Do you want the best players available, or do you want local stars? Fans usually want both — that’s not always possible.
Happy Friday to the work-from-homers, the message board lurkers, and the college basketball addicts. We’re back for another stimulating “You’re Nuts” debate, and we’re sticking with recruiting again, since that’s the most salient topic right now in college hoops.
But first, an update on Kansas State transfer Nijel Pack:
….. Just kidding, we’ve got nothing as of this moment. He visited earlier this week, and it sounds like Ohio State and Purdue are two of the heavy favorites. But other than that, we’re in watch and wait mode. He’d be a big addition, and we will share any news with you if and when we get it.
Last week, Connor and Justin explained which transfer they’d like to see Ohio State go after next and why. Connor went with Jalen Bridges, who has since committed to Baylor. Justin chose Nijel Pack, whom we obviously are keeping a very close eye on. Justin won in an absolute rout with 72% of the vote. Connor picked up 23% of the vote, and the remaining 5% went with “other.”
After 46 weeks:
(There have been two ties)
This week, we’re focusing on high school recruits, not college transfers. When Ohio players — regardless of their recruiting rankings — do well locally, Ohio State fans want the Buckeyes to pick them up. This is understandable. But when players like Mackenzie Mgbako show interest in Ohio State, fans also want those players to wind up in Columbus. However, there are only so many scholarships to hand out.
So this week we’re asking your opinion: is dominating Ohio and keeping in-state talent in-state more important than raw recruiting rankings? Or do you want the Buckeyes to go get the best players, even if that means not having many Ohio players playing at Ohio State?
Today’s question: Should in-state loyalty impact recruiting or no?
Connor: Try to recruit Ohio kids
Devin Royal dropped a game high 20 points to lead Pickerington Central to a 55-48 win over Centerville to capture the Division 1 State Championship. @DevinRoyal7 @PCTigersHoops #StateChamps x @LTUAthletics pic.twitter.com/OGktM7Z1Xb
— State Champs! Ohio (@StateChampsOH) March 23, 2022
I don’t think the state a player is from is the most important thing, but I think it should be a big factor in who Ohio State pursues. I’d rather see the Buckeyes be a great team with all non-Ohio kids than be awful with only in-state talent, but those aren’t the only options. The Buckeyes can compete with the best programs in the nation for top recruits while also keeping their eyes peeled on local talent. If two players are comparable, I think they should make the local kid(s) a priority. That’s pretty much where I stand.
Not every single kid in Ohio grows up wanting to play for Ohio State, but a lot do! And there’s something special about having home-grown talent suiting up to play for the state university. When you look down the roster for a state school, it’s always nice to see scattered names of players from Columbus, Cleveland, Toledo, Dayton, and so on. Years and years ago, college basketball teams were made up of almost exclusively in-state players. Now with recruiting booming on a national scale, it’s common to find a team with only a few in-state players on the roster.
I don’t think Ohio State should pass up on five-stars from other states to give scholarships to three-star Ohioans. If Mgbako had chosen Ohio State last week, for example, I’d have been fine with letting some other recruits know that unfortunately that spot has been filled. But when splitting hairs between three and four-stars, or two guys with comparable rankings, what are we really arguing about? Take the Columbus kid, damnit.
For example, there are three forwards the Buckeyes are currently involved with in the 2023 cycle: Dailyn Swain (Columbus), Devin Royal (Pickerington), and Scotty Middleton (Wichita, KS). According to 247Sports, Royal is a three-star and the No. 123 player in the country. Swain is a four-star and the No. 64 player in the country. Middleton is a four-star and the No. 41 player in the country. The Buckeyes appear to be more heavily involved with the local kids, Swain and Royal, but are on Middleton’s list of final five schools as well.
See Dailyn Swain as a potentially significant riser heading into the spring and summer with @all_ohio.
— Max Feldman (@MaxFeldman6) March 23, 2022
If only one can be a part of the 2023 recruiting cycle, they should lock up one of the Ohio kids. There should be some added motivation to keep Columbus kids who are good enough to play at Ohio State… at Ohio State.
Fans will bash the coaching staff if they let Royal or Swain go elsewhere and they play well at another school — especially if it’s a Big Ten school. They’ll also bash the coaching staff if they recruit the lower-rated Ohio kid and let someone like Middleton walk, only for the Ohio kid to struggle and Middleton excels elsewhere. It can be a damned if you do, damned if you don’t decision, but I just think there’s something special about having a strong Ohio influence on Ohio State’s roster when there’s talent in your own backyard.
Justin: Recruit the best players regardless of where they’re from
Hey man, call me crazy, but I like to bring in the best talent possible. In Ohio State’s defense and in years past — especially during the Thad Matta era — there was great talent coming out of Ohio with guys like Jared Sullinger, William Buford, Aaron Craft, BJ Mullins, Kosta Koufas, and others. Recently however, the top players in Ohio have still been very good, but clearly have not been amongst the best in the nation.
The top Ohio recruit in the 2022 class is Sencire Harris, who is the number 101 recruit in the country, according to 247 Sports. Ohio State has four players in the 2022 recruiting class ranked higher than the top guy in Ohio. In the 2023 class, there are only two guys ranked in the top 100 in Rayvon Griffith (42) and Dailyn Swain (98), and Ohio State’s top recruit is George Washington III from Louisville, Kentucky who is ranked 47th.
If the Buckeyes were only using in-state guys for recruiting, they would be nowhere close to getting the top guys in the country and would struggle to bring in many top-100 players. People will say stars don’t matter, but they do for fan interest and for other recruiting purposes.
Currently, according to 247 Sports, Duke, Arkansas, Alabama, Kansas, and Indiana have the top five recruiting classes in the 2022 cycle (Ohio State currently sits at sixth). Between those five teams, they have 25 commits total; just five of those prospects are from the state they signed to play college basketball in and three of those five are from Arkansas. If you take Arkansas out of the equation, there are 19 commits and just two of them are staying in state.
The numbers speak for themselves. Ohio State fans are excited for the recruiting class that the Buckeyes have coming in and that is because the coaches went out of the state and got four of the top 60 guys in the country and two players who won Mr. Basketball in other states — Bruce Thornton in Georgia and Brice Sensabaugh in Florida.
Get me the best players and let the rest work itself out.