watched his team face Branham and St. Vincent-St. Mary at Ohio State's team camp, so they're familiar with his game.
Paul McMillan IV, the top-instate 2022 point guard, picked up an offer from Cincinnati on June 9. The Cincinnati Woodward guard also has offers from Mississippi and Xavier.
Rayvon Griffith, a 2023 prospect, picked up his first offer, which came from Kent State on June 8. The rising freshman from Cincinnati Hughes will attract a hefty amount of attention from college programs in the next few years.