One thing we all missed out on during the boys basketball season this winter was that Westerville North's Jack Gibbs played only three games before going down with a season-ending knee injury.
The 5-foot-10, 170-pound junior guard burst onto the scene as a sophomore and then followed that with a great AAU season before his junior season that helped him gain scholarship offers from Akron, Bowling Green, Davidson, James Madison, Ohio University, Toledo, Virginia Commonwealth and William & Mary.
He told me Thursday night that earlier in the day he had walked on a treadmill for one mile as part of his rehab. He's also spending time working on his shooting.
When he returns later this summer, he again should be on a team with Reynoldsburg's Wendell Davis, Gahanna's Aaron Jackson and Brookhaven's Randal Clarkson that finished third at AAU Nationals last summer.
"I should be back by June or July," Gibbs said. "I'm trying to turn this into a positive."
Gibbs made second-team all-district in DIvision I and was first-team all-OCC-Cardinal Division as a sophomore when he averaged 18.1 points, 4.5 assists and 3.7 steals. The Warriors lost in a district semifinal in 2011 as well as this year.
Considering Gibbs will get most of his remaining exposure before college recruiters late in the AAU season, don't be surprised if he doesn't officially make his college choice until the middle of the fall.
*A strong group of central Ohio baseball players have committed to Ohio State from the 2012 recruiting class.
Delaware's Jacob Bosiokivic, who is ranked No. 5 in the state in his class according to Prepbaseballreport.com, is a 6-6, 210-pounder who verballed to the Buckeyes as a high school sophomore. He' s projected to be a pitcher or third baseman in college.
Also bound for Ohio State from the area are Columbus Academy's Zach Ratcliff (1B), Newark Catholic's Jimmy Lough (P), Watterson's Jacob Brobst (OF) and Upper Arlington's Michael Koltak (P).
Koltak will face future OSU teammate Logan Bowles from Canton South during a doubleheader March 31 in OSU's Bill Davis Stadium.
Other commits from central Ohio to Division I programs include Pickerington Central's Nick Jensen-Clagg (Kent State) and Evan Jensen (Akron), Reynoldsburg's Jeff Murray (Cincinnati), Olentangy's Woody Wallace (Cincinnati), Dublin Jerome's Aaron Huesman (Dayton), Gahanna's Cole Griesinger (Ball State) and Pickerington North's Cale Giddings (Akron).
It's looking more likely than ever that Pickerington North junior Godwin Igwebuike will end up playing football in the Big Ten.
Whether the 6-0, 190-pounder will end up at running back or cornerback isn't clear at this point, but he added offers from Purdue and Indiana over the past few days to give him seven offers from Big Ten schools. The others who have offered are Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, Northwestern and Wisconsin.
Is there a favorite among the 16 schools who now have offered Igwebuike?
"Not at this point," he said on a text message.
Igwebuike, who doesn't currently have any visits planned, also has been offered by three other BCS schools, Boston College, Cincinnati and Duke.
Miami University is another of his newest offers.
What has attracted so much interest in Igwebuike?
Probably his 4.48 time in the 40 first of all. Last fall when the Panthers went 8-2 and just missed the playoffs, he rushed for 1,046 yards and 14 touchdowns and added a kickoff return for a score. He also had five interceptions while making first-team all-district on defense.
*Brookhaven senior dual-threat quarterback Tajuan Green signed March 27 to play for Ohio Dominican University. He is expected to play football and run track at the school.
A 6-1, 180-pounder who threw for more than 1,110 yards and rushed for more than 1,000 last season as the Bearcats went 7-4, Green was a three-year starter and helped the Bearcats reach the playoffs twice.
Green should feel right at home with the Panthers, who have 35 other central Ohio natives on their roster. Coach Bill Conley is a former assistant coach for Ohio State who is in his second season heading the program.
One of the more enjoyable things about the state boys basketball tournament is the opportunity to watch the numerous future college players as they attempt to lead their respective high school teams to historical finishes.
Pickerington Central has a group of athletes who we'll get to enjoy over the next few years in one arena or another lead it past Fairfield 60-45 in a Division I state semifinal March 23 at Ohio State.
Basketball is not even the best sport for the TIgers' junior Taco Charlton, but the Michigan football recruit contributed six rebounds.
Senior Caris LeVert, who blossomed into central Ohio's best player this season, had 13 points on 6-for-10 shooting.
And who had the most impressive performance for the Tigers? Sophomore Jae'Sean Tate, who had 16 points and 13 rebounds.
