Action has resumed on the gridiron, with Ohio State football playing two home games over the past two weeks — only one of which were victories. While we won’t go into the X’s and O’s of Ohio State’s lackluster performances the previous few weeks, what we do need to note is what football means for the basketball program — a very shiny recruiting tool.
Ohio State home football games are the biggest events that Chris Holtmann and his coaching staff can base their official visits around — a way to show recruits how serious Ohio State fans are about sports, what a great college town Columbus is, and, let’s face it, how much fun it is to be a student at THE Ohio State University.
This past weekend, Ohio State played host to their hottest target, four-star forward Brice Sensabaugh. Holtmann and Co. offered Sensabaugh a scholarship on Aug. 20, and later that same day he included OSU in his final four schools — alongside Georgia Tech, Alabama, and Florida. Ohio State’s pursuit of the quickly-rising big man has heated up over the past few weeks, and signs are pointing to the Buckeyes becoming the leader in his recruitment.
Sensabaugh is the No. 75 player in the 2022 cycle according to 247Sports, and the No. 15 player in the state of Florida. This is almost 200 spots higher than he was when the summer started, when he was the No. 243 player in the class. He has also picked up an additional star, jumping from a three-star to a four-star.
Ahead of his official visit this past weekend, Holtmann flew to Orlando to spend some time with Sensabaugh and his family. Had he not been visiting that very same weekend, this would not be nearly as noteworthy, but it’s significant that Holtmann flew across the country to visit Sensabuagh despite his official visit being just four days later. Ohio State would love to add a forward to their 2022 class, as it is currently made up of three guards and a center.
Why does it appear that Ohio State is the leader? Well, a few reasons — none of which should be counted on as concrete or certain. We aren’t on the inside, we just try to piece together what we can:
- Sensabaugh released his final four schools graphic a few hours after Ohio State officially offered. Clearly, he was thinking about the Buckeyes before that offer came, or he had the graphic made up with Ohio State included just in case Holtmann offered. Which he did.
- Sensabaugh’s father went to Ohio State, and he still has family in the Columbus area, including his grandfather.
- Sensabaugh’s summer teammate, Bruce Thornton, has already committed to play for Ohio State (see graphic above). The two are close friends, and — based on social media — it looks like Thornton is hoping Sensabaugh will join him in Columbus.
- As noted above, Holtmann and the coaching staff have been checking in on him pretty constantly, including both a home visit and a campus visit last week.
- Ohio State is his most recent visit, and one of the final four schools — Florida — has not scheduled a campus visit for him yet. Florida appears to be fading.
- A few folks over at Rivals who do not cover Ohio State (unbiased!) are now considering Ohio State the favorites.
- Of the 30 accounts Sensabaugh follows on Twitter, the only college basketball team he follows is Ohio State.
- In a recent interview with Eleven Warriors, Sensabaugh’s high school coach mentioned that his star player is considering roster needs and style of play quite a bit when choosing his school. Ohio State does not have a forward in their 2022 recruiting class, and could lose Seth Towns, Justin Ahrens, E.J. Liddell, Justice Sueing, and Kyle Young after this season.
In the same interview, Sensabaugh’s coach said that he expects a decision to be made “In early October.” If a Florida visit has not been scheduled at this point, I think we can probably remove them from the equation. That leaves Ohio State, Alabama, and Georgia Tech. Could his recent Ohio State visit help him make his mind up? Could being the final visit turn the scales in the Buckeyes’ favor for good? We should know here in a few weeks.
What about Dillon Mitchell?
While Sensabaugh would be a solid addition to next year’s team — his size and skillset are that which Ohio State will require to replace departing seniors — Chris Holtmann and staff were aggressively pursuing someone else recently, too — Dillon Mitchell.
Mitchell, the No. 28 player in 2022 recruiting cycle, holds offers from 15 schools, including Ohio State. He has one Crystal Ball to Tennessee on 247Sports, but the highly coveted wing has not made any official or unofficial visits in over two months. He has not announced any new scholarship offers lately, nor has he released any type of list cutting down some schools. Since summer transitioned to fall, Mitchell's recruitment has gone pretty quiet.
Could the Buckeyes add both? Technically, yes. Realistically, probably not. As noted above, Ohio State could lose five or six forwards after this season, leaving that position wide open for Sensabaugh and/or Mitchell to start next season. This does not include anybody that they may add from the transfer portal — it’s impossible to predict that. That also assumes that both Sueing and Ahrens leave school and choose to forgo their “COVID year” that the NCAA granted all players. Both Ahrens and Sueing are playing their fourth collegiate seasons, meaning that they could come back for a fifth if they wish.
What my gut — and probably everyone else’s — says is that if Sensabaugh commits to Ohio State, the Buckeyes probably won’t land Mitchell. If Ohio State somehow gets both, Chris Holtmann deserves a hell of a lot of credit for replenishing the cupboard so quickly with a six-man recruiting class, made up almost completely of four-star recruits.
But for now, it looks like the pursuit of Sensabaugh is reaching its peak, while Mitchell’s recruitment is pretty dark. Ohio State would love to add either of the talented forwards to their 2022 class.