For most, the toughest part of making a college choice is actually pulling the trigger. But sometimes, that can be the easiest part.
When you're 6-3 sophomore Walter Offutt of Indianapolis Warren Central, the agonizing part of the process was the wait.
Offutt knew he wanted to attend Ohio State over a year ago. But being just a freshman and having so much time until he arrived on campus, he and all of the coaches involved in his life urged him to wait.
It was for the better, as far as his family was concerned. In the interim, he was able to grow both physically and emotionally, while handling some pretty tough circumstances along the way.
"Last year, I pretty much knew Ohio State was going to be my first choice, but I talked to my coaches and agreed that I should wait a little longer for my selection," Offutt told Bucknuts.com on Wednesday evening. "I was able to take a look at other schools and I got more of a feel for things, and as I got a feel, I just knew they were the best choice for me."
In addition to looking around at other colleges, Offutt had to deal with a severe ankle sprain and also removing four wisdom teeth along the way, causing him to miss some time.
But the worst was yet to come back in June. Offutt tore his ACL, putting him out of action until probably January.
"When I first injured it, I had an immediate feeling it was a torn ACL and I knew it was pretty serious," he remembered as he fell to the ground during an AAU tournament. "I couldn't bend it, so I knew that wasn't good."
Any young kid could have bent at that moment, or even broke from the disappointment. But a proud mother, Darlene, thought her son handled the injury real well.
"He didn't stress out about it and he was really calm. I was really pleased at how he handled it," she said.
"Not at one time did he stress out about it," she added, "and he knew he had not ended his basketball career. He just focused and started again."
His freshman year, Offutt averaged 10.4 points, 3.1 rebounds and 4.2 assists a game. He had risen in most national rankings to being one of the top 10 players in the country as a point guard.
In fact, ScoutHoops.com currently ranks Offutt as the No. 12 prospect overall, despite missing the latter half of the summer because of his knee injury. Jim Reamer, a well-respected AAU coach in Indiana, thinks Offutt will thrive as a point guard primarily.
"He sees the floor real well and he has a great sense on the court," Reamer said. "He understands how the defense reacts to him and he adjusts."
And as for being labeled a combo guard…a lot of people think he will be capable of playing both positions in college.
That's a premise Reamer agrees with, but he thinks PG will be his natural position.
"A lot of people see him as a scoring guard but only because they equate point guards as being shorter and quick," he added. "He's quick, but it's not one of those things where he's going to go out and shake a guy with his quickness."
Whether he's a PG or SG, teams like Indiana, Purdue, Illinois and Iowa were hoping to have Offutt a part of the fold in the future.
For him, there was little choice, however. From last year on, Offutt had little doubts he wanted to be a Buckeye - especially after visiting Purdue, Illinois and Ohio State this fall.
After visiting Ohio State last weekend, he was ready to finally make his decision known.
"As you mentioned earlier, this is actually something he wanted to do last year, and we talked it over and we decided to wait," Mrs. Offutt said of her son's decision, "and then he wanted to do it again earlier this year. But we waited a little longer."
"Walter came to me, we sat down and talked about it. We have had a lot of conversations with his high school coach (Scott Heady), his AAU coach (Tony Safford) about this. I'm somewhat relieved that he made it and it's over. I think he made a real good choice and I'm happy with it," she added.
One of the most important factors for Offutt, who wants to major in sports management, and his mother was the role of the academic programs with students. They toured the campus and saw many of the buildings designed for academic support for athletes.
If there was anything that caught their eyes, it was the combination of what they saw in the academic programs as well as the way the coaches interacted with them outside of basketball.
"First of all, my mom liked it a lot," Offutt said of the trip to Ohio State. "She liked the academic program a lot, and that's really a big part of my goals to achieve things academic wise as well as basketball wise. Also, the coaching staff is real concerned for you for life after basketball. The whole coaching staff and Coach (Thad) Matta cares for you."
His mother agreed.
"I would like to add that I was most impressed with Ohio State with the resources they made available at Ohio State to reach your academic goals," she noted. "They really spend a lot of money on their academic programs at Ohio State. The facilities are wonderful and the people are really helpful. It shows they don't just care about basketball but also academics and being successful."
Offutt is continuing to rehab his injured knee. January is the targeted return date for him to be 100 percent, but doctors have told him he's well ahead of schedule.
Dave Telep of ScoutHoops.com says that Offutt should be a real good player for Ohio State down the line.
"Walter Offutt is going to be a big-time player," Telep said. "Unfortunately, the injury kept him out of sight but not out of mind."
Offutt joins B.J. Mullens, a 6-10 center from Canal Winchester's Harvest Prep as the second 5-star player in ScoutHoops.com 2008 rankings to verbal to the Buckeyes. Both are listed in the top 15 nationally.
He becomes the fourth Indiana player to verbal to Matta's Buckeye program. This year's incoming junior Sylvester Mayes (Redlands Community College) is a native of Ft. Wayne, Ind., while 2006 commitments Mike Conley and Greg Oden are from Indianapolis.
Offutt mentioned he hopes to play with Oden and Conley when he arrives on campus in three years. But according to Telep, Ohio State fans may well be looking forward to Offutt's arrival just as much.
"He can really score it. I saw him a few times before he even played a high school game and I thought he had a little Ray Allen to his game," Telep said of Offutt. "I'm excited about seeing him fully recovered and know that he is capable of being one of the best guards in his class."
Ohio State was a place that felt right for Offutt, but for a family that loves solid relationships, it was Matta that sealed the deal for them.
"He's a guy that most kids relate to," Offutt said. "He cares about more than just basketball. He relates to you and what you need, and he's there when you need him."
For Offutt, Matta did more than that. He made the toughest part rather easy.