Basketball Notes: Programs Welcome New Signees

The OSU men's and women's basketball programs each signed three prospects to letters of intent on Wednesday, the first day of the early signing period for basketball. We have news on those signees as well as Jim O'Brien's status for this season and Thursday's second and final men's exhibition.

There was no shortage of basketball news for OSU's men's and also the women's programs on Wednesday. Here are some notes from both programs regarding the early signing period, Jim O'Brien's status on the bench and Thursday night's men's exhibition game with EA Sports.

* O'Brien's Health -- O'Brien met with the media again Wednesday to clarify some of his comments from Friday's first exhibition game. O'Brien is dealing with voice problems stemming from a paralyzed vocal cord, suffered during a recent surgical procedure to correct a herniated disk in his neck.

On Friday, O'Brien said he would be undergoing treatment on his vocal cord. But if it does not respond, he wondered aloud how much longer he would be able to coach.

But on Wednesday O'Brien made it clear he has no plans to go anywhere this season.

"Like I said the last time, I am in the process of dealing with it and everything‘s fine," he said. "I have got some things I've got to do, but I never meant to imply I'm not coaching this year. That seemed to some place get out there. It's going to be a yearlong situation we're coping with and that's the way it is. My health is fine."

* Men's Signing Class -- OSU received signed letters of intent from three players Wednesday on the first day of the early signing period.

Two high school seniors and one prep school student-athlete signed NCAA National Letters of Intent to play basketball at Ohio State. All three will be freshmen at Ohio State in 2004-05.

Jamar Butler, a 6-2, 190-pound guard from Shawnee High School in Lima, Ohio; Matt Terwilliger, a 6-9, 215-pound forward from Troy High School in Troy, Ohio; and Jermyl (JUR-mel) Jackson-Wilson, a 6-7, 220-pound forward from Rufus King High School in Milwaukee, Wis., all joined the Ohio State program Wednesday.

"We got all three letters of intent and we're happy with all three," O'Brien said. "All three kids are academically qualified. That is something we are happy with. These are three wonderful kids that will fit in with the rest of our kids very well."

O'Brien and his staff still have one scholarship left to offer current high school seniors. They are holding it for Detroit Renaissance shooting guard Malik Hairston, a national top-10 prospect, who is not planning to sign until the spring period. Besides OSU, Hairston is considering Michigan, Michigan State, Arizona, Oklahoma and Kansas.

Butler averaged 30 points and eight assists a game as a junior at Shawnee. He is rated among the top 40-60 players nationally by various recruiting services and as the No. 1 player in Ohio by PrepSpotlight.com. He will be in contention for Ohio's Mr. Basketball award in 2003-04.

A starter since his freshman season, Butler has been named first team all-state, All-District 8 and All-Western Buckeye League. He was the WBL player of the year as a junior. Entering his senior season, Butler has scored 1,740 points for an average of 26.8 ppg. He has 378 career assists (5.8 apg.). His teams have compiled a 47-18 record the last three years.

"Jamar Butler is a very good point guard," O'Brien said. "The timing is perfect because he will be a freshman next year when Brandon (Fuss-Cheatham) and Tony (Stockman) will be seniors. There will not be that inherent pressure on him as a freshman. Most freshmen prefer to come in and be the guy, but he understands where we are.

"He's a kid who can score. He's strong and he's very clever with the ball. He is probably the heir apparent to the point guard position."

Terwilliger, who played alongside Butler on the Cleveland Basketball AAU Club, rates as one of the top 50-75 high school players nationally by recruiting services, and is rated the No. 1 power forward in Ohio by PrepSpotlight.com. He averaged 17 points and nine rebounds as a junior at Troy. He also will be in the running for Mr. Basketball in Ohio this year.

A first team Greater Western Ohio Conference member, Terwilliger also was a District 9 first teamer as a junior. A varsity starter since his freshman campaign, Ohio State coaches feel he is an athletic big man with the ability to run the floor and score both inside and out.

"Matt is big and athletic," O'Brien said. "He can play away and he can play under. He has to get stronger. He is like Vel (Radinovic). He's not as tall, but he can run. He can shoot it a little bit. He's going to be a good addition."

Jackson-Wilson, rated by Hoop Scoop Online as the No. 46 prep player nationally, is playing at Fork Union Military Academy this season after graduating from Rufus King in the spring of 2003. He averaged 10 points and 12 rebounds a game as a senior at Rufus King.

His high school team won the Wisconsin state title with a 26-0 record as a senior. He was an all-city and all-area selection for the No. 1-rated team in Wisconsin and the No. 17-rated team nationally in the USA Today poll in 2003.

"I liken him to Jason Singleton, but he's a little bit bigger," O'Brien said. "He is a very good athlete, a high wire act who can jump out of the gym. He's a tough kid. He can play the four man or the five man. He can guard guards. He gives us a lot of versatility and flexibility."

* Exhibition Thursday -- OSU will wrap up exhibition play Thursday night against EA Sports. The game, set for an 8 p.m. start, will be televised by Ohio News Network.

