The start of this early signing period was as busy as any since I’ve been on the Ohio State beat.
Last year, the Buckeyes announced the signing of two freshmen: Kaleb Wesson and Braxton Beverly. The year before that, it was Micah Potter and Derek Funderburk.
This year, there were four new faces to discuss: Justin Ahrens, Jaedon LeDee, Luther Muhammad and Duane Washington. Ohio State announced their additions throughout the day as their national letters-of-intent were received, and coach Chris Holtmann discussed each player during an afternoon press conference. Here's Thursday's Dispatch print story on the day.
Ohio State announced each commitment on Twitter and, via Twitter, outside Value City Arena as well.
Welcome home fellas. We’ll see you at @TheSchott
To see Holtmann discuss the class, click here.
Here’s a breakdown of each of the four commitments, including some pertinent tweets.
A former commitment who re-opened his recruitment when Thad Matta was fired, Ahrens ultimately found his way back to Ohio State in part, Holtmann said, because he recruited his brother while at Butler. Kyle Ahrens currently plays for Michigan State.
“I got to know Justin’s family pretty well,” Holtmann said. “When we go the job there was a lot being thrown at us. Kids were close to making decisions. We wanted to take stock of where we were at, and if that meant we weren’t able to get involved with some of the ’18 kids, that’s fine. With Justin, once I realized that his process was going to be a little bit slower I said that’s great because it’ll give us a chance to understand why he committed and looked to open it up. We got a great feel for that. And then it will give him a chance to get to know us and he’ll get to see how we follow him in July, our commitment to him.
“There was definitely for him a feeling-out process on both of our ends. It wasn’t rushed, which is what I liked and I think his family appreciated that too.”
Great to have @ahrensjustin12 officially signed and a part of our program! Welcome JA. https://t.co/9Qhpwzq3lW— Chris Holtmann (@ChrisHoltmann) November 8, 2017
Holtmann described Ahrens as “as a versatile guard/wing/forward whatever you want to call him. He’s just a basketball player.”
When he started high school, LeDee was somewhere around 6-6 and started his first game as a freshman at point guard. Now he’s around 6-10 and could play a few different positions in college.
“His dad has really worked with him playing with his back to the basket and developing that game around the basket a little bit as he’s become bigger and stronger,” Holtmann said. “He’s done well with that. He’s a prolific rebounder, but I think he’s going to have to also continue to grow in the area of being versatile defensively. That’s what I’m continuing to challenge him with, but I do think offensively he can play multiple positions and when we play two forwards and we don’t play a traditional post, because that will happen at times. Everybody in college basketball does that now to a certain degree. You’re not playing a traditional 5-man the entire 40 minutes. I could see him being one of those two forwards that we play.”
Have watched compete for 3 yrs while I’ve been at 3 different schools. Hard to believe any HS player works harder. Gonna benefit him & us https://t.co/8PtE12tQ1C— Mike Schrage (@CoachSchrage) November 8, 2017
Muhammad and Washington
Both are guards, and both can play the point but are listed by recruiting services as shooting guards first and point guards second. Holtmann said the two are skilled enough to where he plans on playing them at the same time.
Signed pic.twitter.com/b8X85oIQaX— Luther Muhammad (@LutherMuhammad) November 8, 2017
“They’re both guards that have versatility to them, in particular because of their size,” he said. “Luther’s versatility defensively is terrific. I really believe he can guard three positions for sure. I think that they complement each other very well. We anticipate playing them together quite a bit. Duane is a prolific shooter. He is a very capable shooter. He’s high-level when it comes to that, and he can make plays with the ball in his hands and he can facilitate for others. Luther can as well. Luther is a paint-touch guy but he can also take threes and he brings an edge and a competitiveness on both ends.
“We look at them as playmaking guards. We’ve talked plenty about the game has become a little position-less and there’s great value in versatility. You do need a point guard that has feel and can run your team. Which one of those two would fall more in line with that right now? I think it kind of remains to be seen. The thing I’m excited about is they can both play two or three perimeter positions, because we’re going to play a three-guard lineup as well.”
Duane Washington Jr. is ⭕️fficially an Ohio State Buckeye‼️ pic.twitter.com/cM3Yc8cit0— Savage Edits (@savageedits15) November 8, 2017
Tuesday afternoon, I caught up with Muhammad's high school coach for more info on him. You can read that by clicking here.