Ohio State Buckeyes: Basketball Recruiting

Myles TurnerCourtesy of Kelly Kline/Under ArmourNo. 10 recruit Myles Turner is down to eight finalists: Kansas, Texas, Oklahoma State, Duke, Kentucky, Arizona, Louisville and Ohio State.
Myles Turner (Bedford, Texas/Euless Trinity) was unknown and anonymous just a few months ago, heading into the April recruiting period. A broken ankle kept him off the summer circuit last season and kept him off the radar for most of the elite college programs.

But it has all changed in a hurry for the 6-foot-11, 225-pound Texan, who has made an Anthony Davis-esque rise up the rankings, elevating himself from outside the ESPN 100 to No. 10 overall in the Class of 2014 to now potentially challenging fellow big men Jahlil Okafor (Chicago/Whitney Young) and Cliff Alexander (Chicago/Curie) for the No. 1 spot. While Okafor is polished and skilled, no one in the 2014 class may have as much upside as Turner.

Turner recently cut his college list to eight and has set just one official visit thus far, to Lawrence, Kan., for the Jayhawks’ Midnight Madness on Oct. 4. Turner’s father, David, told ESPN.com that the family has also already set up in-home visits with Texas and Kentucky.

Here’s handicapping the race for Turner, ranking his finalists from 1-8 after talking to those involved in the recruitment:

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Buckeyes land 2015 PG A.J. Harris

August, 13, 2013
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Junior point guard A.J. Harris (Dayton, Ohio/Dunbar) put an end to his recruitment on Monday night with a verbal pledge to Ohio State, multiple sources are reporting.

The four-star prospect chose the in-state Buckeyes over Dayton, Illinois State and Xavier, among others. He is the first recruit for head coach Thad Matta and his staff from the 2015 class.
Five-star center Myles Turner (Bedford, Texas/Trinity) has confirmed that he has trimmed his list to eight schools. In no particular order, the finalists for high school basketball’s hottest prospect are Duke, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisville, Arizona, Ohio State, Oklahoma State and Texas.


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Pinson, Russell shine at Adidas Nations 

August, 6, 2013
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LONG BEACH, Calif. -- We’re a long way from the postseason all-star games, but watching the championship game of the Adidas Nations on Monday night, I couldn’t help but think there’s a lesson here.

Of the 21 players who took the floor in the title game, 18 were ESPN 100 prospects (Emmanuel Mudiay would have made it 19 but missed the game due to injury). And with all that massive talent on the court, the integrity of the game stood up.

I listened into the huddles of Don MacLean, the former UCLA star who coached USA 2014 Blue to an 81-77 win over USA 2014 Red in the title game, and he had the focus of his players and command of his team. What could have easily disintegrated into an all-star game never did. On both ends of the floor, I saw many of the best players in the country compete -- and compete hard.

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ORLANDO, Fla. -- For five days in Orlando last week at the AAU Nationals and Super Showcase, a wide array of elite prospects, sleeper recruits and surprise players had an opportunity to shine. The play was excellent and the lessons learned were plentiful.

With so much talent at various levels on display, here are five things we learned from the 2013 AAU Nationals and Super Showcase.

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WASHINGTON, D.C. -- On the first day of competition at the Nike Global Challenge on Thursday, some of the best U.S. high school players were pitted against some of the best young prospects from around the world. The Global Challenge pits four U.S. teams from the West, Midwest, South and East against teams from Brazil, France, Africa and Canada.

On Thursday, the U.S. squads swept through the international teams. Here’s a look at four players who stood out on Day 1, including recruits committed to Indiana, Ohio State and Maryland.

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The first July evaluation period has come and gone, but not before a number of elite prospects made their mark on the court at events like the Nike Peach Jam, adidas Invitational and the LeBron James Skills Academy.

We brought back national recruiting director Paul Biancardi’s #AskCoachB mailbag to answer any questions you may have on the busy month and which recruits and classes are making waves. As a reminder, you can always get Paul’s take on any prospect or find about new recruiting activity anytime on Twitter using the hashtag.

In this week’s mailbag, Paul examines UNC’s possibilities for landing an elite shooting guard in its 2014 class, what Ohio State should add to its second-ranked recruiting class, Ed Cooley turning Providence into a serious player in recruiting and whether Justise Winslow and Florida recruit Brandone Francis are in line for a bump in ranking in the next ESPN 100.

