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Ohio State basketball target drops 42 points in weekend event

The Buckeyes have been going through a rough patch recently, but it hasn’t stopped them on the recruiting trail.

Steve Helwagen, 247Sports

The Ohio State basketball program has hit a rough patch to say the least. Losing five of its last six games, the team now finds itself unranked in the AP Poll for the first time this year. That being said, all hope is not lost.

Chris Holtmann has proven he can get the most out of his players in the past. In his inaugural season as the Buckeyes’ head coach, he took a team that had missed the NCAA tournament in consecutive seasons and turned them into one of the top teams in the country. He also helped former Buckeye Keita Bates-Diop turn in his best season, which lead to him being selected in the NBA Draft.

So, again Holtmann has proved he can turn things around already in his short time in Columbus. Unfortunately, he will have to prove this again. But Holtmann’s job doesn’t stop on the court. In order to keep the program moving in a positive direction, recruiting will need to constantly be at the forefront — and Holtmann and his staff are doing just that.

This past weekend was big for high school basketball, as multiple elite-level tournaments took place. With many of the nation’s top recruits partaking in these tournaments, we were able to gain a little bit of insight on where they are planning on playing at the college level, and Ohio State was a popular name.

One of the more impressive weekend performances came from Ohio State four-star combo-guard target Malaki Branham (Akron, OH/St. Vincent-St. Mary). The top-rated prospect in Ohio in the 2021 class put up 42 points to go along with 11 rebounds and two assists at the Flyin’ To The Hoop event in Kettering, Ohio on Sunday.

Steve Helwagen of BuckNuts caught up with Branham after the performance and asked him about his recruitment and which schools he is interested in. While speaking with Helwagen, Branham brought up his relationship with Ohio State and the coaching staff, as well as his thoughts on the program.

When speaking on the official visit he took to Ohio State back in October, he had only positive things to say.

“I made one official visit to Ohio State, Branham said. It definitely was good, they had an alumni dinner with all of the alumni coming back. They talked to me about how I would fit into their style of play. It was a good official visit for my first one.”

Branham also spoke on what he and Buckeyes’ coach Holtmann have in mind when discussing his role if he were to choose Ohio State.

“(Assistant Ryan) Pedon and Coach Holtmann have talked about how I could be that guard on the wing,” he said. “I can post guys up and be aggressive.”

The 6-foot-4 guard is not only considering Ohio State, however. He also holds offers from Alabam, Xavier, Michigan State, Michigan and others. While the Ohio State trip is his only official visit to date, he told Helwagen he is actively pursuing official visits to both Xavier and Alabama.

There have yet to be any predictions in the 247Sports Crystal Balls, but Ohio State has to be viewed as the current favorite. Branham is the No. 2 combo guard in the 247Sports Composite Rankings and is the No. 24 overall prospect.

Quick Hits:

  • Ohio State’s football team earned one of its biggest recruiting wins this offseason when Tennessee Titans assistant coach and former Ohio State assistant Kerry Coombs was announced to be coming back. The hire is not only huge for the Buckeyes on the field, but also off the field as securing him could be what gets Ohio State’s only remaining verbal commit — Cameron Martinez — to sign his letter of intent with the school on National Signing Day.
  • Four-star 2021 outside linebacker Barrett Carter is planning to drop his top schools sometime soon, and Ohio State seems to be pretty high on his list. Carter told Bill Kurelic of 247Sports that the Buckeyes like him for the bullet position and he is “100 percent OK with that. That’s what I love to do.” Carter is the No. 6 OLB in the cycle, and the No. 100 player overall.
  • Ohio State basketball 2021 verbal commit Meechie Johnson spoke with Bucknuts over the weekend about how his recovery from a knee injury is progressing, as well as how it has impacted the combo guard’s recruitment.