The starting lineup for EA Sports figures to be: Guard, Kameron Sufi, 6-1, St. Mary's; guard, Al Faux, 6-2, San Diego State; center, Paul Shirley, 6-8, Iowa State; forward, Jamar Brown, 6-9, N. Colorado; forward, Monty Buckley, 6-6, California.

Ohio State's final exhibition opponent, E.A. Sports All-Stars, is 2-8 over the first 10 of its 15-game schedule. E.A. Sports defeated Virginia Tech 86-82 Oct. 31 to begin its tour. Losses then came at Xavier (100-63), Louisville (90-78), Tennessee (110-83) and Western Kentucky (76-67). St. John's then fell 80-74 to E.A. Sports before losses to Old Dominion (106-65) and Cincinnati (92-75). Kentucky faced E.A. Sports Wednesday. After facing the Buckeyes, E.A. Sports will travel to Dayton, Wright State, Duquesne, St. Louis and Ball State.

* Women's Signees -- OSU women's basketball coach Jim Foster welcomed in three signees on Wednesday. Alice Jamen, Marscilla Packer and Tamarah Riley have committed to join the Buckeye basketball program and will comprise the freshman class of 2004-05. Additionally, sophomore transfer Tia Battle will be eligible to compete next season after she sits out the 2003-04 year to satisfy NCAA transfer requirements.

"A lot of recruiting is fulfilling needs," Foster said. "With the senior class of LaToya Turner, Emily Haynam and Tanya McClure, a combination post player in Tamara Riley, a solid post player around the bucket in Alice Jamen and a very skilled and talented guard in Marscilla Packer allows us to meet our needs."

Jamen is a 6-3 forward from Wheeling, W.Va. A native of Cameroon, Africa, and the 2003 Most Valuable Player at Mount de Chantal Visitation Academy, Jamen averaged 14 points, 17 rebounds and four blocked shots per game throughout her career entering her senior season.

A member of the 2003 Cameroon National Team, Jamen boasts numerous accomplishments outside of basketball. The Student Body Governess at Mount de Chantal, Jamen owns a 4.1 GPA and is active in the computer and glee clubs. The recipient of numerous honors and awards, Jamen won the Herdon Scholarship, awarded for leadership, the Slater Mathematics Medal, Sister Marie Jacqueline Antonelli Medal, given to a student who demonstrates courage and adventure, and the Luisa Valencia Pangilinan Scholarship for achievement in science. Jamen hopes to pursue a degree in sports medicine at Ohio State.

Packer, a 5-9 guard from Pickerington, Ohio, is a 2002 and 2003 Nike All-American and a 2001 Adidas Top 10 All-American. A 2001 and 2002 Street and Smith's Honorable Mention All-America selection, Packer was named to the 2003 Street and Smith Fifth Team, a member of the 2002 Ohio Girls' Basketball Magazine Dream Team, earned the 2002 AP Division I Co-Player of the Year and the 2002 Metro (Columbus) Player of the Year and was ranked No. 18 as a junior in the Blue Star Index.

Packer, a two-time first team Division I All-Ohio selection (2002, '03), was named to the 2003 Dispatch-Agonis Club All-Star team as a junior with current Buckeyes Jessica Davenport and Stephanie Blanton and earned first team AP Division I all-state honors as a sophomore and junior and third team accolades as a freshman. Packer averaged 21.9 points, 4.7 rebounds and 2.2 assists per outing as a junior. A Columbus Dispatch Athlete of the Week, Packer was a member of the north team at the 2003 USA Basketball Women's Youth Development Festival, which featured 47 of the nation's top high school players who entered their senior year in the fall of 2003. Packer, who was a 2003 AAU 17-and-Under All-American, also was a member of the Dayton Lady HoopStars AAU team with current Buckeyes Blanton and Brandie Hoskins. Packer plans to study communications at Ohio State.

Riley, a 6-2 forward from Detroit St. Martin DePorres High School in Detroit, Mich., is a three-time Adidas Top 10 All-American. A finalist for the 2004 Miss Basketball Award by the Basketball Coaches Association of Michigan and honored as a student-athlete by The Detroit News, Riley was named to the 2003 All-Catholic League and the 2003 All-Academic Teams by the Catholic League Coaches Association. The 2003 Detroit Police Athletic League Youth Of the Year, Riley led her squad to the 2002 all city, district and regional championships. To date, Riley's teams have lost only three times during her tenure and have racked up three City Class titles (Martin Luther King High School), one Catholic League championship (the first for St. Martin DePorres since 1990) and have made appearances in every final four, finishing as runners-up twice.

The Detroit News named Riley to the 2002 Second Team All State Class A, the 2002 All-Area Detroit and the 2002 All Metro Honorable Mention teams. Riley, who owned nearly a 50 percent career average from the field after her junior year, was a Channel 7 (Mich.) McDonald's High School Scholar Athlete of the Week. A member of the AAU Motor City Crusaders, Riley was named the 2003 Most Valuable Player and her squad won the Deep South Tournament. Ranked No. 8 among The Detroit Free Press' Top 100 Players, Riley is an honor roll student with a 3.8 GPA and plans to major in engineering at Ohio State.


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