Matta Signs Second Straight Top-10 Class

On Wednesday, OSU men's basketball coach Thad Matta received signed letters-of-intent from four signees in his 2007 recruiting class. The class, a second straight top-10 effort for Matta and his assistants, includes Jon Diebler, Kosta Koufos, Dallas Lauderdale and Evan Turner. Click this free link for comments from Matta on his latest class.

If there's one thing Thad Matta knows, he understands that success on the recruiting trail is followed by high expectations for his teams on the basketball floor.

On Wednesday – the first day of the early signing period for basketball – Matta and his Ohio State men's basketball program locked up their second straight top-10 class.

This year's class features four players judged among the national top 100 in Upper Sandusky (Ohio) guard Jon Diebler, Canton Glen Oak forward Kosta Koufos, Solon (Ohio) center Dallas Lauderdale and Westchester (Ill.) St. Joseph's guard Evan Turner.

Matta's 2007 class is ranked seventh nationally. It comes on the heels of last year's No. 2-ranked class, which featured high school standouts Greg Oden, Daequan Cook, David Lighty and Mike Conley Jr. and junior college transfer Othello Hunter.

But Matta accepts the challenge and understands if OSU fans now aspire to see their team hang Big Ten championship banners and appear in the NCAA Final Four on a regular basis.

"That's honestly what we're striving to do," Matta said. "I didn't leave Xavier to come here to not contend. A lot of things play into that. That is ultimately what we're trying to get done.

"I think it shows you as we get out and beat the bushes if we're passionate about recruiting, we can show kids what this place is all about. It opens kids' eyes and they can see the opportunities they will have here at The Ohio State University."

Matta admitted that recruiting rankings do not factor a great deal into his thinking.

"I don't put a lot into rankings," he said. "If you truly want to rate a recruiting class, I think you need to look at what they need and what they got. Then you can say, ‘Those guys did a heck of a job.'

"But to have two top-10 classes in a row, I think that's good. I think it obviously means we're getting some very good players."

Matta was asked if the 2006 class helped he and his staff in terms of this year's class.

"Most definitely those guys helped influence that," he said. "I think that recruiting and success become contagious. I remember Coach K (Duke's Mike Krzyzewski) telling me when I got here that it takes one class. Then you have to follow it up and follow it up. Obviously, we have done that. He had that (1982) class with Johnny Dawkins, Mark Alarie and David Henderson. That was the class that got Duke basketball going.

"Obviously, we are very excited. I think with Jon, Kosta, Dallas and Evan we got what we were looking for and what we think we need to replace."

Matta discussed in general terms what he likes about this 2007 group.

"The thing I love about all four of these kids is they're great kids," he said. "I think they're going to fit in well here. They understand why we recruited them and what we expect from them. We're very excited to get them.

"All four of them love the game of basketball. If you are trying to find one of them, they are usually in the gym working on their game."

Matta was asked to contrast this class with the 2006 class.

"This is a different kind of class," he said. "I think there are some similarities. As I look at this incoming class, I think we got some guys who can do some special things. Maybe they do some different things than the class we have here now.

"All of them have a unique bond that you don't find very often. We had it last year with Michael, Greg and Daequan. I know they talk a lot and it's great that they will already have that when they get here."

Although Matta signed four players on Wednesday, he still has one scholarship available. It has widely been reported that spot could go to Chatham (Va.) Hargrave Military Academy small forward Eric Wallace. The 6-6 Wallace originally committed to Virginia, but pulled out of that verbal earlier this year. He made an official visit to OSU in October and reportedly was still deliberating over his college choice.

Without naming Wallace, Matta confirmed the Buckeyes could still sign one more player in this 2007 class.

"I can't say a lot," said Matta, who is bound by NCAA rules on comments on recruits. "We're still recruiting."

Here are thumbnails on OSU's four signees and comments from Matta:

* Jon Diebler, 6-7, guard, Upper Sandusky, Ohio -- Diebler earned first-team All-Ohio honors last season. He averaged 35.5 points, 9.3 rebounds, 4.3 assists, 4.2 steals, 4.1 blocked shots and had games of 77 and 52 points as a junior. He connected on an Ohio state high school record 27 free throws (in 28 attempts) in his 77-point effort against Tiffin Columbian Jan. 13, 2006. The offensive outburst was an Upper Sandusky scoring record. He made 22 of 42 field goal attempts, including six 3-pointers, four of which were made in a span of 56 seconds during the third quarter. He also added 16 rebounds in that game.

The 77-point game rates seventh all time for a single game in Ohio High School Athletic Association history. It also was the highest point total for a player in 37 years. Former Buckeye Allan Hornyak, who starred at Bellaire St. John's, scored 86 points in a game against Tiltonsville in 1969.

