Buckeye Basketball Q&A with ATBuckeye

ATBuckeye is here with a Buckeye Basketball update on summer camps, recruiting, and answers all the important questions about Buckeye hoops.

Here as promised, are some more of your questions about the program and our recruiting situation answered to the best of my ability. We've also updated the recruiting grid a couple of months early so as to allow for the inclusion of a few names that have been unearthed of late. We also wanted to take a moment to properly document Joe Crawford's recent liberation from Michigan (LOL).

Wolverine misfortune aside, shoe camps were somewhat calm in terms of commitment news and big "breakout" performances by unknowns. One team that scoffs at that statement, however, is the Indiana Hoosiers, as they added elite forwards Josh Smith (of Georgia) and D.J. White (Alabama) to their verbal war chest of native sons James Hardy and Robert Vaden. Safe to say, Mike Davis is riding high at the moment and could have one of the most heralded Big 10 recruiting hauls since the days of the dreaded "Fab 5". (Can we still say that?) Insidershoops rates all these guys as top 50 talents--- and this underscores the importance of OSU garnering the appropriate muscle to do battle with the droves of talent that will enter the league in the next few years.

But enough about that—what is the fans wanted to know more about? Here are a few more samples:

Will the coaches be able to work on the "05 recruits much this month recruiting-wise, or does our unsettled '04 class put as at a disadvantage with the '05 guys? If we get Malik will that help/hurt w/ Chris Douglas-Roberts?

I would not call the situation with 05'kids a disadvantage by any means. There are very few high-major squads out there that have completely sewn up their recruiting situations to the point that they can focus on rising juniors. We are certainly not unique in that situation. OSU, as always, has an early jump on underclassmen, but expect for the majority of the attention to be paid to filling out the 04'class and deservedly so.

Douglas-Roberts is a guy that is making a name for himself, and certainly seems to be a top gun in the 05' Michigan class, if not THE top gun. Dave Telep recently compared his game to Shaun Livingston's, which may or may not be fair, but is certainly cause for attention. It is way too early to either gauge what effects our 04'haul will have on future classes, or for that matter, what position Douglas-Roberts will want to play in college. (Word is he plays a mean PG)

In football, I label top 100 recruits as blue chip and top 200 as being good recruits. In basketball, what level of recruit equates to a football top 100 recruit and a football top 200 recruit? Is it top 25 and top 50 because there are roughly 4:1 starters on a football team compared to a basketball team?

You might have answered your own question to some degree, but much like in football, there are years where the talent pool is deeper than others. That applies to both national and state recruiting situations. In my estimation, the top 25 players in every class are usually "can't miss" high major contributors, if not better. The next 75 are probably 80% contributors, and between 100-200 there is more of a chance the kid will not be as productive. But this is highly subjective and there are always some pretty glaring exceptions to the rule. (Think of our very own J.J. Sullinger).

In 04', I'd say the rule holds true—top 25 guys are going to be strong and the next 100 guys are all going to be guys high major schools are going to want on their rosters.

Who ends up having the better career at Ohio State, Matt Sylvester or Ricardo Billings? Please explain why.

Now there's a toughie. We've hardly seen enough of either player to really gauge what each will do in their next 3-4 years--- but personally I am very pumped by Billings and his brutish style of play on the wing. I tend to lean towards him because he is the more physical player, and that style is usually rewarded in the Big 10. I also hope Sylvester makes me eat this prediction.

Velimir Radinovic - Can Buckeye fans expect to see him vastly improve over his pretty solid campaign from a year ago? If so, describe the forces that will come into play and facilitate this happening.

I was a big fan of Radinovic's improvement last year—heck there were times, particularly at Purdue, where the opposition was pretty much powerless to stop him. I don't know that he has another level beyond what he showed in that particular game, but I would certainly settle for a consistent version of that player. Remember, Vel did a lot of this damage because Terence Dials was on the permament shelf in 03'. I think he needs to prove he can beat Terence for the minutes he got by default last year—if he does that, I'd say your question is more than answered.

