Folks are well aware that it's hard enough to overshadow football in Columbus, Ohio during basketball season let alone just a few days before the football season opener.
But as the Buckeyes are set to square off against the Bearcats on Saturday, it will be a highlight weekend for the basketball program as well.
In what is being coined as "National Championship Recruiting Weekend", the Buckeyes will host five players -- each a different position and each coming for unofficial visits sources have told Bucknuts.
Cook, the nation's #1 ranked shooting guard nationally by the Insiders Hoops and third overall, highlights the impressive guest list. Cook exploded this summer to become a consensus top 10 player.
The 6-4 Dayton Dunbar product is strongly considering the Buckeyes despite the firing of Jim O'Brien, a coach he had become extremely fond of.
Although Cook grew up a North Carolina Tar Heels' fan, he has been to numerous Ohio State games in the past, and was even up on two separate occasions for unofficial visits back in the spring. The week of O'Brien's dismissal, Cook was scheduled for yet another visit, this time with 6-7 Canton McKinley forward Raymar Morgan, who reportedly was going to be offered a scholarship in person.
Perhaps even bigger than Cook's presence are his AAU teammates Oden and Conley. Oden, the top-ranked center in the country by the Insiders, had been considered a lock to go to the NBA directly out of high school, until recently proclaiming he intends to go to college.
Oden is currently looking at Indiana, Wake Forest, and recent developments indicate Ohio State is likely involved.
Conley is a 6-1 point guard, who like Cook and Oden, is also the top player at his position nationally. He is the son of former Olympian Mike Conley and is considering Duke, Illinois, Indiana, Wake Forest, Michigan State, Kentucky, and Ohio State amongst several others.
Speaking of Kentucky, the Wildcats are considered the favorites for Semrau, the 6-10 power forward from Rocky River, Ohio (Lutheran West). Semrau visited Kentucky and Louisville last week unofficially and now focuses his attention to the Buckeyes.
Up until Matta's hiring, Semrau was not really interested in Ohio State. However, Matta has been able to gain Semrau's attention enough to not only consider the Buckeyes but take a strong look at them, including this visit.
The Buckeyes still have some ground to make up if they expect to beat out either of the Kentucky schools or Wake Forest for his services, but this appears to be a start in the right direction.
Lighty, the fifth and final player visiting this weekend, appears to need little convincing to take a close look at the Buckeyes. Lighty grew up a Michigan fan, but that has played little part in this process thus far.
While Michigan and Syracuse still appear to be the teams to beat, Lighty himself considers Ohio State the "hometown" team, and if the Buckeyes prove to him they can become a strong program consistently, he's eager to consider the possibility of attending Ohio State.
What better way to convince him they can contend than bringing him in with four other top 25 players? There really isn't.
Another player that won't be visiting this particular weekend, but will be doing so later in September, is Morgan, the 6-7 Canton forward mentioned earlier.
Morgan is expected to visit Ohio State, Michigan, and Michigan State all unofficially sometime within the next month.
"I'm looking at Georgia Tech, Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State, Purdue, Georgia, Texas, and Florida," Morgan told Bucknuts. "I think those are the main ones right now. I think most of them have offered me."
In related recruiting news…
· 6-1 Miami point guard Denis Clemente will be visiting Ohio State sometime in the next week. It's unclear exactly what day Clemente will be in, but we've confirmed he will in fact be coming. We don't expect he will be here on the weekend, as it's been set aside to showcase the class of 2006, but anything could happen. We do know that his trip to Columbus will be followed up by a visit to Cincinnati, Arkansas, and Miami. Ohio State is strong for Clemente, as are the other four. Cincinnati might now have an inside advantage with the hiring of Frank Martin, a former Miami high school coach and native of Puerto Rico.
· Another top tier guard considering the Buckeyes is 6-5 combo Chris Douglas-Roberts, from Detroit Northwestern. Douglas-Roberts, also commonly referred to as "CDR", currently names Georgia Tech as his leader. Douglas-Roberts is still wide-open, however, and will host Thad Matta for an in-home visit late next week. Sources tell Bucknuts that Douglas-Roberts is expected to give Ohio State an official visit later this fall.
· Brayden Bell, a 6-9 PF/C combo from Salt Lake City, Utah, has set an official visit to Ohio State for Saturday, September 11th. Bell will be taking in the Ohio State-Marshall football game as well as meeting the coaching staff and touring the facilities.
Bucknuts will continue to monitor the progress of this big recruiting weekend. So far, not much is known about the activities of the fearsome fivesome, but from what we understand from sources, they will be taking in the Cincinnati football game with Coach (John) Groce and then taking a tour of campus after the game. A pick-up game with some of the current players might also be on tap.
More will be reported as it develops. In the meantime, there's major basketball news during football season? My, how things have changed.