Nov. 1, 2017
The guard spot, especially at the point position, is a position where depth is the leanest on the 2017-18 roster. The Buckeyes will depend on junior C.J. Jackson, now in his second year on the roster. The 6-foot-1-inch Charlotte, North Carolina, native moves from the backup to lead point guard this season. He excelled down the stretch a year ago and will be looked upon to take the lead role in Coach Chris Holtmann’s offense.
Holtmann added Andrew Dakich, a graduate transfer from the University of Michigan, over the summer to help with experience at the point guard position. The Buckeyes also could look to forward Jae’Sean Tate to help organize the offense as well this season.
Fifth-year senior Kam Williams is the first option at the two-guard position with rookie Musa Jallow, a freshman from Bloomington, Indiana, also expected to earn time early in his career. Jallow, who should be a senior in high school this year, earned his diploma early and reclassified to become part of the talented Ohio State freshman class this season. Williams will be looked upon for his outside scoring and experience with Jallow providing the ability get to the basketball, rebound and play defense.
After taking over the program in June, Holtmann worked to add depth at the guard position with the additions of freshman Connor Fulton, a recruited walk-on at Butler who followed Holtmann to Columbus. Matt Lehmann and Danny Hummer, both juniors with local ties to Columbus, also joined the roster as walk-ons. Lehmann, from Bishop Watterson High School in Columbus, was already a student at Ohio State after originally starting his career at West Virginia as a walk-on basketball player. Hummer, who played locally at Upper Arlington High School, transferred from the Air Force Academy after playing for two years. He will sit out the 2017-18 season to satisfy NCAA transfer rules and will have two years of eligibility beginning in 2018-19.
Junior Joey Lane, who originally walked-on for the 2015-16 season, was placed on scholarship last season and will remain again this season.
Tate returns as Ohio State’s leading scorer in this his final season in Columbus. His efforts will get a boost from the return of Keita Bates-Diop, who missed the majority of last season with a stress-fracture in his left leg. This talented duo will set the tone for a couple newcomers and one other returner at the forward position.
Andre Wesson is back after a successful freshman campaign. The sophomore from nearby Westerville, Ohio, missed most of the summer conditioning sessions with a medical concern. He has been cleared to return to all activities and is working his way back into game readiness.
He will be joined by two the highest-rated recruits from the state of Ohio last year. Andre’s brother Kaleb, is a 6-9 forward/center who was ranked the No. 1 player in Ohio while earning 2017 Ohio State Mr. Basketball honors. Kaleb is Ohio State’s first Ohio Mr. Basketball recruit since Marc Loving in 2013. He is the ninth Ohio Mr. Basketball to sign with the Buckeyes and 10th overall to play for the Buckeyes. Kyle Young, who played at Massillon (Ohio) Jackson, was the No. 2 rated player in Ohio a year ago. He originally signed with Butler but elected to transfer to his home state school once Holtmann was hired at Ohio State. Young helps Ohio State’s depth in the front court with a healthy blend of experience and youth.
The Buckeyes will use a variety of lineups this season with several players seeing time at the center position. Sophomore Micah Potter will likely play at both center and forward with Kaleb Wesson doing the same. Bates-Diop and Tate also could find themselves guarding the paint this season. Bates-Diop, with his 7-foot-3-inch wing span and 6-7 frame provides shot blocking and offensive consistency down low. Tate has an uncanny ability to score inside over much taller players with tremendous footwork and a plethora of offensive moves accented with a feathery lefty touch. Potter is a threat to score both inside and from beyond the arc while also providing a steady rebounder. Wesson is one of the most offensively skilled big men the join the Buckeyes in recent years.
Ohio State will open the Holtmann era Nov. 10 vs. Robert Morris at Value City Arena (7 p.m.). The non-conference schedule is one of the most challenging slates in recent memory with games scheduled against both the 2017 NCAA Champions (North Carolina) and the team that finished No. 2 (Gonzaga). Ohio State takes on Gonzaga as part of the Phil Knight Invitational (PK80) in Portland as part of an event honoring Nike’s founder. The UNC game is part of the CBSSports Class this year in New Orleans.
The Buckeyes open Big Ten play at Wisconsin Dec. 2 and return to face Michigan at home Dec. 4. These games were moved to early December because the conference season was moved up a week to facilitate the annual league tournament games at Madison Square Garden in New York in late Februrary/early March.