How about a shot at the odds as to who the Bucks will get to sign? You can use your own gut feel or based on what you know. Are the Bucks still looking at giving out 4 scholies for 2004? Is it possible they don't go for a Center till 2005 with a shot at Duncan, Malik, Cerasoli, DuPree or Horford? Do you feel that Horford is a center? How will any open schollies be handled for the 2003 season? Can they be used for walk-ons?

I don't think there's enough solid information out there to start whooping it up about our definitive class right now. Clearly, we have a better than average chance at a class of Cerasoli, Hairston, Horford, and Terwilliger which would be the best ever at Ohio State in the O'Brien era. That alone is reason for intense attention to our recruiting situation this summer. I feel they will do everything they can to get 1 PG, 1 Wing, and 2 Big Men in this class, but I don't know that a pure "5"player has to be in that group. Horford is clearly a "4"right now and would have to fill out more to be a "5". I do feel that if the two "bigs" taken in 04'are of the PF variety, OSU will concentrate more on a "pure 5"in 05'. (Note—we had two "pure 5"types on our board— Seth Gorney and Peter Prowitt. Had a nice chance at both, but I doubt the absence of either player will lead to much angst in Buckeyeland. They should have solid careers at their institutions of choice though.)

Zach's scholarship can be handed out on an annual basis, and Nick Dials or another walk-on is certainly the appropriate place for it to end up for a year.

Is OSU still the favorite with Fletcher now that Self and Kansas are in the picture?

As of right now, OSU certainly seems to be the highest on Fletcher's list.

What position do the coaches feel will be the position that Stockman will get the most playing time?

This answer will be determined by Brandon Fuss-Cheatham's improvement at the point guard. If Fuss is an offensive threat with the ball, and healthy, then I see Stockman putting in the majority of his minutes at the "2". If not, the staff has no qualms about him sliding over to the "1". Count me amongst the group that hopes the answer to this question is "2"—Stockman is our best long-range guy, and I would certainly hope that kind of threat is off the ball.

OB has stated that Dials and VR may play at the same time, is that saying that we may occasionally use zone or has one or both of them improved enough to guard someone away from the basket?

Heck of a question, and I have seen those same comments. I would hope that this is a situational match-up dictated by opposing players that are more similar to TD and VR's style of play. I know Vel can't stay with anyone like a Rick Rickert, and I doubt TD has picked that up in rehab. I am curious to see the lineup where both of those guys on the floor at the same time works—Maybe if Michigan State puts Andreas and Davis out there. Looking out at league rosters, and with Cook, Blanchard, Rickert, and Newton no longer in the league, PF is one of the weakest positions out there. I'm sure OB sees this and may have something up his sleeve that we don't see yet. (Note—Vel and TD in a 2-3 zone still sounds like defensive trouble to me)

Yes or no, is Nick Dials a scholarship player?

No, Nick Dials is a preferred walk-on. This means he does not have to try out for the team, but it does not mean he is on scholarship. That said, there are ways Dials could get aid—one of which is if there is attrition and a scholarship comes open on an annualized basis. As such, I am certain the grant formerly occupied by Zach Williams can shift to Dials for the 03'-04'season. If you need a point of reference, think of Tim Martin—this is the same deal he got as a walk-on transfer from Kent State.

His other avenue towards a 4-year grant would be to earn it through merit. (RE: beating out scholarship players for meaningful game minutes)

Does Bass project as a 5 next year? Are the plans still for Bass to redshirt?

On the first part, I certainly do not think so. He is still in desperate need of some bulk to mix it up with some of the mutts the Big 10 throws out there. I hope Terence Dials is full-go allowing us to give Bass a redshirt--- he clearly needed it last year, and still does now. Until we are certain Dials is ready to rumble, I do not think we can shelve Bass and leave only Marinchick as depth at the frontline positions. Too risky.

New names pop up during this time every year it seems -- Anyone new on our radar screens???

Great timing, as after Shoe Camps is the right time to ask. One guy who definitely answers this question--- 6-8 Forward Andrew Brackman of Cincinnati Moeller. This guy recently blew up at the Peach Jam AAU event and OSU, along with Cincinnati, Dayton, and some other high majors are involved.

Any chance that Sylvester will play the 4 (as he did on occasion last year) and allow 3 of (BFC, TS, JJS, and RB) to play with him?

