Closer Look at Buckeyes’ Latest Commitment
By Brandon Castel
COLUMBUS, Ohio — Ohio State landed another commitment Tuesday, but not on the gridiron. Thad Matta and his staff picked up a verbal pledge from 2013 shooting guard Kameron Williams following his visit to Columbus over the weekend.
Recruiting has been nothing but crickets on the basketball front since Matta snagged sharp-shooter Amedeo Della Valle at the last minute for the class of 2012. Now Williams joins Toledo St. John’s forward Marc Loving as the second member of Ohio State’s ’13 class.
We caught up with Ozone contributing writing Jeff Rapp, who is always glued in to the Buckeye basketball beat, for a closer look at Williams and what his commitment means for the Buckeyes.
“Obviously they think enough of this kid to think he can play, but it’s a little head scratching,” Rapp told The-Ozone Tuesday, “because I don’t remember them recruiting him for very long. He was kind of in a group with 25 others.”
A 6-2 shooting guard out of Baltimore (Md.) Mt. St. Joseph’s, Williams had a breakout summer on the EYBL circuit with Nike Baltimore Elite.
In 20 games, at four national events this summer, Williams averaged over 22 points per game while shooting better than 50 percent from the floor. He also shot 85 percent from the free throw line and close to 50 percent from behind the arc.
“He can definitely fill it,” Rapp said.
“He’s definitely not a point guard. He’s a guy who has big-time scoring ability, but he doesn’t quite strike me as a Thad Matta kind of player.”
That’s because Mata typically prefers to fill his team with 6-6 or 6-7 wing players like David Lighty, Jon Diebler, William Buford, Sam Thompson, LaQuinton Ross and so many others.
“That’s kind of his model team,” Rapp added.
“Slashers and shooters and scorers. Get some guys out on the wing and let them make a play.”
One thing Matta may have realized, however, is that his NCAA Tournament teams have often lacked a guy or two who can come off the bench and knock down shots in a tight ballgame.
That came back to bite him in Ohio State’s loss to Kentucky two years ago, which might explain why Matta targeted kids like Williams and Della Valle as role players he can develop around some of the more flashy athletes he and his staff bring to Columbus.
“I don’t know if there’s a perfect fit, but I’ve heard he’s a pretty good kid,” Rapp said.
“And Thad’s good at getting guys to play unselfishly and play the right way. He’ll make it work.”
Williams is a different type of player from Della Valle, who is a tall, lanky facilitator who can also shoot from the outside. Della Valle played a lot with the ball in his hands in high school, but there are questions about who he will guard in the Big Ten and whether he can put the ball on the floor.
That’s not an issue with Williams, who was tabbed as the fourth-best outside shooter in the class of 2013 by Rivals recruiting analyst Eric Bossi. Right now his only offers are from Clemson, Dayton, Marquette, Rutgers, VCU, Virginia Tech and Wake Forest, but the Buckeyes had to pry him away from Miami (Fla.).
“As a staff, they have aimed high and haven’t gotten any of those guys recently, so they need to hit some here,” Rapp said.
“He’s a decently rated player, but he’s in that next tier. They needed to get something going. They need a body.”
Ohio State came close but ultimately walked away empty-handed in its recruitment of blue-chip prospects like Tony Parker, DaJuan Coleman and Amile Jefferson a year ago. They needed to get some positive momentum going with Loving being a kid who committed to the Buckeyes nearly two years ago.
Another reason they wanted Williams is because where he comes from.
“Best I can tell, they are trusting Dave Dickerson on this one,” Rapp added.
“They’ve been trying to see if they could link to this area of the country through Dave since they hired him. They’re trying to get the ball rolling in some hotbeds on the East coast – DC, Baltimore and even down in Georgia.”
Williams made his official visit to Columbus over the weekend and attended the Cal football game along with some of the current players and coaches. He was so blown away by his visit, he practically committed on the spot.
“When they get these kids here, they have a really good chance of closing the deal,” Rapp said.
“They see the size of the campus and the size of the arena and talk to the other kids, it’s got to be pretty eye opening.”
One thing that opened Rapp’s eyes when it comes to Williams is his ability to knock down shots from long-range.
“That gets your attention when you shoot that type of percentage,” he said, “I don’t care if you’re in the open gym.”
The only real question with Williams is whether he can get that shot at this level being a 6-2 shooting guard instead of a 6-5 guy like Buford or Diebler.
“Is he Jeremie Simmons? Hopefully not,” Rapp added.
“Is he a healthy Walter Offutt? Maybe, though Offutt really developed his shot over time. This kid is already a better outside shooter.”
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