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Local high school coaches will miss Thad Matta at Ohio State

It wasn’t just players who respected Matta, he made a big impact on local coaches too.

NCAA Basketball: Western Carolina at Ohio State Joe Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports

“He always had time for high school coaches. Even though there’s a big gap between high school coaches and big-time college coaches, you never felt that way with him. The biggest thing you can give anybody is your time and he gave his time to a lot of coaches here in central Ohio.”

-Gahanna head coach Tony Staib, via Adam Jardy of The Columbus Dispatch

The now former Ohio State men’s basketball coach Thad Matta not only made an impact on other coaches and colleagues among the college ranks, he was also a close confidant and mentor to many high school coaches around Columbus. Jardy of the Dispatch spoke with many of Matta’s peers who echoed the sentiments of his former players, the coach was a great and humble man.

From Westerville South to Gahanna, to Pickerington Central and North, Matta had an open door policy for the local coaches, and maintained those relationships even if they weren’t mutually beneficial. Jason Bates, Pickerington North coach, remembers early in his career, when he didn’t have much to offer Matta in terms of Ohio State-caliber talent, but he still received invitations to attend practices and camps.

One of Matta’s greatest traits is the importance he places on building and fostering relationships with his players. It’s why he’s had such success on the recruiting trail, and why former players come back to Columbus in spades on game day. Matta’s relationship with the schools he recruited were just as important as with the player he was there to see, and the coaches around him felt it.

“Smith is looking for a big-time recruiter as the next pitchman at Ohio State. That has worked out well for the football team since hiring Urban Meyer in 2012, and this is a school that has one of the top football-basketball combination schools in the country.”

-Bill Bender, Sporting News

One of the priorities for Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith will be bringing in a new men’s basketball that has proven success on the recruiting trail. One of the bigger complaints of the Matta era the past few seasons was losing some of those critical battles for recruits — especially local ones.

Smith recalled emphasizing the importance of winning some of these recruiting battles with Matta just days before they announced the decision to part ways. As the head coach continued to battle lingering back issues, which some teams used as “negatively recruiting”, the demands of recruiting — and expectations from past successes -- were just too much.

Throughout Monday’s press conference, Smith repeatedly harped on the importance of recruiting, calling it the “life blood of the program”. The Buckeyes haven’t been as consistently successful with recruiting Mr. Ohio the past few years, which is another priority for the program.

“In the latest Heisman Trophy odds, released by Las Vegas Superbook, two Buckeyes are within the top 20 favorites to take home the bronze statue.”

-Patrick Murphy, 247 Sports

Ohio State football is often predicted to be among the best teams in the country — even before training camp starts. Meyer and staff have done an excellent job bringing in skill players, and replacing the talent now suiting up in the NFL.

Not only is the team expected to do well, but two offensive weapons for the Buckeyes are in early consideration to be Heisman candidates. Senior quarterback J.T. Barrett has the fourth best odds (10/1) to win, and second-year running back Mike Weber stands at No. 19 on the list (40/1).

This is Barrett’s second time in the running for the ultimate collegiate honor. His impressive 2014 campaign may have gone slightly different had he not been sidelined against Michigan the last week of the regular season. Ohio State went on to win the national championship, but the Heisman went to quarterback Marcus Mariota instead.