Buckeye Basketball Q&A with AT Buckeye

Buckeye basketball guru AT Buckeye checks in and answers all the important recruiting questions. Who are the Buckeyes interested in? Whose interested in the Buckeyes? What positions need to be filled? Find out here!

First of all, thanks to all of you out there that submitted questions. The response was so overwhelming that I'll have to chop these up into more readable nuggets. The first set is listed below--- I have tried my best to not dodge any of them—no matter how controversial or pointed.

Stay tuned throughout the week as I will add the answers to all those left in the mailbag. Thanks again for the great questions which I hope have turned into great content and information for all you Buckeye Basketball Psychotics.

As I understand it we are looking for a Point, Wing & 2 Posts -- Is this still correct??

It is. In fact, the projected '04 roster really leaves little room for wiggling as we will be losing two frontcourt players of impact (Radinovic and Jenkins) on top of the one we lost in '03 (Williams). That mix is the only one that makes sense. Two Wings, which many have thought possible, won't be a scenario of interest to the Buckeye staff. The depth chart doesn't lie.

(Malik) Hairston is the recruiting focus and, therefore, our desired Wing -- What names are the top prioirities at the other positions??

I have to stress that no other position has as clear a player desired as the wing. Hairston is clearly the guy. At the post, Al Horford is the guy that works best alongside Matt Terwilliger. Based on camp performances, Justin Cerasoli seems to be distinguising himself as the top prospect amongst point guards. The good news for Buckeyes fans--- we are serious contenders for all three guys.

It seems that several of the many names on the "watch list" have recently narrowed their own lists eliminating tOSU -- such as Kyle Lowry recently naming a top five with tOSU excluded -- Can you identify names that have cooled on tOSU or vice versa & possibly any names that are no longer considering tOSU?

I understand where this question comes from--- my recruiting watch list is alphabetical and not meant to be judgmental as to the chances or interest levels of the prospects. Lowry is one guy that has definitely dropped in terms of mutual interest, but given the outstanding momentum with Cerasoli and Dupree Fletcher, that is not of much worry. I recently dropped Isaiah Swann from the watch list as well as Courtney Nelson of New Jersey—there just wasn't much going on on those fronts. A couple names that I have tracked from the start, but won't end up at Ohio State (unless there are some strange events that lead them to be spring signees) are Marquie Cooke, Joseph Jones, Terry Evans, and Montavious Waters. A.J. Price is another guy who day by day seems to have his radar pointed elsewhere.

When do you expect Hairston and Cerasoli to start taking official visits?

I can only give a broad answer here--- football season. The talk that both may come in over the same weekend has some merit. Note that both have been to OSU on unofficials several times over, and that both could easily come in for unofficials again at the drop of a hat (busy summer schedules permitting).

How strong is the Stone/Hairston relationship? I assume Stone is recruiting him, correct me if I'm wrong.

Strong enough that Hairston himself has cited Stone (by name) as one of the key reasons Ohio State is one of the strongest contenders for his services.

Why is does it seem that everyone is excited by the 92nd rated recruit (Twig). Is he underrated? If so, why?

A lot is made of rankings and the like, but at the end of the day, the gap between a guy ranked 50 and a guy ranked 150 is not as significant as many would make it to be, especially among big men. Some of the reasons I, and others, are giddy about the verbal from Terwilliger are:

· Terwilliger picked us over Cincinnati, a team that had been recruiting him since he was a middle schooler. Not often OSU gets to compete with UC for anything of value – so it might as well be for Ohio-bred recruits.

· Terwilliger is one of the three most viable big man products out of Ohio in the past four years. The other two? Terence Dials and Ivan Harris. Good to have them all on the same side.

· Terwilliger's game is a great mix for both halfcourt, and jump and run systems. He is a high-order athlete who only needs weight to be a solid contributor at the Big 10 level.

"Twig" is an exceptional addition to the Buckeye family. And believe this, few programs are in the position to say no to top-100 players like this. We're certainly ecstatic to have him.

Are there any big men on the horizon in Ohio?

At first glance the answer seems to be no. This season we will see/have seen three Ohio "bigs" (Aaron Agnew, Seth Gorney, Matt Terwilliger) verbal to high-major programs. From here forward, there doesn't seem to be any legitimate back-to-the-basket types in our fair state. Columbus Brookhaven's Jamelle Cornley, a rising junior, plays the PF in high school but is only 6-5 tops. He will likely morph into a combo forward, or at best, be a short 4-man. Ross Morin of Cincinnati Princeton also seems to be more of a combo forward type. Kirk Huelsman, a rising sophomore, comes from an area friendly to OSU (St. Henry) in recent years, but is too young to get a read on yet. The short of it, no one has reported any Jason Collier types lurking in the prep ranks.

What will be the ramifications on Buckeye wins and losses in the upcoming season if Terence Dials is never fully recovered physically and therefore unable to play up to at least his freshman year standards?

I think this would be a serious body blow to our chances at being competitive in the Big 10. With Dials and Radinovic, we have the most formidable 1-2 combination in terms of pure, back to the basket bruisers. There are many teams that might match one of those guys, but OSU has a great advantage with both of them. If Dials is not up to snuff, that could be a 4-5 game swing, which can be fatal in the Big 10.

This summer, is Gorney's stock rising or falling? Agnew?