So let’s get rolling with your questions.





He comes home with a gold medal from Prague, and I heard he was a very valuable member of that U-19 team. His ability to pass, defend, handle the ball, combined with his basketball acumen impact without needing to score makes him special. At times, he can even bring the ball up the floor with a point guard’s mentality. He’s part of a small group of guys outside the top 10 who have a strong chance at cracking the top 10 in our next rankings.

On his status in the proposed package deal of Tyus Jones and Jahlil Okafor, I think Winslow would like for it to happen. But after going overseas and playing this summer, he’ll see his decision and future should be more about a school that fits his needs rather than trying to fit his needs with someone else’s. I’m sure all three are trying to make it happen, but the longer it goes the less of a possibility it will happen.





Providence has been a legit team in recruiting from the moment Ed Cooley got hired. That’s how he won at Fairfield and he did a tremendous job evaluating talent as an assistant at Boston College. Now as the leader at Providence, he’s not only doing a great job evaluating talent, he’s bringing those top guys in. When you look at Ricky Ledo (No. 21 in 2012), Kris Dunn (No. 23 in 2012) and Brandon Austin (No. 56 in 2013), that’s three big players he signed, and then add a commit from current ESPN 100 SF Jalen Lindsey, and you can see how big of an impact he’s had in a short time. Providence recruiting was instantly upgraded with his hire and the Friars are in great hands going forward.





I will say I love the Buckeyes class right now as it boasts skill, versatility and two guys who can flat out score in Keita Bates-Diop and D’Angelo Russell. With that said, it’s obvious they still need to add some size to the frontcourt despite earning a pledge from three-star center David Bell.

I can’t say who they will land but some of their biggest targets on their board are top-10 recruits Jahlil Okafor and Myles Turner. Now the Buckeyes are in the running to win the Okafor and Jones sweepstakes, but if they miss out, Turner would be a great consolation prize. Other potential targets are forwards Leron Black and Paul White and center Elbert Robinson, all of whom would be great gets for the No. 2-ranked team in the ESPN Class Rankings.




I see them finishing out the July and August event season and then taking some official visits together in the fall. I would say the earliest we can expect a decision is the early signing period (mid-November). They still need to take some official visits and sort things out before making a pledge.




The Tar Heels are looking for someone who can score and shoot with range. Someone like No. 11 senior prospect Rashad Vaughn would fit that bill. He’s the most dynamic scoring guard in the class and he does it from all three levels: Behind the line, inside the arc and driving to the basket. This guy has a knack for putting the ball in the basket, he just needs to cut down on his attempts and become more efficient. If Vaughn is out the mix, the Heels may go after Georgia scorer Ahmed Hill, the No. 33 overall player and eighth-rated 2-guard.




He’s an intriguing prospect who has had a good summer. I saw him play well at adidas and at the LeBron camp and he had a strong showing at NBA camp. He has a strong body and the ability to score on the perimeter and in the paint or post up to get buckets down low. I like his skill level and IQ and his body. When you factor all those things, he has a chance to move up depending on how strong he finishes the summer. Right now he’s at 34, but he has the ability to crack the top 25.




When most coaches recruit, they think about finding the right fit and need in a prospect. When you talk about fit and need, it usually revolves around a player’s offense, skill level, size at the position and basketball IQ. Some coaches will look at defensive attributes depending on their scheme, but in large part coaches recruit more for offense, IQ and athleticism because they can teach defense later in the process. It’s harder to teach a guy to be more skilled or athletic than it is to teach defense.

I look at scouting through a similar lense when evaluating players for the ESPN 100 rankings. You look for attributes and qualities that will make a good offensive player a strong defender, whether it’s his ability to rebound, stay in front of guys or take charges. For big guys, I have put an emphasis on how they defend ball screens, cover the low post and hedge out as well as skills and IQ.


Fast-rising ESPN 100 power forward/center Myles Turner (Euless, Texas/Trinity) trimmed his list of college suitors on Wednesday.

The No. 10 overall prospect in the Class of 2014, who has seen his recruitment skyrocket this spring and summer after being unranked coming into the travel season, narrowed his list from a whopping 58 to a more manageable 26 heading into the July evaluation period and hopes to trim the list even further after this month.

