With Tuesday's news that J.D. Weatherspoon has verbally committed to Ohio State and head coach Thad Matta, Buckeye fans across the state of Ohio and beyond can celebrate a potentially great recruiting class. While most of the Buckeye nation is fully shifted into football mode -- and for good reason -- let's take a second and look deeper at the class of Jared Sullinger, DeShaun Thomas, Jordan Sibert, Aaron Craft, J.D. Weatherspoon and Lenzelle Smith.
In looking at the class, there are a few things that immediately jump out. First, it appears to be a very balanced class that will provide help across the board. Second, and perhaps even more importantly to a Buckeye program that has felt the sting of early entry, the class doesn't look to feature any surefire one or possibly even two and done prospects. Finally, how about the overwhelming influence of kids from the All-Ohio summer program? The group that included Sullinger, Sibert, Craft and Weatherspoon has dominated the summer scene for years so the program is adding a core of guys who know how to win.
With that in mind, let's take a closer look at each member of the class starting with the centerpiece, Sullinger.
A bonafide top five player in the class of 2010, Sullinger is a local product who has proven himself every step of the way. Checking in at 6-foot-8, he's a low post player with a high skill level, exceptional hands and a tremendous feel for scoring and rebounding. Similar in many ways to former UCLA star Kevin Love who moved on to the NBA after one year, Sullinger's body has been questioned at times. However, thanks to his dedication to improvement, Sullinger has erased most any question that somebody could have about him. Versatile enough to play the center or the power forward, he is a little undersized from a height standpoint which could help keep him in Columbus despite having the skill level to make his college stay short.
Moving on to the left handed Thomas the Buckeyes have landed a kid who has been heavily touted since the 8th grade. A monster on the offensive end, Thomas has managed to withstand the test of time and remain among the top players in the class of 2010. He's a ferocious rebounder, strong scorer in the paint and has significantly improved his ball skills on the perimeter. However, much like Sullinger, he is potentially a tweener on the NBA level because of his three man size (6-foot-7 in shoes) and natural ability at the four. On the college level, though, where the game has gotten much smaller, he amounts to one big matchup problem.
After a huge summer in 2008, Sibert is actually a bit of a question mark. He broke his leg in early April at the Boo Williams Invitational and because of that the 6-foot-5 wing didn't get a chance to show what he's capable of during the summer. Provided that he heals without any issues, Sibert could emerge as a guy who earns instant playing time. Both Evan Turner and William Buford are emerging as potential early entry candidates and David Lighty is a senior meaning that there could be ample playing time on the wing. At full strength, he's a live bodied wing who can attack off the dribble or bomb away from deep.
Then there's the fourth All-Ohio guy Craft. Unless you really like lock down defenders and guys who play with pride, there's nothing "sexy" about his game. But, that's exactly what makes him so good. He's a hard nosed kid and a throwback player who does what a point guard is supposed to do. He runs his team, plays under control and is an extension of the coach on the floor. Also, because of his ability to stretch defenses with the jumper, he's versatile enough to slide off of the ball and play some at the shooting guard.
Staying in the backcourt, the big bodied Smith is an interesting player on the next level. Much like Sullinger, he's faced questions about his body and quickness and has responded by getting into better shape each step of the way. A strong ball handler, he's tough to handle as a point because of his size. He can slide off of the ball and could even play as a small forward in some lineups because of his strength and outstanding rebounding ability.
Finally, there's Weatherpoon. The most recent addition, he's a total wildcard. A freaky athletic lefty, the 6-foot-5, maybe 6-foot-6, forward has primarily performed as an undersized four man who plays with heart, passion and lots of energy. While his shooting and handling need work to make the transition to playing the three full time, he's got the quickness and lateral movement to defend on the perimeter from day one. Every good recruiting class needs a designated junkyard dog and Weatherspoon fits the bill as that and a guy with lots of room to grow on the offensive end.
Now, all Buckeye fans have to do is sit back and wait for the talented six pack of prospects to arrive on campus.