His top priority with the 2014 recruiting class, Ohio State coach Thad Matta said, was to fill the voids when Aaron Craft and Lenzelle Smith Jr. leave the Buckeyes after this season.
“We feel we did that,” Matta said, “with guys that can do a lot of different things. We got what we wanted in terms of guys that can play multiple positions for us.”
Matta finally was free to talk publicly about the four newest Buckeyes yesterday after guard D’Angelo Russell’s national letter of intent, signed by Russell and his father, arrived at Ohio State, by way of his home in Louisville, Ky., about a day and a half after he signed it at his Florida high school.
Russell, 6 feet 5, plays at Montverde Academy, the defending national high-school champion, and is ranked the No. 12 player and No. 1 shooting guard nationally by ESPN.com.
“Is he a point guard? Is he a (shooting) guard? I don’t know exactly. I think we can run him at both,” Matta said. “He’s got the ability to make big-time plays. The first time I ever saw him play, he had six threes in the first half, and the second half he didn’t take one and had 10 assists. … He’s very, very complete.”
Keita Bates-Diop, a 6-7 wing from Bloomington, Ill., is ranked No. 22 overall and the No. 6 small forward.
“You’re getting a long athlete that can really shoot the basketball,” Matta said. “From multiple positions, he scores, he passes, he rebounds, he can defend, he can handle the basketball.”
Jae’Sean Tate, a 6-4 wing from Pickerington Central, is ranked No. 25 overall and the No. 7 small forward. He is the son of former Ohio State and Cincinnati forward Jermaine Tate.
“Everybody has asked me, ‘What position is Jae’Sean?’ and I always answer, ‘I don’t know, but I know he’s going to be on the floor,’ ” Matta said. “He’s a warrior. He can guard, I think, all five positions on the floor.”
Dave Bell, a 6-10, 225-pound center from Garfield Heights, is not ranked among the top 100 players by any recruiting service but, Matta said, “hasn’t been playing basketball, like a lot of the guys (have), for a long time. We’ll bring his skill along, but he runs the floor, he blocks shots, he rebounds out of his area.”
Matta said he was prohibited by an NCAA rule from commenting on 6-10 center Payton Dastrup, who committed to Ohio State last week, rescinded the commitment on Monday and signed with Brigham Young on Wednesday.