Gorney's stock seems pretty neutral. Agnew has helped himself a lot with exposure at the NBA Development camp and at ABCD. I'd say his recent unofficial visit to Louisville speaks towards the level of programs taking notice. (He gained one star, to four, according to Dave Telep)

With Duncan putting us in his top 5 and Xavier down to 1 ship, have our chances with Duncan improved?

A lot of people have asked about the 6-7 forward from Cincinnati Moeller, who is rated by many as the top player in the state for 04. I'd have to say that I consider Duncan and Ohio State to be a fairly long shot at this juncture. To add, since this question was asked, Xavier parted ways with a verbal commitment from Detroit, Darryl Garrett. With 2 scholarships open and more flexibility, Xavier looks to be sitting well. Kentucky also seems to have the roster considerations to accommodate Duncan. Given Duncan's apparent preference for playing on the wing, Ohio State is not as attractive an option—particularly when we are sitting dead red with that Hairston fellow from up north.

Would we take both Duncan and Hairston? Have both been offered?

I don't see that one happening.

AT I think we have exhausted all the known prospects for 2004. The main ones being Malik, Horford and Cerasolli. Who would be next in line and I don't mean a shopping list of possibilities? In other words who are the #4,5 and 6 on our wish list?

I won't assign them numbers as you've asked, but I can say that the guys I feel we have great relationships with are Tasheed Carr, Keith Benjamin, Danny Morrissey, Norm Plummer, and Goran Sutton. Benjamin and Morrissey in particular have had very positive things to say about Ohio State.

Who are on the top of our list for 2005? Again not a shopping list but ones we have zeroed in on.

This is getting to be a pretty standard exercise. Due to the presence of Stone, you can almost pencil in all of the top prospects in Ohio and Michigan as being on a watchlist for Ohio State. Too early to use language like "zeroing in" as that will start to happen after we fill out the 04'class. From Ohio, Jamelle Cornley (6-5, PF, Columbus Brookhaven), Travis Walton (6-2, PG, Lima Senior), John Wolf (6-2, SG, Cincinnati St. Xavier), Ross Morin (6-7, PF, Cincinnati Princeton) and B.J. Raymond (6-6, SF, Toledo St. John's) are the names to keep an eye on. One other underclassman, who I know the staff will keep there eye and recently "blew up" at ABCD, is Eric Devendorf, a 6-3 SG from Bay City, Michigan. Again, the list will be better formulated and known after our 04'class is solidified.

AT, assuming Fletcher makes grades (I realize this is a big assumption), who would OB rather take if given the choice, Fletcher or Cerasoli? Would he take both, considering JC can play the 2?

That answer is not clear to me. If you read the tea leaves the analysts are putting out there, Cerasoli has clearly distinguished himself as the superior prospect (the roles were reversed a year ago when Fletcher was a top 25 guy and Cerasoli was not on anyone's radar—except for OB's). I do not see Fletcher and Cerasoli in the same class—in fact, that is one scenario that is pretty much a given not to happen.

Who do you see as our main competition for Cerasoli ? I see UConn listed but he has never even registered a blip on their fan board radar. They will be signing pg Josh Wright soon. I would think we lead with Villanova and Seton Hall behind. Agree ?

Unless I missed it, Wright did not announce for UConn yet, although the winds sure seem to be bringing a PG to Storrs shortly. I am actually quite surprised that no other Big Ten type programs, besides Minnesota to a very slight degree, have pursued Cerasoli. His current list of Auburn, Memphis, Ohio State, Seton Hall, and Villanova is good news for Buckeyes fans. Auburn is not much a force in the Midwest and is pretty much a static program. Memphis already has Darius Washington, sort of a "scoring 1" already on board. Given Calipari's recent history, I suppose he could sell Cerasoli on the fact that Washington may declare early and thus, there really is a PG spot open at Memphis after all (LOL). Villanova and Seton Hall took PG's in last year's class (Mike Nardi and Jamar Nutter respectively). This is why I am very bullish on our chance with Cerasoli—no one can show more need than OSU for his talents.

FYI—Cerasoli's old HS coach from Chicago is on the Seton Hall staff, ergo their involvement. There is also some talk of Georgia Tech showing interest, but no offer has been tendered.

If Justin Cerasoli becomes a Buckeye how fast do you see him gaining regular minutes in the playing rotation in 04-05 season?

As quickly as he can gather the system and add 10 pounds it would seem. Analyst reports on this kid's skill package (legitimate 6-5 with a furious handle, solid 3 point range, and length to guard others) should have Buckeye fans drooling. If he chooses to be a Buckeye, I don't think we can compare this guy physically to any other PG in our history. That's how unique he is.

How interested is MSU in Hairston, trying to ascertain how much of a player they will be at decision time?

It's clear that Michigan State is trying to get in on Hairston in the worst way. However, their own depth chart will be their undoing. Although players as talented as Hairston rarely worry about securing PT, sharing it with others is not much more favorable. Izzo's arguments cannot show need—reality is that Shannon Brown, Chris Hill, Maurice Ager, Alan Anderson, and Kelvin Torbert will all be on the roster if Hairston is a Spartan. This kid is smart--- logic dictates there are other, larger slices of pie to be had. Izzo is a great salesman, but there's not much you can do to dress up that PT situation. For an 04'wing, especially a stud like Hairston, it stinks.

That's all I have time for now guys--- but there's plenty more where that came from. Stay tuned!

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