Jeremy Birmingham/Land of 10
The struggles continue for coach Thad Matta and Ohio State basketball.

Ohio State basketball sinks closer to the bottom, two more Buckeyes get NFL draft love and more

Ryan Ginn

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Today is Monday, May 15, and it’s time to Wake Up Sloopy.


Ohio State’s class of 2015 fades away

Ohio State basketball’s 2015 recruiting class looked like a group that could fix what, at that time, passed for struggles under coach Thad Matta.

The Buckeyes have just one NCAA tournament win over the past two seasons. In 2014, they fell to Dayton in the first round. In 2015, Ohio State beat VCU in the opener, then was blown out by Arizona. Help was on the way, though. The Class of 2015 ranked fifth in the 247Sports Composite team rankings. All five players the Buckeyes signed were 4-star prospects. And now they’re all gone.

Point guard JaQuan Lyle became the fifth and final player to exit Ohio State, and his departure was the strangest of all. He was cited in Evansville, Ind., early Saturday morning after allegedly punching a door and a police car. Later, an Ohio State spokesman said Lyle had quit the team April 11 — and apparently nobody within the program bothered to tell anyone. Regardless of how or when he left, Lyle won’t be back at Ohio State. That means roughly 10 more points and 4 more rebounds for the Buckeyes to replace each game.

To Lyle’s credit, at least he made it two whole years in the program. The rest of the bunch bailed after their first season. Austin Grandstaff went to Oklahoma and then to DePaul. Mickey Mitchell chose UC Santa Barbara but apparently never enrolled and later decided to go to Arizona State. A.J. Harris went to New Mexico State. Daniel Giddens went to Alabama.

If Ohio State thought it was bad before, those short NCAA Tournament appearances were nothing compared to the current malaise. All five players exited having never made the NCAA Tournament. The Buckeyes were relegated to the NIT in 2016 and didn’t make that consolation tournament this spring. And now the Buckeyes press on without the last and most productive member of a class that could be remembered as one of the most underachieving in the history of the sport.

Ohio State fans waiting for help might be waiting a while. The Buckeyes’ Class of 2017 ranks No. 71, sandwiched on either side by UTEP and Middle Tennessee State.

Basketball losses are ruining the design team’s ideas

Ohio State’s struggles on the basketball court are surely confounding the coaching staff, but they’re also making life difficult for another set of employees  the graphic design team.

Ohio State recently — and mercifully, I might add stepped up its game in the basketball social media department, and not a moment too soon. I remember sitting next to Michigan’s social media staff member at the 2014 Big Ten basketball tournament. He was using animated trading cards to post the starting lineup on Twitter. Back then, Ohio State’s Twitter account pretty much consisted of text-only score updates during breaks. The account hardly ever posted photos, to say nothing of GIFs and videos.

“The goal is to be better than we were, because to be honest with you, our social media was bad,” Kyle Davis told Cleveland.com. “We joked about it. Our Twitter picture was like this pixelated thing forever.”

That quote was part of a great story done by Bill Landis of Cleveland.com on how Ohio State stepped up its game with basketball social media. Perhaps the most interesting part, though, is that the poor play the last two seasons is making life tough for those who produce Twitter content for the basketball team.

The athletics department finally has the staff and the equipment to produce compelling content, but the optics don’t always line up when things are going south.

Kyle Davis and David Aaron had a plan to mic up Ohio State’s basketball coaches during practices last season.

The idea was to produce videos that would give a behind-the-scenes look at a program trying to become more relevant in the increasingly important recruiting space found on websites like Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.

It never happened.

“When you looked at how the season was going, you just had to be cognizant of what was going on,” Davis said. “It’s hard to be super creative and pump things out when you know the focus at the time had to be on winning basketball games.”

Pretty much says it all.

Two more Buckeyes get some draft love

It feels as if we’ve already been talking about the 2018 NFL Draft for a month.

Mock drafts and prospect ratings are out, and even ESPN.com’s Mel Kiper Jr. is jumping into the fray. Kiper recently released his 2018 Big Board with his 25 highest-ranked prospects for next year’s draft. As should be expected at this point, a couple of Buckeyes found their way onto that list.

Linebacker Jerome Baker, who will be draft eligible for the first time next spring, came in at No. 23 on the list.

“The 6-1, 215-pound Baker fits today’s NFL, where size doesn’t matter as much as it used to,” Kiper wrote. “He’s not a traditional linebacker, but he’s fast, can cover pass-catchers, rush the passer and is always in the middle of the action. Baker had 3.5 sacks, two interceptions [one returned for a touchdown] and 9.5 tackles for loss last season.”

Defensive end Sam Hubbard also made the list, checking in at No. 25.

“Hubbard isn’t a pass-rusher on the same talent level as former Buckeye Joey Bosa, but he’s consistently solid and reliable,” Kiper said. “At 6-5, 265, he stands out on a super-talented Ohio State defense. Hubbard had 3.5 sacks and 8.0 tackles for loss in 2016 after posting 6.5 sacks, 8.0 tackles for loss and an interception the season before. Along with Tyquan Lewis and Nick Bosa, Ohio State has a talented defensive line.”

It’s looking like another NFL draft next spring where Buckeyes will rake in the big bucks.

J.T. Barrett and Dante Booker pay it forward

The end of school is a chance for most college students to relax. For J.T. Barrett and Dante Booker, though, it means a chance to give back.

Both football players are among several Ohio State athletes to travel to Ecuador as a part of the Soles 4 Souls organization, a charity that donates shoes to children around the world.

It doesn’t get much better than that.

B1G happenings

• How Nebraska uses Twitter and pop culture to help recruiting.

• John Beilein is auctioning off his super soaker from the NCAA Tournament.

• Wisconsin jumps around on graduation day.

• Why an Iowa signee passed up interest from Alabama.

• Rutgers puts Liberty on the schedule for 2019.

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