Thad Matta and his staff are still hard at work searching for a big man to fill out the 2014 recruiting class. The Buckeyes already have the second best class in the nation (per the 247Composite) and anything else would just be icing on the cake. Jumping ahead to the 2015 class, the Buckeyes have already received commitments from AJ Harris and Mickey Mitchell. When it comes to the 2016 class, Matta has already offered a handful of players who were named to the 2013 2016 AAU 5-Star All-Americans list which came out yesterday. Harry Giles, who is out of High Point, North Carolina, is rated as the best overall player in the country, per the 247Composite rankings. During Giles' freshman season at Wesleyan Christian, he helped guide his team to a 23-5 record, winning the 2012-2013 NCISAA state championship. While starting all 28 games, he averaged 13 points and 7 rebounds.
Giles was selected to team USA U16 squad this past summer but while playing a game in Uruguay, he came down with a serious knee injury. Harry's sophomore season is in doubt after he learned he had torn his ACL, MCL and meniscus, but look out for Giles during his junior season when he gets back healthy.
Joining Giles, who was a honorary selection on the first team, is Jayson Tatum out of St. Louis, Missouri. Jayson, who currently ranks as the fourth best player in the country, has already hauled in over 10 offers from the likes of Kansas, Kentucky and North Carolina to go along with the Buckeyes. Tatum, who is a 6-7 guard, is a real matchup problem and it showed throughout his freshman season at Chaminade College Prep where he averaged 13 points and 6.2 rebounds per game. In June, Jayson was also named to the USA U16 team and helped guide the US to a gold medal. Tatum scored 17 points against the Bahamas in 69-point victory and would later score 14 points against Argentina in the FIBA finals.
Ohio native V.J. King received second team honors. V.J., who comes from the same high school in Akron that produced Ohio legend LeBron James, might be the most important piece for the '16 class. Matta and his staff won't want to let an elite level talent like this get out of the state if they can at all help it. King comes in as the fifth best player in the country according to 247Sports Composite rankings. As a freshman, King helped lead the Irish to a 20-12 record and a Division II state runner-up finish. To go along with his 16.3 points and 6 rebounds per game, King was also named to the USA U16 team. LGHL's Zach Fleer, who has King predicted to the Buckeyes, caught a few of King's games in Orlando had the to say about the sophomore:
V.J. is a truly elite prospect. At 6-7, he is extremely long, and has a level of quickness that is special for guards his size. At this point, I see V.J. as a slasher with an improving perimeter game. King attacks the basket very well, he uses his spin move effectively and is great at finishing with either hand. V.J.'s jump shot is still coming along, but the good part about him is that he can get points in the lane, and as his shot develops, he will become an even more deadly scorer. Playing under Dru Joyce at Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary's and for the King James Shooting Stars, he has the right people in his corner and definitely is a kid with a good head on his shoulder. V.J. has NBA lottery type potential.
The last of the bunch for Ohio State is Josh Jackson, who came in on the honorable mention team. Jackson, who is from Detroit, Michigan, took a visit back in 2012 to Columbus and is ranked the second best player in the country. As a freshman, he helped guide Consortium Prep to a regional title while averaging 18 points, 7 rebounds and 6 assist and as an eighth grader helped guide the prep school to the state quarterfinals averaging 17 points, 6 rebounds and 5 assists. Jackson, who has offers from Florida State, Kansas and Ohio State, to name a few, also competed on the USA U16 team and scored 16 points in the championship game.
One Ohio State commit got a visit from the staff on Wednesday:
Glad to see my coaches matta and Paulus up at my school today great people 🙌— DAVE (@db_trey5) September 12, 2013
3-star big man Dave Bell played host to both coaches Matta and Paulus. While raw, the Garfield Heights (Cleveland) power forward is seen as a high ceiling power forward. Our Zach Fleer again shared an up to date scouting report on Bell based on his most recent experience checking the evolution of his game out in person:
While Dave Bell has been criticized for his rail thin frame, the Garfield Heights center has been hard at work improving his strength, and that was evident the last time I saw him in-person. Bell held his position in the block much better than earlier in the summer, and looked to have a softer touch around the rim. While Bell has a ways to go before becoming an early contributor for the Buckeyes, the 6-10 center shows lots of upside, especially considering that he just started playing organized basketball three years ago.
- Thad Matta was the first one in the doors to see '15 5-star Carlton Bragg today.
- Matta is the man, according to the aforementioned Bell's coach Sonny Johnson.
- The Buckeyes now have the ninth best recruiting class for '14 according to ESPN, following Noah Brown's commitment.