Whos next on the hoops radar
Gordon Gekko once surmised that "greed is good." While that is a debatable point at best, it may not hurt Ohio State men's basketball coach Thad Matta as he now looks to add to what already is being hailed as the best recruiting class in the country.
Matta was able to land verbal commitments from consensus No. 1 schoolboy Greg Oden and his prep teammate Mike Conley (No. 40 among seniors-to-be according to Rivals.com) with their landmark announcement Wednesday at Indianapolis Lawrence North High School.
They doubled a recruiting class that already included the top seniors-to-be in Ohio -- 6-4 Daequan Cook of Dayton Dunbar (No. 8) and 6-5 David Lighty of Cleveland Villa Angela-St. Joseph (No. 20).
Matta has as many as three more scholarships at his disposal for the class and is all but certain to spend at least one of them on a power forward or combo forward, meaning the class could one day share the court like the storied "Fab Five."
Not coincidentally, OSU is right in the mix for as many as six such players, and that doesn't even count 6-8 Josh Chichester of West Chester (Ohio) Lakota West (No. 136), a two-sport star who committed to the Ohio State football program July 1 but admitted he is entertaining the idea of joining the men's basketball team.
Chichester has promise as a collegiate four-man but would not be able to join the Buckeyes on the hardwood until January 2007 at the earliest, and that would be as a walk-on. He told BuckeyeSports.com earlier this summer that Matta had given his blessing for such a scenario but he wasn't sure if he would indeed try to play both sports.
That then begs the question, who is going to complete the Thad Five?
The most prominent candidates at the moment appear to be 6-8 Thaddeus Young of Memphis (Tenn.) Mitchell (No. 3 on the recently updated Rivals Top 150), 6-8 Lance Thomas of Fanwood (N.J.) St. Benedict's (No. 22), 6-9 Jamil Tucker of Gary (Ind.) West (No. 45), 6-7 Luke Harangody of Shereville (Ind.) Andrean (No. 80) and 6-7 Raymar Morgan of Canton (Ohio) McKinley (No. 85).
Another possibility is 6-9 Bryce Webster of Mendota Heights (Minn.) St. Thomas Academy (No. 113), but his interest in OSU has apparently wavered.
Cook said he chatted up Young while the two played together in the USA Basketball Youth Developmental Festival in San Diego in early June.
"We talked a lot," he said. "We talked about what it's going to be like in college ball. It wasn't about what school he was going to go to, we just talked about how fun it would be to play together."
Cook and Conley also popped the idea on Thomas, who like Young is a premier athlete and scorer but not a classic power forward.
Conley and Oden got their first look at Harangody recently when the three played together in a state all-star series. Harangody reportedly is favoring Notre Dame but could get a full-court press from Matta soon since Conley offered him a glowing report.
"He was very good," Conley said. "I like the way he played. He's physical and tough and would do all the dirty work, and I feel that we need somebody like that. We don't need all superstars who can jump out of the gym. We need big men who can do the little things as well."
Tucker has listed OSU as a favorite along with Purdue and Indiana. Somewhat soft inside but well-skilled, Tucker has not yet received a firm offer but one could be on the way.
"He really likes Ohio State a lot," Conley said. "He wants to be with us and go to the same college with us. I think he's really sold on Ohio State. If the scholarship's open for him, I think he would take it."
Morgan also has not been offered yet as he is trying to attain a qualifying test score. He has had two clear favorites for months: Michigan State and Ohio State. Like the four commitments, Morgan is a winner, having led McKinley to the 2005 state title.
He is considered a 3-4 but can rebound in the trees when the situation calls and has the athleticism and passing ability to mesh in with the likes of Conley, Cook, Lighty and Oden.
"We need somebody that can rebound and play defense, score some," Cook said. "That's about it."
Matta may agree and go after Harangody, a classic banger who could take a lot of physical toll away from Oden. Or he could play it safe and tab Tucker or Morgan, who apparently wouldn't take long to jump on board.
However, the inside word is that Matta will go the way of Gekko and hold out for Young or Thomas -- whose recruiting likely will stretch into the late fall if not next spring -- with dreamy thoughts of employing four players flanking Oden who all can shoot outside, score, handle, pass and drive.
As it is he'll have Conley, Cook, Lighty, Sylvester Mayes, Ron Lewis and Jamar Butler in 2006-07.
Maybe greed is good.