Coming off a disappointing 2016-2017 season, a coaching change and considerable roster turnover, it is fair to say there is uncertainty surrounding the Ohio State men’s basketball team. When asked to compare themselves to NBA players, the Buckeyes answered candidly, giving fans a better sense of what to expect from the roster.
Senior forward Jae’Sean Tate, redshirt junior forward Keita Bates-Diop and sophomore forward/center Micah Potter quickly referenced NBA champions and All-Stars when asked for their comparisons.
“[Cleveland Cavaliers forward] Kevin Love,” Potter responded without hesitation.
“I’m a big white guy that can shoot and I like to rebound,” Potter said. “I think that’s pretty self-explanatory.”
Potter added that he has the capability to throw full-court outlet passes like the ones Love has patented in his career. He said he will have to prove his ability in practice before throwing the long passes in a game, but he is confident in the athletic abilities of his teammates to run the floor, catch the ball and convert the exciting play.
Although the big man from Cleveland proudly compared himself to a champion and four-time All-Star in Love, Tate reluctantly compared himself to a two-time NBA champion and All-Star.
“Everybody’s gonna say [Golden State Warriors forward] Draymond Green,” Tate said. “I mean, that’s an honor. It’s a great compliment, so I guess I got to go with him.”
The comparison to Green stems from the fact both he and Tate are undersized forwards whose versatility allows them to defend multiple positions and make plays all over the floor. Potter agreed wholeheartedly when asked about Tate’s comparison to Green, who earned 2017 NBA Defensive Player of the Year.
“That one is 100 percent true,” Potter said.
Tate said he knows that comparison has accuracy, but prefers to think of himself otherwise.
“I would rather be a [Cleveland Cavaliers guard] Dwyane Wade, but I know I’m not there,” Tate said while flashing a smile.
Tate said he has been working on his jump shot and ball handling, but knows he has a long way to go to resemble Wade, a 12-time All-Star and three-time champion who many regard as one of the best to ever play.
Unlike Tate, Bates-Diop said he best compares to one of his favorite players.
“Probably also my favorite — [San Antonio Spurs forward] Kawhi [Leonard],” Bates-Diop said. “Just because he’s pretty quiet and just goes about his business pretty much.”
Bates-Diop said he does not need a lot of dribbling to make plays offensively, similar to Leonard. He also said he is ready to step up and make impact plays of the defensive side of the floor — much like Leonard, who is a two-time NBA Defensive Player of the Year.
Potter, Tate and Bates-Diop might have thought about comparing themselves to players at the highest level before, but it was clear fifth-year senior shooting guard Kam WIlliams and junior point guard C.J. Jackson had given less thought to the comparisons given their hesitation to answer.
Williams labored over the question for a while as he pondered which players best resemble his game.
“[Houston Rockets guard] Eric Gordon,” Williams eventually said.
He compared Gordon’s 3-point shooting ability and improved pick-and-roll playmaking to his own. Over his career, Williams has shot a solid 39 percent on 3-pointers and said he has been working on his ability to handle the ball in pick-and-roll situations. Williams hopes to break out like Gordon did in 2017 when he finished fourth in 3-point field goals and won Sixth Man of the Year.
Jackson, perhaps the quietest player on the team, did not immediately compare himself to an NBA All-Star.
“I don’t think I can choose one person,” Jackson said. “I try to get a little bit of everyone’s game ’cause obviously you can’t play like a specific person. You just kinda pick little things here and there — what you can do, what you like out of each player.”
The junior point guard said he enjoys watching all guards play and specifically observes the intricacies of what makes Isaiah Thomas, Kyrie Irving, Steph Curry and John Wall so successful. But to Jackson, a guard does not have to be an NBA All-Star to grab his attention.
“It doesn’t really matter the level either,” Jackson said. “You can learn from high school guys.”