Even though we are in the middle of the Ohio State men’s basketball season and there is a lot to be excited about with this current team, we can still look ahead a little bit to the future and the talent that the Buckeyes have coming in. Besides, Ohio State’s game this Saturday against Nebraska is postponed due to COVID-19 issues within the Cornhuskers program, so we need something to talk about.
There is a lot of excitement surrounding the Buckeyes’ 2022 recruiting class and the guys they are bringing to Columbus. According to the most recent 247Sports rankings, Ohio State has the top class in the Big Ten and the fifth-best class in the country, trailing only Duke, Arkansas, Alabama and Kansas.
Bruce Thornton, Roddy Gayle, Brice Sensabaugh, Bowen Hardman and Felix Okpara make up the Buckeyes’ 2022 class. Thornton, Gayle, Sensabaugh and Okpara are all listed as four-star recruits, while Hardman is a three-star. Thornton was listed as a five-star briefly, but that changed in the updated rankings.
Ohio State is losing a lot next season and will need these guys to step in and be ready to go right away. They may add to the class, but likely will go get a transfer or two or three to fill out the roster.
So lets look at where these guys are at now.
Thornton is the highest ranked recruit in the class, and there is a reason for it. He can absolutely play. Thornton is ranked as the No. 42 player in the country, the No. 8 ranked point guard and the top player in the state of Georgia.
At the Bass Pro Tournament of Champions last weekend against some of the top teams in the country, Thornton hit two game winners and won the Father John Savage Award, which honors spirit of play and the top competitor of the tournament. He was also able to score at all three levels for Milton and made the all-tournament team. He is going to be another guy they look to play right away next season with Meechie Johnson and Eugene Brown in the backcourt.
Milton's Bruce Thornton is awesome. Has been my favorite player to watch the entire tournament. Ohio State has a great one coming.— Wyatt Wheeler (@WyattWheeler_NL) January 16, 2022
Gayle might be the best pure scorer in the group coming in for the Buckeyes, although Sensabaugh has been tearing it up. He is ranked No. 59 in the country, the No. 4 shooting guard in the country and the second-best player in the state of Utah.
He was listed as a standout and won player of the game multiple times at the prestigious Hoophall Classic this month, and turned the heads of a lot of scouts that were there.
He finished with multiple games over 20 points and showcased elite ability to finish plays, create his own shot and his playmaking abilities. He can also defend at a high level and can be a great backup to Eugene Brown next season, as their games are similar.
Roddy Gayle (@OhioStateHoops) is a good sight— HoopFuture (@FutureHoop) January 16, 2022
A 2-Guard that is about winning games that can shoot, make plays down the stretch and defend.
The future B10 guard will look to be an all-B10 type of guy in college.
Even though Okpara is not the highest ranked recruit coming into the program in the 2022 class, he might be the most anticipated. Okpara is a true center, and the Buckeyes have somewhat lacked that in recent years. Zed Key has done a good job playing center for the Buckeyes, but he is only listed at 6-foot-8. Okpara is 6-foot-11, 210 pounds, and is an elite shot blocker and rim protector.
Okpara is also athletic enough to get into passing lanes and defend the perimeter, which Ohio State has not had in a long time. This was something the Buckeyes and Chris Holtmann wanted to address, and Okpara will help the defense immediately. He most recently played on ESPNU with his Link Academy team against Huntington Prep in the Flying to the Hoop Invitational, posting a double-double in the contest full of future collegiate players.
With Joey Brunk, Kyle Young and EJ Liddell all playing their final year of college ball, Okpara will be sprung into action right away in Columbus.
Just because Hardman is the lone three-star in the class does not mean he should be overlooked. Hardman is an above-average scorer who can get buckets from all three levels and is an elite three-point shooter.
Hardman cracks the top 300 in the country and is the 11th-best player in the state of Ohio. Ohio State has a recent history of taking three star recruits and developing them well, most recently Duane Washington Jr., and Hardman will be interesting to watch in that regard. He plays similar to former Ohio State commit and current Notre Dame guard Dane Goodwin, who can create his own shot, catch and shoot and rebound well.
Sensabaugh was the last recruit to give his verbal to the Buckeyes, and he is also the one who has been turning the most heads recently. He already has some built in chemistry, as he plays AAU ball with Bruce Thornton (see above).
Sensabaugh has shot up the recruiting rankings since he committed to Ohio State, and some people say he is the most ready for college ball with his body type and size. Sensabaugh is slightly undersized for his position, but he plays bigger than his size and can defend multiple positions.
Also a quick update on George Washington III. He is a 2023 commit, so Buckeye fans will not see him next season, but he has also recently been turning some heads with his play and jumped into 25th in the updated ESPN60 rankings, where they rank all juniors. Washington and Thornton could be a scary backcourt in 2023 and 2024, with possibly Meechie Johnson still there as well.