Ohio State men’s basketball rolled out the red carpet for its recruits in recent weeks.
Since Aug. 3, the Buckeyes received three verbal commitments from the class of 2023 in forwards Scotty Middleton and Devin Royal as well as guard Taison Chatman, who officially visited Sept. 2 before verbally agreeing to join the Buckeyes next year.
The attention Ohio State garnered is a result of those within the program participating with all hands on deck, and head coach Chris Holtmann said to look no further than the coaching staff.
“I think the uptick in recruiting has been really a collaborative work,” Holtmann said. “I think we have a tremendous staff, and I would begin with that. I think we have a staff that has really worked at it.”
NBA players Andre Iguodala and Jayson Tatum attended the Ohio State football game Sept. 3 when the Buckeyes played then-No. 5 Notre Dame, and several recruits were on the sidelines at Ohio Stadium.
Among the visitors included four-time NBA Most Valuable Player LeBron James, who’s involved on the recruiting trail himself as his son LeBron James Jr. is a 2023 recruit. Nicknamed “Bronny,” the younger James ranks as a four-star recruit within the 2023 Rivals150, and posted a photo of himself in a Buckeye uniform on Instagram after unofficially visiting during the first weekend of September.
Although recruiting rules limit the extent to which Holtmann can discuss specific recruits, such as the prospects of Bronny James’s recruitment to Ohio State, Holtmann said he’s had pleasant interactions with LeBron James in the past.
“I would just tell you, my experiences in the past with LeBron has been phenomenal,” Holtmann said. “He’s just been such an incredibly impressive person.”
LeBron James has even teased his own college eligibility in a tweet Sept. 24, leading to a tweeted response from athletic director Gene Smith.
“If you never enrolled full-time in college and didn’t compete in the sport that you want to play after HS graduation, you could have eligibility remaining,” Smith said in the tweet. “If you professionalize in one sport, you can still be considered an amateur in another. Would love to help you!”
Ohio State’s boost in recruiting activity comes before the early signing period Nov. 9. In the lead up to signing day, the Buckeyes received the verbal commitment of Chatman just over two weeks after George Washington III, a 2023 four-star forward from Kentucky, committed according to Rivals.
Holtmann said different factors have a hand in Ohio State’s latest recruiting cycle, from high-profile visits to conversations surrounding name, image and likeness in addition to how the Buckeyes program can help players move on to professional basketball.
“You’re always going to get that question from recruits: Who have you as a head coach and as a staff produced in terms of draft picks or first-round draft picks?” Holtmann said.
Former Buckeyes guard Malaki Branham and forward E.J. Liddell represent Ohio State’s most recent NBA draft picks as both heard their names called in June. Former guard Duane Washington Jr. is a recent undrafted free agent who earned playing time with the Indiana Pacers after departing Ohio State after the 2020-21 season.
Holtmann said the Buckeyes coaching staff have noticed the program’s recent NBA history has allowed them to show recruits there can be a path from Ohio State to the NBA.
“I’d be lying if I said that the NBA’s success of two guys being drafted, Duane also being in the NBA right now, didn’t play a role,” Holtmann said. “It’s played a major role.”
The Buckeyes finished with the No. 7 recruiting class nationally, according to Rivals, during the 2022 cycle, featuring five players and four of whom are four-star recruits.
Ohio State’s 2023 recruiting class currently ranks No. 7 on the Rivals team rankings as well. The Buckeyes currently have four verbal commitments and remain navigating the recruiting trail, and Holtmann said the efforts from the coaching staff have led to a promising outlook.
“It’s clear that this class on campus and the one we hope to sign here in a few weeks, is the best it’s been,” Holtmann said. “It’s exciting.”
John Gasaway, ESPN InsiderJun 2, 2023, 09:30 AM ETCloseESPN Insider college basketball contributor First began covering college hoops in 2004 Has written for Ba
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