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Thursday, June 30, 2005

Top HS Hoops Player Commits . . . to Ohio State

Of all places.

Greg Oden, the 7' center from the Indianapolis area who most likely would have become the #1 pick in the 2006 NBA draft but for the newly imposed age limit, gave a verbal commitment to coach Thad Matta, as did his teammate, G Mike Conley.

A few points to consider:

1. The impact of the NBA's age rule on the college scene. Does the 19 year-old rule simply mean that Oden stays in Columbus for a year and then becomes the #1 pick in the 2007 draft? Are colleges who take these one-year players going to be better off in the long run? Those who followed Villanova's program probably would argue a strong "no" given that school's dalliance with one-year player Tim Thomas. Thomas didn't really fit into a veteran team, and that team, with senior G Alvin Williams and senior C Jason Lawson, laid an egg in the first round of the NCAA tournament. It should have gone much further. Oden is potentially a great player, and he'll be good for the gate in Columbus, but I question whether the NBA's rule will benefit the college game at all.

2. The old Lefty Driesell comment that he enjoyed hearing that a recruit gave an oral commitment, because it narrowed down the number of schools he had to beat to get the recruit to go play for him. Does this mean that the recruiting saga is over? Maybe. But if I'm a bigger-time hoops school on the current landscape than Ohio State, I wouldn't give up recruiting him. After all, he's a HS kid, and HS kids, by definition, can be very fickle.

3. The big loser in this seems to be Indiana coach Mike Davis, who couldn't keep the kid at home. How much longer with the Hoosiers keep Davis around? He needs to have a big year. The other two also-rans, as it were, for Oden's services were Wake Forest and Michigan State, and it says here that Oden would have been better off giving his verbal to either Skip Prosser or Tom Izzo.

Ohio State has an excellent hoops tradition -- but not recently. This is a great coup for Thad Matta, if Oden ends up at Ohio State. Still, I for one don't understand why Oden chose Ohio State in the first place. You also wonder whether all of the big-time schools recruited him. Did Kansas and Carolina pursue him too? Or are they reluctant to ink the one-year wonders? To me, it's surprising that the best hoops talent in the HS class of '06 chose a football school.

But if he actually ends up there, look at for the Ohio State Buckeyes.

The Big Ten looked like it had a down regular college hoops season last year, but it rebounded mightily in the NCAA tournament. It had a bad recruiting year, too, and that didn't bode well for the future.

But this news most certainly does.


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