Dotting the ‘Eyes: How to watch Buckeyes commits this weekend, Isaiah Pryor and Alabama, basketball talk and more
Recruiting never stops, and if you take a day off, you fall behind. Join us every night for a daily recap of Ohio State recruiting news, insight on what’s happening behind the scenes, and for a glimpse at what’s coming next.
Isaiah Pryor and Alabama: worth watching?
If you’re following the 2017 Buckeyes recruiting cycle, you are no doubt aware that Alabama is making a serious push to try to steal 5-star defensive back Shaun Wade away from Ohio State, where he’s been committed since January 2015. The Crimson Tide have a lot of the same things to offer Wade that the Buckeyes do, and a good majority of his family hails from Montgomery, Ala., about a 2-hour drive from Alabama’s campus. So, while the Buckeyes are working hard to hang on to Wade, there’s some logical concern about the Tide, as both schools have made him a priority for a long time.
That is not the case with a different Ohio State commitment – Isaiah Pryor of IMG Academy (Fla.). Pryor is now getting a heavy dose of Alabama love, according to SECCountry.com’s Chris Kirschner, who covers the Crimson Tide.
Alabama is recruiting him as hard as it possibly can. The nation’s No. 4 safety said something similar when SEC Country was down in Bradenton, Fla. for IMG’s media day, but it seems like the Tide have turned up their efforts at flipping the Buckeyes commit.
Pryor, committed to Ohio State since July 2015, has made visits to Alabama in the past (as recently as March), as well as a number of other schools, but he’s always maintained that he’s 100 percent with the Buckeyes. This summer, the country’s fourth-ranked safety spent nearly the entire month of June in Columbus, working almost daily with Kerry Coombs and a handful of Ohio State players and commitments to prepare himself for a chance to play as a freshman in 2017. His roommate at IMG is fellow Ohio State commitment Marcus Williamson, and there has been zero reason to worry about Notre Dame, Alabama, Florida, Georgia or any other schools in Pryor’s recruitment to this point.
But … it’s Alabama, and they’re always scary, whether they should be or not. There are no plans for Pryor to take an official visit to Alabama yet, but it would hardly be a surprise if they were able to persuade him to take a look because, you know, it’s Alabama, and that’s what they do.
Bottom line: don’t worry about Isaiah Pryor at this point.
Matta focusing on Ohio prep stars in 2018
We don’t normally talk much basketball recruiting in this space, but today we will.
After watching a top-5 national recruiting class – one that consisted of 80 percent out-of-state signees – fall apart after last season, it appears that Thad Matta and his coaching staff have turned their recruiting focus inward and back on the Buckeye State. Their 2016 recruiting class was 75 percent Ohio-based and the only 2017 commitment they’ve received, 4-star center Kaleb Wesson, is also from Ohio.
Now, as the recruiting calendar turns to 2018 for basketball (I know, I know, it’s crazy), that approach looks to be sticking around, but don’t think for a minute that it’s just for goodwill’s sake; there’s a lot of Ohio talent on the hardwood in 2017 and 2018.
On Thursday, ESPN updated their rankings for both classes.
Here are the key names in 2017, including Wesson.
- No. 81 • Kaleb Wesson (6-foot-9, 280 pounds) • Center • South (Westerville) • COMMITTED TO OHIO STATE
- No. 82 • Derek Culver (6-foot-8, 225 pounds) • Power forward • Harding High School (Warren) • COMMITTED TO WVU
- No. 89 • Kyle Young (6-foot-7, 210 pounds) • Power forward • Washington (Massillon)
Wesson is the younger brother of 2016 signee Andre Wesson and the son of former Buckeyes player Keith Wesson, who played in the mid-1980s. Young will make an official visit to Columbus in two weeks and is a realistic potential option to join Wesson in 2017.
Kyle Young visits Butler tomorrow and also has official set to Ohio State for Sept. 9 https://t.co/VwV9ccTBYy
— Adam Zagoria (@AdamZagoria) August 25, 2016
ESPN.com’s newest 2018 rankings have a handful of Ohio prep stars on the list, including the Buckeyes’ lone 2018 commit.
- No. 47 • Darius Bazley (6-foot-8, 195 pounds) • Power forward • Finneytown (Cincinnati)
- No. 52 • Dane Goodwin (6-foot-4, 187 pounds) • Shooting guard • Upper Arlington • COMMITTED TO OHIO STATE
- No. 57 • Dwayne Cohill (6-foot-1, 175 pounds) • Point guard • Holy Name High School (Parma)
Bazley and Cohill have both been offered by Ohio State, and they were joined by another Ohioan – Justin Ahrens of Versailles – this week.
— Justin Ahrens (@ahrensjustin12) August 23, 2016
Ahrens is the younger brother of Michigan State forward Kyle Ahrens, a player the Buckeyes looked at closely in the 2015 group before deciding not to offer. Ohio State has now offered the top five players in Ohio in the 2018 class. If you want a more in-depth read about this potential 2018 haul, check this update from elevenwarriors.com basketball recruiting analyst Zach Fleer.
Don’t forget Zamir White
As we talked about on Sunday, Ohio State has, for the most part, passed on 5-star 2018 running back Ricky Slade (Woodbridge, Va.), primarily because they’re dialed in on 5-star Ohio running back Jaelen Gill (Westerville South) for that role in the 2018 class. Gill and Slade are very similar in style, and when it comes to comparable talents, Ohio State is almost always going to choose an Ohio prospect over a national one. The Buckeyes already have a commitment from one 2018 running back – Tampa’s Brian Snead – but that’s not stopping them from going after another running back completely because they’re still working hard to stay in the game with the country’s top-ranked 2018 back, North Carolina’s Zamir White.
“They’re talking with us,” Richard Bailey, White’s head coach at Scotland County High School in Laurinburg, N.C., told Landof10. “Pretty regularly.”
White, 6-feet-1 and 210 pounds, visited Ohio State in June and has been a top target for Tony Alford for some time now. Bailey isn’t sure exactly what the conversations with White are centered on, but there’s no reason to think the Buckeyes aren’t trying to get the 5-star back to Columbus for a visit this fall.
“I’m really not sure what the conversations are, they’ve been talking to him,” Bailey said. “I’ve been so involved in my own team I really haven’t asked.”
Ohio State has one commitment at running back in 2017 – 4-star prospect J.K. Dobbins (La Grange,Texas) – and they’re working hard on 5-star prospect Cam Akers (Clinton, Miss.), but if they could get themselves into a winning position with White, that would certainly lessen the need for Akers in the event he chooses to stay south of the Mason-Dixon line. The Buckeyes signed North Carolina’s second-best running back – Antonio Williams – in 2016.
How to watch future Buckeyes this weekend
If you’re in the mood for some football this weekend – which I assume you are – there are a number of ways you can watch future Buckeyes and their high school teams this weekend. In fact, on Saturday night, there are three games on ESPN’s family of networks that will feature Ohio State commitments.
What will I be watching?
St. John Bosco (Bellflower, Calif.), featuring Buckeyes 5-star offensive line commitment Wyatt Davis, vs. St. Xavier at Nippert Stadium in Cincinnati will be a good matchup, but it’s hard to beat the doubleheader of IMG (Ohio State commitments Marcus Williamson and Isaiah Pryor) at Grayson (Ga.), followed up by Bishop Gorman (Ohio State verbals Tate Martell, Tyjon Lindsey and Haskell Garrett) at Cedar Hill (Texas). Grayson 4-star defensive back Jamyest Williams will commit prior to the game, and South Carolina looks to be the favorite.
Who will you be watching?