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November 14, 2013

Pieces in place

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COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Thad Matta and Ohio State have finalized their class of 2014.

The No. 10-ranked Buckeyes (2-0) announced Thursday the completion of what will likely go down as one of the top classes in the country with two five-star, one four-star and one three-star prospects signing National Letters of Intent to play for Matta's crew.

Such players include:

Guard D'Angelo Russell -- -- Louisville, Ky.

Forward Keita Bates-Diop -- -- Normal, Ill.

Forward Jae'Sean Tate -- -- Pickerington, Ohio

Center David Bell -- -- Garfield Heights, Ohio

After taking three combined players (Amedeo Della Valle, Marc Loving and Kameron Williams) in the last two years, Matta said Ohio State had a feeling this particular class would be a special one.

"I felt like we were in great position and probably the biggest thing for me always is those guys are committed and you go to watch them in the summer and you leave the gym happy and I was left the gym in terms of as a coach -- you guys probably sit and watch, oh he did a 360, he's going to be a great player," he said. "I probably see some things that are a little bit different in terms of knowing what we need when they get here and couldn't be happier with that.

Additionally, Matta said the incoming group of players can help the Buckeyes prepare for the loss of seniors Aaron Craft and Lenzelle Smith Jr. at the end of the season.

"We wanted to get Aaron and Lenzelle replaced and we feel unequivocally we did that with guys that can do a lot of different things," he said.

"It's always a numbers game in terms of what we're trying to do. I think that the biggest thing with this particular class, we got what we wanted in terms of the positioning and guys that can play those multiple positions for us."

Here's what Matta had to say about each Ohio State commit:

On Russell:

"You're gettin another great guard at Ohio State in terms of what position is he? A point guard, is he a two guard, I don't know exactly, I think we can run him at both but he's got ability to make big time plays with the basketball in his hands, be it three-point shots, driving, getting fouled. He makes guys around him better."

On Diop:

"You're getting a long, 6-foot-7, 6-foot-8 athlete that can really really shoot the basketball. I think from the standpoint of playing multiple positions, he scores, he passes, he rebounds, he can defend, he can handle the basketball."

On Tate:

"Everybody's asked me, what position in Jae'Sean and I always answer, 'I don't know, but I know he's going to be on the floor.' He's a warrior, the things that we've talked about with him in terms of since they day he committed to us we wanted him to get better, he shoots the ball from deep a lot better, he's got a great first step. He can guard all five positions on the floor, he's won a state championship you're getting a great player and you're getting a guy who is a Buckeye."

On Bell:

"I think David Bell from Cleveland, first saw him he hasn't been playing basketball like a lot of kids for a long time, he's 6-foot-9, he's long, he's athletic. He's one of those kids that wants to be at Ohio State. I think we'll bring his skill along but he runs the floor, he blocks shots, he rebounds out of his area."

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