Up until recently, recruiting rankings had neither been kind nor generous to Brice Sensabaugh.
Not before the middle of this past summer did the senior at Lake Highland Prep in Orlando, Florida, even have a ranking in the 247Sports composite, and Sensabaugh was still just a three-star prospect halfway through September.
“Rankings are hilarious,” Sensabaugh wrote on Twitter Sept. 1, adding that “a number should never dictate your success.”
Talent evaluators may have been late on Sensabaugh, who did not play at all as a sophomore in high school due to a meniscus injury, and the Buckeyes might have been, as well. In fact, Ohio State didn’t offer the senior small forward until Aug. 20.
But all parties have gotten up to speed with haste, as Sensabaugh, who turned heads all summer on the AAU circuit, committed to the Buckeyes as a four-star prospect Tuesday, rated among the top 75 recruits in the recruiting class of 2022.
On the Court
On several occasions throughout the past year, Ohio State head coach Chris Holtmann has raved about E.J. Liddell’s penchant for being a matchup nightmare at the college level, something that Holtmann and the Buckeye coaches identified early in the star forward’s recruitment.
Sensabaugh’s offensive repertoire is far more guard-oriented than that of Liddell, but at 6-foot-6, 230 pounds, the Buckeyes’ latest commit has the ability to create mismatches in much the same way.
“He’ll guard centers a lot because he’s our biggest player, but we play five-out, he’ll have the ball in his hands, he’ll be coming off ball screens, he’ll be leading the break,” Ben Fratrik, Sensabaugh’s high school coach, told Eleven Warriors. “But we’ll post him if he’s got an advantage over whoever’s guarding him, we can post him. We’ll iso him at the high post where he’s really a handful to guard. He’s not a five-man, but he’s our biggest player.”
Fratrik believes Sensabaugh can match up with power forwards defensively at the college level, but his offensive skill set and “deceptive athleticism” will make it difficult for them to keep up with him on the other end. In fact, Fratrik described Sensabaugh as a mix between former Tennessee power forward Grant Williams and former UCLA guard Arron Afflalo, who both made it to the NBA.
As a sophomore at Lake Highland Prep, Fratrik said Sensabaugh averaged 18 points per game and shot 40 percent from deep, attempting six per night. As a senior, Fratrik said he hopes Sensabaugh shoots closer to eight threes per game due to his accuracy and “legit NBA range.”
However, Sensabaugh likes to mix it up inside, too.
“Brice is gonna lead up in three-point plays because he can take a hit and finish,” Fratrik said. “He’s kind of got some shiftiness where he gets some body into yours, like he likes playing with some of that physicality.”
As far as what Sensabaugh still has to improve, Fratrik said he still needs to get back into “complete basketball shape” after missing a full season and become a bit more consistent with his jump shot.
But Sensabaugh’s multi-positional versatility seems like an obvious fit in Holtmann’s system, and Fratrik said his star player’s intrinsic abilities make him a can’t-miss talent on the court.
“He’s just got a lot of stuff that you can’t really teach kids,” Fratrik said. “His vision and his feel, his ability to pass with either hand, his crazy deceptive athleticism. You look at him and he looks like a defensive end. You know, he’s 6-6 and 230. But then he just dunks it and tries to dunk it on people and is really deceptively athletic.”
In the Class
Ohio State already had one of the nation’s best classes in 2022, and the addition of Sensabaugh only bolsters the group that much more.
Holtmann has never had a five-player recruiting class since taking over the Buckeye program in 2017, but with nine seniors on the roster in 2021-22 – not to mention the probability that Liddell turns pro – Ohio State will have to retool quickly with a big haul in this cycle.
|C||JOEY BRUNK (6TH)||–||ZED KEY||–||FELIX OKPARA|
KYLE YOUNG (5TH)
SETH TOWNS (6TH)
|E.J. LIDDELL||–||KALEN ETZLER||–|
JUSTICE SUEING (5TH)
JUSTIN AHRENS (4TH)
|–||EUGENE BROWN||–||BRICE SENSABAUGH|
|SG||CEDRIC RUSSELL (5TH)||–||
JIMMY SOTOS (5TH)
JAMARI WHEELER (5TH)
|–||MEECHIE JOHNSON||–||BRUCE THORNTON|
Branson, Missouri’s Felix Okpara, the No. 51 player in the class and a 6-foot-11 center, was the most recent Buckeye commit prior to Sensabaugh. Before that, Ohio State’s 2022 class was loaded with backcourt players, headlined by No. 42 overall prospect Bruce Thornton – an AAU teammate of Sensabaugh’s on Each 1 Teach 1 – and No. 64 prospect Roddy Gayle Jr. at the point guard and shooting guard positions, respectively.
Three-star two-guard Bowen Hardman became the first member of the Buckeyes’ 2022 class back in May 2020, but Sensabaugh fills an obvious void as a small forward that can likely slide over to the four if need be.
Current Ohio State small forwards Justin Ahrens, Justice Sueing and Seth Towns are all seniors this year, and Liddell and Kyle Young at power forward are both likely to be in their final season at Ohio State as well. With that much talent departing, Sensabaugh could quickly make an impact in the rotation for the Buckeyes upon entering the program.
Sensabaugh will also bring with him an on-court chemistry with Thornton, as Fratrik said the pair play “really, really well together,” with their connection as AAU teammates figuring to help form a nucleus for the class.
The .9691 composite score Sensabaugh holds at present would make him the third highest-ranked small forward prospect among all-time Holtmann commits at Ohio State, behind only Malaki Branham (.9863) in the class of 2021 and Alonzo Gaffney (.9805) in the class of 2019.
The connection to Thornton, who committed to Ohio State last November, is not the only link that helped bring the Floridian to the Buckeye program.
Sensabaugh was born in Cincinnati, and his father was an Ohio State alumnus himself, with family members still residing in Columbus.
When he makes his way back to Ohio following his senior year of high school, Fratrik said Sensabaugh will add to the program a young player that suits Holtmann’s ideals off the court and in the classroom as well.
“High academic kid, incredible character, straight A’s, an absolute coach’s dream,” Fratrik said. “Really, really good family. We’re really fortunate, he checks the boxes with all of that stuff. He’s an awesome kid and a really, really good family.”
Sensabaugh also brings with him a work ethic that was developed during his recovery from injury last year. In order for his recruiting rise to take place, Sensabaugh had to grind to get back on the court, and his efforts did not go unnoticed thereafter.
“I just don’t think many people were aware of how talented he was because he spent so much time on the shelf. But Brice is just an unbelievably hard worker,” Fratrik said. “He’s put an incredible amount of time in the gym, in our weight room, watching film. His recent success has been a long time coming for him, because he’s really put in the time.”
It’s clear that Sensabaugh dictated his own success, and as the final piece of Holtmann’s best Buckeye recruiting class to date, he’ll have a chance to find plenty more of that at Ohio State in the years to come.