CHICAGO – There isn’t anything specific that Chris Holtmann can say yet about his 2019 recruiting class. Until those current high school seniors officially sign in early November, college coaches are forbidden from publicly discussing them by NCAA rules.

But when asked to speak generally about a three-man class that a reporter described as “pretty good,” Holtmann was quick to fire back some good-natured banter.

“Pretty good? Your standards are pretty high,” he said today at Big Ten media day. “What do we have to do to impress you?”

After landing a verbal commitment from four-star power forward E.J. Liddell last week, the Buckeyes have a three-man class consisting exclusively of top-50 recruits. It’s a class ranked No. 5 nationally by in the 247Sports.com composite rankings and also features five-star point guard D.J. Carton and four-star small forward Alonzo Gaffney.

It follows a four-man class of 2018 that is already on campus and vying for roles this season.

“I’m really excited about the one we’ve got that our fans are going to see (this year),” he said. “I’m really excited about the one I can’t talk about. This is an exciting time for us, but we’ve got several months before we’re going to be sitting here talking about (2019).”

Now Holtmann has to continue to build on the class. From his hotel Wednesday night, Holtmann said he was on the phone trying to make a couple recruiting calls. Today, after finishing his media day responsibilities, he was headed to the road to check on a pair of recruits in future classes.

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“Now the challenge if we’ve got to have a good one in ’20,” he said. “I could not be more pleased (about 2019). Our staff has done an outstanding job and we worked extremely hard and I think Buckeye Nation will enjoy seeing these young men play, but we’ve got a freshman class in front of them that I think they’re going to be excited to see play too.”

Ohio State has a full scholarship for next season with the three commitments. Projecting beyond that gets challenging when considering the potential for attrition, either to the NBA or to other schools.

It can lead to a more general approach for now when trying to assemble the classes of 2020 and 2021.

“I think we have an idea of kind of rim protection, wing, we have an idea but I also think another guard that has some versatility,” he said. “I think what we’re trying to do right now is find the guys that fit us and fit us best and recruiting them. They’ll play. If they fit us and they’re good players, we’re not going to have 15 five-men, but within reason that’s what we’re trying to do.”

Entering his second season at Ohio State, Holtmann said the key to sustained success moving forward will rest in those upcoming recruiting classes. As of now, like nearly all other schools Ohio State has no commitments beyond the class of 2019.

“It just doesn’t stop,” he said. “We’ve got to continue to build successive good recruiting classes. We’ve got to move onto 2020 and 2021 now, because it’s really important to have that kind of level, sustained success. We’re not there yet where we can say we have the ability to sustain success. The only way you do that is you build multiple good recruiting classes.”

ajardy@dispatch.com 

@AdamJardy