‘Lots of unknowns’ for Ohio State team full of young players
Ohio State lost its main source of offense when first-team All-American freshman guard D’Angelo Russell was taken second overall by the Los Angeles Lakers in the 2015 NBA draft.
Five other players were out of eligibility, including floor leaders Shannon Scott and Sam Thompson.
Coach Thad Matta does have six players with freshmen eligibility heading into this season.
”There’s lots of unknowns,” he said. ”No seniors, one junior, all (the rest) freshmen and sophomores. With that said, I like the demeanor of this basketball team. I like the energy of this team. I like the attention to detail. We’re still in a learning process.”
Junior Marc Loving (6-7, 215 pounds) has the most experience with 67 games and 19 starts. Sophomore Jae-Sean Tate (6-4, 230) started the final 16 games and was named to the Big Ten All-Freshman team.
Some things to know as Ohio State prepares to begin the 2015-16 season.
ON THE SPOT: Sophomore forward Keita Bates-Diop was viewed by some to be as good as Russell coming out of high school, but he struggled last season and averaged 3.8 points and 2.1 rebounds in 9.9 minutes per game. ”It was a little difficult for me last year, not playing as much as I did in high school, but it was a great learning experience,” he said. ”Now I feel more ready to come out and have more time this year.”
RESTOCKING: What Matta has going for him is another top-10 recruiting class led by JaQuan Lyle (6-5, 230) from Evansville, Indiana. He was ranked the No. 7 point guard nationally by ESPN and 42nd overall in the class of 2014 (he spent the 2014-15 season training at the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida).
YOUNG AND HUNGRY: There are four other incoming freshmen ranked in the top 100 of the 2015 class: guard Austin Grandstaff (6-4, 188; Rockwell, Texas); forward/center Daniel Giddens (6-10, 228; Mableton, Georgia); guard A.J. Harris (5-9, 157; Dayton, Ohio) and forward Mickey Mitchell (6-7, 232; Plano, Texas).
TALL ORDER: Ohio State also added length with two players in their first year of eligibility. Center Trevor Thompson (6-11, 250) played one season at Virginia Tech before transferring and sitting out the 2014-15 season. The sophomore averaged 5.0 points and 4.7 rebounds for the Hokies. Redshirt freshman center David Bell (6-10, 225) is from Garfield Heights, Ohio.
IN THAD THEY TRUST: In 11 seasons at Ohio State, Matta’s teams have reached the NCAA Tournament nine times, including the past seven seasons. During his tenure he has won four Big Ten tournament championships, reached the Final Four in 2007 and 2012 and won the 2008 NIT championship. Matta is the winningest coach at Ohio State and needs one victory to reach 300 for his time in Columbus (299-94). Including one season at Butler and three at Xavier, he has won at least 20 games in all 15 seasons as a head coach and been in the NCAA Tournament 13 times. His overall record is 401-125.