It's been awhile since Thad Matta has had a defensive anchor in the middle. Failed projects like Amir Williams were preceded by offense-first players such as Jared Sullinger. With the arrival of 4-star center Daniel Giddens out of Oak Hill, that will change.
Though he is an excellent defender, don't think that Giddens is an offensive liability. There's a reason he is rated as the #10 center in the Class of 2015 by ESPN. Giddens has incredible athleticism, and can already finish with authority. But it is his defense that makes him stand out. At 6'10" and 240 pounds, Giddens is long enough that he can be an elite shot blocker and big enough that it is nearly impossible to move him off the block--let alone score on him.
Oak Hill is always close to a high school all-star team and Giddens played with a veritable who's-who of Division I prospects during his senior year. With Giddens manning the middle, the Warriors won their first 46 games before falling to Ben Simmons and Montverde in the finals of the Dick's National High School Tournament. Dwayne Bacon (Florida State), Andrew Fleming (Iowa), Terrence Phillips (Missouri), and Joshua Reaves (Penn State) all will be joining Giddens at the next level.
Prior to his season at Oak Hill, Giddens played at Wheeler (Ga.) with 5-star recruit Jaylen Brown (Cal). In his junior season he was already dominant enough to average a double-double, tallying 12 points, 10 rebounds, and four blocks per game. Giddens has international experience as well. In 2014 he played for Team USA in the FIBA U-16 Americas Championship and took home a gold medal. The Americans won all five games by an average of 53.4 points.
Why does all of this matter? Giddens has already played with and against the best players in the country, and the transition to college competition should be seamless. This is especially important since Ohio State is playing an uncharacteristically difficult non-conference schedule, including games against Kentucky, Virginia, Connecticut, Memphis, and Louisiana Tech.
How He'll Fit at Ohio State
There's a trio of centers that Matta can turn to and I'll talk more about Trevor Thompson and David Bell later in this series. Giddens should be the starter from Day One and Thompson will spell him from time to time. There won't be a lot asked of Giddens offensively (at least initially), but a frontcourt pairing of Giddens and Jae'Sean Tate can stifle teams defensively.
Giddens is still a work in progress at the offensive end. He can finish from the post and is athletic enough to throw down alley-oops (as he did countless times on feeds from Phillips at Oak Hill), but the development of a reliable 12-15 foot jumper would do wonders for Ohio State's spacing. Tate is an offensive liability outside of the paint and Matta can't afford to play Giddens and Tate simultaneously if neither can knock down a jump shot. Giddens' development over the next couple of years is crucial, and will determine whether or not he can be a star at Ohio State. I know all too well what can happen with a big man with gobs of athleticism fails to develop--you end up with Hanner Mosquera-Perea.