basketball Edit

Big Ideas: How Ohio State can round out the 2021 recruiting class

Chris Holtmann and staff at Ohio State have done a fantastic job on the 2021 recruiting trail, securing commitments from Ohio’s top three prospects in Malaki Branham, Meechie Johnson and Kalen Etzler. The Buckeyes currently have the No. 6 class in the country and the best class in the Big Ten per Rivals.com's 2021 team rankings, however they still have one scholarship available to distribute.

After losing guys like DJ Carton and Luther Muhammad to transfer following last season, the Buckeyes clearly needed to make guards a recruiting priority and have done a fantastic job of that by reeling in Johnson and Branham, both of which can create their own shot off the dribble and pose a vital scoring threat off the ball as well. Etzler brings in a stretch four type of game himself, leaving the Buckeyes in need of a bruiser inside to round out this class and shoot to the top of the team recruiting rankings.

While Holtmann and company have been very active in offering 2022 prospects over the last several weeks, adding a big man to the 2021 class is most likely still a priority going forward, although it doesn’t necessarily have to be.

The Buckeyes still have offers on the table for five big men in the 2021 class, most notably Minneapolis (Minn.) native and Rivals No.3 overall prospect Chet Holmgren. Holmgren, a 7-foot, 190 pound do it all big who has some impressive guard skills as well, cut his list of schools down to seven on June 26th despite voicing that he doesn’t plan on making a commitment until next spring. His list included Ohio State, Memphis, North Carolina, Georgetown, Gonzaga, Minnesota and Michigan. A commitment from Holmgren would likely bolster Ohio State’s class to the best in the country, but the hometown Gophers are currently thought of as leading the way.

Canadian born big man Charles Bediako, who spent last season at the International Sports Academy at Andrews Osborne in Willoughby (Ohio) currently holds 18 offers but included Ohio State amongst Duke, Michigan, Memphis and six others in his top 10 released back on July 3rd. Bediako recently announced that he is transferring to IMG Academy in Brandenton (Fla.) for the upcoming season, where he will team up with fellow Ohio State target Efton Reid in the frontcourt.

Reid, who will also be in just his first season at IMG this upcoming campaign, has already taken an official visit to Ohio State and many believe the Buckeyes have a strong chance of landing him. Rivals national recruiting guru Corey Evans recently ranked the Buckeyes as the second highest contender to receive a pledge from Reid, behind only Michigan on a list that includes Pittsburgh, Florida State, Virginia and Georgetown. A 7-foot bruiser on the block, Reid possesses true big man skills and has the ability to make an instant impact for Ohio State as a freshman.

When BuckeyeGrove asked Etzler about the one remaining scholarship, he brought up the three prospects above as the top priorities in rounding out the class.

“Charles, Chet and Efton are three I would like to get,” said Etzler. “One of the three.”

Despite Holmgren, Reid and Bediako being the top prospects on the Buckeyes board right now, there is still a pair of prospects on the east coast that they have offered and are still available.

Franck Kepnang, a native of Cameroon who plays high school ball at the Westtown School in Norristown (Pa.) considered reclassifying to the 2020 class before deciding not to. Kepnang holds a handful of offers but is not very public with his recruitment, as there is no one school clearly in the lead right now and there is no school far behind any of the others.

Micawber Etienne, a 6-foot-10, 220 pound big man from Suffield (Conn.) recently announced his transfer to big time prep school Brewster Academy for his senior season back on July 2nd. Similar to Kepnang, Etienne has shown no clear favorites in his recruitment, so the Buckeyes are very much still in play. His stock could continue to rise with strong showings at Brewster as lots of scouts head out to New Hampshire to check out the seven time national champions.

The Buckeyes also still have offers on the table to 6-foot-9 forward Mason Miller as well as two guards in Trevor Keels and Dallan Coleman. Son of former NBA player Mike Miller, Mason Miller definitely could fill the frontcourt for the Buckeyes, however he has a style of play eerily similar to Etzler’s and Ohio State is in need of more of a lengthy, thick bruiser on the block who can protect the rim at an elite level.

While some of these prospects are further along in their recruitment process than others, they’re all names to keep an eye on, as COVID-19 taking away opportunities to visit schools and play in exposure events has led a handful of kids to speed up their process and choose a school earlier than they may have wanted to.