NCB On The Trail: Ohio State Buckeyes

ESPN 100 center Daniel Giddens committed to Ohio State over finalists Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas and Wake Forest, giving the Buckeyes their fourth four-star recruit.

What does the nation's No. 55 player bring to Thad Matta's crew? Let's break it down:

Why he committed: Post players were a major need for Matta's roster and Giddens, a 6-foot-10 center, will help fill that void in a huge way. He gives the Buckeyes a true low-post presence, especially defensively, and is a rim-rattling finisher with great upside.

Five 2015 classes off to fast starts 

June, 3, 2014
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As we turn our attention to the Class of 2015 and the newly released ESPN 100, here’s a look at five college basketball programs that have a head start on the 2015 recruiting trail:


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Minneapolis Nike EYBL recap 

May, 25, 2014
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MINNEAPOLIS -- The fourth session of the Nike EYBL gave teams one more opportunity to add league wins and earn the right to participate in the Peach Jam that will crown a champion in July.

Check out some of the many terrific prospect performances we witnessed this weekend at the EYBL:


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Members of the Class of 2014 have (mostly) made their decisions. Which incoming freshmen should you get to know? Here is a look at the best passers -- and one name to know in 2015:

1. Tyus Jones, Duke
He is the consummate point guard. His passes are always away from the defense and he has that snap on the ball that you just can’t coach. On the fast break, he will come to complete stop and let the trailer fill the lanes and make a precise pass for a layup or 3-point shot. In tight quarters he can penetrate and pitch effectively by making a soft pass or a bounce pass and he demonstrates the outstanding vision, poise and patience to be a great set-up man. Some players pass to get rid of the ball, but when Jones passes, it usually leads to an assist.


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Austin Grandstaff, ranked No. 41 in the 2015 ESPN 60, committed to Ohio State on Sunday. Here's a look at why he committed and what he will bring to the Buckeyes.


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The Jordan Brand Classic featured much of the nation’s top talent.

Obviously, a number of players operate at the same position. That said, each brings a different aspect at the spot. Let’s take a look at some of the best and break down how they are different and impactful.


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I don't believe Jabari Parker's decision on whether to turn pro has any bearing at all on the college decision of ESPN 100 No. 2 overall prospect Myles Turner.

Turner wanted to finish taking his visits and then try to figure out what his best option would be. He is done with visits; now it’s time for him to weigh all the pros and the cons. He is looking for a situation where he has a strong relationship with the head coach and the overall chemistry of the team. Furthermore, he wants a coach who has proven track record developing his players over the course of a year or over time, and preparing them for the next level will be important.

Whether Parker stays at Duke or declares for the NBA draft won't affect Turner's decision. His list of schools is still the same: Arizona, Duke, Oklahoma State, Ohio State, Texas, SMU and Texas A&M. Look for him to make his decision sometime after the Jordan Brand Classic game, which is at 7 p.m. ET Friday on ESPN2.
Want to ask ESPN RecruitingNation national recruiting director Paul Biancardi a question about basketball recruiting? Tweet it to @PaulBiancardi using the hashtag #AskCoachB.


The Buckeyes have the nation's No. 5 class, and it is loaded with versatility. ESPN No. 22 Keita Bates-Diop leads this class and is a combination of a power forward/small forward. His shooting touch extends to the arc, and he has the size to produce in the paint, which makes him hard to defend.

He scores in the low post with turnaround shots off the glass and faces the basket with quick drives along the baseline. He can pass and has good length to block shots, which is a strength.

Ohio State coach Thad Matta does a great job of helping his players find success by moving them to different spots on the floor. Matta can play Bates-Diop at the power forward spot and play small ball or put him at the small forward position and have a big lineup. He's comfortable defending a couple of different positions and is a very valuable piece to the Buckeyes' future success.
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Scouting the country each year I’ll not only see players’ skills, athletic ability and basketball IQ, but I’ll also witness their character along the way. This year’s class might not have any NBA superstars at the moment, but it will have difference-makers for the college game, both in the short term as well as those who will make a difference in time because of their character traits combined with their talent.

As we wrap up the Class of 2014, here are my five final thoughts:

1. The land of the giants

[+] EnlargeJahlil Okafor
AP Photo/The Sun News/Charles SlateDuke center signee Jahlil Okafor finishes the season as the nation's top prospect.
When you look at the top of a class it's so rare to have three post players sitting in the top three spots. Jahlil Okafor, who held the top spot for much of the season, finishes the season as the nation’s top prospect. The center from Chicago is a dominating presence in the paint. A Duke signee, Okafor led his high school team to a 4A state championship and was named the McDonalds Morgan Wooten player of the year.

