It is no secret that this is a rebuilding year for the Ohio State basketball team.
After a 2017-18 campaign which saw the Buckeyes go 25-9 and earn a win in the NCAA Tournament, Ohio State has (as expected) regressed this season, with the team standing just 14-7 here early in February.
Although the Buckeyes have some winnable games here in the next few weeks, it is no secret that this team very well may miss the NCAA Tournament once again.
But, the future is very bright in Columbus. The Buckeyes signed one of their best recruiting classes in school history, landing three top-50 players: D.J. Carton, Alonzo Gaffney, and E.J. Liddell. While none of the three were selected to compete in the McDonald's All-American Game, they are highly touted prospects and are certainly playing like it in their last seasons of high school ball.
D.J. Carton- Bettendorf HS, Iowa
Carton is the highest-ranked prospect in Ohio State's class, checking in as the #28 overall player in the 2019 rankings.
So far this season, he has been excellent for Bettendorf, averaging 25.5 points per game, seven rebounds, and six assists for a team that is one of the best in the state.
Carton's best attribute is his overall scoring ability, something that Ohio State has desperately needed this season, especially coming from the point guard spot. He excels with dribble penetration, and also has a nice drive-and-dish ability.
If there is one knock on Carton, it would be his outside shooting. Although his 37% isn't too bad on the surface, he has only shot 92 triples, far less than most of his peers at the position, suggesting that he may not quite be comfortable with his outside shot.
Nevertheless, this is something that Carton can absolutely improve before (and during) his time in Columbus. Carton is a scoring guard that Ohio State desperately needs, and he will be a big part of whether or not the 2019-20 team has success.
Alonzo Gaffney- Brewster Academy, New Hampshire (via Cleveland)
The one native Ohioan that the Buckeyes signed, Gaffney is an athletic forward who will thrive as a scorer at Ohio State. He is currently rated as the #42 overall player in the 2019 class.
So far this season, Gaffney is averaging 12 points and eight rebounds a game for the elite prep school. While those stats may not jump out on the surface, it should be noted that playing prep ball is very different from playing public school ball in that Gaffney's minutes are probably slightly affected by the fact that Brewster has a deep roster.
Gaffney is another player who will bring scoring to a unit that desperately needs it. With his athleticism and length, Gaffney could be the type of player who is a one-and-done if he can pack on some more strength and weight, as he has the prototypical NBA athleticism.
E.J. Liddell- Belleville West, Illinois
The "lowest-ranked" prospect in the Ohio State 2019 recruiting class, checking in at a mere #45 overall, Liddell is another forward, and being bigger than Gaffney, is an absolute force for opposing teams to handle.
Ej Liddell (Belleville West) went to war with Chicago Simeon. Won by 1 in OT 55-54 pic.twitter.com/bYmjA6Ko6o— Ballislife.com (@Ballislife) February 3, 2019
Liddell has led his Belleville team to one of the best records in the state, averaging 20.6 points per game, with 9.5 rebounds. He is a double-double machine so far this season, and will seemingly be brought in to do similar things at Ohio State. Already standing at a physically imposing 220 pounds, Liddell could be a monster for the Buckeyes early in his career.
While Ohio State is still possibly looking to add one more recruit in the 2019 class, if they do close it out with just these three players, there is no doubt that they will reap immense benefits on the court as early as next year. The future is bright in Columbus.