Moments after time had expired on the 2009 Ohio high school boy’s basketball championship game in March, the victorious Columbus-Northland Vikings lined up to shake hands with runner-up Cincinnati-Princeton.
When Northland’s Jared Sullinger met Princeton’s Jordan Sibert in line, the teams came to a brief halt. Sullinger took a moment to console a dejected Sibert before the two left the Schottenstein Center court in different directions.
Before ever playing for a state title, Sibert and Sullinger became friends. They gave two of the earliest verbal commitments to Ohio State’s 2010 recruiting class. Last week, they officially signed their letters of intent, and along with four other high school seniors, joined what some consider to be the best group of recruits in the nation.
Joining Sibert and Sullinger are DeShaun Thomas from Fort Wayne, Ind., Lenzelle Smith from Zion, Ill., Aaron Craft from Findlay, Ohio and J.D. Weatherspoon, Sullinger’s teammate at Northland.
The group members, dubbed as the “Super Six,” have grown to know each other well.
“I love the fact that they’ve got a good feel for each other,” coach Thad Matta said. “They’re very close, and they’ve communicated for the last couple of years in the process of the recruiting.”
Matta has adapted a knack for bringing in highly touted recruiting classes during his career in Columbus. Including Sullinger and Thomas, he has signed eight five-star recruits since 2006, according to Rivals.com.
Matta said even though they might be highly rated, he treats these players like all the others.
“The one thing I always try to do with recruits, once they finish their senior year of high school, I go and sit down with them and just say, ‘Alright here’s how it’s going to be,'” Matta said. “‘It’s going to be unlike anything you’ve ever been through before. It’s a completely different game. It’s a completely different level.'”
This most recent class will draw comparison to OSU’s 2006 class that included four players now on NBA rosters. Matta is not ready to compare the two in terms of talent, but he said there is one thing both groups have in common.
“I think we got in both classes what we needed,” Matta said. “When they rank recruiting classes, they need to rank it on, ‘Did the team get what they needed?’ For us, I think we got what we needed not only for this year but for the future of our program.”
What is particularly encouraging about these recruits, Matta said, is the success they’ve had on and off the court.
“We’ve got six great kids and six kids that I think truly understand what Ohio State is about athletically and academically,” Matta said. “You have three 4.0 students in the class. Every guy has played for a state championship, and three of them have won a state championship.”
Among the three state champions is Sullinger. With all the hype surrounding the “Super Six,” Buckeye fans hope the next time he hoists a trophy, Sibert will get to join him.