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Commentary: Future is bright for the Ohio State basketball team

Cody Cousino / Photo editor

It was that all too familiar feeling.

After a dominant 34-25 scoreline heading into the break, the question lingering in the back of every Buckeye fan’s head was slowly becoming a reality – could they really lose this game?

I wanted to believe I went colorblind, or that Ohio State started the half wearing Kansas’ jerseys as an early April Fool’s prank, but that wasn’t the case.

A common sequence transpired for the next 20 minutes. Kansas responded, breaking hearts in Columbus, eliminating the Buckeyes from the Final Four, 64-62.

So there is a new question for Buckeye fans – what could be next for the OSU men’s basketball team?

It can be expected that changes will be made when a team travels the distance OSU did in the tournament. Between coaches wanting to find a new home and players graduating or entering the next level of competition, it is a common chain of events.

The question can be summarized as a big “what if?” but a prediction is necessary with all the talent surrounding the team.

Former guard William Buford will be the only player leaving the roster due to his senior status. Forward Evan Ravenel and guard Alex Rogers will be the only seniors on the roster beginning next year.

The leading scorer, former sophomore forward Jared Sullinger, is officially out. The sophomore announced his departure on Wednesday, opening up the center position for the Buckeyes.

Satch Sullinger, Jared Sullinger’s father, weighed in on the topic to WBNS-10TV’s ‘Wall to Wall Sports’ following the loss on Saturday: “The one question that I’ll have for Jared is, at this point, coming back, what do you have to prove?”

The All-American didn’t have much more to prove.

Sullinger led the team in points and rebounds for the past two years. If health was a major concern, it was no surprise that we saw the last game Sullinger plays in the scarlet and gray.

Sophomore forward Deshaun Thomas will have until April 10 to make his decision on entering the NBA Draft, according to the NCAA.

With Buford and Sullinger gone, and the possibility of Thomas joining them, there will be a void that needs to be filled.

When it comes down to it, the Buckeyes are young.

Freshman forward Sam Thompson and sophomore guard Jordan Sibert are prepared to take the two open positions. Thompson played in each game this season and has impressive athleticism and ball handling. On the other hand, Sibert appeared in 24 games this season, but offers good size alongside sophomore guard Lenzelle Smith Jr.

Bearing in mind the departure from Sullinger, Ravenel would be a solid replacement. Ravenel was the only other player to start for the Buckeyes this season providing plenty of minutes off the bench during the tournament as well, but don’t be for certain he is the answer.

Enter freshman center Amir Williams.

The soon-to-be-sophomore stands in at 6-foot-11. Sitting behind Sullinger, he didn’t see much action this season, but Buckeye fans took notice when he stepped in against Syracuse in the Elite Eight.

With the youth on the bench and the talent to fill the void; the team should be able to make another strong push into the tournament.

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