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What's the impact of E.J. Liddell's Ohio State pick?

Monday night, top 50 combo forward E.J. Liddell ended any semblance of suspense when he announced that he will play his college basketball at Ohio State.

So, what kind of player are the Buckeyes getting and how does he fit in with their 2019 recruiting class? On the other side, what's the impact of him saying no to Illinois and Missouri and where do the Illini and Tigers turn next?



Chris Holtmann and Ohio State have officially arrived as a force on the recruiting trail. It's pretty hard to argue otherwise.

Liddell is a player that few gave the Buckeyes much of a chance at landing this time a year ago or even six months ago. But here we are and Liddell is headed to Columbus as part of a stout three man class. It didn't raise eyebrows when they got top 50 forward Alonzo Gaffney because he was an Ohio kid. However, for five-star point guard D.J. Carton and now Liddell, Holtmann and his staff had to beat off stiff competition and conference foes for kids that they weren't really expected to land.

As a player Liddell should be able to find immediate playing time as a freshman. He's tough, he's physically strong and he's quick off the floor. If he was a little bigger, we would be talking about a five-star prospect but rankings aside his ability to score in the post, shoot jumpers, rebound and defend as a straight up shot blocker should make him quite useful. As a whole, the class of Liddell, Carton and Gaffney now ranks No. 4 overall in 2019.



Illinois devoted a ton of time and attention to the recruitment of Liddell but unfortunately for Brad Underwood and his staff, it is back to the drawing board for the Illini. Liddell would have filled a major need in the frontcourt as they maintain an evident hole at the 3-4 position, a spot on the floor that has become as valuable as any in today’s game. While they certainly didn't want to lose Liddell to a conference rival like Ohio State, all is not lost.

They did just host top-50 wing Terrence Shannon and while he is more of a perimeter-based prospect compared to Liddell, he's big and athletic enough to also play as a combo forward if needed. The Illini have also made up major ground on his recruitment since his decommitment from hometown DePaul a few weeks back.

Illinois is still scoreless in the 2019 class but after a big 2018 class that brought six new freshmen to the Champaign campus, the Illini didn’t need to hit it out of the park this fall. The sting is so strong because Liddell was a top priority since Underwood landed the job in the spring of 2017. If they can land Shannon or high scoring Quincy Guerrier's pledge and possibly pick up another frontcourt prospect like Oscar Tshiebwe, Kofi Cockburn or Drew Timme today’s loss will be erased quickly thanks to a budding nucleus of underclassmen talent.



Cuonzo Martin and the Tigers put pretty much all of their recruiting eggs in the E.J. Liddell basket and came up short. How do the Tigers respond and what do they do with the scholarship they were hanging onto for Liddell? They did just take the commitment of his former travel teammate, four-star combo guard Mario McKinney, crossing off a backcourt need this fall.

They also made a late splash within the 2018 class when they landed a commitment from Christian Guess, a nice plug-in that has enrolled and can fill a variety of roles at either forward position, so perhaps he can grow into that role and help fill some of the production they were hoping to get from Liddell as a freshman next season.

The Tigers have also already cemented the roster spots of Dru Smith and Mark Smith, two transfer guards from Evansville and Illinois, respectively, that will sit out this season. There are not many others on Missouri’s recruiting board and with their recent success on the transfer market and within the junior college realm, look for the Tigers to sit tight and make another move towards the latter half of the college season.