Matta Introduces 2014 Buckeyes

Although Ohio State just began its 2013-14 season, the start of the early signing period has the future of Buckeyes basketball on everybody's mind. With four national letters of intent in hand, Thad Matta broke down what is currently the third-ranked recruiting class in the country.

With four prospects -- including two five-stars, one four-star, and one three-star -- having already faxed in their national letters of intent to his office, Ohio State's Thad Matta has what is currently the third-ranked class for the 2014 recruiting cycle. With a few undecided targets still out there, the Buckeyes could ultimately end up with an even more highly-touted class than they already hves, but on Thursday Matta's focus was on the four players who have already given their pledges to come to Ohio State.

On five-star (No. 16 overall) Montverde (Fla.) Academy shooting guard D'Angelo Russell (6-4, 180): "You're getting another great guard at Ohio State. What position is he? Is he a point guard? Is he a two-guard? I don't know exactly, I think we can run him at both. But he's got ability to make big time plays with the basketball in his hands, be it 3-point shots, driving, getting fouled, he makes guys around him better. He's a guy that's won a national championship as a high school player. Montverde is one of the top high school programs in the country.

"The first time I ever saw him play, he had six threes in the first half. The second half, he didn't take one, and probably had 10 assists. He's got something about him. He takes and makes big shots. He wants the ball in his hands at crucial points in the game. He is very very complete. The one thing about him is he's very athletic. I mean, defensively, he reads things well and he really uses his size and his length."

On five-star (No. 19 overall) Normal (Ill.) University small forward Keita Bates-Diop (6-7, 185): "You're getting a long 6-7.5, 6-8 athlete that can really really shoot the basketball. From the standpoint of playing multiple positions, he scores, he passes, he rebounds, he can defend, he can handle the basketball. He's high on his jump shot. He's very very athletic, and we love that about him."

On four-star (No. 54 overall) Pickerington (Ohio) Central small forward Jae'sean Tate (6-5, 205): "Everybody's asking me, what position is Jae'Sean? I always answer them saying, ‘I don't know, but I know he's going to be on the floor.' He's a warrior. The things that we've talked about with him since the day he's committed to us that we've wanted him to get better at -- he shoots the ball from deep a lot better. He's got a great first step. He can guard, I think, all five positions on the floor. He's won a state championship. Jermaine, his father, was a great player, he played professionally. You're getting a great player and a guy who's a Buckeye."

On three-star Garfield Heights (Ohio) center Dave Bell (6-9, 215): "First of all, he hasn't been playing basketball like a lot of guys for a long time. He's 6-9, he's long, he's athletic. He's one of those kids that wants to be at Ohio State. We'll bring his skill along, but he runs the floor, he blocks shots, he rebounds out of his area."

And if the Buckeyes were to add another player to this class, what would Matta be looking for?: "It would probably have to be a specialist. We wanted to get Aaron (Craft) and Lenzelle (Smith Jr.) replaced, and we feel pretty quickly that we did that with guys that can do a lot of different things. I kind of like the position we're in, especially heading into -- I better be careful with what I say here -- the following."


Buckeye Sports Top Stories