In what was a very surprising decision to many that very closely followed the recruitment of four-star forward Keita Bates-Diop, the Illinois native selected the Ohio State Buckeyes on Sunday morning. Bates-Diop is the first commitment for Ohio State in the 2014 class and here is a look at what he will bring during his time in Columbus.
This is where Bates-Diop has made the biggest strides in the last 12 months. He has gone from a raw offensive player that had flashes of brilliance to a consistent solid performer who looks destined to be a weapon.
At just shy of 6-foot-8, Bates-Diop is still most comfortable at the power forward position, though in the last year on the strength of his improved ball handling he is looking and more and more like someone who can be a full time wing.
What Bates-Diop does best right now is operate in the mid-range. He can either catch it in the high post and turn and face the rim as a threat to shoot or he takes two dribbles and makes a little floater or mid-range jumper. The other option is he catches the ball on the perimeter and uses the drive to get by his man and score in the mid-range that way.
Given that Bates-Diop is an excellent athlete he can often rise and shoot over smaller defenders while when bigger more traditional bigs guard him he simply is able to go past them easily using the dribble where he finishes well around the rim.
Where Bates-Diop has made tremendous strides is handling the ball in space. He is able to pull down rebounds and really blow the ball up the court using the dribble. In transition he is a solid passer, and is just beginning to make this a weapon in his arsenal, but it is clear that he will be able to do this by the time he gets to the college level.
Overall there is a ton of natural ability for Bates-Diop on the offensive end. He must continue to get stronger, continue to rep his jump shot, and tighten up his handle even more. While he is still a bit raw on the offensive end he is productive and continues to get better every single time out on the floor.
Anytime you have Bates-Diop's length, athleticism, and quick feet you have the ability to be an excellent and versatile defender. That is exactly the case right now Bates-Diop.
It remains to be seen which position he will be better defending, the wing or the power forward, and that will likely depend on how his body fills out and how he reacts once he gets stronger. Assuming he keeps his athleticism and quick feet, there is no reason to think he won't be comfortable on the wing defending, and that makes him even more valuable.
Right now Bates-Diop shows the signs of being a very good rebounder on the defensive end. He attacks the glass, has a good feel for where the ball is coming off the rim, and has the long arms that allow him to rebound in and out of his area.
Now Bates-Diop must get stronger. He can be susceptible to the drive because of physical strength limitations as guys can go right at his chest and not really be knocked off their line. Also in the post he can be backed down in the lane because his lower body needs more work.
On the surface this looks like a good fit for the Buckeyes. In his time in Columbus Thad Matta has preferred to have a perimeter oriented four-man who could also slide and play the small forward. He has done it at times with Deshaun Thomas and also a guy like David Lighty and Matt Sylvester.
Bates-Diop is not a huge scorer, so he won't fill quite the role that some of Matta's players at that position have in the past, but his versatility and ability to do guard multiple positions and be a matchup problem fits for how Ohio State likes to spread the floor on the offensive end.
This starts off a very important class for the Buckeyes in a big way, and at least on paper it looks like Bates-Diop will fit right in with exactly what Matta and his staff want out of a big wing.
Josh Gershon and Brian Snow contributed to this report. Video by Kyle Bogenschutz