The decision that was made only a few days ago was not an easy one for Ohio State redshirt junior forward Keita Bates-Diop. But he felt it was the right one.
Bates-Diop decided to forgo his final year of eligibility and declare for the 2018 NBA Draft, he announced while sitting beside his parents at a press conference Monday afternoon.
“I love this place. I’ve been here for four years and the memories I’ve made here, I had to weigh that versus my future,” Bates-Diop said. “Weighing all of my options, talking to my family, the coaches, former and pro teammates currently, I think it was the best decision for me.”
Bates-Diop said he will sign with an agent and eliminate the possibility of returning to Ohio State for another season, but he has not decided on an agency yet because he has been solely focused on the decision.
One factor that Bates-Diop said made a huge impact on his decision was his graduation from Ohio State in December. Bates-Diop placed an importance on leaving Ohio State with a degree.
In addition to his graduation, the star forward considered what he had to gain, or rather, what he had to lose by staying another season. He fractured his leg near the beginning of his junior season and was forced to take a medical redshirt after appearing in just nine games. The fear of another injury provided Bates-Diop with incentive to leave early and avoid the chance of another injury harming his draft stock.
“I think he realized the timing is right given that he’s 22 [years old] and given that he’s got his degree and all of those things kind of lined up,” Holtmann said. “I think he realized he made a significant contribution to our program in his time here but certainly this year in both his play and his leadership.”
In his final season at Ohio State, Bates-Diop capped off his career with his best season, taking home the Big Ten Player of The Year trophy and leading the Buckeyes to their first NCAA Tournament appearance since 2015.
Feeling that he was leaving the program at a point where it only had an upward trajectory, Bates-Diop took into account the success of the team this past season and realized it was the perfect time to leave.
“It’s the best feeling and kind of one of the best parts about all of this,” Bates-Diop said. “The last couple of years have been down for Ohio State basketball and to do what we did and what I did individually this year and to kind of leave on that note is a bittersweet feeling but it’s probably the best way to go.”
He said he had been debating his future since the start of Big Ten play and that as much as he tried to keep the focus solely on the present, he couldn’t help but look toward the future.
Now he feels relieved to have a decision made so he can focus on the next chapter of his basketball career beyond Ohio State.
“These last four years have been the best four years of my life, and it’s been a great journey,” Bates-Diop said.