Nov. 8, 2006

Press Conference Video

COLUMBUS, Ohio – Thad Matta, who begins his third season in Columbus Friday as head coach of the Ohio State men’s basketball team, announced Wednesday four additions to the program on the first day of the NCAA Letter of Intent signing period.

Ohioans Kosta Koufos, a 7-foot-1-inch forward from Canton GlenOak High School, Dallas Lauderdale, a 6-9 center from Solon High School, Jon Diebler, a 6-7 guard from Upper Sandusky High School and Illinois product Evan Turner, a 6-6 guard from St. Joseph’s High School in Westchester, Ill., all signed official NLI documents Wednesday.

Matta said the 2007 class fits the academic and athletic profile he strives to assemble.

“The overall quality of the student-athletes epitomizes the kind of person we want at The Ohio State University,” Matta said. “They are character guys and great people. I think the guys are who they are in part because of the high-level of coaching they’ve received in high school. The coaches of the four student-athletes are well known, respected and incredibly successful teachers of the game.”

“One of the things we wanted to do was string together exceptional classes,” Matta said. “We feel we have accomplished that goal with the 2006 and 2007 classes.”

Koufos averaged 24 points, 11.1 rebounds and 4.0 blocks as a junior before breaking his foot in practice before the 12th regular-season game, missing the rest of the season. He averaged 15.3 points, 7.8 rebounds and 3.7 blocks during his sophomore campaign. As a junior he was an Associated Press second-team All-Ohio selection.

GlenOak was 18-5 during Koufos’ sophomore season and he was the only sophomore on the Canton Repository’s All-Stark County team. During the summer before his junior year he led a group of Ohio all-stars to an unbeaten record in a tournament in Italy. With Koufos sidelined as a junior, the Golden Eagles finished 17-6.

Matta said Koufos’ abilities are unusual for a player of his size.

“Kosta and Jon (Diebler) are similar in a lot of ways,” Matta said. “Kosta is 7-1 with the shooting, passing and ballhandling skills of a guard. He is unique and will help us with what we are trying to do offensively.”

Lauderdale averaged 21 points, 9.9 rebounds and 4.5 blocks as a junior for a 23-2 team that advanced to the Ohio Division I regional finals before falling to eventual state champion Canton McKinley. Lauderdale earned first-team Associated Press All-Ohio honors as a junior.

In Lauderdale’s sophomore season, Solon posted a record of 25-1 losing only to Mansfield Senior, a game away from making the state tournament final four. Lauderdale averaged 17.5 points, 13 rebounds and nearly five blocks a game that season.

Tireless effort, especially on the defensive end, is the attribute that surfaces when watching Lauderdale, Matta said.

“What we liked most about Dallas is his athleticism and his overall length,” Matta said. “His energy level never runs low. His motor never quits. He is a relentless rebounder and shot blocker. His abilities on defense will make us a better basketball team.”

Diebler earned first-team All-Ohio honors last season. He averaged 35.5 points, 9.3 rebounds, 4.3 assists, 4.2 steals, 4.1 blocked shots and had games of 77 and 52 points as a junior. He connected on an Ohio state high school record 27 free throws (in 28 attempts) in his 77-point effort against Tiffin Columbian Jan. 13, 2006. The offensive outburst was an Upper Sandusky scoring record. He made 22 of 42 field goal attempts, including six 3-pointers, four of which were made in a span of 56 seconds during the third quarter. He also added 16 rebounds in that game.

The 77 points rate No. 7 all time for a single game in Ohio High School Athletic Association history. It also was the highest point total for a player in 37 years. Former Buckeye Allan Hornyak, who starred at Bellaire St. John’s, scored 86 points in a game against Tiltonsville in 1969.

Diebler, whose brother Jake is a sophomore at Valparaiso, led Upper Sandusky to a 28-0 record and an Ohio state championship as a sophomore. Jon averaged 26.3 points a game that year after an average of 23.6 points as a freshman at Fostoria.

Diebler enters his senior season with 2,106 career points scored. He ranks No. 27 on the Ohio all-time scoring list. He needs 852 points to catch former Buckeye Jay Burson’s state record 2,958 career points while attending New Concord John Glenn (1981-85). Cleveland Cavaliers star LeBron James is No. 3 on the Ohio all-time scoring list with 2,646 career points.

Like Koufos, Diebler’s skill level has the Buckeye head coach excited about the future of the program.

“First and foremost, Jon Diebler is a winner,” Matta said. “His skill level shooting, passing and handling the ball fit well with our system. He has a passion for the game and is a relentless worker.”

Turner was the final piece to the class of 2007 for the Buckeyes. He averaged 16 points and six rebounds as a junior in one of the better high school leagues in the state of Illinois. Turner helped St. Joseph’s win the East Suburban Catholic Conference title a year ago. The Chargers advanced to down Fenwick in sectional competition before losing to Proviso East, 75-53, in Illinois’ Class AA Farragut Sectional final.

The Chargers finished the 2005-06 season 28-2 and have won 48-consecutive conference games heading into the 2006-07 season.

Turner gives the Ohio State coaches options.

“The thing about Evan is his versatility,” Matta said. “He is a basketball player, an athlete. “He can play every position on the floor except center. He has a tremendous understanding of the game and how it’s played. His high school traditionally is one of the premier programs in the state of Illinois.”

Ohio State opens the 2006-07 season at 8 p.m. Friday in the opening round of the BCA Classic at Value City Arena. The Buckeyes take on VMI in the opener and will face either Loyola (Ill.) or Princeton at 8 p.m. Saturday. The event concludes Sunday.

The Buckeyes finished the 2005-06 campaign 26-6 overall, 12-4 in league play along with an outright Big Ten regular-season title and a trip to the program’s 19th NCAA postseason appearance.

2007-08 Ohio State Men’s Basketball Recruiting Class

Name Ht. Wt. Pos. High School Hometown High School Coach
Jon Diebler 6-7 170 G Upper Sandusky Upper Sandusky, Ohio Keith Diebler
Kosta Koufos 7-1 250 F/C GlenOak Canton, Ohio Jack Greynolds
Dallas Lauderdale 6-9 250 C Solon Solon, Ohio Todd Van Reeth
Evan Turner 6-6 180 G/F St. Joseph’s Westchester, Ill. Gene Pingatore