Top Five Basketball Recruiting Classes Under Thad Matta

Ranking the best groups during Thad Matta's era from 2004-17.
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As Chris Holtmann and the Ohio State men’s basketball program attempt to make an upward push in the recruiting rankings, we take a quick look back and some of the best overall classes since the turn of the century.

Former head coach Thad Matta led the Buckeyes from 2004-17, racking up some stellar seasons made possible by hard work on the recruiting trail. Talent that he and staff assembled helped the program earn five Big Ten regular-season championships, four Big Ten Tournament titles, two NCAA Final Fours and other notable accomplishments.

Here are the top-five recruiting classes from that era according to BuckeyesNow, based on how the groups panned out once in Columbus, with individual player rankings in parentheses per the 247Sports database.

1. 2006Greg Oden (1), Daequan Cook (14), Mike Conley (22), David Lighty (33), Othello Hunter (3).
Labeled the “Thad Five,” this group was the No. 2-ranked class in the country behind North Carolina and played in the national championship game. It featured three future first-round draft picks (Oden and Conley in the top four), a program legend in Lighty, and one of the top junior college transfers with Hunter. They earn our top spot by virtue of advancing one game further than the team below.

Mike-Conley-Florida

2. 2010Jared Sullinger (4), Deshaun Thomas (19), Jordan Sibert (41), Aaron Craft (91), Lenzelle Smith Jr. (114), J.D. Weatherspoon (133).
Another group, ranked as the No. 3 class, with multiple pieces that made a Final Four. Sullinger was a 2x first team All-American, Craft is OSU’s career leader in assists and steals, Thomas finished ninth all-time in scoring in just three years, and Smith helped the program to over 100 victories. Sibert (Dayton) and Weatherspoon (Toledo) ultimately found success elsewhere after transferring.

Jared-Sullinger-Kansas

3. 2007Kosta Koufos (13), Evan Turner (47), Jon Diebler (50), Dallas Lauderdale (99), Eric Wallace (5).
Koufos was the headliner, receiving Most Valuable Player honors in the NIT before quickly departing for an 11-year NBA career. But it was the next three names who really left a legacy in Columbus. Turner blossomed into a National Player of the Year and No. 2 draft pick, Diebler is the Big Ten’s all-time leader in made trifectas and Lauderdale started 102 games. Wallace transferred in, transferred out.

Jon-Diebler-Siena

4. 2014D’Angelo Russell (16), Keita Bates-Diop (29), Jae’Sean Tate (58), David Bell (189).
Russell averaged over 19-5-5 in his lone season when Ohio State made the NCAA second round. Bates-Diop and Tate were program staples that helped bridge the gap between Matta and Holtmann. Tate finished with over 1,500 points while Bates-Dip evolved into an All-American and Big Ten Player of the Year. Bell, while talented, settled as the third center (behind Trevor Thompson and Micah Potter) before transferring after his redshirt sophomore season.

Keita-Bates-Diop-Ohio-State

5. 2008B.J. Mullens (2), William Buford (13), Walter Offut (91), Anthony Crater (129), Nikola Kecman (N/A)
Buford (1,990 points) is the gem here, ranking tied for third on the program’s all-time scoring list with Jerry Lucas. Mullens was a first-round draft pick based on potential, and actually had a couple decent statistical seasons with the woeful Charlotte Bobcats, while the others didn’t leave much to be desired. Offut found a nice home after transferring to Ohio, enjoying a very nice two-year run in Athens.

BJ-Mullens-Miami-Jimmy-Graham

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