’14 a Down Year? Hardly

22 Oct

The class of 2014 was supposed to be a down class in Ohio. Three years ago when they were freshman scouts, including this website, privately complained about a lack of talent, especially a lack of high major talent, in the class. We were wrong.

Justin Bibbs

Justin Bibbs

Heading into the fall signing period, which runs from November 13th-20th, Ohio is currently sitting with 28 prospects committed to Division I college programs, with at least another five still on the board. Of those 28, eight of them are committed to high major programs, with two more having turned down high major schools and an additional two available players still having a chance of ending up at that level.

Before we continue to excitedly talk about the star power at the top of the 2015 class in Ohio, and the promising group of prospects in the class of 2016, we should take time to appreciate just how good this senior class has become. Here’s a look at the top players who have been recruited at the highest level….

  • Jae’sean Tate – Columbus Pickerington Central SF: Tate was the first player to commit to a high major program in the class, choosing the Ohio State Buckeyes before the start of his senior year. The 6’5 senior forward combines a mixture of strength, athleticism, toughness and a great motor into a package that makes him the top 2014 prospect in the state of Ohio, and the likely frontrunner for Mr. Basketball. A consensus top-100 player in the country, the Columbus native will have a chance to earn minutes at OSU based on his effort alone.
  • David Bell – Cleveland Garfield Heights C: Bell was sort of a late bloomer, especially after missing his entire sophomore year with injury. The 6’10 post still has a ways to go in his development, but the Ohio State Buckeyes saw enough out of him to accept a commitment from the Cleveland center back in the winter. Bell is a solid athlete inside with length, and could become a defensive force as a shotblocker at the next level.
  • Vince Edwards – Middletown SF/PF: Edwards is one of the most complete offensive threats in the entire state, as his combination of size (6’7) and skill makes him a tough matchup for any opposition. The Middletown native comes from a famous basketball family in the Cincinnati-Dayton area, and upheld the legacy by averaging a double-double over the course of his first three high school seasons. Earlier this fall, Edwards committed to the Purdue Boilermakers and coach Matt Painter, where he should provide them with a stretch forward that can shoot the ball from the perimeter or play out of the mid-post. Another consensus top-100 player nationally, Edwards has the ability to be an above average contributor in the Big Ten.
  • Dakota Mathias – Elida SG: Like Edwards, Mathias also chose the Purdue Boilermakers, making his decision in May. The 6’4 combo guard went from unknown to heavily recruited in the span of just a few weeks early in the AAU season, as high major coaches were impressed not only by his lights-out shooting ability but also by his overall skill-set as a passer and ballhandler. Mathias isn’t going to wow you with athleticism, but his skill package is elite and he has a mature understanding of how to play the game to match a jumper that will come in handy in the Big Ten.
  • Gavin Skelly – Cleveland Westlake PF: Skelly’s recruitment blew up in July after a great AAU season with Team Work. The versatile post out of the Cleveland area committed to Northwestern late in July, becoming only the second ever commitment for new Wildcats coach Chris Collins. Skelly is a skilled and athletic forward that can score the ball in different ways, rebounds with energy and has good size at 6’8. He could end up playing one of several different roles at Northwestern, but his combination of athleticism, effort, skill and IQ should help him see minutes.
  • Javon Bess – Columbus Gahanna Lincoln SF: Bess is the most recent of the eight high major commitments to make a decision, choosing the Michigan State Spartans on October 21st. The 6’5 jack of all trades could conceivably play any of the three perimeter positions in the Big Ten for coach Tom Izzo as he combines great size with length, athleticism, toughness and a strong handle. Bess will have to continue to develop his jumper, but his defensive abilities will be heavily valued by the Spartans staff once he gets to East Lansing. Another player that blew up in July, after a summer with All-Ohio Red the Columbus native became the hottest prospect in Ohio.
  • Jalen Hudson – Akron SVSM SG: While he may originally come from Virginia, Hudson has called Akron home for his last two seasons of high school basketball, and has really made an impact on the Ohio hoops landscape. The athletic 6’3 combo guard is a pure scorer with a good stroke from behind the arc who also has the physical tools to be a lockdown defender. Hudson committed to Virginia Tech this fall, and has expressed a desire to play both guard positions in college. With one of Ohio’s most talented cores around him at St. Vincent-St. Mary’s, look for Hudson to contend for Mr. Basketball as he could easily be the top scorer for the Irish.
  • Justin Bibbs – Montverde Academy (FL) SG: The Dayton native decided to spend his last two years in the Orlando area of Florida playing for one of the nation’s most elite prep schools in Montverde Academy. After a strong junior season sandwiched between two excellent AAU seasons, the final one being played with Ohio Basketball Club, Bibbs committed to Virginia Tech in September. Another versatile prospect, Bibbs could play some point guard or small forward for the Hokies, but will likely see the majority of his minutes at the two spot. The 6’5 guard can slash, pass, defend and has a college body; if he makes jumpers he could have a big career.
  • Peyton Aldridge – Leavittsburg LaBrae SF/PF: Aldridge is the first of two players who spurned high major opportunities to go to a place that he loved, choosing instead to commit to Davidson. Even in a class of versatile players, Aldridge is the king of versatility as a complete inside-outside forward who stands 6’7. An athletic and tough competitor who can do a little bit of everything, landing a commitment from Aldridge was considered a home-run hit for Davidson coach Bob McKillop.
  • Zach McCormick – Cincinnati Turpin PG/SG: McCormick has always marched to the beat of his own drum, and surprised some when he turned down an SEC offer and verbally committed to Miami (OH) in September. The super athletic 6’1 combo guard can play either spot at the college level, and has the ability to be a real scoring threat as he is one of Ohio’s most dangerous players off of the dribble. McCormick should be an immediate impact guy for the Redhawks as his athleticism in the backcourt is exactly what coach John Cooper looks for in recruiting.