As with TD and VR at once, I think this is going to be by situation only. Sylvester does not have the bulk to hang with the prototypical Big 10 4-man, but against a smallish, slower player, he could be dangerous. OB is the master of match-ups—if lining up Sylvester at the "4"gives OSU a decided advantage; you can expect it to happen. Just not too often.

When do you expect Hairston, Horford, and Cerasoli to make their decisions?

I think we will be well into September before these guys choose their direction. All 3 are likely to take official visits, and not a one of them has taken a trip yet.

The most likely player to end up as a Buckeye besides our big three (Hairston, Horford, Cerasoli) is who? If answer is Fletcher, then next most likely?

Always like it when the most obvious answer is taken away by before it can be given (LOL). I'll go with Danny Morrissey, albeit it is pure gut feel and not based on anything empirical. Note that given the time horizon of the decisions to be made by these guys, OSU's ability to get in on other players could be severely compromised. That is why it is good news that guys like Brackman and Goran Sutton are starting to establish themselves on the AAU trail. The more options OSU has, the better.

Is BFC destined to transfer out of Ohio State if he comes back for the upcoming season and fails to make a positive mark for whatever reasons?

I don't see that happening—mostly because Fuss-Cheatham seems to be determined to succeed. His "boot camp" mentality to this summer is a good sign he wants to address his deficiencies in the worst way. If he does, we will be one dangerous team. (I'm an optimist—there is a player in there)

In your estimation, how much will Nick Dials be used this year and next year?

If Nick Dials gets floor time, it is because Stockman and Fuss-Cheatham have not maximized their situations. So we would have a real problem there. Since I believe we will have an extremely successful team both this year and next, I think we will not see much of Dials. There always exists the possibility that his long range shooting will be more accurate than that of Billings, Sylvester, and Sullinger, and he could contribute as a zone-buster…but at lead guard, he has stiff competition for minutes.

Who is the main competition for Horford?

Even though they have not offered to date, I think it is the Michigan schools. But as it stands right now, both MSU and UM are more enamored with players they believe to be more talented than Horford. OSU certainly has reason to believe that their long-term commitment to Horford (his offer has been on the table for several months now—since before the end of his junior year of school) will yield them some benefit. You have to show love in this game and right now, the Michigan schools are clearly putting Horford on their back burner.

It appears that we are making some headway in recruiting in Michigan. Do you attribute this to the addition of Coach Stone and do you feel that we can compete with UofM and Michigan State on a yearly basis or is this just an unusual year?

I think that with Stone on our staff we can get mindshare in Michigan equal to the state schools. No doubt. We had it before with Paul Biancardi and Stone keeps us just as strong. Keep an eye next year as Michigan feels some of the pain from the Ed Martin debacle and has limits on how many guys they can take. (With Crawford off their books, they have 2 to give over the next two classes) OSU will continue to pick up talent from Michigan—similar, I think, to the manner in which the Wolverine football team consistently restocks in Ohio. Good volume of talent means plenty for all. A weakened UM means more talent for everybody else.

How much of an impact will Ricardo Billings have this season?

What a difference a few months makes. Before the summer, I would have said "not very much" because he was coming off a year of downtime with no structured hoops. After watching him take it to the rack with authority at the McDonald's Summer League and display a basketball-ready body, physical demeanor, and one of the flat nastiest dunks imaginable, I'd say only not grasping the system will keep Billings from playing and contributing. Not even Michael Redd threw down as nasty as Billings did when I witnessed him.

How are the new additions to coaching staff doing with recruiting?

Looks good so far. These guys are animals. They hit the road as hard as anybody, are visible to recruits, and are absolutely tireless. But of course, we will let the eventual results speak for themselves. A four-star homegrown big man with serious vertical is definitely moving the ball in the right direction.

What is your projected starting lineup?

I hope that the lineup we see opening night in San Francisco is Fuss Cheatham at Point, Stockman at the 2-guard, Sullinger at the 3, Shun Jenkins at the 4, and Big Vel in the middle. Swapping out Vel with a healthy Dials at the 5 is all the same to me. Sylvester, Billings, and Ivan Harris should close out the rotation for the key minutes.


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