Holtmann Ropes In 5-Star Ohioan

By Jeff Rapp, April 11th, 2018

Alonzo Gaffney’s tweet on April 10 had a simple photo and a one-sentence message – “There’s no place like Home” – but it conveyed so much.

The top-ranked basketball recruit in the state of Ohio is all good with the new coaching staff at Ohio State and has decided to become a Buckeye.

A versatile, talented 6-9 forward with major upside, Gaffney is a standout at one of the powerhouse programs in the state, Garfield Heights, and his commitment very well may open the door for other topflight recruits to aid the resurgence at OSU.

Coach Chris Holtmann, who surprisingly led the Buckeyes to a second-place Big Ten finish and appearance in the NCAA Tournament, is trying to jolt the program forward, and he’s especially challenged to do so now that experienced leaders Keita Bates-Diop and Jae’Sean Tate, among others, have departed.

He and his staff will now welcome a well-rated four-man recruiting class and have a 2019 class that is now headed by Gaffney, who, according to 247 Sports composite ratings, is a five-star prospect who tops the list in Ohio and is No. 18 overall nationally.

He picked the Buckeyes over North Carolina, Michigan State, Georgetown, Kansas and others. Along with those schools, Gaffney reportedly also considered offers from Louisville, Xavier, Florida and Pittsburgh as well as Big Ten schools Indiana and Wisconsin.

Like Bates-Diop, who is the reigning Big Ten Player of the Year, Gaffney can greatly excel on both ends of the floor in Holtmann’s system. Bates-Diop became a 20-point scorer as a redshirt junior and used his length and smarts to develop into one of the top defending forwards in the country. With him healthy and on top of his game, the Buckeyes posted a 25-9 mark in Holtmann’s debut season and came up just short of a Sweet 16 bid.

Gaffney is the first elite recruit to commit to Ohio State since D’Angelo Russell, who carried the Buckeyes to the 2015 NCAA Tournament and was tabbed as the second pick of the NBA draft later that year. Just as Russell swore an allegiance to Thad Matta, Gaffney seems smitten with Holtmann and his assistants.

“I love the new staff,” he told 247’s Brian Snow recently. “They have a family environment and it is a close group. Also I could stay close to home which is big, so it is a school I really like.”