As Ryan Day and Ohio State's football team takes on Florida Atlantic in its season opener, Chris Holtmann and his coaching staff will host a pair of its top 2020 recruiting targets.
Four-star shooting guard Moses Moody and four-star power forward Lance Ware will take official visits to Ohio State this weekend. It will be the first visit to campus in either an official or unofficial capacity for both of the prospects.
Moody, a 6-foot-5, 180-pounds shooting guard, included the Buckeyes in his top seven along with Arkansas, Kansas, Oregon, USC, Michigan and Florida on Wednesday. The Arkansas native who plays for Montverde Academy in Florida is the No. 43 overall prospect and the seventh-ranked shooting guard in 2020.
The official visit to Ohio State will be Moody's first of the fall. He recently took an unofficial visit to Florida and, per Stockrisers' Jake Weingarten, is planning official visits to Oregon and Kansas.
Though multiple high-level programs have interest in Moody, the Buckeyes have an in with him due to the connections he has with a couple current players, which he explained to Eleven Warriors a couple months ago. Moody has a close friendship with freshman E.J. Liddell after playing with him last year for Bradley Beal Elite on the Nike EYBL circuit. He has also known Duane Washington Jr. for a while.
“Their main message is definitely relationships because I have a lot of relationships with the guys that's already there,” Moody said in May. “With me being a long scorer like I am, they say I fit perfectly in their offense.”
Ohio State has maintained Moody as a priority target for a while. This weekend's official visit gives Holtmann and his staff an opportunity to potentially position itself as a frontrunner in his recruitment.
Ware, a 6-foot-9, 215-pound power forward, will also be in town on an official visit this weekend.
The Burlington, New Jersey, native is the No. 35 overall prospect the sixth-ranked power forward in 2020. He included the Buckeyes in his final five, along with Kentucky, Michigan, Providence and Miami. Ware reportedly has official visits set up to his other four finalists.
Unlike Moody's recruitment, in which Ohio State appears to be one of the top options, the Buckeyes are viewed as an underdog for Ware. Kentucky is the favorite, and Michigan is thought to be lingering as the second option. Of course, that perception can change quickly. Holtmann and his staff will have a chance to made its case this weekend when Ware gets his first taste of Columbus.
Holtmann Anticipates Signing Somebody This Fall
Ohio State currently has one open scholarship in its 2020 recruiting class, and Holtmann anticipates filling it this fall during the Nov. 13-20 early signing period.
"I think we're going to run the race with a lot of guys, whatever that looks like," Holtmann said on Tuesday. "We obviously have some visits planned, some visits scheduled, some visits coming up. Do I anticipate that we'll sign somebody, one or two in the early period? I would say yes. Is it possible that we don't? Sure. Would I anticipate that we would? I do. But we'll see what that looks like."
Signing two 2020 prospects during the fall early signing period would mean Ohio State would surpass the 13-scholarship limit by one player, an act commonly referred to as over-signing.
When asked whether the Buckeyes were even allowed to do that, Holtmann reconsidered his prior comments.
"Good question. Maybe I need to look into that," Holtmann said. "I think it's something that if it gets to that point, we'll look at it. We'll get more in-depth. I don't want to necessarily get that far. I probably misspoke. I should say, right now, do I anticipate we'll sign one? Yes."
At this point, the Buckeyes aren't the clear leader in any 2020 prospect's recruitment. That could change in the near future, though, with a slew of upcoming official visits, beginning with Moody and Ware this weekend.
Puff Johnson Visits, Plans To Return On Official Visit
Despite Johnson's strong familial ties to a few other schools recruiting him, the Buckeyes have continued to make a strong impression on him. He included them in his top seven, along with Miami, Pittsburgh, Arizona, Louisville, North Carolina and Notre Dame.
Johnson, the No. 45 overall prospect and the 13th-ranked small forward in 2020, is one of the top pure shooters in his class, which shot him up the rankings during the summer.
