With the recruiting class of 2005 nearly complete, Thad Matta can nearly turn his entire recruiting focus to a very talented 2006 class, featuring several premier prospects in Ohio and the surrounding states.
Today, Bucknuts touches base with several of those prospects to tell you who is visiting where, when, and who is interested in them.
Let's start with a pair of seniors from out-of-state. One will be visiting, another will not.
Wilson Chandler, the 6-7 forward from Benton Harbor, Mich. will be visiting Ohio State after his ACT results are returned on October 5th. He plans to visit either the weekend immediately following (October 9th) or within the first few weeks after.
Chandler will also visit DePaul, and after both visits are complete, he will take a few days to make a decision. For all intensive purposes, Chandler is the last remaining serious target for the fourth and final available scholarship for the Buckeyes in 2005.
One other possibility was crossed off the list with the commitment of 6-9 Utah big man Brayden Bell.
Charles Jackson, a 6-7 forward from Buena Vista, Ga., was enamored with the Buckeyes -- until a phone call from Thad Matta changed that on Thursday evening.
"He (Coach Matta) just called me about 20 minutes ago, actually," Jackson said. "He said that with the commitment from that big kid in Utah, they had one scholarship left and unless they took a wing, they were going to use that scholarship for the class of 2006."
The Buckeyes, according to Jackson, were leading the way despite having yet to offer a scholarship. He was working to take an official visit to Columbus before Ohio State pulled out.
Jackson will now choose between Illinois, Penn State, and UNLV, but he noted how he prefers to play Big Ten basketball.
*Heading the way for the class of 2006 by way of the top priorities is of course 6-4 guard Daequan Cook from Dayton Dunbar.
This past week, Bucknuts spoke with Al Powell, the man handling the recruitment of Cook and he informed us that he and Cook would likely be visiting Ohio State the weekend of October 9th for homecoming if they didn't make it the first weekend of October.
*October 9th is also the weekend that 6-8 wing Raymar Morgan,\ of Canton McKinley will be making his unofficial visit to Ohio State.
Morgan, one of the top five prospects in the state of Ohio for the class of 2006, has already taken consecutive visits to Michigan State and Michigan. Morgan reflects on those visits.
"They went pretty well," he said. "The (football) game and hanging out with the players was probably my favorite parts."
Morgan lists Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State, Georgia Tech, Connecticut, Arizona, Florida, and Texas as the teams he's currently interested in.
*Another player taking a visit on October 9th will be 6-5 wing David Lighty of Cleveland Vila Angela-St. Joseph.
Lighty was scheduled to visit Michigan last weekend, but instead stayed home as he opted to attend his school's homecoming. Lighty will now visit Michigan on the 9th to take in the Michigan-Minnesota football game.
As Lighty also had to cancel his trip to Columbus for an unofficial Ohio State visit early in September, he will also make that visit up in late October.
"I'm going to visit Ohio State in mid or late October," Lighty said. "I'll be going down there either the 23rd or 30th of October."
He said that Michigan and Ohio State were the only two visits he has set up right now, although he's trying to work in a trip to Syracuse if possible.
"Those three (Michigan, Ohio State, and Syracuse), Florida, North Carolina, Michigan State, and Arizona," Lighty listed. "Those are the schools I'm interested in."
*Richard Semrau, the 6-10 forward from Rocky River, Ohio is a Kentucky lean, but Ohio State still might have a shot, however so slight it may be.
"I think he really wants to go down and visit Ohio State the week of the Michigan game, "Phil Argento, Semrau's high school coach said. "He was going to go down before that, but it didn't work. He told me that he would like to go down to check out Ohio State that weekend."
*We also spoke with several other recruits who have not yet set up any sort of visits with Ohio State but might be names to keep an eye on in the future.
One of those names is Ft. Wayne, Ind. star Marques Johnson. The 6-5 guard, ranked 10th nationally as a shooting guard by the Insiders Hoops in the class of 2006 is a guy the Buckeyes will be taking a serious look at.
"They (Ohio State) came in for an open gym last week, actually," Johnson said. "They are recruiting me pretty hard."
Johnson listed Notre Dame, Purdue, Indiana, N.C. State, and Georgetown as the teams he's hearing the most from right now.
Notre Dame appears to be an early favorite and Johnson visited Notre Dame for the Michigan football game.
"That was awesome," Johnson said of the atmosphere. "It was a crazy place to be. I got to go with my friend, Brandon Parker, Doc Rivers' son, and (Notre Dame commitment) Luke Zellers."
He has also visited Indiana and Purdue.
Another guard to keep an eye on is James Dews, the 6-3 West Chester, Ohio shooting sensation. Dews is the top pure shooter in Ohio, and one of the top nationally for 2006.
Dews said he is currently hearing from Kentucky, Xavier, Dayton, NC State, Michigan, Michigan State, Purdue, and Wake Forest.
He has an unofficial visit set up to Michigan State for October 15th, which is Midnight Madness, the first official night of practice. Michigan and Purdue is also working on having him visit.
Dews said that Ohio State is recruiting him, although "they are not looking at me as much right now".
He did say, however, that his good friend Josh Chichester, who is now 6-8,
enjoyed his visit to Ohio State a few weeks ago.
"He really seemed to like it a lot, " Dews said. "He said it went pretty good."
Although Dews has long been a fan of the ACC, he said he prefers staying close to home right now.
*Nate Davis, a 6-3 point guard from Bellaire, Ohio, is a three-sport sensation that prefers basketball over football and baseball.
Also an excellent quarterback, Davis said that he is being recruited most heavily in basketball. That's the sport he will ultimately play in college.
"I'm hearing a lot from Illinois, Virginia, Ohio University, Pittsburgh, Wisconsin, Dayton, Eastern Michigan, Purdue, and Cincinnati," Davis said. "Cincinnati, Virginia, and Purdue have been trying to get me to visit, but with football it's been tough to schedule."
Davis said that Ohio State has been sending him a lot of mail, but haven't yet actively begun to recruit him as strongly.
*Lastly, one of the most underrated players in Ohio in the class of 2006 might be 6-5 Adrian Graves, of Cincinnati Hughes.
Graves, who was accredited this summer for playing with the Mayos, the Walkers, and the Cooks of the world, is being recruited strongly by N.C. State, Tennessee, Michigan, and Michigan State thus far.
He has already visited Purdue unofficially, as well as Xavier. Graves, who grew up liking North Carolina and Duke, said Ohio State has gotten involved as well.
"They are coming up this Saturday to watch me play actually," Graves said. "They are coming to an open gym to see me. They have started to recruit me."
Graves specifically noted that he enjoyed playing with Cook, O.J. Mayo, and Greg Oden the most, and wouldn't mind playing with any of those players in college. He said that Cook was the toughest guy he played against this summer (keep in mind, he was a teammate of Mayo's).
For more information on the class of 2006, be sure to keep an eye out for the upcoming series "Focus on 2006". The series will break down future Ohio State targets by position for the class of 2006 in-depth, and will also look ahead slightly to 2007 and even 2008.