Non-conference schedule taking shape

Ohio men’s basketball head coach Jeff Boals answers questions during his introductory press conference on Monday, March 18, 2019 in the Convocation Center. Ohio’s non-conference schedule in 2019-20 will include a trip to Myrtle Beach for a three-game tournament.

Like anyone who has recently moved, Jeff Boals is still pondering what is still needed to make his new environs feel more comfortable.

In his office inside the Convocation Center, there’s a list to that effect. How about his framed jersey as a former Bobcat player? Yep, that needs put up. Perhaps a aerial view of the campus? That would look nice. A new couch? You bet.

Boals, Ohio’s new head men’s basketball coach, has just one item he’s looking for in regards to the Bobcats’ 2019-20 roster however. With the official late signing period now over, Ohio still has one glaring need to address between now and the start of Boals’ debut season on the Bobcat bench.

Ohio is still in the market for a transfer center, one with playing experience. Boals and his staff have landed four signees in short order, but an experienced center has remained out of reach so far despite a concerted effort.

“I think we’ll get a JuCo (junior college transfer) or a grad transfer in,” Boals said. “We just have to have someone in that spot that has played before.”

Ohio has one center on the roster in redshirt freshman Nate Springs. Springs, a 6-10 product out of Charlotte, is comfortable stretching the floor from the arc but did not appear in a single game in 2018-19.

And Ohio capped the just-completed signing period with the signing of another young center in Nolan Foster, a 6-10 center out of Mattawan HS in Michigan. Foster had eight Division I offers during his high school career, and picked Ohio after a late April visit over offers from Toledo, Central Michigan and Air Force among others.

Like Springs, Foster is long and lean, and comfortable shooting the long ball. Foster averaged 12 points, eight rebounds and two blocks per game for Mattawan last season as the teams as undefeated in the regular season and captured its first district title since 2006.

“Good size, plays hard,” Boals said. “We like what he can bring.”

Foster’s addition — his signed NLI has been received by Ohio — means the Bobcats have inked five incoming freshmen for 2019-20. The group is expected to arrive in mid-June to take part in summer workouts and to get a start on their academic pursuits.

The signing class includes 6-3 guard Lunden McDay (Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary’s), who signed with Ohio back in November.

Three other members of the class signed after official visits in mid-April, and include a trio of super-productive high school scorers in Ben Roderick (6-5, Olentangy Liberty), Marvin Price (6-4, Patterson HS, Baltimore, Md.) and Miles Brown (6-1, Northstar Christian Academy, Rochester, N.Y.).

With Foster on board, Ohio has now filled five of the seven scholarship openings it was looking at just two months ago. So while an experienced center has remained elusive, Boals is ecstatic about the work done on the recruiting front so far.

“We’re elated with who we got, especially with the timing of everything,” Boals said. “To do what we did in a short amount of time, getting the quality people and player that we did, that’s — to me — been impressive for what our staff has been able to do.

“When we first got here, it was just (assistant) Lamar (Thornton) and I, it’s like ‘Boom, you got six scholarships to fill.’ We brought four kids in that first weekend and got three…that was really big.”

Although the signing period has ended, Ohio can still land additional players. Boals is still hopeful he can get an experienced big, but if not, he said he’s comfortable with saving one or both opening for potential Division I transfers down the road.

“We have everyone on the table,” Boals said. “You search the transfer portal every day for something different.

“It’s all over the place. That’s the biggest thing, trying to figure out who, what, when, where,” he added. “Now we just have to keep turning over rocks, and chop the trees down and find another big.”

With five freshmen coming in, Boals knows the summer months will loom large in Ohio’s trajectory for the 2019-20 season. In short, the Bobcat newcomers will be given every chance to compete and the team will need them ready in October.

“We’re going to need them,” Boals said.

“They’re not going to have a normal freshman learning curve. That’s why it’s important to get those guys up in the summer time to try to get them up to speed as much as you can.”

Email at jarkley@athensmessenger.com; follow on Twitter @JasonAmessenger

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