Arizona is widely viewed as the leader for Johnson. Sean Miller, the Wildcats' head coach, played basketball at Pittsburgh with Johnson's father, Gil. Johnson's brother, Cameron, was drafted in the first round by the Phoenix Suns. Johnson also transferred to play his senior year of high school basketball at Hillcrest Prep in Phoenix, Arizona. Given that Cameron played for the Tar Heels, North Carolina is also an option for Johnson. His father's ties to Pittsburgh also make the Panthers intriguing.
All of those connections will make it difficult for Ohio State to land Johnson, but his continued interest in Holtmann and his program has kept the Buckeyes in the picture.
Mark Williams Includes Ohio State In Final Five
The Buckeyes made four-star center Mark Williams' initial top seven, and he chopped the list to five on Wednesday, including Ohio State along with Duke, Stanford, Michigan and UCLA.
Overcoming the appeal of Duke will be difficult, and the other three schools are real possibilities for the 7-foot, 225-pound big man, but Ohio State should get an opportunity to impress Williams in person. He plans to take an official visit to Columbus on Oct. 5.
Williams is the No. 34 overall prospect and the sixth-ranked center in 2020. The Norfolk, Virginia, native will play his final season of high school basketball at IMG Academy in Florida.
As the top-rated pure center the Buckeyes are currently targeting, he's a priority to Holtmann and his staff. Assistant coach Jake Diebler is Ohio State's lead recruiter of Williams.
Eugene Brown Planning To Visit
After Holtmann watched Eugene Brown play in late June, he extended an offer to the four-star wing. As a native of Decatur, Georgia, Brown has never been to Ohio, but he plans to take an official visit to Columbus on Sept. 13-15.
He's the No. 116 overall prospect and the 25th-ranked shooting guard in 2020.
Recently, Brown included Ohio State in his top six, along with Butler, Georgia, Georgia Tech, Louisville and Texas A&M. He took an official visit to Butler last year, and he plans to visit his other finalists in an official capacity in September and October before making a fall decision, per Scoopman.
Jalen Bridges Eliminates Buckeyes
Jalen Bridges, a four-star forward from Fairmont, West Virginia, included Ohio State in his top 10 this summer. However, the Buckeyes did not make his most recent cut to five teams.
Final 5 Hate it or Love it pic.twitter.com/WiiviQyxgg— jalen (@jalenbridgess) August 24, 2019
Bridges plans to commit on Halloween, and it won't be to Ohio State.
A few new 2021 offers
In the past few weeks, Ohio State extended a trio of scholarship offers to 2021 prospects.
Four-star shooting guard Joshua Primo earned an offer from the Buckeyes on Aug. 11. The 6-foot-5, 170-pounder is the No. 51 overall prospect and the 10th-ranked shooting guard in his class. Creighton and TCU have also extended offers to him. The native Canadian will play for Compass Prep in Chandler, Arizona, as a junior.
Trevor Keels, a four-star shooting guard from Fairfax, Virginia, also received a scholarship offer from Ohio State, with his coming on Aug. 7. At 6-foot-5 and 210 pounds, he's the No. 34 overall prospect and No. 5 shooting guard in 2021. Florida, West Virginia, Oklahoma State, South Carolina, Cincinnati and Virginia have already offered him scholarships.
Three-star shooting guard Julian Roper picked up an offer from the Buckeyes on Aug. 5. Roper, hailing from Franklin, Michigan, is the No. 130 overall prospect and 29th-ranked shooting guard in his class. Iowa, Wisconsin, Northwestern and Illinois have offered him scholarships.
Luke Goode also took a recent unofficial visit to Ohio State. The three-star shooting guard from Fort Wayne, Indiana, has a tight bond with Kalen Etlzer, the Buckeyes' power forward commit. Goode holds offers from Maryland, Butler, Iowa, Illinois, Stanford and Northwestern, but Ohio State has not yet offered him.