Cook To OSU: What The Experts Are Saying

We polled Chris Johnson of HoopScoop.com and Dave Telep of ScoutHoops.com on the importance of the impending verbal commitment by national top-10 junior Daequan Cook to Ohio State and coach Thad Matta.

The expected announcement by Dayton Dunbar junior basketball standout Daequan Cook that he would sign with Ohio State was well received by recruiting analysts within the state and around the country.

The 6-5 Cook is rated as the No. 1 junior prospect in Ohio by Ohio High and No. 6 junior nationally by ScoutHoops.com. Some believe his verbal may be OSU's biggest since Jim Jackson signed with the Buckeyes in 1989.

"It's a huge deal," said Chris Johnson, Ohio recruiting editor for HoopScoop.com. "He is the top player in the state and, depending who you talk to, one of the top 10 or top 15 players in the state.

"More important, this could probably give them an edge with (Indianapolis prep point guard) Mike Conley. This may give Ohio State a better shot with Conley. And then if (Conley's teammate and national top junior) Greg Oden doesn't want to go to the pros, it may give them a better shot with him."

Johnson talked about how Cook could fit in at the college level.

"He can do it all," Johnson said. "He is extremely talented. He can handle the ball, pass the ball and he shoots it well.

"He does tend to coast from time to time. But when he is on he has the whole package. I would like to see him be a little more aggressive at times. He was more aggressive against Cincinnati Taft than he may have been in the state semifinals."

Dave Telep, national recruiting editor for ScoutHoops.com, put Cook's verbal in perspective.

"When you think about it, they got one win when they beat Illinois on that last Sunday before the Big Ten tournament," Telep said. "Today, they got more than one win. That one game changed Daequan Cook's recruitment and brought him to Ohio State. This is one of the biggest moments for Ohio State basketball since they went to the Final Four (in 1999).

"This does a number of things. It validates Ohio State with kids. This gives Thad Matta a great deal of street cred with kids. He can walk into any home in the country and believe he can get a commitment after this.

"Plus, this brings in a guy who could be an instant impact player. He is one of those guys that when you add him to your program it opens so many doors for you."

Telep sees Matta using Cook as a selling point to other recruits.

"Right now, what Thad Matta is hoping for is that Daequan Cook does for Ohio State's recruiting what Chris Paul has done for Wake Forest's recruiting," Telep said. "He is a big time player and this pumps up the street cred of Ohio State with every other kid.

"It is impossible to underestimate the importance of this commitment on Ohio State basketball."

Cook, Conley and Oden are AAU teammates with the Spiece Indy Heat. Plus, Cook's presence could lead more of Ohio's top players – most notably Cleveland Villa Angela-St. Joseph's David Lighty or one or more players from talented North College Hill – to look more favorably on Ohio State.

"That's the big question," Telep said. "That is the obvious follow up question to all of those guys. What does this mean to Mike Conley? I think you can forget about Greg Oden unless the NBA puts in the 20-year-old draft restriction. But they are all (friends). In December, Cook said he was going to go to school with Mike Conley. Is that still the case?"

And Telep said this decision by Cook validates what he and other experts said about Matta's hiring last July.

"I said it then and I can say it again today – this alone illustrates what a great hire it was to get Thad Matta," Telep said.


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