Matta To Sign Guard On Friday

After taking an unofficial visit to Ohio State last weekend, the reigning junior college player of the year issued a verbal commitment to head coach Thad Matta. With the paperwork due to be signed today, find out about a pre-existing relationship that might have helped OSU's chances and what kind of player fans can expect to see in uniform next season.

A potential answer for Ohio State at point guard next season should be signed, sealed and delivered within the next 24 hours.

On Friday, Jeremie Simmons is expected to sign his paperwork and send it to OSU head coach Thad Matta. The Buckeyes should receive it Saturday, and just like that the nation's reigning junior college player of the year will be donning scarlet and gray next season according to Steve Schmidt, head coach at Flint (Mich.) Mott Community College.

"He's committed," Schmidt told "We just finished up school (Thursday). I guess it's as official as officially can be committed, but everything will be finalized within the next day or two."

With his final exams out of the way, Simmons' mother is en route to the college to be with her son as he signs the paperwork to join the Buckeyes. The 6-2, 170-pound guard offered his verbal commitment to Matta on April 26 after unofficially visiting the campus.

But as it turns out, Schmidt has a pre-existing relationship with Matta dating back to his days at Xavier that might have helped win him over to the Buckeyes. After coaching at Mott for the last 17 years, Schmidt said he has gotten to know Matta as he has recruited other players from Mott.

"I don't think it hurt at all, having an existing relationship," Schmidt said with a chuckle. "He's a good recruiter and he has a tremendous program to recruit to. I kind of encouraged Jeremie to take a look at Ohio State even though they did come in late."

The Buckeyes beat the likes of Butler, Alabama, Dayton, South Florida and others for his services.

After earning first-team all-city honors while playing for Chicago Von Steuben, Simmons played two seasons at Mott. While there, he helped the Bears to a 70-5 overall record in two seasons while capturing back-to-back national championships. He started in all 75 games.

During the 2007-08 season, Schmidt averaged 21 points and five assists.

With the graduation of first-team all-Big Ten point guard Jamar Butler, the Buckeyes find themselves dangerously thin at the position. Last season, P.J. Hill transferred into the program from Midland (Texas) College to assume the role of backup after Mike Conley opted for the NBA following his freshman season, but Hill played sparingly. His final stat line displayed an average of 1.1 points and 15 assists against 14 turnovers in 5.8 minutes of playing time per game.

Hill was an odds-on favorite to factor into the position on a more prominent role this season, perhaps joining Evan Turner and incoming freshman Anthony Crater, also a native of Flint.

The Buckeyes did not begin recruiting Simmons until less than a month ago, Schmidt said. Once they did, he wanted to make sure that his star athlete would have an opportunity to assume a significant role immediately upon arriving on campus. As a transfer student, he will have two years of eligibility remaining.

Schmidt refuses to classify Simmons as a point guard or a shooting guard.

"I've coached him two years and I won't label him," he said. "He's very capable of playing both spots. I've coached a lot of players in my 17 years and he is very crafty and skilled with the basketball. That's an area where I think he can step in and help run the Buckeyes."

While Schmidt feels Simmons will have little problems adapting to the level of play he will find in Columbus, he does feel he needs to get bigger and stronger.

Once he does that, Schmidt said he fully expects Simmons to turn some heads.

"I think he can be an impact player," he said. "I realize they have a tremendous amount of talent coming in, but I think he brings a little bit something different from the other prospects.

"I think after watching Jeremie play, the people that aren't aware of how good our level is or how good our players can be will have a much better appreciation of what we're doing at this level."

How will that will stack up against a full slate of Big Ten games and a number of big non-conference games will remain to be seen, however. But as it stands, the process of finding the answers will begin shortly.

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