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Basketball: New-look Ohio State team rests, prepares for upcoming season

 

Ohio State head coach Chris Holtmann watches the game from the sideline in the second half in the game against Michigan State on Jan. 7 in Value City Arena. Ohio State won 80-64. Credit: Jack Westerheide | Managing Editor for Design 

The Ohio State basketball team is in a completely different place than it was one year ago. Without a head coach until mid-June, the Buckeyes appeared headed for a season without much expectation for success.

Now, after one season with Holtmann under its belt, Ohio State has a full summer with the coaching staff to prepare for the upcoming season.

For junior center Micah Potter, that security is an important thing. It means working an entire summer with the same coaching staff, a summer to work with strength and conditioning coach Quadrian Banks to get physically prepared after an injury-filled season.

However, even with the success last year and the ability to have a full summer to prepare, Potter believes there are still tempered expectations when it comes to Ohio State basketball.

“I think we have a little bit of higher expectations for us,” Potter said. “But at the same time, I don’t know if the expectations are too high because of how much we lost.”

Ohio State will be without the reigning Big Ten Player of the Year, forward Keita Bates-Diop, and forward Jae’Sean Tate, a player Potter described as one of the best leaders in school history.

However, the future is imminent for the Buckeyes. Ohio State has four members of the 2018 class, including four-star shooting guard Luther Muhammad and four-star power forward Jaedon LeDee, that could be counted on to fill the void left by several departing players.

Along with the freshman class to make a potential impact in the next calendar year, the Buckeyes brought in Keyshawn Woods, a graduate transfer point guard who last played for Wake Forest. Last season, he averaged 11.9 points per game, shooting 43.9 percent from the floor.

In summer practices, it is neither Woods’ scoring ability nor his ability to fluidly switch and guard multiple positions that impresses Potter the most.

“[Woods] could have a contested shot, he will make the extra pass,” Potter said. “He could drive the lane and then it could be help-side defense coming over, he’ll kick the ball out, like it’s insane. I don’t know if I have ever played with a guy that is that unselfish.”

Along with Woods, former Florida State guard C.J. Walker joined Ohio State in the offseason with two years of eligibility left. Despite an inability to play in the upcoming season due to the NCAA transfer rules, Walker has already made an impact, with Potter talking about his ability to shoot on a step-back jumper out of a screen.

“He’s got that ability to use his body and then, you know, flip [the ball] over taller defenders is really good,” Potter said. “In practice especially this year, he’s really going to make a lot of people better.”

Even with the new look of Ohio State heading into the 2018-19 season, Potter said the message from the coaching staff for the summer is to relax and not only prepare physically, but mentally for the season ahead.

“Everyone needs time off. Sometimes too much is too much,” Potter said. “For the game of basketball, a lot of it is mental. It’s a big mental game and so when you can have that kind of a break, it’s nice.”

Ohio State has had time off to recover from the disappointing end to its season. Now, it’s time for them to begin preparing to ensure the successful start to the Holtmann-era continues into his second season.

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