We polled ScoutHoops.com national recruiting editor Dave Telep and HoopScoopOnline.com Ohio editor Chris Johnson on the impact of the Lighty verbal. Cook and Lighty are each national top-20 prospects and the Buckeyes have a legitimate shot at signing two more top-20 players after Indianapolis Lawrence North teammates Mike Conley Jr. and Greg Oden visit this weekend.
"Talking in general, the ability for Ohio State to get all four of those guys is unbelievable," Telep said. "Now, whether Greg Oden becomes a Pacer or a Buckeye or a Spartan or whatever, you have to look at the big picture. The state and the region are so loaded over the next three years behind this class.
"There are a handful of guys who if they're able to get them you can say they are loading up to make a run at the big one. That's how good the talent is there for '06, '07 and '08. They have a chance here over the next five years to make a run (at a national title)."
Johnson said the verbals by Cook and Lighty give OSU a dynamite backcourt.
"They have two wings now," Johnson said. "Obviously, Conley is their point guard of choice. After that, they are after several bigs who can rebound, whether that is Oden or Thaddeus Young or Luke Harangody. It seems like they are trying to get in on some other big kids.
"It is a lot easier to sell out-of-state guys on the program when they have this kind of credibility.
"Any time you can land the top two players in Ohio, that's quite an accomplishment," Johnson added. "To top it off, they are two recruits in the top 30 nationally. This also sends a message that they intend to build a fence around the state of Ohio. More important, it sends the message nationally that this is shaping up to be a tremendous recruiting class. If you can get the ball rolling sometimes you have that domino effect."
Johnson talked about how Lighty and Cook, each in the 6-5 range, could be used together.
"They are interchangeable," he said. "Cook has made it quite well known that he doesn't want to stay in college too long. Lighty is probably planning on staying in school a while longer. Should Cook leave after a year or two, Lighty would fit his role."
Telep believes a Lighty-Cook backcourt could be dynamite.
"In college, the way the whole thing sets up you can play two guys like this together," Telep said. "Lighty can probably play a little bit of the three. The big thing is the size of each of these players. This is not like they got a 5-11 point guard and a 6-1 shooting guard. These guys are each in the 6-5 range."
Regarding Lighty's abilities, Johnson said, "I think he has no weaknesses. He is a tremendous physical specimen. One of the things that stands out to me is his desire to win. His physical attributes are well known. But what puts him over the top is his intensity and desire."
Lighty averaged 24 points a game as a junior, but his season was cut short when he suffered a knee injury. He will not be on the AAU or camp circuit this summer as he continues to rehab. But Telep does not see the injury hurting Lighty over the long-term.
"He has shown he is such a good athlete," Telep said. "He showed he could play at or above the rim. Last summer, I could see how he had improved his basketball skills. He's long and I think the football stuff helped him. When he gets to the rim, he finishes strong. He runs the floor well.
"His ranking may drop a bit but it would be because other guys are playing well. I don't see him falling out of the top 25. He's too good a player for that."
Ohio State, if it is able to pull off this class, would probably rival Duke and North Carolina for the top class this year, Telep said.
"That's the playing field they are trying to compete on," Telep said. "That's what you have when you're trying to bring these type of guys in. It's been a while since that was the measuring point for a school like Ohio State. But they are changing their expectation level."