An anxious state of uncertainty flows through the Schottenstein Center and anyone affiliated with the Ohio State men’s basketball team after Monday’s firing of coach Thad Matta.
Before OSU Athletics Director Gene Smith announced with Matta that the program would be heading in a different direction, the two commitments for the 2018 class, Justin Ahrens and Dane Goodwin, each received a call from OSU assistant coach Greg Paulus informing them of the news.
Tuesday, the three-star forward Ahrens from Versailles, Ohio, decommitted from the Buckeyes 2018 class, making Goodwin, a four-star shooting guard from Upper Arlington, Ohio, the lone commitment in the class as he awaits the hiring of a new head coach at OSU for the 2017-18 season.
Damon Goodwin, Dane’s father and coach of Capital University’s men’s basketball team, told The Lantern that when the two returned home from Damon’s basketball camp at Capital Monday, the family discussed what they wanted to do. He said that Dane still wants to be a Buckeye, if he feels that the program is a good fit.
“He’s kept his commitment (to OSU),” Damon said. “In Dane’s mindset, I think he wants to lay low for the next few days and see what happens and see who this guy is going to be and hopefully they do it fairly quickly.
“Dane committed two-and-a-half years ago and we certainly didn’t foresee this happening at the time. We knew a little bit before it happened. But did we expect it? No. Did I expect it? Certainly not.”
Dane committed to OSU on Dec. 1, 2014 as he was beginning his freshman season at Upper Arlington High School. Having committed so early in the process, Dane’s family never had to worry about going through the recruiting process with him, which Damon said he was thankful for. Now, a wrench has been thrown into that seamlessly easy recruiting cycle raising lots of questions that not only he has to find an answer to, but also other Columbus-area prospects like 2019 guard Jeremiah Francis and 2019 forward Jordan Mitchell.
“The reality is this: (Dane) committed to Ohio State two-and-a-half years ago, but he also committed to Thad Matta. One of those variable is gone now,” Damon said. “Ohio State is a special place and Dane knows that. And he knows how special it can be for him. But there’s just so many question marks as of today.”
Damon said that some of those question are regarding who OSU decides to bring in. Dane and Damon will evaluate the new coach’s style, what type of players he will be looking for among other factors. Damon said he has no doubt OSU will find a very good coach — one who he hopes has a lot of the same qualities Matta had.
“With Dane being a 17-year-old, the last few years he kind of had it planned out where he was going to be and who he was going to be playing for,” he said. “That world has been rocked a little bit right now. It’s tough for him and tough on us as parents. There’s really nothing to do until they decide who is going to lead the program.”
As of now, Dane has not had any other schools directly reach out to him, his father said.
Matta’s departure was especially hard on Dane and their family given the profound impact the former coach had on them from the start of Dane’s recruitment.
“I never knew (Matta) before he recruited Dane,” Damon Goodwin said. “I think Dane and I and our whole family were just kind of blown away by his sincerity. He offered Dane — you know, he hadn’t played a high school game. (Matta) saw him play in the summers. He saw him work out in the fall and when a guy like that makes a commitment to your son, that’s impressive.
“As a father, I don’t know what else you would want out of a coach for your son. He’s a good man. That’s certainly the toughest part.”
Jacob Myers: firstname.lastname@example.org and Twitter @Jacob _Myers_25