The Ohio State men’s basketball team will need to find a way to replace a large void of production in its starting five for the 2018-19 season.
Redshirt junior forward Keita Bates-Diop will not return to Columbus for his final season of collegiate eligibility, electing to enter the NBA draft on Monday, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.
After missing a majority of the 2016-17 season due to an injury, Bates-Diop returned to the starting five to begin the season and emerged as a star for the Buckeyes, averaging 19.8 points, 8.7 rebounds, 1.6 assists and 1.6 blocks per game. The breakout campaign netted him 2018 Big Ten Player of the Year honors, as well as first-team all-conference by both the media and coaches.
In Ohio State’s two games in the NCAA Tournament, Bates-Diop averaged 26 points and 7.5 rebounds per game, scoring 24 points in the first-round matchup against South Dakota State and 28 points in the second round against Gonzaga. He shot 17-for-40 overall, including 8-of-22 from 3.
Head coach Chris Holtmann led the Buckeyes to a surprising season few expected in his first year at the helm of the team. Now following Bates-Diop’s exit from the team, Holtmann will have several key positions to fill. The team saw both starting shooting guard Kam Williams and another forward Jae’Sean Tate spend their final years of eligibility.
It is expected that given the loss of both forwards, freshman and former four-star prospect Kyle Young will be counted on to produce in at least one of the two starting positions. In a limited role during his first season, Young averaged just 1.8 points, 1.6 rebounds and 0.2 assists per game with 8.6 minutes per game.
Other candidates to fill out the starting spots at forward will be sophomore Andre Wesson and incoming freshmen Jaedon LeDee and Justin Ahrens.
Bates-Diop is expected to hold a press conference at Ohio State later Monday.