While Urban Meyer and the Ohio State coaching staff were busy breaking their 2013 team to build them back up, Thad Matta, Jeff Boals, and the Ohio State basketball staff were building an empire.
On the heels of an outstanding 2014 class, the Buckeyes have snagged one of the premiere in-state talents for 2015 in point guard AJ Harris. Though Harris was in Columbus visiting the central Ohio campus Monday, few were expecting him to commit so soon, despite his public facing desire for a Buckeyes offer.
In fact, Harris even told Scarberry Media's Zach Fleer just two weeks ago that Michigan was his leader and that he envisioned himself as following in Trey Burke's footsteps. At least he'll have one thing in common with the Columbus native.
We caught up with Zach, a friend of the Holy Land, to get his perspective on what Harris means to the Ohio State basketball program:
"AJ Harris is the ultimate 'lead' point guard. Although he may not be the tallest of guards, Harris uses his speed, quickness and elusiveness to penetrate the lane, and has excellent court vision, which helps him set up teammates for scores. During our interview, Harris said that he likes to 'get assists more than I like to score', so that should tell you a lot about his style of and what he can bring to the table. Personally, I feel Harris' greatest attribute is his ability to run the fast break. Once the ball is in his hands, he gets down court quicker than any guard that I have seen this year, and consistently makes the right play."
Besides Harris' tremendous upside, he's also teammates on the AAU circuit with 5-star Ohio State targets V.J. King and Luke Kennard. While Ohio State aren't considered front runners for Kennard, they definitely have a puncher's chance for King, and by adding his King James Shooting Stars point guard, it's hard to think this doesn't help the Buckeyes' chances.
But don't just take our word for just how promising the Harris commitment is. Here's HoopSeen's Justin Young on the point guard:
AJ Harris to Ohio State? Wow, that dude can go. Was 2nd best PG I saw at Peach Jam. Joel Berry was 1st. Harris is small but dang he's good.— Justin Young (@JustinDYoung) August 13, 2013
To get a taste of what Harris will bring to the hardwood, check him out hitting this clutch buzzer beater in an AAU game:
Back on the football front, both Scout and Rivals released some new evaluations/rankings regarding the football class of 2015. While we're still a good ways off until the '15 class becomes the focus, the recruiting sites are starting to shift some of the attention over into scouting more of the players and evaluating each position. This means additional new rankings will be coming out shortly, and Scout gave some ideas as to who might be near the top of the those by unveiling their 20 2015 5-stars. From that list, only a few stick out as being targeted and recruited by Ohio State.
'15 LB Malik Jefferson and '15 DL Tim Settle have been mentioned by Scout as two players that are at the top of game for the high school level. Jefferson, a 6'3", 215-pound outside linebacker from the state of Texas has offers from California, Clemson, Florida State, Michigan, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Texas, Texas A&M and Texas Tech, among others.
For now, it seems Jefferson will most likely be staying home and will end up a Longhorn, but there's still a long time before anything final is decided. Settle, meanwhile, is considered as one of the best prospects overall in the class of 2015. The 6'3", 307-pound defensive tackle has had Ohio State on his radar for quite some time. Here's what Scout had to say about Settle:
"He is as dominant an interior defensive lineman as there is in high school. He has speed off the ball, he is powerful, he uses his hands well, has versatility in his moves and is crazy-athletic. Settle runs plays down from behind, he overpowers offensive linemen, he beats them with his explosion at the snap and he plays with a low pad level to win leverage battles."
As mentioned above, Rivals also released a list of 2015 recruits, this one for the top prospects coming out of the state of Ohio. '15 LB Jerome Baker leads the list off, followed by ATH Eric Glover-Williams, DB Shaun Crawford, LB Justin Hilliard, RB Larry Scott, DB Tyree Kinnel, OL Matthew Jones, RB Darrin Hall, DT Hjalte Froholdt and OL George Brown rounding out the top ten. There are plenty of names in this group of Ohio natives that the Buckeyes have set their sights on, but none more so than Glover-Williams. The Ohio State coaching staff has told Glover-Williams that they want him to be the leader of the '15 class.
'14 DT Thomas Holley has only been playing organized football for about a year, and yet is one of the country's best defensive tackles. Ranked as the fourth-best defensive tackle, Holley checks in at 6'4", 285-pounds and has been clocked at a 5.19 40-yard dash.
Holley has 25 offers, including from Alabama, Clemson, Mississippi, Nebraska, Pittsburgh, Syracuse, USC, Notre Dame, Florida, Florida State, Miami, Ohio State, Penn State, Ole Miss, Tennessee and Rutgers. Here's Holley's coach on his abilities:
"Not many guys who are 6-4, 300 [pounds] can run like he runs," Lincoln coach Shawn O'Connor said. "He runs like a deer. He just takes off. He hasn't even come close to reaching his potential."
- '15 SG Eric Davis spoke with Hoops 247 about his recent Ohio State visit "He (Matta) thinks me and D'Angelo Russell could be the best backcourt in the country."