"You see through all that BS. You get over the hype, you see what matters and doesn't. I told my dad I didn't wanna go through all that crazy recruiting stuff. I always prided myself in being different. Just growing up, I didn't wanna go through official visits. Before, I want to be on ESPN and all that, but once reality set in and things got tough for me, it was just irrelevant. Coach Matta recruited me the best, I had a close relationship with him immediately and I saw a great opportunity at Ohio State. Sometimes it's just that simple."
With the amount of talent and success that the Kentucky Wildcats (and Louisville Cardinals) have had over the past few seasons in college basketball, it would make sense for many of the top players in the state would want to play for the Wildcats or Cardinals, in front of their friends and family. Not to mention the fact that you get your name plastered on various NBA scouts' watch list essentially by just being on the team. So how did one of the better high school players (who came from Kentucky) end up at Ohio State?
D'Angelo Russell's recruitment wasn't a huge ordeal by any means. Certainly not anything like the recruitment of other top recruits, who spend their time teasing multiple fan bases with the possibility of them going to their school. Instead, Russell made just one official visit to Ohio State and knew that was where he wanted to play his college ball. There was no abuse of social media sites such as Twitter or Instagram, or even an announcement. He simply wanted to do things differently. The rest of his story is pretty fascinating, so be sure to check out the article linked above.
"It's funny. A couple of years ago when Urban Meyer got the football job, he came in and I was sitting in the coaches' locker room by myself and he comes in, and he's like, 'My gosh, you're calm.' He goes, 'I'm so uptight.' I say, 'Urban, we have 40 (games). You play 12.' You know what I'm saying? I want to be as relaxed as I possibly can."
The amount of anxiety that any coach has to deal with is impressive, in any sport. When March rolls around, that anxiety certainly gets raised up a couple of notches. With a national audience watching and filling out their brackets, the teams and their coaches have plenty of pressure on them to succeed as they try to compete for a national championship in the NCAA tournament. Nicole Auerbach talked with several college coaches about the wait until tip-off for their college basketball games.
Imagining a tense Urban Meyer walking in on a cool and collected Thad Matta is pretty comical, especially if you've seen what Matta looks like on the sideline, with his face constantly turning dark red as he gives his team instructions on the court. It's cool to see the college basketball coaches talking about what it's like to prepare for the tournament and gives some insight on their lives as well.
"When I came here, I definitely wasn't one of the strongest guys on the team. I was just bigger than everybody. My redshirt year with (strength coach Daniel Roose), we were just in the weight room every day, putting in the work and doing a lot of conditioning stuff."
While the Buckeyes prepare to face VCU on Thursday, it's important to note some of the players Ohio State will be going up against. That said, Rams' forward Mo Alie-Cox is a formidable opponent for the Buckeyes, with a 7-2 wingspan and a 36-inch vertical. The 6'6 Alie-Cox threatens to block shots that come near the basket and is also capable of getting steals and finishing fast breaks with hard slams at the other end.
The third-year sophomore has improved since arriving at VCU and with the help of his strength coach and head coach Shaka Smart, Alie-Cox has emerged as one of the Rams' most consistent players on the inside. It will be a tough matchup for whoever is assigned to him, but it will no doubt take a complete team effort by the Buckeyes to get a win over 7-seeded VCU.
"I think teams think we're small and that they can pound it inside against us. But to give Alexa credit, she's phenomenal when it comes to defense. She's great at blocking shots."
The women's basketball team is preparing for its own NCAA tournament matchup (12-seeded James Madison) and boast an impressive inside duo between the likes of Shayla Cooper and Alex Hart. Hart, who checks in at 6'3, averages 11.9 points and grabs 8.7 rebounds per game, while also having blocked 121 shots this season alone. Cooper, a respectable 6'2, adds 10.8 points and 8.1 rebounds off the bench and helps provide a spark for the Buckeyes.
While Kelsey Mitchell essentially takes care of shouldering the offensive load, having players such as Hart and Cooper make Ohio State a dangerous team in the NCAA tournament for any opponent. Because of that, the Buckeyes' likely will meet North Carolina in the second round, provided they take care of business. From there, the lady Buckeyes can make a deep run into the tournament with head coach Kevin McGuff.