Matt Croci’s eighth recruiting class as the Wittenberg Tigers men’s basketball coach includes Clark County’s Mr. Basketball, two other players who topped 1,000 points in their high school careers and the son of a former Wittenberg assistant coach.
The eight-man 2023 recruiting class joins a team that finished 13-12 last season.
“We’re excited,” Croci said Monday. “I think it’s a really good class with lot of depth, a lot of size, which is what we were looking for. We’re not graduating a ton, so it was a good opportunity to beef up the quantity and get roster numbers back up a little bit. We needed size, rebounding, interior depth, things like that. I feel pretty good about hitting on those goals.”
Here’s a quick glance at each player:
• Tyler Galluch, 6-foot-4 wing, Catholic Central: He’s a two-time Ohio Heritage Conference Player of the Year who won the Clark County Mr. Basketball Award as a senior, averaging 20.7 points, 10.6 rebounds, 2.9 assists and 1.3 blocks. He was also the Southwest District Player of the Year in Division IV. He scored 1,596 points in his career.
“We’ve had him in camp for years and have been watching him grow up since he was a little kid,” Croci said, “so that’s pretty cool. We went through that with Levi (Boettcher) a few years ago. He grew up coming to camp and then came here. That’s kind of a surreal moment for me. Having these kids in the gym when they’re little and then getting to a point where they’re good enough that you can recruit them and want them to join the program. He obviously had a great career, individually, and was on some really good teams at Catholic Central. He can provide some interior support. He’s big and strong and can rebound and score at multiple levels. He fills a lot needs for us.”
• AJ Taylor, 6-6 forward, Wellington School (Columbus): He was the District 10 Player of the Year in Division IV and earned an all-state special mention. He’s the son of Artie Taylor, an assistant coach at Wittenberg on Bill Brown’s staff from 2002-07 and then the head coach at Ohio Dominican from 2007-13. Taylor has been the head coach at Wellington since 2014.
“Like Tyler, AJ has been around Wittenberg his whole life,” Croci said. “He was a baby when Artie was coaching here. AJ had a really good individual high school career. The team struggled a little bit the last couple of years. They were just a little thin. He’s another guy, like Tyler, that provides some some scoring and rebounding and defensive presence inside.”
• Keith Rivers, 6-6 forward, Walsh Jesuit (Cuyahoga Falls): He made the All-Crown Conference second team and helped lead his team to a 20-8 record and a regional final appearance in Division I.
“He’s a rim protector, a rebounder, a defensive guy,” Croci said, “and played in a great high school program.”
• Grayson Steury, 6-0 guard, Ashland: A three-time first-team all-conference selection, he scored 1,399 points in his career, ranking second in school history.
“He is one of those kids that can kind of score at every level,” Croci said. “He can really shoot it. He can play on or off the ball, which is great. He fits some of the other guard play that we already have. He can play with some bigger guards and bring the ball up. He can play with smaller guards and play off the ball if we need him. He’s just a knockdown shooter from from distance. We certainly needed to add some scoring ability and shooting ability. We struggled with that a little bit. It’s nice to have another guy who can make shots. I think he’s got a chance to be pretty good.”
• Jamison Bates, 6-0 guard, Dayton Christian: The offensive player of the year in the Metro Buckeye Conference, he topped 1,000 points in his high school career. He earned an All-Ohio special mention in D-IV.
“He had a good career,” Croci said, “and they had a nice run his senior year and had some pretty good teams. He’s another guy that’s a winner and can put the ball in the basket and another guard that can kind of play multiple spots right on or off the ball. I think for him it’ll just be about how he fits with some of the other guys that we already have. Like Grayson, he has the ability to make shots and play multiple spots.”
• Harrison Sager, 6-5 wing, Elgin (Marion): He set a school record for career blocks and also ranks fourth in Elgin history in made 3-pointers.
“He adds depth and good inside rebounding,” Croci said. “He’s kind of a bigger wing, probably a more of a face-up four for us. He has been a multi-sport athlete who played a lot of different things. He can move really well.”
• Drew Gunnoe, 6-4 wing, Dublin Jerome: He was a scholar-athlete in the Ohio Capital Conference and a National Honors Society president.
“Drew is a really good shooter,” Croci said. “He can guard some bigger guys with his size. Jerome’s been really good the last few years, so he’s been a part of some really good teams. He knows what it takes to win and can make shots.”
• Jayden Buchanan, 6-6 wing, Ponitz (Dayton): He was his team’s most-improved player and a second-team selection in the Dayton Public Schools league.
“Jayden is probably more like 6-7,” Croci said. “He’s long. He can play a lot of different positions. Ponitz has been really good the last couple of years. He played with some college guys and against some college guys. He’s one of those guys that needs to get a little bigger and stronger, but he’s already a really good defensive player and really good rebounder, which we love. As his offensive game develops, he’ll have an opportunity to help us quite a bit.”