In addition to the ten players mentioned, prospects like Evan Bailey (Massillon Jackson/College of Charleston), Eric James (Columbus Westerville Central/Duquesne), Rosel Hurley (Cleveland Shaker Heights/Kent State) and Jeff Thomas (Norwalk/Georgia State) all saw interest from some of the nation’s top schools before settling in at the mid-major level.

As we mentioned earlier, several Division I prospects are still available in Ohio’s 2014 class. TDP is expecting to see a total of at least 36 commitments by the end of the spring signing period, and with all of the available talent in the Buckeye State two prospects currently stand out above the rest….

  • Satchel Pierce – Kiski School (PA) C: “Satch” was a late bloomer who burst onto the scene after his junior year at St. Vincent-St. Mary’s in his native Akron, playing on the AAU scene with both Ohio Basketball Club and the Ohio Phenoms. After that summer on the circuit, the former class of 2013 prospect reclassified to the class of 2014 and decided to transfer to a prep school, setting on the Kiski School in Pittsburgh. Pierce is a wide-bodied true 7-footer with an emerging skill set and above average floor-running ability for his size. As he continues to improve his conditioning at Kiski, Pierce has become an even more attractive prospect for colleges, and is currently considering Marquette, Miami (FL), Pittsburgh, Texas Tech, Wichita State and New Mexico.
  • Antonio Woods – Cincinnati Summit PG: Woods is the toughest recruitment in the state to read right now, as the 6’0 point guard has yet to decide if he’ll play basketball or football at the college level. As a quarterback who also could be used as a cornerback or a pure athlete on the football field, Woods has accumulated almost a dozen BCS level offers to date. On the basketball court he’s Ohio’s top pure point guard in his class, showing an understanding for the game and an ability to set up his teammates to match his excellent open court speed. Some basketball programs have been hesitant to recruit Woods, fearing that they’ll lose him to football, however, basketball offers for Woods include Toledo, Miami (OH), Kent State, Saint Joseph’s and Eastern Kentucky.
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