Ohio State basketball coach Thad Matta is scouting 8th grade tournaments

Ohio State basketball coach Thad Matta is scouting 8th grade tournaments

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Ohio State basketball coach Thad Matta is scouting 8th grade tournaments

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Ohio State coach Thad Matta passed on scouting unsigned senior players to take in a 14-U game in Ohio — USA TODAY Sports Images

Ohio State coach Thad Matta passed on scouting unsigned senior players to take in a 14-U game in Ohio — USA TODAY Sports Images

In case there were lingering doubts that recruiting is very different today than it has been, here’s definitive proof: Ohio State basketball coach Thad Matta spent the weekend at an 8th grade boys basketball tournament.

That’s right, the head basketball coach of the Buckeyes passed on any of the tournaments featuring unsigned seniors or undecided juniors to get a closer look at some members of the Class of 2019. If this seems bizarre to you, well, you’re not alone.

Of course, this isn’t the first time that Matta has taken a long look at a very young prospect. Or at least indicated that he would take a long look in the near future; in October, Matta told reporters that 9-year-old LeBron James Jr. “will be” on his radar.

LeBron James Jr. is 9. Now, in April, Matta is scouting players who are 13 and 14. And he’s definitely not alone.

This is the new normal. You never know when you’ll see the next LeBron, so coaches are scrambling to get to the 13 and 14-year-olds first. And you have to get there first. Why else would Matta be watching the All-Ohio Red 14-U team?

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