Ohio State doesn’t yet have a commitment in its 2024 recruiting class, but the Buckeye coaching staff has had plenty of time to evaluate several of its top targets in the cycle up close and personal already this offseason.
One such prospect, fast rising Montverde Academy forward Amier Ali, was among the numerous up-and-comers that Ohio State assistant coaches Jake Diebler and Mike Netti scoped out at April’s EYBL event in Indianapolis. It was easy to see why the Buckeyes – and plenty other high-profile programs across the country – have such a keen interest in the 6-foot-8 wing.
The No. 35 overall player in his class, Ali already has the requisite height and length of a high-level wing. He could be a difference-maker on both sides of the floor, and he possesses plenty of versatility to play multiple positions. Playing with the Houston Hoops 17U program on the AAU travel circuit, Ali has averaged 11.6 points and 5.5 rebounds per game through eight EYBL performances, after which the team sits at 6-2.
ball4nelly pic.twitter.com/AYyvasqLge— Amier Ali (@simofafan) April 17, 2022
Adept at playing on the perimeter and equipped with a smooth shooting stroke, it’s clear to see Ali could be a matchup nightmare for opponents at the next level, let alone in high school.
He still has plenty of time to sort out which destination might land his services a couple years down the line, but the Buckeyes aren’t just taking a shot in the dark with the 10th-ranked small forward in the country. Ali grew up in Gahanna, Ohio, after being born in Philadelphia. Ali played his first season of high school hoops in Texas before heading to Florida this past year, but he still considers Columbus his home town – an advantage for Ohio State in what will likely be a hotly contested recruiting battle.
Ali was offered by the Buckeyes in April after visiting Ohio State in November 2021. Offers have only continued to flood in for Ali since then, as Kansas and Arizona State are the latest to join a list that also includes Memphis, LSU, Alabama, Texas Tech and a host of other interested suitors.
Ali’s recruiting stock may only continue to rise as he enters his junior season, as he’s sure to play a much larger role as an upperclassman for a Montverde program that boasts a roster perennially loaded with many of the top-ranked prospects in the country. There’s little doubt Ohio State will be keeping tabs on the longtime Ohio resident throughout the remainder of his high school career as it hopes to earn an eventual commitment from Ali, who is now ranked as the No. 5 player in Florida.
Ali spoke with Eleven Warriors about the Buckeyes, his recruitment and the AAU circuit in Indianapolis during the aforementioned EYBL session on April 23.
This interview has been edited slightly for clarity.
Q: What do you know about the Ohio State program, and what do you like about it from what you have seen and heard thus far?
Amier Ali: First of all, I love it over there. I went on a visit, I seen their practice, it was how I like it. It’s not too long, but they go hard all day. It just feels like home over there, for sure.
Q: What does the Buckeye coaching staff like in particular about your game and what makes you stand out in their eyes?
Ali: They like my length, that I’m a guard, they like their big guards like E.J. and all that stuff. So they like my length, my shooting, all that.
Q: How much communication has there been between you and the Ohio State coaches?
Ali: They call my dad because they can’t talk to me, but they check up on me.
Q: You’re already listed at 6-foot-8 as a small forward, do you see yourself playing the three or the four at the college level?
Ali: I’m like a combo, like a one or two.
Q: How will your length help you on the defensive end, and what is your commitment like to that side of the ball?
Ali: I’m still developing as a defender, but I’m learning. Defense is like playing hard and angles. I’m learning that, I’m definitely working on it a lot, to be an elite defender. That’s my goal, to be a very elite defender where nobody’s scoring on me, nothing.
Q: Have you been on any visits yet this spring, and do you plan to schedule more for the upcoming summer?
Ali: I’m gonna visit schools, we’re not sure yet. But definitely.
Q: How does it feel to be approaching upperclassmen status at Montverde, and what are you looking forward to most about your junior season of high school basketball?
Ali: I can’t wait to play on a national schedule, because we play the best teams in America, best players and it’s only gonna get me better every day.