It’s been impossible to escape the recent headlines dominating college basketball. With federal charges levied against college coaches across the country and new revelations and accusations emerging by the hour, the guesswork of what is yet to come is filling columns and talk shows across the country.
Within the Ohio State locker room, though, there evidently hasn’t been much talk about the situation. That’s according to the players made available at Wednesday’s media day inside the practice gym at Value City Arena. Coach Chris Holtmann will be available Thursday afternoon.
Sophomore center Micah Potter said he’s glad to see some coaches caught.
“I think it’s definitely unfortunate,” he said. “I’m glad they found out about it, because obviously it’s been going on. I saw it on social media and it’s all over ESPN. It’s unfortunate, but I’m glad they got caught.”
A four-star recruit in the class of 2016 who hails from Mentor, Ohio, but played for Montverde (Fla.) Academy as a senior, Potter said his recruitment was on the up-and-up.
“I’ve had no illegal recruiting happen to me,” he said. “Coach (Thad) Matta did things the right way.”
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Senior Jae’Sean Tate, the top prospect in Ohio’s class of 2014, didn’t want to say much about the situation because he said he hasn’t paid it much attention.
“I would say that this whole situation won’t affect Ohio State,” he said. “Coach Matta and coach Holt are great guys. They do it the right way. They’re honest. They don’t have to worry. They aren’t going to waste their time investigating anything here. as far as the whole NCAA situation, it’s sad but there’s been things in the past that come up. We’ve just got to let the FBI and the NCAA take care of it. They’ll figure it out.”
Senior guard Kam Williams, a four-star recruit from Baltimore (Md.) Mount St. Joseph, said he’s gotten away from social media and therefore not spent much time following the scandal. He said he’s heard whispers of elite, “top-five” recruits receiving impermissible benefits but said he has no direct knowledge of anything untoward.
“I knew it was a thing, but honestly I don’t think I reached that level to get approached about those things,” he said. “And even if I did, my dad would’ve kept all that away from me. I know it goes on, but I don’t really have anything to say about that.”
As long as it’s not happening to Ohio State, Williams said, the situation will largely stay off his radar.
“It wasn’t frustrating for me at all,” he said. “I’m focused on playing basketball. That’s why I was put on this earth. I’m not really focused on any money or anything like that. I’m just here to hoop, pretty much.”
Junior Joey Lane spent a portion of media day among the reporters asking his teammates submitted questions. Here’s part of his back-and-forth with Potter:
Lane: Who is your celebrity lookalike, and mine?
Potter: Everyone knows it’s Enes Kanter for you. For me, man. I’ve been told that I look like the big guy from the Rocky movies. Ivan Drago. Or Captain America, Chris Evans.
Lane: Who do you think is the best-looking guy on the team?
Potter: You mean besides me? I’ll just go with you.
Lane: What’s your favorite planet, and why?
Potter: Does Pluto count?
Lane: No, Pluto doesn’t count. Does Pluto count as a planet? That’s another question.
Potter: It’s considered a dwarf planet. I’ll say Jupiter.
And he put Williams in a similar situation.
Lane: What is one thing you want people to know about you that they might not know?
Williams: I’m a cat guy.
Lane: So cats over dogs?
Williams: Of course. I hate dogs.
Lane: What’s your favorite planet?
Lane: And why?
Williams: It looks like a basketball hoop, doesn’t it? It’s a ball going in the hoop.
A handful of players were asked to objectively compare themselves to one NBA player. Here were some responses:
Williams: “I would say Eric Gordon because he’s known for his shooting but he’s also athletic and he handles the ball better than people think he does.”
Potter weighed in on that answer.
“Eric Gordon is a definite shooter and Kam is a definite shooter,” he said. “I think Kam has a better ability to put it on the floor a little bit more than Eric Gordon does. Kam’s unguardable. He can do whatever he wants. Like in open gym if he’s got an open shot, he’s going to make it. I think it’s a great comparison.”
As for himself, Potter said, “Kevin Love. I’m a big white guy who can shoot and I like to rebound. I think that’s pretty self-explanatory. I’ve been told we look a little bit alike. Maybe not. I think I’m better looking than him.”
Then Potter went down the list, comparing Andre Wesson to Andre Iguodala – “He’s a three and D (defense) guy” – Kaleb Wesson to Zach Randolph – “Great touch around the rim, big body” – and Kyle Young to Gordon Hayward.
Tate guessed what others would say about him.
“Everybody is going to say Draymond Green,” he said. “That’s an honor. It’s a great compliment. I’d go with him. I would rather be Dwayne Wade, but I’m not there yet.”
“Everybody is counting us out, so me, JT, we’re going to try to get these guys to play to the best of their ability because everybody knows how much JT wants to win. Everybody knows how much me and JT are committed to this game, to this team, to this university. We just want it all to come to fruition. It’s been a long time coming for us. One of my goals is to bring Ohio State back to where it was when I committed. That’s something that we talked about at the beginning of the summer. Hopefully what we’ve done this summer will get us to that point.” – Williams
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