Freshman Mullens Discusses Verbal To Buckeyes

Canal Winchester (Ohio) World Harvest Prep freshman B.J. Mullens met with the media this afternoon to discuss his verbal commitment -- the earliest in recent memory -- to new coach Thad Matta's Ohio State men's basketball program. Click here for more.

Canal Winchester (Ohio) World Harvest Prep freshman B.J. Mullens hasn't played a minute of varsity basketball. But that apparently has not stopped first-year Ohio State men's basketball coach Thad Matta from offering Mullens a scholarship.

The 6-10, 225-pound Mullens told reporters today at his school in suburban Columbus that he accepted the OSU offer and committed to the Buckeyes by calling Matta Saturday afternoon.

"My family and I are happy to announce my intention to commit to play basketball for the Ohio State University in the year 2008," said the 15-year-old Mullens. "I decided to do this now for a number of reasons. First, I am honoring a promise to my step-dad, who passed away in March of this year. Second, I want to stay close to my family, so they can come and see me play.

"In addition to basketball, I think the Ohio State University will provide me with an excellent education."

Mullens was flanked by his mother, Barbara; World Harvest athletic director Marc Bradley; World Harvest dean of students Jack Johnson; and World Harvest coach David Mobley.

According to Bradley, Matta got word through a family member of new OSU assistant John Groce that Mullens was performing well as one of just four freshmen-to-be invited to the prestigious adidas Camp in Atlanta.

"I was in Atlanta for a basketball camp," Mullens said. "I made the all-star game. Coach Matta thought I was a senior. I told him I was a freshman. He got quite surprised."

Bradley added, "When we got back to town, we were contacted (by Ohio State). B.J. had actually been to some games when Coach O'Brien was at Ohio State."

It is almost unprecedented for a high school freshman to be offered a college scholarship. Certainly, the scholarship offer is contingent on Mullens fulfilling NCAA academic requirements, especially considering the fact he has no high school credits yet.

Mullens took up basketball when he was 12 years old and already standing 6-4. His mother, who is 6-3, played high school basketball in Virginia. He then hit a growth spurt up to 6-10.

"When you're 6-7 and you're 13, people expect you to play basketball," Bradley said. "This is only the third year he has played the game. He has not reached his potential at all."

As an eighth grader, he averaged 16 points, 12 rebounds and five blocked shots a game for the World Harvest team that finished 14-0. He only played limited minutes on a team that won its games by an average of 40 points.

"B.J. has a lot going for him," Mobley said. "I hope we can keep his head straight through all of the pressure. I think he's got a good level head and he'll handle it. He has some good people around him. My goal is to help him develop as a player. I want to bring out his whole potential and help him in any way we can."

Sure enough, Mullens said Mobley routinely meets him before school for 6 a.m. workout sessions. Mobley also said Mullens has worked hard in the weight room to add strength to his frame. Mullens has developed a reputation as a fine shooter, even stepping out to three-point range.

"B.J. has the best shooting form on our team," Mobley said. "He can shoot from outside. He jokes about going outside. I see comparisons to (7-0 NBA star) Dirk Nowitski because of his shooting ability. He has tremendous footwork and is not slow. He is deceptively quick."

Mullens grew up in the same Columbus westside Hilltop neighborhood of former OSU star Michael Redd. Two of his siblings attended West High School with Redd.

"I liked the way he grew up around the neighborhood there and made it to Ohio State," Mullens said. "I wanted to try and do the same. I've always wanted to be a Buckeye.

"I've been to a few games there and been around it my whole life."

According to school officials, Florida, Xavier, Georgia Tech, N.C. State and Michigan had all sent letters to Mullens. OSU was the only school to offer this early, though.

"Coach Matta is a nice guy," Mullens said. "I feel comfortable speaking to him. He said he liked my footwork for a big guy."

Mullens knew he did not want to wait around when OSU offered.

"When I talked to him, I told him I was ready to do this," Mullens said. "They were pretty excited."

His mother Barbara added, "Yes, we are proud of him. We are glad he is staying home. He really loves basketball. I have five boys and they've always shot in the backyard.

"He's my littlest, my baby," she added, laughing.

For more on Mullens' decision to verbal to OSU, check out this report from basketball recruiting expert Dave Telep:

Telep On Mullens Verbal

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