He is special because he scores down low in the paint with his back to the basket. His combination of size, touch and fluid footwork is too much for one defender and when he doesn’t score, he attracts a double-team, which gives his team an advantage. He operates with patience and poise and when he reads the double-team he will accurately pass out to the open man. Defensively he guards the post and is improving at ball-screen defense as he is a barrier to the rim for his team.

Myles Turner, the nation’s No. 2 prospect, challenged hard for the No. 1 position and shows a big upside. Turner, who is uncommitted, is an elite shot-blocker and scores baskets with a soft touch and range. Cliff Alexander is going to be an absolute difference-maker for Kansas with his ability to rebound, finish and block shots, and he does it in an aggressive manner. Trey Lyles is one of the most skilled post players in this group and his future teammate at Kentucky Karl Towns Jr. has franchise skill-to-size ratio. Thomas Welsh is a fundamentally sound big who will anchor the middle at UCLA.


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NEW YORK -- The Dick's Sporting Goods High School National Tournament crowned a champion on Saturday at Madison Square Garden with a familiar name as Montverde Academy (Fla.) won its second straight title, this time 71-62 over Oak Hill Academy (Va.). Over the six-year history of this prestigious event, this was the deepest field of teams and the highest level of talent from top to bottom. Montverde came in ranked as the No. 1 high school team in the country and should walk away in that top spot when the polls are finalized.

As the final high school team event of the 2013-14 season, let's take a look at five things we learned from this year's tournament:


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CHICAGO -- Wednesday marked the 37th Annual McDonald's All-American game featuring the top high school boys basketball players in the country. The game took place at the United Center, home of the NBA’s Chicago Bulls.

Best low-post player: Jahlil Okafor


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Recruit and return: Ohio State 

March, 20, 2014
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videoIn order to return to the NCAA tournament, a team needs contributions from both returning players and incoming recruits. Here's a look at Ohio State and its chances of dancing again in 2015.

Quick references:
2013-14 roster
2014 recruiting

Possible 2014-15 starting five:
G: Shannon Scott
G: D'Angelo Russell
F: Sam Thompson
F: LaQuinton Ross
C: Amir Williams


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I believe D'Angelo Russell has a good chance to make the NBA.

The Ohio State signee has the tools and the mindset to be a combination guard. His stroke is strong and consistent from deep, and he has a nifty pull-up jumper inside the arc and outside the paint. Russell's instincts for scoring are well above average, and he demonstrates excellent court vision to rack up assists. He's capable of bringing the ball up the floor and initiating the offense.

However, there are many areas that he needs to develop, which include his weak hand (right) drive, his overall defensive approach and committing himself to the weight room.

Don't put a preconceived time frame on how long it should take to be drafted because that ruins the process. He needs to go to Columbus and unpack his bags with the thought of graduating and playing all four years. If the NBA wants him before that, it will let him know.

If he concentrates on helping Ohio State win and improving his skill set, his defense and his frame, I believe he'll make it.
The recruitment of Myles Turner is heating up.

[+] EnlargeMyles Turner
Kelly Kline/Under ArmourMyles Turner is the biggest name left on the 2014 recruiting board.
As the second-ranked prospect and best available player left in the ESPN 100, Turner has his choice of the most prestigious programs in the country, and he’s seen several of them in person in recent weeks.

Turner took an official visit to Duke last weekend to take in its victory over North Carolina and was at Kansas a few days earlier. Having previously taken official visits to Ohio State and Oklahoma State, he’ll save his fifth and final visit for Texas, but also might still take an unofficial trip to Kentucky before making his decision.

Turner is scheduled to participate in the McDonald’s All-American Game, Jordan Brand Classic and Nike Hoop Summit this spring, where he’ll play alongside several potential future teammates. With that in mind, here’s a breakdown of where he might fit in best, taking into consideration both each program’s likely personnel as well as their typical style of play:


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Myles Turner has taken official visits so far to Ohio State, Oklahoma State, Kansas and Duke. He has been saying for a while his last visit will be to Texas.

I believe Kansas, with all of its prior success with big men under Bill Self, is being seriously considered. It's hard to imagine that Joel Embiid will stay in college with his progress and potential.

In terms of playing together, it would be easy as Turner can play in the high post, which is more of his natural position.

Embiid would stay more in the paint with his back to the basket. I will tell you this from witnessing Embiid in the past: He can shoot the ball better than the public knows, and that means if he goes to the high post, Turner can slide inside at anytime.

If Embiid stays at Kansas, the house will be a little more crowded with Cliff Alexander, Perry Ellis, Hunter Mickelson and Landen Lucas. It's a problem Self would certainly embrace.

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