While LeVert signed with Ohio University last November, Tate should find himself playing collegiately in either football or basketball.
Considering the way Tate looked against Fairfield, he should consider strongly following in the footsteps of his father, former Ohio State player Jermaine Tate.
"I love my babies," Central coach Jerry Francis said. "I know I'm getting old because I coached (Tate's) daddy. Caris is going to be moving on to bigger and better things next year and Jae'Sean is only a sophomore. I'm still just so proud of my babies."
Tate is a 6-4 forward who blossomed this season as the No. 2 option in the Tigers' offense. He averages 12 points and eight rebounds and has been a major reason Central advanced to the state final against Toledo Whitmer.
Whitmer, by the way, has its share of Division I caliber athletes as well.
In a 62-51 victory over Lakewood St. Edward in the other Division I state semifinal, Nigel Hayes had 18 points and 13 rebounds.
Hayes is a 6-7 junior who has Division I offers from Akron, Central Michigan and Toledo. He speaks confidently and has some rather interesting TV-watching habits.
"We're not too high, not too low," Hayes said. "We'll probably go back to the hotel, watch some TV, maybe some SpongeBob, and come back ready tomorrow."
Whitmer also features Chris Wormley, a 6-foot-8 senior center who will play football for Michigan. He finished with nine points on 3-for-5 shooting and added four rebounds.
Thomas Worthington High School senior Nick Sharick has earned a shot at a Division I football scholarship.
A four-year long-snapper for the Cardinals, Sharick initially will attend the University of Tennessee as a walk-on with the opportunity to compete for the school's one scholarship at the positon.
"There's me and another walk-on who's a junior, and he just had surgery," Sharick said. "(Tennessee's) special teams coach recruited me and his plan is for me and this other kid to compete for the starting spot. If I get the job for the first game, I'll get the scholarship."
Although Thomas Worthington didn't have a winning season and went just 14-26 during Sharick's four seasons, he would give the program two Division I scholarship players from the 2012 class if he does win the job. Three-star defensive back Nana Kyeremeh signed with West Virginia in February.
Sharick, whose GPA is 3.4, previously had his eye on Duke and Boston College, and West Virginia was a school that also showed interest.
Here's Sharick's latest evaluation from Rubio Long Snapping.
Sharick's brother, Jake Sharick, is a sophomore men's lacrosse player for Ohio State.
"Chris Rubio's long-snapping camp got my foot in the door with Tennessee," Nick Sharick said. "I had my eye on Tennessee because I knew they had a senior who was graduating. I went and visited about three or four weeks ago and committed the next day. There were a lot of open and shut doors."
The next four months should be an active time for the nation's top juniors in terms of gaining exposure and picking up football scholarship offers, so I decided to put together a tracker of central Ohio's most recruited players as of March 16.
Thanks to the wonderful work of ScoutingOhio.com, it's possible to follow alongside the top players throughout the state as they tweak their resumes, add offers and make their verbal commitments.
As of now, the Columbus-area players who have committed are Pickerington North's Jake Butt, Pickerington Central's Taco Charlton and Marion-Franklin's Jaron Dukes, all with Michigan, and Hartley's Jacob Matuska, who has verballed to Notre Dame.
In terms of the big-time recruits, there might not be a better athlete in the 2013 class from central Ohio than Hilliard Darby's Caleb Day, who has only one offer, but it's a big one -- Ohio State.
Day currently is the only uncommitted player from the area to have an official offer from the Buckeyes, although Pickerington North's Godwin Igwebuike, Walnut Ridge's Rob Wheelwright and New Albany's Darron Lee have received some interest from OSU.
Here's a list of central Ohio players, based on how many Division I offers each player has garnered. I'll keep this list updated as more area players add offers over the coming months.
