Where Ohio State Stands With Its Top 2020 Recruiting Targets

By Colin Hass-Hill on August 7, 2019 at 11:15 am
Scottie Barnes

The recruiting trail has begun to heat up.

Four-star shooting guard Keon Johnson is off the board, having announced his commitment to Tennessee on Tuesday, but five other Ohio State targets included the Buckeyes on cut lists within the past two weeks.

The Buckeyes don't have the clear lead for any of their targets, but a number of them will visit Columbus in the next couple months. 

Though there's still time for new targets to enter the mix, Chris Holtmann and his staff are currently focused on about a dozen prospects, so we're taking a look at where Ohio State stands for each of them.

Four-star power forward Lance Ware 

No. 47 overall, No. 7 power forward – Burlington, New Jersey

Ware created his first cut list, eliminating all but five schools on Saturday. Ohio State is a finalist, along with Michigan, Kentucky, Providence and Miami.

The Wildcats were hovering around Ware's recruitment for the past couple months, and John Calipari finally pulled the trigger with a scholarship offer on July 26. Immediately, they became the favorite to land the 6-foot-9, 215-pound power forward. Five of the six 247Sports crystal ball projections are tilting in their favor.

The Buckeyes will get a chance to impress, though, when they host Ware for an official visit on Aug. 30-Sept. 1. They're getting his first official visit among the finalists, all of which will host him in the next couple months. 

Four-star small forward Jalen Bridges

No. 83 overall, No. 20 small forward – Fairmont, West Virginia

Bridges kicked off a string of cut lists, including Ohio State in his top 10 on July 29 along with Alabama, Miami, Indiana, West Virginia, Pittsburgh, Xavier, Texas A&M, USC and Oklahoma State.

A couple days ago, Bridges took a visit to Pittsburgh. He also has visits lined up to Alabama, Miami and Xavier, per Stockrisers. West Virginia currently has the lead on 247Sports crystal balls, but they're not thought to be the Buckeyes' main competition. 

In mid-July, Bridges told Eleven Warriors he will "probably" take another visit to Ohio State at some point. Getting him to Columbus for an official visit will, of course, be important. He's one of the more established shooters the Buckeyes are after.

Four-star center Mark Williams

No. 37 overall, No. 7 center – Norfolk, Virginia

Williams chopped his list of potential schools down to seven on Sunday, naming the Buckeyes as one of the teams that made the cut along with Duke, Stanford, Georgetown, Virginia Tech, North Carolina State and UCLA.

Given the prominence of the Duke program and his connections to the school, it makes sense that the vast majority of his 247Sports crystal ball projections are pointing toward the Blue Devils. His sister, Elizabeth, starred on the Duke women's basketball team from 2011 to 2015. Stanford and UCLA are also teams to watch in Williams' recruitment.

Ohio State will have a shot to make an impression on the 7-footer when he takes an official visit, which is scheduled for Oct. 4-6, per Stockrisers. He also reportedly took an official visit to Stanford in March and has officials scheduled to Duke (Nov. 1-3) and UCLA (Aug. 23-25). 

Williams recently announced he's transferring high schools for his senior year, leaving Virginia for IMG Academy, the powerhouse in Florida. There, he'll attend the same school as Lejond Cavazos, a 2020 Ohio State football commit.

Four-star power forward Henry Coleman

No. 39 overall, No. 6 power forward – Richmond, Virginia

Coleman trimmed his list to five finalists on Sunday, including a trio of ACC schools and a pair of Big Ten programs. The group consisted of Duke, Virginia Tech, North Carolina State, Michigan and Ohio State.

Since Mike Krzyzewski pulled the trigger on an offer, the Blue Devils hold the lead for the 6-foot-6, 210-pound forward. All six 247Sports crystal ball projections are pointed at Duke. 

In order to overcome the Blue Devils – and other three finalists – the Buckeyes have to get him on campus. Coleman has already scheduled visits to Duke and Virginia Tech, per Stockrisers. With the Blue Devils involved, the Buckeyes are playing from behind, needing an impactful official visit to have a chance with Coleman. 

Four-star small forward Puff Johnson

No. 49 overall, No. 13 small forward – Coraopolis, Pennsylvania

Johnson dropped his top seven on Sunday, including the Buckeyes on the list with Pittsburgh, Arizona, Louisville, Miami, North Carolina and Notre Dame.

Though the sweet-shooting 6-foot-7, 185-pound wing had positive takeaways from an unofficial visit to Ohio State, which is one of the schools with the closest proximity to him, North Carolina, Arizona and Pittsburgh are viewed as the three leaders for him.

Johnson's brother, Cam, became a first-round pick just months ago under Roy Williams. His father, Gil, played with Arizona coach Sean Miller, and he played for Pittsburgh. The Buckeyes lack the familial connections, making them underdogs in Johnson's recruitment. They'll need to get him on an official visit to have a shot.

Puff Johnson

Five-star small forward Scottie Barnes

No. 6 overall, No. 2 small forward – Fort Lauderdale, Florida

No player considering the Buckeyes has a higher ranking than Barnes, a 6-foot-8, 210-pounder who takes pride in his ability to play point guard. Despite his hype, Barnes hasn't spoken much publicly about his recruitment.

In February, he included Ohio State along with Miami, Oregon, Kentucky, Duke, Kansas, California, and Florida State in his top eight, which he hasn't cut since. The Ducks have the most 247Sports crystal ball projections pointing their way. Barnes has not yet taken a visit to Ohio State, and he'll need to make that happen before the Buckeyes become a serious option.

