As Ohio State head coach Thad Matta sat in the stands last week at the Reebok ABCD camp, he was watching a little bit of his program's future. You could see him grin ear to ear as three of his commitments played on the same team, easily beating most of their competition.
But something was missing.
Greg Oden, visible as he usually is and standing 7-feet tall, was running the floor early and often with his teammates Mike Conley and Daequan Cook. But on the other side of the gymnasium, the fourth piece of a recruiting class considered the best in the country currently rested an injured knee in the bleachers.
David Lighty was also grinning.
For now, Lighty could only sit and watch as three of his future teammates showcased their skills in Teaneck, NJ, but he managed to stay a part of the action. He can't play with them because of a partially torn ACL that he suffered in the district championship in early March, but the healing process has begun.
It's still several months until a full recovery is expected -- November, in fact. But Lighty instead spent his free time watching Conley, Cook, and Oden play without him since he couldn't partake.
Don't feel sorry for Lighty, however. He got plenty of time to hang out with the others.
"I've been talking to them around in the hotel and eating with them, riding back to the hotel with them on the bus and things like that," Lighty said. "I've kind of gotten a lot better acquainted."
While Lighty was watching, he probably saw a lot of the same things Matta saw from the opposite end of the stands.
Oden was busy winning the camp's MVP award, Cook won the MVP of the all-star game, and Conley was leading his team to an 8-0 finish, and going head to head with O.J. Mayo and not backing down.
It didn't go unnoticed by Lighty.
"It's been real good so far," he said last week of the performances of his future teammates. "Everyone knows about Greg (Oden). He's almost unstoppable out there. There are some players that I haven't seen before, and it's been fun."
When Lighty wasn't watching basketball, or hanging out with his fellow commitments, he was spending time at the hotel with his AAU teammate and friend, Patrick Hewitt - a 6-1 guard from Solon, OH.
Hewitt was invited to the camp to play, but sat out the first day because of an ankle injury. However, he later felt good enough to give it a go, and finished out the camp playing for the Jazz. But it's another Solon player that Lighty is targeting to join him at Ohio State.
"I have started in Ohio with Dallas (Lauderdale) because he's on my team and I keep on him all the time," Lighty said with a laugh. "I make sure he still plans to join me at Ohio State."
Lauderdale is a 6-9 forward in the class of 2007 that ranks as one of the top 25 to 50 players in the nation, and could play either the four or five at the next level. Many feel Lauderdale will pick Ohio State or Syracuse when it's time for a decision.
He has taken it upon himself to go after Lauderdale, and others as well.
"I guess we've just got to do a little recruiting out here," Lighty
He hasn't yet found that perfect target he's looking for.
"I haven't really done it too much just yet," Lighty added. "Right now we're just looking for a four man -- someone that can rebound, scrap for loose balls, and do the dirty work. I really don't know who that will be just yet."
Doctors have told Lighty he will be back by December, but they also have told him he's well ahead of schedule and an October or November return isn't out of the question.
Once he returns, Lighty wants to be considered an elite player and play in the McDonald's All-American game in April.
"I don't want people to forget about me," he said. "I want to get back out there with everyone and show I'm one of the best."
Both his rehab and the chance to speak with the other three commitments are things Lighty is happy with.
"I feel real comfortable. I'll be back around October and ready for the season, and talking to them (Conley, Cook, and Oden) and getting used to them as they get used to me has been something I feel real good about," he concluded.
The four of them hope to give Matta plenty more to smile about in the future.