1. Godwin Igwebuike, Pickerington North -- A 6-0, 190-pound athlete, Igwebuike saw significant time at running back and in the secondary for the Panthers last season. He is considered an athlete at this point. Offers (13): Boston College, Bowling Green, Buffalo, Cincinnati, Duke, Illinois, Iowa, Kent State, Minnesota, Northwestern, Ohio, Toledo, Wisconsin
2. Rob Wheelwright, Walnut Ridge -- A 6-3, 185-pounder, Wheelwright likely will follow in the footsteps of his older brother, Ernie Wheelwright, and sign as a wide receiver. Offers (11): Boston College, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, Pittsburgh, Purdue, Syracuse, West Virginia, Wisconsin
3. Marcus Ball, Westerville South -- A 6-3, 210-pounder, Ball played quarterback for the Wildcats last season, but he could end up on defense collegiate. Offers (7): Arizona State, Bowling Green, Illinois, Kent State, Minnesota, Northern Illinois, Toledo
4. Darron Lee, New Albany -- A 6-3, 205-pounder who also has seen significant action at quarterback at the prep level, Lee's athleticism gives him options. Offers (6): Boston College, Bowling Green, Illinois, Kent State, Purdue, Toledo
5. Chris Huhn, Pickerington North -- A 6-6, 275-pounder, Huhn didn't have a huge impact at the prep level last season, but the program he comes from at North has become a factory for Division I talent the last few years. Offers (5): Buffalo, Louisville, Ohio, Toledo, Western Kentucky
6. Mykel Traylor-Bennett, Reynoldsburg -- A 6-3, 195-pounder, Traylor-Bennett spent time rushing the ball and catching it last season. His athleticism should continue to be on display this spring for the track and field team. Offers (3): Bowling Green, Kent State, Toledo
7. Dezwon Polk, Whetstone -- A 6-4, 193-pounder, Polk saw time on the defensive line for the Braves last season but will undoubtedly find himself at another college position. Offers (2): Ohio, Toledo
7. James Walsh, Dublin Coffman -- A 6-2, 186-pounder, Walsh didn't have great numbers last season but comes from central Ohio's premier quarterback factory at Coffman. Offers (2): Ohio, Toledo
9. Caleb Day, Ohio State -- A 6-1, 186-pounder, Day likely will end up at defensive back but has the athleticism to play at other skilled positions. Offer (1): Ohio State
9. Devon Edwards, Eastmoor Academy -- A 6-5, 240-pounder, Edwards is a defensive end and tight end. Offer (1): West Virginia
9. William Houston, Dublin Scioto -- A 6-0, 235-pounder, Houston showed running and pass-catching ability last season for the Irish. Offer (1): Bowling Green
9. Cameron Kohl, Hilliard Darby -- A 6-1, 225-pounder, Kohl has college potential at middle linebacker. Offer (1): Bowling Green
9. Alonzo Saxton, Hartley -- A 5-11, 170-pounder, Saxton has shown his speed on the football field. Offer (1): Illinois
9. Ja'Wuan Woodley, Hartley -- A 5-11, 215-pounder, Woodley had a great season at running back for the Hawks last season and could be a RB or LB in college. Offer (1): Toledo
Two of the Big Ten's top men's basketball players this season, Ohio State's Jared Sullinger and Michigan's Trey Burke, have well-known connections to central Ohio as former Northland High School teammates.
I put together a list of central Ohioans who will be playing in the men's and women's basketball NCAA and NIT tournaments that can be found here, and the list, as could be expected, is rather lenghty.
There are 13 men's players who will compete in either the 68-team NCAA tournament field or the 32-team NIT field, and another four that didn't get mentioned are competing in the CollegeInsiders.com Postseason tournament that also began last night. There are 15 native women who are competing in either the 64-team NCAA or 64-team NIT.
While NCAA football rosters have around 80 scholarship players every year, each basketball team is closer to 15 -- meaning that there are significantly fewer scholarships to go around for Division I programs.
Because of this, it only makes sense that most of the college recruits from an area the size of Columbus end up at mid-major schools such as Ohio University or Dayton.
From the 2012 senior class in central Ohio in boys basketball, Northland has three more Division I college recruits in Jalen Robinson (Dayton), Devon Scott (Dayton) and Jordan Potts (UNC-Greensboro). That trio won't be back at the state tournament after the Vikings got upset in a Division I district final last Saturday.
In girls basketball, Northland had Symone Denham (Michigan), but many of the top area recruits are underclassmen.
Pickerington Central's Caris LeVert is an Ohio University-signee whose high school boys team is competing in the regional tournament this week.
Two of central Ohio's other top recruits from the 2012 class, Dublin Coffman's Kyle Molock (St. Joseph's) and Delaware's Matt Bingaya (Morehead State), had their senior seasons cut short by injuries and should return to the court over the coming months.
So who is on the radar of college teams in basketball from central Ohio?
In boys basketball, Westerville North's Jack Gibbs and Gahanna's Aaron Jackson are probably the top two juniors. Gibbs missed all but three games this season with an injury, while Jackson averaged 14 points for a Gahanna team that made it to a district semifinal.
In girls basketball, Northland junior Alexis Peterson is probably going to go to a Big Ten school. Reynoldsburg's Alyssa Rice is a sophomore who already is on the national radar.
