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November 23, 2007

Matta keeps talent coming to Columbus

Despite back surgery, Ohio State coach Thad Matta isn't slowing down. In fact, he's speeding up these days.

Matta and his staff hit the ground running when they took over the Buckeyes' basketball program. For the third consecutive year, OSU has a top-10 recruiting class coming to Columbus.

This year's signing class comes in at No. 6 overall in the early signing period. The Buckeyes had the No. 7 overall class in 2007 and the No. 2 class in 2006.

There has always been a theme to the Ohio State recruiting classes, too. Find a center, a wing and a point guard. The 2008 class is no different.

The gem of the class is center B.J. Mullens. He will be joined by likely McDonald's All-American William Buford.

The class is rounded out by guards Walter Offutt and Anthony Crater.

Indiana is enjoying Eric Gordon this year. After all, the former No. 3 overall player in the nation might not be in Bloomington for very long. Hoosiers fans have a nice consolation prize coming to town next year, though, in Devin Ebanks.

The New York native is one of the most dynamic scorers in the nation, and he anchors the No. 15 ranked recruiting class in the country. Kelvin Sampson has another offensive star with which to work next season.

Michigan State checks in with the No. 17 class. Delvon Roe embodies the Spartans philosophy.

Wisconsin checks in at No. 29 nationally. The Badgers added depth at each position, but didn't land a true star.

Biggest recruiting coup

Best of the Big Ten
Best perimeter scorer: William Buford, Ohio State
Best low post scorer: Delvon Roe, Michigan State
Best passer: Terrell Holloway, Indiana
Best shooter: Ryne Smith, Purdue
Best rebounder: Delvon Roe, Michigan State
Best shot-blocker: B.J. Mullens, Ohio State
Best defender: Jordan Taylor, Wisconsin
Most versatile: Devin Ebanks, Indiana
Best in the clutch: William Buford, Ohio State
Best basketball IQ: William Buford, Ohio State
Best pro prospect: B.J. Mullens, Ohio State
Best speed: Lewis Jackson, Purdue
Best motor: Delvon Roe, Michigan State
Best strength: B.J. Mullens, Ohio State
Best leaper: Walter Offutt, Ohio State
Impact player: B.J. Mullens, Ohio State
Biggest sleeper: John Shurna, Northwestern
Sleeper class: Minnesota
Talk to anyone in the early spring and they would have said Delvon Roe was a no-brainer lock for North Carolina. The term "dream school" was being tossed around liberally.

Not so fast.

Momentum shifted in April, and the Spartans made up significant ground. In the end, location and proximity won out, and Roe is the crown jewel of the three-man class for Tom Izzo's club.

Budding rivalry

There was never any questioning Roe's talent. Any team in the Big Ten would love to have him. That wasn't always the case with his St. Edwards High School teammate Tom Pritchard.

The 6-foot-8, 240-pound power forward saw his recruitment increase dramatically after the summer. Pritchard eventually committed to Indiana, and will now face his high school teammate and good friend Roe in Big Ten competition.

Biggest miss

Indiana and Purdue both felt the sting of losing five-star center Tyler Zeller to North Carolina two weeks before the signing period began. Zeller, a 6-foot-11 native of Washington, Ind., long considered the state schools. He visited each numerous times and the coaching staffs from both schools invested a lot of time in the skilled big man.

Best storyline

Tubby Smith left the bright lights and giant microscope of Kentucky for a calmer and quieter gig at Minnesota. He didn't take long to establish himself as a major recruiter for the Gophers.

His biggest signee, Ralph Sampson III, also strongly considered Kentucky and visited the SEC school multiple times. Kentucky gave Sampson a timeline to decide. The four-star center then turned down the Wildcats and two weeks later pledged to Smith.

The Gophers are hot in the mix for Verdell Jones, who also visited Kentucky with Sampson for Midnight Madness.

In head-to-head recruiting battles, so far the score is: Smith 1 Kentucky 0.

  • Vote: Big Ten's top class? | No. 1 SEC | No. 2 Pac-10 | No. 3 ACC | No. 4 Big East | Next: Big 12



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