Last weekend was a huge one in Columbus … and not just because football got a week closer to kicking off.
On Saturday, Ohio State’s basketball team pulled off quite a feat. Not only did it land one major prospect on the recruiting trail, but the program found a way to add two quality prospects from its own state. In just one afternoon, the Buckeyes answered many of their questions for the future.
Those two commitments came in the form of 2018 prospects Justin Ahrens and Darius Bazley. According to 247Sports, Bazley is rated a four-star and Ahrens is rated a three-star recruit. Notably, both are also rated as top-five players in the state of Ohio by the scouting service.
Positionally, both Ahrens and Bazley will likely spend most of their time on the wing at the college level. Ahrens could probably play in the backcourt if needed and Bazley could play as a stretch four, but both will likely try to pursue playing time on the wing at first.
At this point, it’s hard to gauge how the Ohio State roster will look heading into the 2018-’19 season, but as of now, the strength appears to be the backcourt. In particular, C.J. Jackson and JaQuan Lyle should both be reaching their full potential by then as seniors. The frontcourt should also be intriguing with David Bell and Derek Funderburk projected to be significant factors.
Accordingly, with depth projected in both the backcourt and the frontcourt, there should be a clear opportunity for both Ahrens and Bazley to make an early impact. Again, things will change between now and the tipoff for the 2018 season, but currently, each player looks like he could play a major role on an Ohio State team with experience, depth and talent.
These two will join fellow in-state recruit Dane Goodwin on Ohio State’s 2018 class, which is now rated No. 2 in the nation by 247Sports. Admittedly, it’s still early in the 2018 recruiting cycle, but scoring commitments from three of Ohio’s top five prospects this early is a major coup for the program.
Again, three of the top five out of Ohio.
Maybe that doesn’t sound massive for outsiders, but it’s a huge development for the program. Ohio State landed only two of the top five in-state prospects over the previous three recruiting classes. Considering one (A.J. Harris) transferred, it’s pretty easy to see why landing three of the top five is a significant development.
Naturally, landing in-state recruits isn’t going to turn a program into a national contender on a regular basis, but in Ohio, it can certainly sustain a roster. Since the Buckeyes have regressed significantly over the last three seasons, perhaps improved in-state recruiting is exactly what Ohio State needs right now.
Whether Thad Matta’s rejuvenated approach to in-state recruiting leads to success on the court remains to be seen, but with three early commitments for 2018, the Buckeyes are in good shape on the recruiting trail going forward.