The recruiting period for basketball should start heating up in April and May, once the AAU season is in full swing throughout the nation.
Things are starting to add up for New Albany junior Darron Lee.
A second-team all-OCC-Capital Division selection last season, Lee showed his versatility by seeing time at quarterback and wide receiver on offense and in the secondary on defense as the Eagles finished with a 9-3 record.
Lee could be the leading candidate to start at quarterback for New Albany as a senior, but it's definitely up in the air regarding where Lee will end up playing collegiately.
After Boston College came in with the first scholarship offer for Lee in January, Bowling Green, Kent State and Toledo followed suit in the coming weeks.
Then on March 10, Lee picked up offers from Purdue and Illinois. He took a visit to Illinois the same day.
Lee, who is listed on his ScoutingOhio page as 6-3, 205 but is listed on Rivals as 6-1, 187, would seem to be a candidate at quarterback based on his size and speed (4.6 in the 40). What's left to be determined is whether he has the necessary quarterback skills.
Anyone curious to see what he can do on the field can check him out here. While highlight tapes such as these are designed to present the best in an athlete, this one definitely shows his quickness.
Lee attended Ohio State's junior day on Jan. 29 and would reportedly be intrigued by an offer from the Buckeyes, according to this OSU site.
Hartley High School junior Jacob Matuska waited a few days before solidifying one of the most important decisions of his life this week.
Notre Dame had offered a scholarship for him to play football, and it's the school he always has followed. He took a visit with less than 10 other recruits last weekend, and left impressed.
Matuska also believed that it wouldn't hurt to think hard about his decision, especially considering how much he enjoyed his official visit to Michigan a few weeks ago.
In the end, there probably wasn't much that any school outside of Notre Dame could do to earn his services.
Matuska, a 6-foot-5, 240-pounder who is expected to play defensive end for the Fighting Irish, picked the school that felt closest to his heart Wednesday morning when he verbally committed to Notre Dame.
I caught up with Matuska for an exclusive interview a few minutes after his Hartley boys basketball team lost to Watterson 45-43 in a Division II district semifinal Wednesday night at Dublin Scioto, a game in which he helped to ignite a second-half comeback that came up just short.
"It was between Notre Dame and Michigan, and both of them obviously have great academics," Matuska said. "Notre Dame has been my dream school since I can remember. It has a Hartley feeling to it.
"It was tough after Saturday. After seeing Michigan a couple weeks ago, I just wanted to make sure, so I talked about it with my family and thought about it. Going up there showed me what (Notre Dame) is all about."
Matuska, who talked with the Notre Dame coaching staff including head coach Brian Kelly on Wednesday morning, doesn't mind that he's initially being looked at as a defensive end.
Some of the other schools who had been hot after Matuska considered him more of a tight end prospect.
According to Hartley coach Brad Burchfield, Matuska is the first Notre Dame recruit from his school in more than 40 years.
You can check out Matuska's recruiting page on ScoutingOhio.com here. Notre Dame was among more than a dozen Division I offers for Matuska, who is intending to play basketball for Hartley as a senior next season.
Matuska was a key player last season for the Hawks basketball team when it advanced to a state semifinal.
By JARROD ULREY
ThisWeek Community Newspapers
Hartley High School junior Jacob Matuska verbally committed to play for Notre Dame on the morning of Wednesday, March 7, according to coach Brad Burchfield.
A four-star recruit according to Rivals.com, Matuska took a visit to South Bend last weekend. Notre Dame and Michigan reportedly headed a list of schools he had been considering.
He also had offers from Cincinnati, Illinois, Indiana, Nebraska, North Carolina State, Oklahoma, South Florida and Toledo.
According to Burchfield, the last Hartley player to play for Notre Dame was 1971 graduate Art Best.
Matuska is 6-foot-5, 240 pounds, and has received interest at both tight end and on the defensive line.
"It's been his dream forever and they had done a great job of recruiting him," Burchfield said. "We're all excited. I think (Notre Dame has) him more as a defensive lineman, but obviously they bring in good football players. I'm just so happy for him and the program."
Matuska made first-team all-district last season for the Hawks as they finished 11-1 and were Division IV regional runners-up.
It's early, but not too early for this: How is the 2013 recruiting class shaping up in the Big Ten?
Based on sheer volume, it's impossible not to rank Michigan No. 1 -- right now.
That, of course, could change very quickly if Ohio State lands just a few of its top targets.