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Luke KennardMichael Rothstein/ESPNESPN 60 shooting guard Luke Kennard, the nation's No. 30 recruit in the Class of 2015, has offers from the likes of Michigan, Ohio State, Indiana, Dayton, Notre Dame, West Virginia and Xavier.
There isn’t a specific moment Luke Kennard remembers as the point he stopped being a regular kid and turned into a mini-celebrity in Franklin, Ohio. His new normal has been this way for two years now.

Friends will make a big deal. As he wanders around his hometown, occasionally people will give a second glance. Yes, the nation’s No. 30 hoops prospect in the Class of 2015 is only entering his junior year of high school and just turned 17. But in a town halfway between Cincinnati and Dayton, where the population of 11,819 would be less than half the enrollment of some of the major colleges trying to get him to play basketball for them, he is Franklin’s star.

“A lot of my friends, they think I’m famous now,” said Kennard, a shooting guard who holds offers from the likes of Michigan, Ohio State, Indiana, Dayton, Notre Dame, West Virginia and Xavier. “Around quite a bit of places, when I walk around, they’ll kind of notice me.”

None of this, however, has bothered or changed Kennard. He remains the same kid who goes out and plays pickup football or basketball with the neighborhood kids. He is the same kid who used to dominate his youth basketball leagues so much that Franklin’s basketball coach, Brian Bales, said, “He was almost on another planet compared to the kids.”

None of that has changed. Only the attention has.

It all started before he even played a high school varsity basketball game. He already had multiple colleges interested in him and some schools offering scholarships. The scholarship chase began the summer before his freshman year when he went with Franklin High to a team basketball camp at Michigan. Every year, Bales picks a different college camp to attend and the program had never been to Ann Arbor.

The Michigan coaching staff asked Bales if he had any players they should watch. At first, he wasn’t going to say anything because, well, Kennard was just entering his freshman year of high school.

Bales recalled explaining to a Michigan graduate assistant, “You know, this is going to sound crazy, and I don’t know how good he is, but we think he’s pretty special. We have an eighth-grader who is going to be a freshman that you should take a look at.”

By Franklin’s second game at the camp, one of Michigan’s staffers was watching Kennard play. His third game, the entire Wolverines staff was watching. Like that, his recruitment had begun, even if an offer from Michigan, one of the many schools recruiting him, didn’t come until June 15 of this year.

“At the time, Luke had not received any offers,” Kennard’s father, Mark, said. “He had just gotten out of eighth grade.”

The last two years has changed that. Franklin, largely due to Kennard, occasionally sells out its basketball arena. He has offers -- or at least interest -- from most of the nation’s top 25 college basketball programs. Also a star quarterback on the gridiron, Louisville offered for football and Big Ten schools have expressed interest.

While he doesn’t yet know where he is going to college or even what sport he is going to play when he gets there, he is certain of one thing: He will only play one of them. There will be no attempts of doing what Charlie Ward, Ronald Curry and Donovan McNabb, among others, have done before him by balancing both sports in college.

He will choose one. And that will be it.

Luke Kennard
Courtesy of NikeKennard is a star on both the hardwood and the gridiron.
“It would be almost impossible to play both,” Mark said. “To me, that would be really tough to do. So he would probably just pick one. I think basketball is his favorite right now, but I talked to him [recently] about football and he was like, ‘Dad, I love to play.’

“I’m not going to have him pick one now. I’m going to have him leave his options open.”

Those options have increased by the month, part of a two-year journey that has seen him already break some of his father’s high school basketball records and put him on pace to break most of Franklin’s scoring records in basketball and passing records in football.

Kennard already holds the school’s record for single-season touchdown passes in the regular season (22) and for an entire season (24). In his first season as a starter last fall, he completed 140 of 264 passes for 1,880 yards, 24 TDs and seven interceptions.

In basketball, he’s already fifth in career points at Franklin with 990 and could pass his uncle, Todd Kennard, for the school’s career scoring mark of 1,434 points next season. He holds the school’s single-season scoring record (624 points) and record for most free throws made in a season (135). His 27.1 points per game as a sophomore is also a school record.

So what does Kennard want? Right now, he says he likes basketball better. Why? He’s not sure.

“Honestly, I don’t know,” Kennard said. “I just feel like I would play [basketball] any time of the day. It’s just my passion, pretty much. I like football a lot, but I am getting more looks for basketball right now, so that’s probably why.”

