Welcome to the Full Court Press, your destination for Ohio State basketball recruiting updates.
Chris Livingston doesn’t look or play like any typical 16-year old. That must’ve been the case at age 14, too, since that’s when he picked up an offer from Ohio State.
In the two years since Chris Holtmann pulled the trigger, Livingston has developed into everything anybody could have imagined. He's a ridiculously athletic 6-foot-5, 170-pound shooting guard who's ranked as the No. 3 overall prospect in 2022 yet feels as though he has barely begun to touch his potential.
"He’s the most athletic human being I have ever seen in person, for real," Western Reserve Academy coach Thomas Adams-Wall said.
You'll get no arguments here.
Adams-Wall made that claim about 15 minutes after his team lost, 59-57, to Columbus Academy on Saturday. Livingston, who transferred to Western Reserve Academy after playing his freshman season at Buchtel, did what he could to keep his team in the game. He had more than half of his team's offense, dropping 31 points to go along with 12 rebounds, four assists and three steals.
Livingston had a chance to tie the game up in the final seconds, but his jump shot didn't fall.
"I know I'm a good shooter, but I've got to get better at it," Livingston said. "I've got to be knockdown every game. I'm going to keep trying it because I've got to get better. I'm not going to be complacent with where I'm at. I've got to add more stuff to my game to get better and reach the level I want to be at."
Some second-half Chris Livingston clips. pic.twitter.com/D4bj0BjgSk— Colin Hass-Hill (@chasshill) February 2, 2020
The quick scouting report...
Livingston has everything anyone could ask for in somebody with his frame. He's athletic, instinctive and makes everything look easy on offense. Playing against a team without anybody even remotely as physically gifted as him, Livingston carved up Columbus Academy on the bounce, able to get to the rim seemingly at will.
"I think now I'm getting to the level where I can just dominate at will every game if I have to," Livingston said.
He says he's trying to expand his offensive game, leading to an abundance of 3-pointers and deep 2s. His stroke looks clean, though the shot selection wasn't great since he has the ultimate green light. The other aspect of his game that shouldn't get overlooked? He's both a willing and adept passer. Defensively, he wasn't much of a factor since nobody ever really went at him on that end of the court.
Just a sophomore, Livingston already claims offers from Ohio State, Indiana, Florida, UAB, Iowa State and Akron. By the end of his high school career, expect that list to lengthen.
"All the schools that have offered me, they've been keeping in contact with me, sending me letters and talking to my coaches and things like that," Livingston said. "I've been keeping in contact with Ohio State, Florida, all those other coaches."
The NBA, should the rules change by 2022 to allow high schoolers to immediately get drafted, could be an option too.
A Potential Graduate Transfer?
Seth Towns, a graduate transfer from Harvard, recently told the Washington Post that about 70 colleges have reached out to him since he placed his name in the portal in January. Among them? Ohio State, per a source.
Given his ties to the state and that he’s two years removed from being named the Ivy League Player of the Year, the contact shouldn’t surprise anyone – even though there are a number of obstacles.
Towns, who will have two years of eligibility following his spring graduation, is a native of Columbus who played for Northland High School. As a recruit, he picked up offers from various high-major programs, including both Ohio State and Michigan, but opted to attend Harvard.
As a freshman in 2016-17, the 6-foot-7, 215-pound forward averaged 12.5 points and 4.4 rebounds. The next season, he was named the conference’s player of the year with 16 points, 5.7 rebounds and 1.8 assists in 27.9 minutes per game.
Since Towns’ breakout 2017-18 season happened, though, he hasn’t played a game. He suffered a cartilage tear in his knee in the 2018 Ivy League championship game that never healed properly and required an additional surgery a month ago. But the injury didn’t keep him out of the classrooms, so he’ll graduate from Harvard with a degree in sociology this spring and begin to look for a new university at which to both play basketball and study creative writing in graduate school.
“I really believe as an African American with a Harvard degree, I’ll have a chance to make an impact somewhere,” Towns told the Washington Post. “I love basketball, but I hope there’s a lot more to my life than that.”
At the moment, Ohio State doesn’t have an open scholarship for Towns.
By signing four-star wing Eugene Brown and three-star big man Zed Key in the fall, it crossed the 13-scholarship threshold and is currently one over the limit, meaning someone will either have to professionalize or transfer out of the program before next season. In order to make room for Towns, a second player would have to leave, too. Should that happen, the Buckeyes would have a scholarship available for him – or, potentially, a transfer big man if Kaleb Wesson leaves for the NBA.
It's also worth noting that Holtmann has a relationship with Towns. In 2015, he told the Columbus Dispatch that his decision came down to Harvard or Butler. Holtmann was coaching the Bulldogs at the time.
New Names To Know
Two high school juniors picked up offers from Ohio State in the past couple weeks.
The first was Jordan Longino, a four-star shooting guard from Fort Washington, Pennsylvania. The 6-foot-3, 170-pounder is the No. 64 overall prospect and the 13th-ranked shooting guard in 2021. Villanova, Florida, Penn State, Rutgers and Temple also have offered him.
Franck Kepnang, a five-star center, picked up an offer from Ohio State too.
The 6-foot-10, 220-pound big man plays for Westtown School in Pennsylvania, but he’s a native of Cameroon. Kepnang is the 18th-ranked overall prospect and No. 4 center in 2021.
I am blessed to have received an offer from Ohio State University pic.twitter.com/o67teVsmj0— K.Franck (@kep_dunker) January 28, 2020
A Top In-State Visitor
In the next couple of years, it’ll be pertinent for Ohio State’s coaching staff to do what it can to keep the top-line in-state talent within the borders, for the 2021 and 2022 classes are teeming with high-major prospects. Chris Holtmann has already picked up commitments from Kalen Etzler and Meechie Johnson, but if he has his way, they’ll be joined by multiple other Ohioans across the two classes.
Dayton Belmont four-star center Shawn Phillips picked up an offer from the Buckeyes in the fall, and he’s already been to Columbus for multiple visits. Phillips, the No. 40 overall prospect in 2022, has offers from Cincinnati, Xavier, Auburn, DePaul and Ohio.
Phillips took another unofficial trip to Ohio State, sitting in the front row at Saturday’s game against Indiana. This time, he was with a few of his Midwest Basketball Club teammates, including AJ Braun, the No. 2 Ohioan center in 2021 per Triple Double Prospects.
Writing my own story pic.twitter.com/fR9dMdVVfW— shawn phillips jr (@shawnphillipsj1) July 30, 2019