It has been nearly three months since the Ohio State men’s basketball team made a recruiting splash with its first commitment for the class of 2019. Alonzo Gaffney, at the time ranked a five-star small forward from Garfield Heights, gave the Buckeyes their first in-state, five-star recruit since Jared Sullinger in 2010.
Now with the July live evaluation period set to get underway Wednesday, coach Chris Holtmann and his three assistants are preparing to crisscross the country as they look to add to their recruiting classes. Coaches can watch players from Wednesday through Sunday during each of the next three weeks.
Here’s what they will be looking for:
As he works to stabilize a roster that had been rocked by early departures prior to his arrival, Holtmann has resisted the notion of signing large recruiting classes. This year’s freshman class numbers four members, which means that eight of the 13 members of the roster are in their first or second seasons of college basketball.
With Gaffney’s commitment, Ohio State has two open roster spots for the 2019-20 season, presuming that nobody leaves the program early. As it stands, the Buckeyes are aiming to add two players to Gaffney’s class.
High-level players might have to come from out of state, as Ohio only has two top-100 recruits in the class of 2019 aside from Gaffney: Pickerington Central’s Jeremiah Francis and Xenia’s Samari Curtis. Francis is committed to North Carolina, and Curtis recently reopened his recruitment after initially committing to Xavier.
The Buckeyes are showing some interest but have not yet offered Curtis.
Point help needed
Holtmann has worked to solidify the situation at point guard since his arrival, and it remains a priority in this recruiting class. Florida State transfer C.J. Walker, who will sit out this season to satisfy NCAA transfer rules, is the only true point guard on next season’s roster.
That means a player such as DJ Carton, a five-star point guard from Bettendorf, Iowa, is prized by Ohio State in the class of 2019. The Buckeyes are likely to be fending off Michigan, Indiana, Iowa and others, but it seems to favor the Buckeyes and others that Carton took official visits to see the Hoosiers and Wolverines in late June but did not commit. Ohio State also is heavily involved with four-star point guard Kyle Sturdivant from Norcross, Georgia, and was included in his list of his final eight schools released June 20.
There are options down the road to help at the point. The Buckeyes have offered Ohioans Zeb Jackson (Maumee Valley Country Day) and Dominiq Penn (Dublin Coffman) for 2020 and Meechie Johnson (Garfield Heights) for 2021, but Carton — or another game-changing playmaker at the guard position — is probably high on their immediate wish list.
Assuming Holtmann is able to add a point guard to the class, the Buckeyes look to be in the market for the type of player who is coveted by most coaches in today’s basketball world: a versatile perimeter player who can guard multiple positions and help stretch the floor offensively.
A pair of national names have recently emerged on the Buckeyes' radar who fit the mold. Ohio State has hosted four-star forwards Patrick Williams of West Charlotte, North Carolina, and Sam Williamson of Rockwall, Texas, on unofficial visits in the past two weeks. In early June, the Buckeyes also hosted four-star power forward E.J. Liddell of Belleville, Illinois on an unofficial visit.
All three hold scholarship offers from Ohio State and could complement Gaffney’s skills, allowing them to be on the court at the same time.