Uh oh, Thad Matta is at it again.
Newest Buckeye Jae'Sean Tate
One day after receiving his first commitment for 2014 in Illinois forward Keita Bates-Diop, the OSU men’s basketball coach added a second verbal for that class in Pickerington (Ohio) Central wing Jae’Sean Tate.
The 6-5, 205-pound Tate is the son of former OSU and Cincinnati player Jermaine Tate. The younger Tate is considered as Ohio’s top prospect in the 2014 class and as the nation’s No. 44 prospect overall in that class in the 247 Composite recruiting rankings. (Bates-Diop is a national top-30 prospect.)
“Yes, sir, I committed about an hour ago,” Tate said just shy of 11 p.m. Eastern time Monday night. “We are celebrating here right now. I knew Ohio State was the place. My dad and I were trying to ride it out. But we felt a squeeze when Keita committed. We knew there was only one more wing available.
“It was just the place where I felt I needed to go.”
The elder Tate was a part of Randy Ayers’ blockbuster eight-man recruiting class in 1995. He played two seasons with the Buckeyes before he was diagnosed with a heart condition. He subsequently transferred to Cincinnati to finish his final two years of eligibility with the Bearcats.
“My parents are going to support any decision I make,” Jae’Sean Tate said. “I have talked to them a lot about it. They know. I think everybody in Pickerington knew. I think my whole closet is filled with scarlet and gray. I wear it every day, it seems.
“The OSU coaches and my dad have a good relationship. They invited him back for the alumni dinner. He has a great relationship. He may have played against (OSU assistant Jeff Boals).”
Asked who he built a rapport with, Tate said, “I’d say Coach Jent and Coach Boals. Boals is a maniac. He’s hilarious. I went up there for a couple of unofficial visits. I liked how Coach Jent works with the players. I know he worked for the Cavs before as well. I think going there will make me a better player.”
Tate was asked what role he might fill with the Buckeyes.
“They look at me and say I could be something like Evan (Turner) as a two or a three,” he said. “I like to play very physical and I’m very hard-nosed. I know I will be surrounded with good players there with Keita and (2013 commit) Marc Loving.”
Tate earned his OSU offer a nice spring and summer on the AAU circuit with All-Ohio Red. That came after he helped lead Pickerington Central – coached by former OSU captain and assistant coach Jerry Francis – to the Division I state championship in late March.
Tate averaged 12 points and eight rebounds as a sophomore at Pickerington Central, which went 26-2. He played alongside Michigan basketball signee Caris Levert and Michigan football signee Taco Charlton.
Tate had 15 points and 14 rebounds in Pick Central’s regional final win over Canton McKinley (60-51). He then had 16 points, 13 rebounds and five blocked shots in the state semifinal win over Fairfield (60-45) and 10 points and four boards in the state championship game win over Toledo Whitmer (45-40).
“I am hoping in the next two years we can make it back to the state,” Tate said. “Another personal goal of mine is to get a chance to be Mr. Basketball in Ohio when I’m a senior.
“Right now, we have a young team and we just need to form a bond. We have a lot of work to do to get back there.”
Tate also had offers from Dayton, Iowa, Michigan, Purdue and Xavier before committing to the Buckeyes.
Matta has been known for his recruiting prowess and mega classes. His 2007 class, led by Greg Oden, Mike Conley Jr. and Daequan Cook, was ranked first or second nationally by most services.
The Buckeyes have 11 players on scholarship currently with one senior (Evan Ravenel). Matta signed two players in the early period for 2013 in Loving and Maryland combo guard Kameron Williams. He could still take one more player -- presumably a big man -- in the spring.
Or he could bank that extra scholarship for 2014, when he would still be able to take two or three more players to join Bates-Diop and Tate in that class.