Finding the right fit for your college basketball program isn't just about what happens on the court, but off it as well. Ohio State added a key piece. How will that commitment impact the Buckeyes?
Four-star wing Eugene Brown III had never been to the state of Ohio until this past weekend, when he took an official visit to Ohio State, and now he plans to spend the next few years of his life in Columbus.
Brown announced his commitment to Ohio State on Monday after deciding during his visit and telling the coaching staff that he plans to be a future Buckeye this weekend.
On The Court
Brown first appeared on Ohio State's radar a year ago when then-assistant coach Mike Schrage took a liking to his game. But when Brown suffered a broken leg last fall and Schrage left Chris Holtmann's staff to become Elon's head coach, the Buckeyes slowed down in their pursuit of him.
When Brown got healthy enough to play again earlier this year and began to show some of the same flashes Ohio State's coaches saw last year, Holtmann and his staff began to hone in.
Brown fits the mold of a "3-and-D" wing. He's somebody who can hurt opponents with his range and shooting from beyond the arc, and he's also long and lanky enough that the Buckeyes believe he'll develop into a quality defender.
A native of Decatur, Georgia, Brown only played in five games with Southwest DeKalb High School as a junior due to his broken leg, and he sat out a chunk of the Nike EYBL circuit, too.
When healthy, though, Brown should add perimeter scoring and defensive versatility that allows him to play both shooting guard and small forward, an ability Holtmann covets.
“They said they liked my length, my ability to defend, my size and my ability to score,” Brown told Eleven Warriors on Aug. 1.
In The Class
Since Ohio State will only have one senior this upcoming season – Andre Wesson – it has just one open scholarship with which it can sign a 2020 prospect.
With the commitment of Brown, Ohio State has filled that opening. The team now has all 13 scholarships for the 2020-21 season accounted for, though the natural attrition of college basketball could eventually lead to another opening.
If nobody transfers or leaves early to the NBA, here's what the 2020-21 roster would look like with its current scholarship players and commitments:
- Point guard: CJ Walker (redshirt senior), DJ Carton (sophomore)
- Shooting guard: Luther Muhammad (junior), Duane Washington Jr. (junior), Eugene Brown III (freshman)
- Small forward: Musa Jallow (senior), Justice Sueing (redshirt junior), Justin Ahrens (junior)
- Power forward: Kyle Young (senior), E.J. Liddell (sophomore), Alonzo Gaffney (sophomore)
- Center: Kaleb Wesson (senior), Ibrahima Diallo (sophomore)
By the time Brown arrives on campus, every other shooting guard and small forward on the current roster will be an upperclassman. Though that means he might not have a key role or compete for a starting spot as a true freshman, he'll be positioned as a major part of the team's future on the wing.
He's likely a multi-year player rather than somebody who will look to leave for the NBA after a year or two.
Brown's commitment ends the Buckeyes' pursuit of other wings for the class of 2020, including Moses Moody, Kerwin Walton and Puff Johnson. Ohio State hosted Moody for an official visit several weeks ago, and Johnson and Walton had official visits planned. However, with just a single open scholarship for next year, the Buckeyes only plan to sign one guard or wing.
The possibility remains that Ohio State could "oversign" by one scholarship, which Holtmann deemed as an option last month. If Ohio State chooses to sign a second 2020 prospect along with Brown this fall with the understanding that at least one player will either leave early to professionalize or transfer after the 2019-20 season, it would do so in order to add a big man.
The Buckeyes hosted three-star power forward Zed Key for an official visit a week ago, and they plan to host four-star center Zach Loveday for an official visit this weekend. Four-star center Mark Williams also has an official visit scheduled for Oct. 5.
A look at some of Eugene Browns work at the #NCAAGeorgia Team Camp last week.— SUVtv (@SUVtv) June 26, 2019
Picked up an offer from Ohio State today
Additional : https://t.co/kRdujdjB47
@gene__11 @Swdbasketball @OSUHoopsInsider @osu_hoops @MathurineAgency #SUVtv pic.twitter.com/wImpgQPz8C
This season, Ohio State will roll out a roster that Holtmann has called the youngest he has ever coached. The team will have three sophomores – Muhammad, Washington and Ahrens – along with a quartet of freshmen in Carton, Liddell, Gaffney and Diallo.
Though they'll have more experience a year from now, the Buckeyes wanted to target somebody with maturity in the 2020 recruiting cycle, which attracted the coaching staff to Brown and his family.
Brown thrives in the classroom with a 4.0 GPA and a high SAT score. When picking out schools, his mother took a look at every university's academic offerings. The more Ohio State's coaches got to know Brown's parents, the more they became enamored with the possibility of adding Brown to the mix.
“I kind of focus on the basketball part, but my mother, she does all the research for academics and all that stuff,” Brown said on Aug. 1.
At Southwest DeKalb High School, Brown plays basketball for a team coached by his father, Eugene Jr. On the Nike EYBL circuit, he's part of AOT, a highly regarded team based in Georgia.
Brown hasn't played much in the past year due to his leg injury. But given his maturity and family background, Ohio State believes he'll have a chance to thrive in Columbus.