Diebler, whose brother Jake is a sophomore at Valparaiso, led Upper Sandusky to a 28-0 record and an Ohio state championship as a sophomore. Jon averaged 26.3 points a game that year after an average of 23.6 points as a freshman at Fostoria.

Diebler enters his senior season with 2,106 career points scored. He ranks No. 27 on the Ohio all-time scoring list. He needs 852 points to catch former Buckeye Jay Burson's state record 2,958 career points while attending New Concord John Glenn (1981-85). Cleveland Cavaliers star LeBron James is No. 3 on the Ohio all-time scoring list with 2,646 career points.

He is rated as the nation's No. 15 shooting guard and No. 62 prospect overall nationally by He is also rated as the No. 3 overall prospect in Ohio, according to Ohio High magazine.

Matta's Comment on Diebler: "Jon is a proven scorer. He has the ability to be a prolific scorer when he gets here. His dad (coach Keith Diebler) has done a good job with him as a coach. He has size for his ability to shoot the basketball and he is also a very good passer."

* Kosta Koufos, 7-1, forward, Canton (Ohio) GlenOak -- Koufos averaged 24 points, 11.1 rebounds and 4.0 blocks as a junior before breaking his foot in practice before the 12th regular-season game, missing the rest of the season. He averaged 15.3 points, 7.8 rebounds and 3.7 blocks during his sophomore campaign. As a junior he was an Associated Press second-team All-Ohio selection.

GlenOak was 18-5 during Koufos' sophomore season and he was the only sophomore on the Canton Repository's All-Stark County team. During the summer before his junior year he led a group of Ohio all-stars to an unbeaten record in a tournament in Italy. With Koufos sidelined as a junior, the Golden Eagles finished 17-6.

He is rated as the nation's No. 3 power forward and No. 10 prospect overall nationally by He is also rated as the No. 1 overall prospect in Ohio, according to Ohio High magazine.

Matta's Comment on Koufos: "With Kosta, I went up to Canton (to see another player). I saw him and called back and asked (assistant John Groce), ‘Are you sure I'm watching the right kid?' He was still young and skinny at the time.

"He's another one with size and length and great speed for being 7-1. He is very skilled for his size. He can shoot the ball deep and put it down on the floor. Plus, he also rebounds.

"When he broke his foot last year, the type of kid he is … he said, ‘What can I do now?' He hit the weight room and added some tremendous strength to his frame."

* Dallas Lauderdale, 6-9, center, Solon, Ohio -- Lauderdale averaged 21 points, 9.9 rebounds and 4.5 blocks as a junior for a 23-2 team that advanced to the Ohio Division I regional finals before falling to eventual state champion Canton McKinley. Lauderdale earned first-team Associated Press All-Ohio honors as a junior.

In Lauderdale's sophomore season, Solon posted a record of 25-1 losing only to Mansfield Senior, a game away from making the state tournament final four. Lauderdale averaged 17.5 points, 13 rebounds and nearly five blocks a game that season.

He is rated as the nation's No. 15 center and No. 80 prospect overall nationally by He is also rated as the No. 5 overall prospect in Ohio, according to Ohio High magazine.

Matta's Comment on Lauderdale: "Dallas is a guy I've been recruiting for a long time. He is a guy that brings length and athleticism. He's a tremendous athlete. He's powerful inside. He's also proved he can step outside. He rebounds outside his area. Once again, in three years of high school basketball, he's lost five games up there at Solon.

"The thing I like about Dallas is, number one, we know he can produce down on the block."

* Evan Turner, 6-6, guard, Westchester (Ill.) St. Joseph's -- Turner was the final piece to the class of 2007 for the Buckeyes. He averaged 16 points and six rebounds as a junior in one of the better high school leagues in the state of Illinois. Turner helped St. Joseph's win the East Suburban Catholic Conference title a year ago. The Chargers advanced to down Fenwick in sectional competition before losing to Proviso East, 75-53, in Illinois' Class AA Farragut Sectional final.

The Chargers finished the 2005-06 season 28-2 and have won 48-consecutive conference games heading into the 2006-07 season.

He is rated as the nation's No. 18 small forward and No. 70 prospect overall nationally by He is also rated as the No. 3 overall prospect in Illinois.

Matta's Comment on Turner: "With Evan coming out of St. Joe's High School, where he played for Coach (Gene) Pingatore, he is a proven winner. They were 28-2 last year. We watched Evan play and he's got length. He's got athleticism. He has a great understanding of how to play. We've also seen him turn into a lockdown defender.

"He is multi-dimensional in that regard. I've seen him guard a point guard and I've seen him guard a post player. He's got length and he's got quickness. Since this summer, he has added some strength to his body. I think he is still growing a little bit."

Buckeye Sports Top Stories