Thad Matta has done it again.
Ohio State’s men’s basketball team welcomes another highly ranked recruiting class to help replace David Lighty, Jon Diebler and Dallas Lauderdale. Bucknuts.com managing editor Steve Helwagen and Buckeyegrove.com’s Kevin Noon help break down the future Buckeyes.
Williams will give the Buckeyes some much-needed depth inside. The 6-foot-9 center from Beverly Hills, Mich., was a McDonald’s All-American his senior year in high school and figures to help replace Lauderdale down low.
“Amir can spend his freshman year either working alongside (Jared) Sullinger or being his backup,” Helwagen said. “And then, theoretically, by his sophomore year, he’ll have a chance to be the guy inside for the Buckeyes.”
As a freshman, Williams won’t have the size to be a dominant physical presence inside, but his athleticism and ability to run the floor make him a threat on both ends of the court.
“He should give Ohio State some much needed size down in the paint,” Noon said. “But he’s not going to be a banger, at least at first.”
A 6-foot-6 small forward from Chicago, Thompson is a versatile scorer with a knack for making plays. If he transitions smoothly to the college game, Thompson could play some valuable minutes for OSU.
“He definitely has the ability to create,” Noon said, “and that’s something Matta definitely will be looking for.”
Because of his length and athleticism, Thompson is able to defend multiple positions on the floor, much like Lighty.
“Now that the program has lost Lighty and Diebler, (Thompson) has got a chance to come in, and if he can show them something right away, he has a chance to play quite a bit,” Helwagen said. “He’s maybe the next David Lighty.”
Also a McDonald’s All-American, Scott may be the most college-ready player of his class. Noon and Helwagen both said they believe Scott has the best chance to see significant playing time his freshman year.
“I don’t think it’s out of the realm of possibility that we’re going to see him and Aaron Craft out on the floor at the same time,” Noon said.
The 6-foot-2 point guard from Alpharetta, Ga., won a state championship his junior year of high school and is known for his high basketball IQ. Though experts say he needs to extend his shooting range, Scott’s diverse range of skills make him a threat to make an immediate impact for the Buckeyes.
“He’s a great table setter and he can score as needed,” Helwagen said. “Scott is just a dynamic guy. He and Craft, if they get it together, are going to be awesome together.”
Ross is a 6-foot-8 small forward with three-point range, and knows how to score.
“He’s definitely a scorer,” Noon said.
Ross was considered by some experts as one of the top five players in the 2011 class early in his high school career, but saw his stock drop because of injuries.
“He’s got a tremendous upside,” Helwagen said. “It may take him a year or so to really adjust to the college level, but I think he’s got the potential. The sky is the limit for him, and he could be the sleeper of this class.”
Ross is from Jackson, Miss., but transferred to Life Center Academy in Burlington, N.J., to finish high school.
McDonald isn’t expected to make a big contribution during
his freshman season at OSU, but could be a valuable asset in time.
“He’s a program player who, perhaps by his junior or senior year, will be a meaningful on-court contributor,” Helwagen said. “For now, his role is to grow and learn.”
At 6-foot-9, 230 pounds, the power forward from Battle Creek, Mich., has the ability to score inside, but experts say his game lacks polish.
“I think he has the most work to do coming in from this class,” Noon said.