All indications are that the Buckeyes are looking to land a big-time wide receiver such as Shelton Gibson, a four-star recruit who is ranked No. 103 in the Rivals250. Also near the top of the Buckeyes' target list is Hilliard Darby defensive back Caleb Day, who is No. 163 in the Rivals250 and has an offer on the table.
Others who the Buckeyes will be looking to hear from over the coming weeks include DT Greg Webb (No. 78 in Rivals250), DT Henry Poggi (No. 43), LB Jaylon Smith (No. 34) and DB Marcell Harris (No. 39). QB Malik Zaire (No. 136) is from Kettering Alter.
Here is an early top five among the Big Ten.
1. Michigan -- The Wolverines currently have 14 verbals, including 12 in the Rivals250. They've got their quarterback of the future in Shane Morris (No. 16) from Warren DeLaSalle and locked up Trotwood-Madison LB Mike McCray earlier this week at LB. From central Ohio, Michigan has Pickerington North TE Jake Butt (No. 96) and Pickerington Central DE Taco Charlton (No. 183).
2. Ohio State -- With DB Cameron Burrows (No. 7), DB Eli Woodward (No. 28), athlete Jalin Marshall (No. 41), OL Evan Lisle (No. 83) and DT Billy Price (No. 13), there's an awful lot of quality at the top. The Buckeyes attractiveness under Urban Meyer could easily move this class to No. 1 in the Big Ten -- and possibly nationally -- over the coming months.
3. Penn State -- Despite the recent scandal that rocked their program, the Nittany Lions are putting together a nice class. They've locked up New Jersey DE Garrett Sickels (No. 50), Virginia QB Christian Hackenberg (No. 153) and Avon athlete Ross Douglas (No. 242)
4. Nebraska -- Marcus McWilson is a four-star DB from Youngstown Cardinal Mooney who is ranked No. 142 and gives the Cornhuskers a nice pickup in Buckeye country. They've also grabbed Tre'vell Dixson, an athlete at No. 203.
5. Michigan State -- The Spartans have four recruits, although none are ranked among the Rivals250. The top pickup so far is LB Jon Reschke, who is a four-star recruit by Scout.com.
The Westerville South football team failed to make the postseason for the first time since 2008 last fall, but it hasn't affected the exposure that junior Marcus Ball has been receiving this winter.
The starting quarterback and also one of the Wildcats' safeties, Ball picked up his fifth Division I scholarship offer Sunday according to his profile on ScoutingOhio.com.
Illinois became the second BCS school to offer Ball, who previously had offers from Arizona State, Bowling Green, Northern Illinois and Toledo.
At 6-foot-3, 210 and someone who runs 4.6 in the 40, Ball would seem to be a good fit at either of his positions.
Last season, he made special mention all-district after completing 80 of 139 passes for 1,232 yards with 11 touchdowns and four interceptions and rushing for 298 yards and one touchdown on 60 carries.
Those interested in seeing Ball's athleticism first-hand can check him out Wednesday in the Division I district boys basketball tournament. He averages 14 points for the Wildcats, who play Pickerington Central in a district semifinal at 6 p.m. at Jonathan Alder.
*Dublin Coffman quarterback James Walsh picked up his second offer over the weekend.
After getting an offer from Ohio University last week, the 6-2, 180-pound junior now has a scholarship offer from Toledo to consider.
An announcement should be coming soon from Columbus Bishop Hartley junior tight end Jacob Matuska regarding where he'll play college football.
Now with 13 Division I offers, Matuska will take an official visit this weekend to Notre Dame where he is expected to be among a group of 5-10 players who will get a more intimate look at the famous Indiana school.
On the same night Matuska helped the Hawks boys basketball team win an early-round tournament game Thursday at Dublin Scioto, he told me that he's not planning to make his verbal commitment this weekend.
Those things, of course, can change, especially since Notre Dame has been a school Matuska has been interested in for years.
Although Matuska also has offers from schools such as Nebraska, Northwestern, Cincinnati and several other BCS schools, it appears that Michigan and Notre Dame are leading the race for the 6-5, 245-pounder.
He attended Michigan's home game against Notre Dame last September.
"There's not going to be many people (at the Notre Dame visit), maybe 10," Matuska said. "I've been following them since I was young.
"I really enjoyed Michigan. It was really nice. It was only me when I went there, but I still enjoyed myself."
Matuska, who was first-team all-district and second-team all-state in Division IV last fall, is ranked 31st in Ohio by Rivals.com. The list of schools who have offered Matuska can be found at ScoutingOhio.com.
Be sure to check back here for updates over the coming days.
May 25, 2013 | Currently: 39° Clear