Last week our first basketball recruiting article was all about Malaki Branham, Ohio State’s top target in the 2021 class and an Ohio native. Well if Branham is the top target, then five-star small forward Kendall Brown is not too far behind him. Ohio State currently has two commitments in the 2021 class with Meechie Johnson and Kalen Etzler both of whom are long term program players with high upside. Now with limited space left in the class, the Buckeyes are shooting for the stars and trying to get top-level athletic studs, enter Kendall Brown and Malaki Branham.
After talking about Branham last week it is time that we break down Ohio State’s second-biggest target, Kendall Brown, this week. Just moments after the story on Branham got published last week the 6-foot-8, 205 pound Brown picked up the phone and we talked about his recruitment. Truthfully, many Buckeye basketball fans and even I do not know much about the five-star small forward from Sunrise Christian Academy in Witctha, Kansas. So who better to tell us above Kendall Brown than Kendall himself.
“When I go to a college they are not going to just get me as a player, they are going to get the personality and my whole character. They are not just going to get the hooper and one side of me, I am an all-around person.”
Just as we discussed with Branham last week we asked Brown how it feels having his last spring of AAU basketball taken from him.
“It is tough,” he said. “It is very hard, but God has a plan and everything happens for a reason so I’m just going to keep trusting him. It sucks that I didn’t get to play my last AAU year but I am going to keep looking forward because there are better things coming.”
As for what Brown has to look forward to, his Sunrise Christian team has four players in the nation’s top 150 for the 2021 class alone.
Obviously, Brown lost his last year of AAU because of the COVID-19 outbreak but that was not the only thing in his basketball career that was affected by the pandemic.
“It kinda shifted my whole process. I was going to wait to cut my list till after AAU and see where it takes me. But since all the visits are canceled and put to a halt I decided to cut my list and focus on those schools then take my visits whenever I get the chance.”
That list he is talking about is his top ten schools which he put out on May 16th. The list featured Baylor, Minnesota, Kansas, Maryland, Illinois, Virginia, Arizona, Arkansas, Marquette, and the Ohio State Buckeyes. Of those ten schools, Brown has only been able to officially visit two so far, Ohio State and Marquette. Brown’s trip to Columbus came on February 23rd when the 22nd ranked Buckeyes beat a top ten team in the Maryland Terrapins in front of the ruckus Schott crowd.
“I was there for a short time,” he recalled. “It was weird (because) for some reason it was one of the shortest officials but they showed me a lot and I really liked it. I really liked the atmosphere of the game. I really liked the campus and just where everything is. I just like everything about them [Ohio State] from the way they play to the school side of stuff.”
He also told Buckeye Scoop what put Ohio State inside his top ten along with big-name programs like Kansas, Virginia, and Baylor.
“I always just liked Ohio State,” he said. “They are kinda like the underdog compared to all these other schools. But I just really like their style of play and now they use players like me. I could really see myself fitting their playstyle and succeeding.”
One other bonus for the Buckeyes here is that on his visit he got to spend the game next to Ohio State commits Meechie Johnson and Kalen Etzler along with Ohio native and top target Malaki Branham. Needless to say, since that visit Johnson and Etzler have been doing their best recruiting job on the five-star and he is listening.
“They are just really cool dudes,” Brown said. “Even though I was there for a short time we were able to bond and just talk about the real stuff in recruiting, the college, and all that it was just really real. They are good people. I still hear from them it is a chill relationship, those are my guys. We talk here and there and they are not getting too annoying like hitting me every day to tell me to come here but they are chill and understand what it’s like.”
Along with hearing from the current commits Brown also hears daily from the Ohio State coaching staff and primarily second-year assistant Jake Diebler.
“It is a great relationship,” he said. “(Diebler) has been recruiting me hard and a lot. But the past couple of months we just really bonded and shared some things of interest. And he has just been constantly telling me how I will succeed, showing me the opportunities, and where I will I fit which I really like.”
Brown also mentioned how he hears from a number of head coaches at the schools he is considering including Chris Holtmann.
“I hear from the whole staff and coach Holtmann a lot but it’s him and coach Diebler the most. Hearing from the whole staff has a big role in my recruitment and it means a lot compared to just hearing from one guy.”
As far as Ohio State’s main competition, Brown maintains that he hears daily from all the schools in his top ten. However, Ohio State and Marquette were the only two schools to get officials this winter along with the nearby Kansas Jayhawks getting an unofficial visit. Minnesota is also his home state and the Golden Gophers with Richard Pitino are making a full staff effort to keep him home.
Despite putting out a top ten last May and saying that he is still open I would peg those four schools I mentioned above as the top group with all other trailings behind. Each school has different things going for them. Minnesota is home. Marquette is close to his brother at Milwaukee and they are selling is a basketball school. Kansas has the national name and close proximity to his high school. And finally, at Ohio State, he has close relationships with both the coaches and commits along with being a great playstyle fit.
Similar to Branham a decision from Brown is still a way out but Ohio State has set themselves up very well here and at the risk of sounding like a homer, I think they are at least tie for the top spot. A Malaki Branham and Kendall Brown finish would be a bottom of the ninth 0-2 count 2 out grand slam home run for the Buckeyes and in all honesty, it could very well happen.