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Monday, February 11, 2013
Sleeper 2014 PF picks Ohio State

By Dave Telep

Ten games into every season, Garfield Heights (Ohio) coach Sonny Johnson cuts up tape and sends it out to colleges to help his underclassmen get recruited. Most of the time, Johnson is trimming up film on guards. This year, the response he received from the film on 6-foot-9 junior power forward David Bell was as strong as he’s ever gotten.

“Nobody had seen the kid,” Johnson said. “I made highlight tapes with 10 games to go in the season. When I sent them to Illinois, Iowa and all these schools, they were going crazy about him. When I sent it to Ohio State they came up right away.”

Ohio State, which is building an impressive junior class, wasted no time with Bell. And in turn, Bell wasted little time with the Buckeyes, committing to Ohio State on Monday night.

Thad Matta
Thad Matta is already building a strong 2014 recruiting class for the Buckeyes.
“Thad Matta wasn’t playing,” Johnson said. “They came to a game, came to a practice and then saw him at Flyin' to the Hoop.”

Bell is a basketball novice. Last year he broke his foot and didn’t play. The year before as a freshman, he was ineligible at another school. This season he’s averaging 14.3 points, eight rebounds and four blocks per game. Bell is only 16 years old.

“He’s guarding the paint,” Johnson said. “He had two games with triple-doubles. He’s shown glimpses of being an elite player, but he doesn’t have experience. He doesn’t have that feel for the game just yet. Thad thinks this kid has the heart and determination to be great, and later special.”

Bell will be a priority recruit this spring in terms of continuing the evaluation. When ESPN scout John Stovall saw him this winter, he was excited. So too were the Buckeyes, who moved swiftly to lock Bell down.

In terms of the 2014 class, Matta is amassing a nice arsenal of prospects, each different from the other. While Bell is the big with length and upside, fellow power forward Keita Bates-Diop (Bloomington, Ill./University) is a bona fide sure thing who is having a big year and will rise in our updated rankings release on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, ESPN 60 prospect Jae’Sean Tate (Pickerington, Ohio/Central) is a powerful wing player and the epitome of toughness. Last summer at the Elite 100 he persevered through an injury.

Matta is constructing one of those classes that will be good when it arrives and have a ceiling to grow each year. The fact that Ohio State didn't allow Bell to hit the spring AAU circuit uncommitted tells you how much the Buckeyes wanted this commitment. Once the secret began leaking out about an in-state big, Matta put an end to the chatter and made him a Buckeye.