There is little doubt, though, how good he can be. Bales said he thinks Kennard could eventually be an NBA player. His football coach, Rodney Roberts, considers Kennard a “once-in-a-lifetime” type of player to coach. They both believe he’s that good.

The attention he has received has elevated Franklin into bigger tournaments and more exposure. When Kennard plays basketball, it’s an event. The school pre-sells tickets, most of which are often gone by the end of the day. The Franklin gym, which has sold out twice, turns into a loud crush of people trying to get a glimpse of the hometown star.

“It’s packed. It’s just packed,” Roberts said. “There’s a buzz around the whole city, a buzz around him.”

It’s a buzz that should only increase over time as Kennard figures out what sport he wants to play and where he wants to continue with it.

Buckeyes land versatile weapon 

June, 7, 2013
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There's no better way to begin a weekend than to win a national recruiting battle. Thad Matta's Ohio State Buckeyes found themselves in position to pop a cork Friday night when ESPN 60 guard D'Angelo Russell (Louisville, Ky./Montverde) popped for Matta's crew.

The Buckeyes edged Michigan State and national champion Louisville for the services of a versatile, highly regarded guard. Russell, known best for his catch-and-shoot effectiveness and scoring acumen for National High School Invitational champion Montverde Academy (Fla.), brings a dual-threat element to Matta's backcourt. He is ranked the nation's No. 24 overall prospect in the Class of 2014


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The nation's top-ranked Class of 2014 recruit, Jahlil Okafor, cut his list to eight schools Wednesday, with Arizona, Baylor, Duke, Illinois, Kentucky, Kansas, Michigan State and Ohio State remaining in the mix for the ridiculously talented center. But like every other great post, Okafor will be dependent on a player -- primarily the point guard -- to deliver the post feed or drop-off pass on time and on target for him to be in the best position to score.

Let’s take a look at how the eight finalists may sell Okafor on how he’ll receive the ball in their half-court sets.

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Last weekend in Minneapolis at the fourth and final session of the Nike EYBL, No. 1 junior Jahlil Okafor (Chicago/Whitney Young) spent a lot of his free time with two friends and fellow top-10 prospects in the 2014 class: Tyus Jones (Apple Valley, Minn./Apple Valley) and Justise Winslow (Houston/St. John’s).

There has been a lot of talk that those three elite recruits could choose to play together in college. On Wednesday night, Okafor tweeted that his final eight consists of -- in no particular order -- Arizona, Baylor, Duke, Illinois, Kentucky, Kansas, Michigan State and Ohio State.

[+] EnlargeJahlil Okafor
Scott Powers for ESPNChicago.comJahlil Okafor, the No. 1 recruit in the 2014 class, narrowed his list of finalists to eight schools on Wednesday.
Why did he decide to narrow his list now? What were the factors in determining the finalists? Which programs were the toughest ones to leave off? How serious is the talk of a possible package deal with Jones and Winslow? And what exactly makes Okafor such a special, highly sought after prospect? Let’s examine.

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Okafor names final eight schools

May, 29, 2013
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The nation's top-ranked recruit in the Class of 2014 narrowed his list to eight schools on Wednesday.

Center Jahlil Okafor (Chicago/Whitney Young) tweeted out his list of finalists by declaring, "In no particular order: My final 8 Arizona, Baylor, Duke, Illinois, Kentucky, Kansas, Michigan State, Ohio State."

This past season, Okafor helped Whitney Young to the Class 4A sectional finals, where the Dolphins fell to Chicago power Simeon in March.

10 things learned from UA Invitational 

May, 29, 2013
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ARLINGTON, Texas -- For the second time in three weeks, the Dallas area played host to a major travel team event as the Under Armour Invitational rolled through Texas last weekend. There were plenty of star recruits on display, in addition to several up-and-coming and under-the-radar prospects who continue to boost their stock this spring.

Here were the top 10 things I learned from the UA Invitational.

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Video: Under Armour Invitational

May, 27, 2013
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RecruitingNation's Paul Biancardi and Dave Telep break down which future hoops stars impressed them at the Under Armour Invitational held over the weekend in Arlington, Texas. One of the top players was 2014 Ohio State pledge Keita Bates-Diop. Read more about the tournament here.

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