It was a name that got its beginning on a message board. A coy poster used a play-on-words of the old ‘Fab five', and dreamt that Ohio State's recruiting class would grow into ‘Thad's five'.
Well today, the Thad five is a reality.
It is Wednesday, November 9, 2005. It's the first day of the NCAA November signing period. It means that verbally committed senior basketball prospects can sign a national letter of intent – a binding agreement between the prospect and an institution, making their intentions to attend the university of their choice official.
Dayton Dunbar guard Daequan Cook, a 6-5 senior that averaged 22.6 points a game last season, started things off at 11:45 this morning with a press conference. He signed his letter of intent and faxed it over shortly thereafter. The hard copy, signed by both he and his parents will be sent via Fed Ex to Ohio State.
However, the faxed copy is all Ohio State needs to celebrate.
One of his coaches at Dunbar, assistant Al Powell, is also his mentor and the guy that has handled his recruitment for a couple of years. They were breathing a sigh of relief.
"You know, he's now a Buckeye," Powell said around noon, "or at least, on paper he's a Buckeye."
Cook commented on why he chose the Buckeyes.
"It's close to home," Cook said while being joined by family members. "I mean this is my family, and I owe them as much as anybody else that respect and the chance to come see me play. They raised me. I mean, this is my home."
Powell said that Cook's success has meant a lot to the community.
"We're proud as a community," Powell said. "He gives kids a lot of hope that it can be done, and he does it through hard work and not hype."
On paper, Mike Conley and Greg Oden, the 6-1, guard and 7-0, center from Indianapolis Lawrence North are alsoBuckeyes much to the relief of everyone in Columbus. The Spiece Indy Heat duo, AAU teammates of Cook, had considered putting off their signatures until the April signing period to see what would happen with the closure of the pending NCAA issues with Ohio State.
However, shortly after Noon today, at about 12::30 PM, Conley and Oden signed their letters of intent to play basketball at Ohio State under the condition that if any postseason was lost for their freshmen seasons, they could have the option of being released from the letter.
Conley and Oden committed to the Buckeyes on June 30 over Wake Forest after a couple of months of indecision. Oden ranks as the No. 1 player in the country by Scouthoops.com while Conley is ranked as the No. 4 point guard. Last season, Oden averaged 20 points, 9.0 rebounds and 3.6 blocks a game as a junior.
David Lighty, a 6-5 wing from Cleveland Villa Angela St. Joseph signed his letter of intent this afternoon at his high school. Lighty, who is recovered now from a torn ACL suffered at the beginning of March, averaged 24 points a game as a junior. He committed to Ohio State in May.
Lighty announced at a 3:30 press conference at his school that he also has joined the Ohio State recruiting class.
"I signed everything already, and then we faxed it in," he confirmed. "I feel like I got a big chip off my shoulder. Now it's time to focus on my season and my team."
He also was pleased to know that Cook, Conley and Oden joined him in signing instead of waiting.
"I talked to Greg, I think Saturday, and he said he was signing," Lighty noted. "My thing was I wanted us to sign the same day and get it out of the way."
Regardless of what had happend with the other three, Lighty said he would have signed in the early signing period. However, he did say that Ohio State has told all of the recruits that the worst that would happen is possibly a loss of scholarships or taking down banners.
But Lighty has become the fourth member to sign in the 2006 Ohio State recruiting class.
"I can't wait to get to O-State," he concluded. "I'm excited."
The fifth and final cog of Thad Matta's illustrious group is Othello Hunter. Hunter is a 6-9 forward/center from Hillsborough Community College in Tampa, Fla.
Originally a native of Winston-Salem, Hunter has only been playing basketball for three seasons. He committed to Ohio State towards the end of September over UTEP, Colorado, USC, Oklahoma, South Florida and others.
Hunter visited Ohio State, UTEP and Colorado. He is a good rebounder and shot blocker, and will play both the four and five at Ohio State. Hunter is also expected to sign this afternoon.
A published report in today's Columbus Dispatch stated that Ohio State gave the players written assurance that they could be let out of their letters of intent if Ohio State is banned from postseason play in 2006-07. Cook stated that if by chance something happened that would cause the rest of the players to leave, he would more than likely leave as well, but he spoke with Lighty, Oden and Conley last night and said the players are not focusing on any of the negative aspects of the investigation.
"(I'm) not really worried," Cook said. "We're only thinking positive about the situation. Me and the coach have been talking and he just told me some of the things and the violations they have gotten. They're just more likely to take away scholarships, not including our scholarships."
This year's class is rated by recruiting analysts as either the nation's No. 1 or No. 2 class. Cook didn't get too caught up in the rankings but at the same time said to believe the hype.
"It's fun, but I don't pay much attention," he said. "It's true, but it's going to take work."
For Cook and the other members of this class, there is only one goal.
"Championships," he said. "That's all you can think about right now is winning. We all come from winning places. The only thing to do is put it together and win more."
Can this class push for a championship in year one?
"It's going to take a lot of work, but I'm not going to doubt us," Cook said.
Some of the discussion surrounding this year's recruiting class has focused on just how long the players will be staying in college. Oden would likely be the No. 1 selection in this year's NBA draft if he were eligible, and Cook also has the next level in mind.
"I want to come in and contribute to the team however I can," Cook said. "(But) I'm going to have to step it up one of these years because I plan on one day playing in the NBA."
The Thad Five got its start in mid-March when Cook surprised people by committing early to Ohio State. He called Powell late one night and said he wanted to commit, so they talked and the next day they went to Columbus. Before leaving, they committed to Matta and announced it a day later at a press conference at Dunbar High School.
Stay tuned for updates within the story and also on Bucknuts.com, as Matta will meet with the media at 5:30 PM this evening to discuss the 2005 recruiting class. Due to NCAA rules, he will only be able to comment on the players he has received a letter of intent from.