Barnes recently announced he'll transfer high schools to play his senior year at Montverde Academy in Florida, where he'll team up with fellow Ohio State target Moses Moody on a team loaded with future college players.

Four-star shooting guard Eugene Brown

No. 116 overall, No. 26 shooting guard – Decatur, Georgia

After recovering from a broken leg, Brown returned to full health and impressed Holtmann enough to receive an offer from the Buckeyes in late July.

As a Georgia native, Brown told Eleven Warriors he has never been to the state of Ohio. However, he said he is working to schedule an official visit that would likely take place in September. Given his unfamiliarity of the program and state, that visit will have a tremendous impact on whether Ohio State can cement itself in the mix for Brown, a 6-foot-6, 170-pound wing.

Georgia, Georgia Tech, Xavier, Texas A&M, Clemson and Butler are also in consideration. Brown told Eleven Warriors he plans to cut his list to five schools after visits to Ohio State, Xavier and Texas A&M.

Three-star power forward Zed Key

No. 291 overall, No. 47 power forward – Glen Head, New York

After impressing at the NBPA Top 100 Camp in June, Key received a bunch of offers, including one from Ohio State that came on June 19. Since his camp performance in front of college coaches, Notre Dame, Georgia, USC, Providence, St. John's, Virginia Tech, Marquette, Wisconsin, Boston College, Pittsburgh, Rhode, Island, South Florida and TCU have all extended offers.

With so many options suddenly appearing, Key will have to eventually trim his list, which he hasn't yet. He also hasn't publicized any upcoming visits. Key did, though, mention Ohio State as one of the 11 teams he speaks with most in a recent interview with Stockrisers. To have a chance with the 6-foot-8, 215-pound power forward, they Buckeyes will need to secure a visit from him in the upcoming couple months.

Four-star shooting guard Moses Moody

No. 40 overall, No. 8 shooting guard – Little Rock, Arkansas

Moody has never been to Columbus, but he plans to rectify that with an upcoming official visit to Ohio State, he recently told Rivals

The 6-foot-5, 180-pound guard has connections with E.J. Liddell and Duane Washington Jr., which makes the Buckeyes an intriguing team for him. But in order to land the prolific scorer, they'll have to beat out both a blue blood and his hometown team.

Moody attends Montverde Academy in Florida, but he's a native of Little Rock, Arkansas, meaning the Razorbacks have made him a priority. Florida, Oregon and Kansas are also in the mix for him. In order to make itself a realistic possibility, Ohio State has to make a strong impression with him during the official visit.

Moses Moody

Four-star center Ryan Kalkbrenner

No. 77 overall, No. 13 center – St. Louis, Missouri

Kalkbrenner's stock blew up on the recruiting scene early this summer, which led to his ranking jumping more than 100 spots in June.

Ohio State threw itself into the mix, extending him an offer on June 7. Kalkbrenner, a 6-foot-11, 210-pound center with a penchant for blocking shots, took an unofficial visit to Columbus on Sunday, which came during a flurry of visits. He also took visits to Cincinnati on Saturday and Purdue on Tuesday, per Stockrisers. He plans to visit Northwestern on Wednesday.

Once Kalkbrenner finishes his visits, he'll likely cut his list, giving an indication of how his trip to Columbus went. As of now, Illinois and Stanford appear to be his leaders. The Illini hold all three of his crystal ball projections on 247Sports, and he reportedly already has an official visit scheduled for Stanford.

Of note: Kalkbrenner attends Trinity Catholic in St. Louis, the same school as Mookie Cooper, an Ohio State wide receiver commit.

Four-star center Zach Loveday

No. 109 overall, No. 17 center – Gallipolis, Ohio

Ohio State's recruitment of Loveday dates back to the Thad Matta era, when then-assistant coach Greg Paulus chased him. Ryan Pedon and Chris Holtmann picked up where Matta and Paulus left off. They have visited the 7-foot, 200-pound big man in southern Ohio plenty of times the past couple years, and he has visited Columbus on multiple occasions.

Loveday, an Ohioan who transferred to Huntington Prep in West Virginia in January, added offers from Maryland, Texas A&M and Marquette since May. But he also slid in the rankings a bit during this grassroots season, dropping from the 50s to out of the top 100. 

Ohio State remains among the teams in the mix of the recruitment, which Loveday prefers to keep relatively quiet. Baylor, Indiana and Purdue are among the other teams most well-positioned to land him. He has not cut his list yet, though he reportedly hopes to make a decision this fall. 

Three-star shooting guard Kerwin Walton

No. 216 overall, No. 48 shooting guard – Hopkins, Minnesota

Walton appeared on the radar when Ohio State extended him an offer on Monday. 

Since he's such a recent addition to the Buckeyes' recruiting picture, it's unclear whether they have enough time to put themselves in position to land him – or, even, get him to take a visit to Columbus. Despite his low ranking, the 6-foot-4, 170-pounder's strong summer earned him offers from Texas, Arkansas, California, West Virginia, Vanderbilt, Kansas, Cincinnati, Arizona, Iowa, Virginia Tech, Miami and Iowa State, all of which came in the past three weeks.

Walton's most impactful attribute is his shooting ability. With shooters seen as such sought after commodities, players like Walton have become even more valuable.

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