It’s the perpetual question when it comes to recruiting, no matter how big the latest news might be.
That’s where Ohio State finds itself after Wednesday’s commitment from Malaki Branham, the top overall in-state recruit in the class of 2021. With a commitment from the Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary standout, the Buckeyes have a three-man class currently ranked No. 2 nationally according to the 247Sports.com composite rankings. Branham, a combo guard, will team with point guard Meechie Johnson Jr. and forward Kalen Etzler, giving the Buckeyes an all-Ohio class as currently constructed.
To round out what could be a four-man class, Ohio State is expected to try and add one more piece to the puzzle. The Buckeyes have a need for a big, be it a center or a power forward/center hybrid type of player, and that figures to be the top remaining priority for the class of 2021.
The top in-state candidate has already committed elsewhere. The Buckeyes had offered a scholarship to Logan Duncomb, a three-star recruit from Cincinnati Moeller who figures to climb when the rankings are updated, but he committed to Indiana in early April.
With Duncomb off the board, a trio of five-star players are in the mix, and each of them have been to campus prior to the nationwide recruiting shutdown during the COVID-19 pandemic. Last fall, the Buckeyes hosted Chet Holmgren and Efton Reid on official visits and Charles Bediako on an unofficial visit.
All three are rated among the top 21 recruits nationally. Holmgren leads the way as the top center prospect in the country and the No. 2 overall recruit. Listed at 7-0, 190 pounds, Holmgren has cut his list to seven schools: Minnesota, Michigan, Gonzaga, Ohio State, Georgetown, Memphis, and North Carolina.
Gonzaga has also hosted him on an official visit while nearby Minnesota has had him on campus on numerous unofficial trips. Holmgren plays for Minneapolis Minnehaha.
“You get him, we’ve got everything we need to be a national championship team,” Johnson said. “We’ve already got what we need, but you can’t go wrong with the No. 1 player in the country, with a top-20 player. We’re looking to keep building and whoever can help us win a national championship, that’s who we want.”
Not far behind, Canadian Charles Bediako has transferred to the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida, after having played at the Osborne Academy in Willoughby, Ohio. The 6-11, 215-pound Bediako is the No.3 center prospect in the nation and the No. 20 overall recruit. On July 3, he posted a list of his top 10 schools: Alabama, Baylor, Duke, Maryland, Memphis, Michigan, Ohio State, Tennessee, Texas and USC.
One spot behind Bediako in the national rankings is Efton Reid, a 6-11, 225-pound native of Richmond, Virginia, who like Bediako will play at IMG Academy as a senior. He took an official visit to Ohio State during the weekend as Branham last fall, and he has also taken official visits to Virginia and Louisville.
Johnson said he knows both Bediako and Reid and would be happy to add any of them.
“(Charles and I) have a great relationship,” he said. “I’ve got a great relationship with Efton and I talk to him a lot and I’ve got a great relationship with Charles. It has to be the right fit for whichever one wants to come, but we can’t go wrong with either. We want a great freshman class coming in.”
It’s likely that, should the Buckeyes add a fourth member to the class of 2021, it won’t be until the late signing period.