Making a Basketball Starting Five Out of Ohio State’s 2021 Football Commits

One common theme that you can identify when looking at Ohio State’s 2021 football recruiting class is that they have very special athletes. And part of the reason for that is because so many of them played a wide variety of sports growing up, whether it was baseball, wrestling, and especially basketball. 

Before they were total studs on the gridiron, most were all-around studs across all youth sports. Matter of fact, some of them still dabble in other sports to this day, and because of that, the idea for this article came about.

As many of you know I also cover Ohio State basketball recruiting here at the Scoop so I figured why not put the two together?

We are going to take five players from Ohio State’s 18 man 2021 football recruiting class and make the best basketball starting five we can. For the most accurate results, we did consult with members of the recruiting class for their takes on who should be in the starting lineup.

So without further ado, here are the starting five.

Point guard – Evan Pryor (5-foot-10 and 190 pounds)

For the point guard spot, we will go with one of Ohio State’s two running back commits in Evan Pryor, who gets the slight nod here over Treveyon Henderson because of his versatility. Neither Henderson nor Pryor plays high school basketball, but both assured us they can hoop. Henderson even went as far as to say that he is the best shooter out of all the commits, which may be true but we have no way of verifying that. 

As for Pryor, he might not have the shooting stroke that Henderson claims to have, but he was more often mentioned by fellow commits when asked who their starting five would be. Truthfully, choosing between these two is splitting hairs here, but Pryor gets the nod because he is a bit of a do-it-all guard who goes very well with our wings. The bread and butter of this team is the 2-3-4 spot, so all we really need in a point guard is a reliable ball-handler who can defend and play hard. With Henderson and Pryor both being able to fill that role, we sided with the commits’ view here and took Pryor. 

Shooting guard – Jayden Ballard (6-foot-2 and 175 pounds)

The 2-3-4 part of this lineup is where making this lineup became easy, as all the recruits we talked to mentioned these three guys. The first of which is Ohio State’s first wide receiver commit, Jayden Ballard, who has plenty of high-flying basketball highlights. A large percentage of football recruits love the sport of basketball and Ballard is one of them, which is evident because he plays varsity basketball for his high school team. 

Even before he committed to the Buckeyes a little over a year ago now, Ballard had put out numerous basketball highlight clips primarily of highlight dunks. But at the high school level, he has shown the ability to do it all as a scoring wing that can shoot, dribble, pass, and defend. In speaking to those that have seen Ballard play, some of the other commits, and Ballard himself the belief is that if he would have given basketball all his attention he would be a division one prospect on the hardwood. With that in mind, Ballard is an easy selection as our shooting guard and gives our team some amazing athleticism on the wing.

Small forward – Marvin Harrison Jr. (6-foot-3 and 190 pounds)

Nearly everything we said above for Ballard could pretty much be copied and pasted here for Harrison Jr. He is a tad bit taller and has more weight than Ballard, which makes him our small forward instead of shooting guard. But outside of the slight height and weight difference, these two are very similar athletes when it comes to quickness, leaping ability, and physicality. Harrison did also play high school basketball, but unlike Ballard who still plays, Harrison ended his basketball career during his younger high school years.

Harrison’s high school teammate and quarterback Kyle McCord assured us that if Harrison would have devoted himself to basketball full time then he too would be a Division I prospect. Those same skills that make him such a talented wide receiver are what leads to the idea of him potentially being a D-I basketball prospect. As we said above, he has excellent leaping stills and tons of short-area quickness. With those two skills in mind, Harrison is at worst a slasher that can get to the rim and throw it down. But it is likely safe to assume that he has at least a decent jump shot from the mid-range and three. Because of all that — and the fact that many commits were confident in Harrison Jr.’s basketball abilities — he gets the spot here.

Power forward – Jack Sawyer (6-foot-5 and 240 pounds)

While most commits included Ballard and/or Harrison in their starting five, only one commit was a unanimous pick, and that was a five-star defensive end, Jack Sawyer. Before he was solely football-focused and an Ohio State commit, Sawyer was viewed by many as the top basketball prospect in central Ohio for 2021, if not the top prospect for the whole state. Sawyer truly loves the game of basketball and that is why he still toys with the idea of playing in eight more games before he early enrolls. But on the hardwood, he can really do it all, whether its in the post scoring with his back to the basket or stepping out to hit a three. Most importantly, he brings that crazy effort and endless motor with him from the football field to the basketball court which makes him an even better player.

There are still plenty of highlights on the internet from Sawyer’s freshman and sophomore basketball seasons where he tore it up on the hardwood. For both Ballard and Harrison, we talked about how they “could” have been a Division I basketball player. But for Sawyer, you can change that could to a would, as in we know from talking to people that he would have been able to play college hoops if he wanted. He has the talent, intelligence, and drive that makes him successful at pretty much everything, but especially basketball and football. He has all the tools and the size to be a very good power forward in our lineup.

Center – Ben Christman (6-foot-6 and 300 pounds)

So far we have a ton of speed, athleticism, and explosiveness, but for our last spot, we needed a true big man that has all those things. Enter Ben Christman. Ever since he entered high school, Christman has played on the Revere basketball team at some level, and this winter was no different. He is exactly what you think he would be on the basketball court — a big stone wall in the middle of the defense that opponents struggle against. Offensively he can throw it down and has great feet in the post.

Going back to the start of this we said the 2-3-4 spot would be our show stoppers, and they were obvious choices. As a result in our 1 and 5 spots we just needed solid players that fill a role. Pryor gave us a solid athletic ball hander and came highly recommended by his fellow commitments. The same goes for Christman. He gives us a giant human in the middle of our five that will make an impact on offense and defense. He was also another guy that the commitments often named because they knew of his basketball background and God-given size. We need Christman to just be an all-around solid player who plays well with our other players and has size. That is why he got our center spot.

Now, this may not be a starting five that Chris Holtmann would take into Big Ten play, but when you’re only using football commits you would be hard-pressed to find a better five in the country than this one.