Wednesday, the OSU head coach confirmed that he had received signed national letters-of-intent from three of the four verbal members of his assembled 2011 class: Alpharetta (Ga.) Milton point guard Shannon Scott, Chicago (Ill.) Whitney Young small forward Sam Thompson and Battle Creek (Mich.) Central center Trey McDonald.
While Matta praised what each of those players will bring to the table, he alluded to the fact that as many as two more players could still be set to join the program. NCAA coaches are not allowed to discuss recruits until they have signed national letters-of-intent, but one of the two players still on the board is small forward LaQuinton Ross from Burlington (N.J.) Life Center Academy.
He will be taking a visit to OSU this weekend for his first glimpse of the campus, and he could sign with the Buckeyes afterward. Recruits have until next Wednesday to sign a letter, otherwise they have to wait until April. He issued a verbal commitment to OSU on August 16 and is rated the No. 15 small forward in the nation.
Ross, a four-star prospect according to Scout.com, told the Clarion-Ledger last week that he is committed to the Buckeyes because "it is the best school for me right now" but added that he might wait to sign until April.
When he visits Columbus this weekend, he is not expected to be the only uncommitted 2011 prospect on hand. Four-star center prospect Amir Williams from Beverly Hills (Mich.) Detroit Country Day School is still considering OSU and should be in attendance as well. Williams has narrowed his list to also include Michigan, Purdue, Florida and DePaul. He is expected to sign with a school next week.
But with at least two players still on the board, Matta said he was pleased with his early returns for the class.
"The thing I like is I think they chose this university for the right reasons, first and foremost that it's Ohio State," the coach said. "They've got an appreciation for it."
Scout ranks the class 13th nationally and second in the Big Ten behind Illinois, which checks in at No. 11.
Matta described the 6-2, 165-pound Scott as a pure point guard reminiscent of former Buckeye and first-round NBA draft pick Michael Conley Jr.
"Shannon is one of those guys that he never gets rattled as you're watching him play," Matta said. "As I watched him this summer he was a guy that was doing everything he was supposed to do. As games got tight he took the game and tried to take it over control a little bit more. That was something that Michael always did."
As a junior, Scott led his team to a state title while averaging around 13 points and 8.0 assists per game. Scout rates him the No. 6 point guard in the nation. When Conley signed with OSU, he was ranked fourth at his position.
Also a four-star prospect, the 6-6, 190-pound Thompson drew a comparison to former Buckeye and reigning national player of the year Evan Turner from Matta.
"He's long and athletic," the coach said. "I view Sam as a wing but he's also played some point at (his height). We had a guy from Chicago a year ago or so that was kind of like that. The other thing I love about Sam is he takes great pride in his defense."
Thompson also has a state title to his credit, capturing one as a sophomore. As a junior he averaged around 12 points. 8.4 rebounds, 3.9 assists and 3.6 blocks while leading his team back to the title game.
McDonald is the lowest-rated member of the class, checking in as a three-star prospect and the No. 23 center in the nation. As a junior, he led his team in scoring with an average of around 10 points per game and added 6.4 rebounds and 1.6 blocks per contest.
Matta said he will likely be a power forward in college.
"He's got a tremendous body," the coach said. "He can step out and shoot the basketball. He handles it well. I think he can be a 4 man for us who can go inside-out. From the standpoint of defense, he's a guy that can guard a couple of different positions."
Now with three signatures in, the question becomes how many more players could still join the class. One year after landing the No. 3 class in the country, Matta said stacking talented classes one after another is not an easy challenge but one he is growing accustomed to.
In assembling this class, the OSU coach said the recruits he has signed showed no apprehension about the young talent currently on the roster.
"I think we've (backed up classes) quite well here," Matta said. "When you recruit a great player, they never ask who else is on the roster. They're just like I'll get there, I'll make things happen."