Buckeyes Land First Hoops Commitment
By Brandon Castel
COLUMBUS, Ohio — The recent defections of Jordan Sibert and J.D. Weatherspoon left many Ohio State basketball fans wondering how Thad Matta was going to fill out his roster for the 2012-13 season.
He didn’t wait long.
Following a recent visit to Columbus, Matta and the Buckeyes landed their first player in the class of 2012 with the early-morning commitment from combo guard Amedeo Della Valle on Saturday.
The Henderson (Nev.) Findlay Prep guard selected Ohio State over both Texas A&M and Arizona not long after returning from his visit to Columbus, and just hours before the Buckeyes’ spring football game.
“Della Valle will provide much needed depth after the loss of Weatherspoon and Sibert,” said one source close to the program.
“It’s an upgrade in the backcourt and he will fit in with coach Matta’s program as a good team player. He is the type of kid who will do whatever is asked of him and should help the Buckeyes immediately next season.”
Della Valle, a 19-year-old out of Italy, was incredibly impressed with Ohio State during his mid-week visit. He fit in well with Matta and the OSU players who are returning for next season, but also saw an opportunity to contribute early without having to shoulder the responsibility of being a star player right away at the college level.
“He has an unbelievable feel for the game,” Findlay Prep coach Michael Peck told 247sports.com.
“He knows how to play. He understands spacing and simple concepts. He also plays hard and does a good job of moving the ball. He is a good passer. He doesn’t need to stand there and dribble it.”
The 6-4 guard has had the ball in his hands a lot during his time at Findlay Prep, a basketball powerhouse in the state of Nevada. He is also a deadly outside shooter, who could help the Buckeyes replace some of the scoring they lost in senior William Buford and sophomore Jared Sullinger who decided to turn pro after his second season in Columbus.
With the additional losses of Sibert and Weatherspoon, Matta only had nine scholarship players returning for next season. He also has a walk-on named Alex Rogers who transferred to Ohio State, but getting a kid like Della Valle was a must for the Buckeyes in this class.
OSU assistant Chris Jent was the primary recruiter who went to see Della Valle play at Findlay Prep, and at one time it looked like he might end up at Michigan. He was scheduled to take an official visit to Ann Arbor, where he seemed like a perfect fit in Jon Beilein’s system, but the return of Trey Burke closed the door on any scholarship openings with the Wolverines.
Along with Della Valle, the Buckeyes also hosted potential transfers Rodney Hood (Mississippi State) and Anthony Gill (South Carolina) this week. One or both could end up at Ohio State, but would not be able to contribute immediately for Matta and the Buckeyes.
Della Valle averaged 12.2 points and 3.0 assists while shooting 54 percent from beyond the arc for the ESPN NHSI champions this past season. He will not only give Ohio State a much-needed outside presence, but he also gives the Buckeyes another backcourt player to compliment Aaron Craft, Lenzelle Smith, Jr., and Shannon Scott.
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