EDITOR'S NOTE -- This story was updated at midnight Nov. 1 with comments from William Buford.
Sunday evening, William Buford jumped the gun perhaps a little sooner than many people expected and dialed Ohio State head coach Thad Matta to issue a verbal commitment.
The 6-5 guard from Toledo Libbey High School visited Ohio State, Michigan State and Kentucky this fall and had also been to Michigan and Ohio State and Michigan State each on a couple of occasions. But before the No. 11-ranked prospect in 2008 according to ScoutHoops.com could take an upcoming weekend trip to Indiana, he decided enough was enough.
“I just wanted to get everything done so I can concentrate on my season and my schoolwork,” Buford told Bucknuts.com Tuesday evening. “I didn’t need to wait any longer and I thought it would be better for my parents."
The junior averaged 22.7 points a game as a sophomore. He had a terrific summer in the eyes of many college coaches and recruiting analysts and scouting services. Enough so that Ohio State, Michigan, Michigan State, Kentucky, Arizona, Louisville, Cincinnati, Indiana and many other programs had offered scholarships.
Although Buford and his parents visited Lexington in October with talk of possible visits to Indiana, Illinois, Cincinnati and Louisville, rumors had circled for several months that he was a strong lean to the Buckeyes since late in the summer.
When asked how long Buford had been thinking about committing to Ohio State, he did nothing to dispel those rumors.
“It’s been crossing my mind for a little while,” he said. “I’ve liked Ohio State a lot.”
The D-One Greyhounds’ 16-and-under star had been a priority of Matta's for several months. During the King James Shooting Stars Classic in Akron this past May, Ohio State coaches were present for each and every game Buford played on Saturday and Sunday – the only days allowed by NCAA rule during AAU tournaments.
The hard work paid off for Ohio State.
“They have been real good to us,” said Buford’s father William Sr. “Coach Matta has shown he cares about William as a person and as a player.”
Buford reportedly was sold on Ohio State by the time he took his most recent visit in September.
“I like the players, the school and I really like the coach,” he said of the reasons he selected Ohio State. “It’s a good fit and it’s close to home.”
Proximity to Buford’s Toledo home was a big factor because it allows his parents to drive to Columbus to watch his games in college. That had been a big selling point, according to the elder Buford.
“Me and my wife want to be able to come watch him play,” Buford Sr. said.
When asked what schools it came down to for Buford, he didn’t really have any.
“I really didn’t have a list or anything,” Buford said. “Honestly I didn’t have a top five or whatever. I liked Ohio State and I was looking at some other schools I guess, but that’s about it.”
Buford said he decided he was going to commit this past weekend. Saturday night he informed his father and they sat down with Buford’s mother and talked it over.
By Sunday evening, he had called all of the coaches to inform them of the commitment. Now Buford is the third member of the 2008 recruiting class to commit to Ohio State thus far, joining 6-3 Walter Offutt of Indianapolis and 7-1 B.J. Mullens of Canal Winchester, Ohio.
“I just felt most comfortable there,” Buford concluded.
Ohio State currently has one more scholarship to give for the 2008 recruiting class, although that number could change to two or three more before this class signs in November 2007. They’re chasing 6-1 point guard Anthony Crater, 6-7 Delvon Roe and 6-8 Yancy Gates.
Below is the original story on Buford's verbal from Tuesday morning.
A family source has confirmed that Toledo Libbey junior basketball standout William Buford has issued a verbal commitment to Ohio State.
On Tuesday morning, Buford's father, William Buford Sr., confirmed to Bucknuts.com that rumors his son had issued a verbal commitment to Ohio State were accurate.
Buford, a 6-5 wing, called up Ohio State head coach Thad Matta Sunday evening and broke the news that he was ending his recruitment and wanted to attend Ohio State when his high school career was finished.
“He committed Sunday evening,” said Buford Sr. “I didn’t get to talk to Thad Matta or (assistant) John Groce, but William talked to them and Matta said, ‘You made me the happiest guy in Columbus.’ ”
Buford is ranked No. 11 overall in the class of 2008 in the nation by ScoutHoops.com and the No. 3 shooting guard. Chris Johnson of HoopscoopOnline.com and Ohio High magazine has Buford as the No. 2-ranked player in Ohio behind Delvon Roe.
Last season as a sophomore, Buford averaged 22.7 points and over 10 rebounds a game for Libbey. He earned first-team All-District and second-team All-Ohio honors in Division I. He has visited Ohio State several times and also made trips this fall to Michigan State and Kentucky, and made a trip to Michigan in the past.
“We were going to visit Indiana this weekend,” added Buford Sr., “but we canceled that after William committed.”
According to Buford’s father, Buford and their family intended to wait a little longer before making a decision, but he said his son came to him and knew it was time to make a decision.
He selected Ohio State over Michigan State and Kentucky among others. Buford had scholarship offers from Ohio State, Michigan, Michigan State, Arizona, Louisville, Cincinnati, Kentucky and Indiana among others.
Buford helped lead the D-One Greyhounds to the AAU under-16 national championship this past summer.
Buford joins Canal Winchester, Ohio, 7-0 center B.J. Mullens and Indianapolis Warren Central 6-3 guard Walter Offutt as verbals for OSU's 2008 class. The Buckeyes have one scholarship left for that class, although more space could open before that class can sign in November 2007 or by the time these players can enroll in the summer of 2008.