The early signing period for basketball began on Wednesday and Ohio State coach Thad Matta signed a pair of prospects.
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Matta announced he had received signed letters-of-intent from Toledo St. John’s wing Marc Loving and Baltimore Mount St. Joseph’s guard Kameron “Kam” Williams. Both players are considered national top-100 prospects.
“It is very exciting with both guys,” Matta said Wednesday afternoon. “Marc has been committed to us for a long time. He’s one of those guys that you like in recruiting because when he committed to us he was 6-6 and now he is almost 6-9. From the standpoint of just his development, he can play multiple positions for us with his skill level and his ability to shoot the basketball. He comes from a great high school program with great coaches.
“When I first saw Kam this summer it was like that was exactly what I was looking for. We wanted a guard that finds ways to score the basketball. He can do it in a variety of ways. He is a great free throw shooter and he gets to the foul line. He shoots threes, he finishes and is athletic for his size. Like Marc, he is from a storied high school program in Baltimore. Both guys have been well coached and hopefully ready to go when they get here.”
Loving, a 6-foot-8-inch, 215-pound forward, is rated as the Ohio’s top 2013 prospect. He is rated as the nation’s No. 18 small forward and the nation’s No. 70 prospect overall by 247Sports.com. He is also rated as the nation’s No. 63 prospect in the 247 Composite ranking of all major services. He played several years in the vaunted All-Ohio Red AAU program.
He was the 2012 Associated Press Division I Co-Player of the year in Ohio as well as earning all-district and Three Rivers Athletic Conference Player of the Year accolades.
“We have followed Marc’s career closely for several years,” Matta said. “He is a terrific young man and is a skilled basketball player. He fits in well with our program and has a bright future at Ohio State.”
Loving was a second team all-state selection in 2011 as a sophomore. St. John Jesuit is 52-15 over his three seasons, which included a 19-2 record as a sophomore. As a junior last year, he averaged 22.5 points, 9.0 rebounds and 2.7 assists.
During the 2012 NCAA Final Four activities in New Orleans, Loving was one of eight juniors selected to play in the 2012 All-American Championship event.
The 6-2, 175-pound Williams is rated as Maryland’s No. 5 prospect, the nation’s No. 20 shooting guard and 85th-best prospect nationally by 247Sports.com. He is also rated as the No. 74 prospect nationally in the 247 Composite rankings.
Williams led his AAU squad, Nike Baltimore Elite, in scoring with 22.2 points per game while shooting 53 percent from the field and 48 percent from 3-point range.
“Kam is another great fit for us,” Matta said. “He has a natural gift for scoring the basketball. He has a natural feel for the game and I look forward to incorporating his skill set in our program.”
Williams earned first team Baltimore Catholic League honors as a sophomore and was the league’s MVP in 2011-12.
OSU has 11 players on scholarship if former walk-on guard Alex Rogers is factored in. OSU has just one senior in forward Evan Ravenel, meaning Matta has at least one more scholarship at his disposal for the late signing period. With three juniors on the roster, he could take at least that many 2014 signees as well.
He confirmed that he would like to target a big man. The issue is OSU offered a number of the nation’s top big men but could not lure any of them for this signing period. That group of national top-50 talents includes Noah Vonleh (Indiana commit), Chris Walker (Florida commit), Jordan Mickey (LSU), BeeJay Anya (likely to sign with N.C. State after cancelling an OSU visit) and others.
The Buckeyes have just three true big men in the program with Ravenel and a pair of sophomores, Amir Williams and Trey McDonald. Matta was asked if he is frustrated by the lack of returns in big man recruiting.
“From what’s been accomplished in this program, there is a reason for everything,” Matta said. “There is nothing more true in recruiting. Once again, we are sitting in a situation where for two straight seasons we’ve only had one senior on our roster.
“Over the last six years, I think we are number three in wins college basketball history. We are trying to get our fourth straight Big Ten championship and go to our fourth straight Sweet 16 … we know what we’re doing.”
Matta admitted that it will be important to have a strong class in 2014.
“That’s been the hardest part,” Matta said. “Everybody says, ‘They have everybody coming back,’ and it’s been true. It’s having vision for your program. For the two we got, I could not be happier. We got two great basketball players.
“When you shift to 2014, that will probably be another big class.”
Matta said he and his assistants will cast as wide a net as need be to get the players they want.
“The most important thing is, wherever somebody is from, is trying to find the right fit for The Ohio State University and our program,” Matta said. “That’s something character-wise and who we’re bringing in I couldn’t be happier with those two guys. This program and this university isn’t for everybody.
“If it lends itself to recruiting a broader spectrum, yeah, we’ll do it. I’d love to recruit Upper Arlington and what’s on my way home. But we have to go to where the players are.”
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