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5/12 Big Ten Morning Power Bar: Ohio State Hosts Five-star Guard M.J. Walker

Walker visits OSU, Maryland still in play for Reddish, and Knox’s effect on Bamba.

High School Basketball: 40th Annual McDonald's All-American Games Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports

With the NBA combine underway, many undecided 2017 recruits are waiting to see who returns to school. The attention of the remaining holdouts continues to amplify as they shrink in number. Simultaneously, the 2018 and 2019 classes battle through the AAU circuit, picking up nation attention and scholarship offers along the way. The spring signing period truly is a fascinating time for college basketball.

Let’s take a look at this week’s recruiting headlines.

-Can Ohio State Make a Late Push for M.J. Walker?

The Ohio State Buckeyes have certainly amped up their recruiting efforts. Though the 2017 class may only feature two players, the quality more than makes up for the quantity. Four-star center Kaleb Wesson and three-star point guard Braxton Beverly headline the group, but the Buckeyes appear to have their sights on an even larger prize. This past weekend, Ohio State hosted five-star guard M.J. Walker for a surprise official visit.

Walker is a current member of an illustrious list of uncommitted 2017 elite, joining Mohamed Bamba, Trevon Duval, and Brian Bowen. The four represent the final group of undecided top 25 players in the class.

Like Bamba and Bowen, Walker has kept Big Ten hopes high by maintaining a strong link to the conference throughout the recruiting process. In addition to Ohio State, Walker has expressed interest in Maryland. While Virginia Tech remains the favorite, 247Sports Crystal Ball prediction lists the Terrapins as the current runner up.

The Buckeyes have gained a lot of ground as of late, though, and look to hit big with the McDonald’s All American.

Whoever does land Walker gains an immediate contributor and absolute bull in the paint. He possesses the physicality and body that once landed him a football offer from Michigan. When watching Walker’s game, it doesn’t take long to see why. At 200 pounds, the guard expresses a propensity to attack the rim and utilizes his frame to finish through traffic.

“I bring leadership and I like being aggressive,” Walker told Zagsblog. “I play with a dog mentality. When I do that, my teammates usually follow. And when I get that going, there’s no telling how good our team can be.”

-Maryland Makes the Cut for Cam Reddish.

On Wednesday, Five-star 2018 guard Cam Reddish announced the final eight schools he is considering. Included in the list of top notch programs were the Maryland Terrapins. Mark Turgeon and his staff’s recruiting efforts are rewarded with a battle against Duke, Kentucky, Villanova, Miami, Arizona, UConn, and UCLA.

As it stands, the Duke Blue Devils appear to be the favorites to secure a commitment. Of the 11 predictions on the 247Sports Crystal Ball, all 11 have Reddish heading to Durham.

It’s still early, though, and every school listed boasts the pedigree to land the 6’8” wing. Considering his defensive prowess and penchant to create for others, he should fit nicely in any system.

Reddish has continued his ascension to national prominence and turned heads this summer on the Nike EYBL circuit. Thus far, the guard is averaging 23.8 points, 8.2 rebounds, and 2 assists for Team Final out of Philadelphia. Eric Bossi of Rivals is certainly impressed:

As Reddish enters his senior year, it will be interesting to see how his recruitment continues to develop. While Maryland may not be the favorite, they are in the running and will have plenty of time to state their case.

-Will Kevin Knox’s Commitment Effect Mo Bamba?

For nearly four months now, Mohamed Bamba has listed four schools still in contention for his services. Topped by presumed favorite Kentucky, Bamba also includes Duke, Texas and Michigan. Following Kevin Knox’s commitment to Kentucky last Saturday, however, the outlook for the top five recruit may have shifted.

After signing Knox, Kentucky’s 2017 recruiting class now boasts six five-star and two four-star prospects. Seven of those eight players are ranked in the top 30 nationally. If Bamba values Calipari’s system over individual accolades, the stuffed class becomes irrelevant. If he doesn’t, though, Knox just made a muddled situation muddier.

Bamba’s diplomacy is at an elite level. He has given glowing reviews to all four schools, but notably singled out Michigan’s academics and facilities. Bamba told Evan Daniels of Scout:

“[…] Michigan is on my list because of it’s excellence behind the university and behind it’s athletics like they have state of the art, like every one of these places is going to have state of the art places, but their strength and conditioning program is so ideal because they really work for like your biomechanics and make sure how your loading and landing is just on point.”

Ultimately, it may not matter. Recently some have speculated that Bamba’s decision is a toss-up between Kentucky and Texas. If Knox’s surprise commitment taught us anything, though, you never know until it’s announced.


Check back next week for more Big Ten recruiting headlines.