Ohio State men’s basketball wound down the 2019-20 season stretched thin in the depth department at point guard and center.
The Buckeyes will start next season even thinner.
Freshman guard D.J. Carton’s transfer portal entry means redshirt junior guard CJ Walker may have to play the entire year as the only true point man on the roster, and junior forward Kaleb Wesson’s likely exit to the NBA could render oft-injured junior forward Kyle Young the team’s starting five.
But what the Buckeyes lack in floor generals and size, they will try to make up in length and versatility with a slew of incoming 6-foot-5 to 6-foot-7 wings. The additions could see Ohio State trend toward a positionless style of play.
Four wing players who didn’t appear in an Ohio State game this past season should see time on the court for the Buckeyes given good health next November, and some will bring proven polish.
The newest addition to the roster is 2017-18 Ivy League Player of the Year Seth Towns, a 6-foot-7 forward who made a splash on ESPN Saturday when he chose Ohio State over Duke as his landing spot following a transfer from Harvard.
Towns, who played high school ball at Northland in Columbus, hasn’t played in two seasons due to an ongoing knee injury, but will enter with immediate eligibility and two years left to showcase his skills in scarlet and gray.
He put up 16 points per game and shot 44 percent from 3 on nearly five attempts per game in his sophomore campaign, and he got better as the season progressed. In his 15 performances before the injury, Towns averaged 19 points, six rebounds and two assists.
Towns is equipped with great size for his position and could quickly become the Buckeyes’ best 3-point shooter, barring any rust from the layoff. Many of his buckets for the Crimson came from one or two dribble pull-ups from beyond the arc or just inside the line off of isolation looks.
While Towns might supply the goods from outside, it’s the slashing ability of California transfer Justice Sueing that should have Buckeye fans on notice heading into the new season.
The 6-foot-6 forward sat out as a redshirt for Ohio State this past year after logging two seasons as a Golden Bear. In his sophomore year, Sueing led his team with 14.3 points per game and charted five 20-point performances –– equaling the number of the Buckeyes’ top two scorers this season.
The Hawaii native suffered a setback midway into this season though, as he accrued an injury to his left foot in January that required surgery and relegated him to a boot for the duration of the year.
But Sueing wasn’t alone, as his spot on the bench was usually next to Musa Jallow, the 6-foot-5 junior guard who redshirted after having reconstructive ankle surgery in January. Jallow hadn’t played before then either, as the team announced in October that he would be out indefinitely following an arthroscopic procedure on the ankle.
Jallow had yet to break out in his first two seasons in Columbus, averaging 2.5 and 2.9 points per game in his freshman and sophomore years, respectively, despite starting 23 total games.
Though all three players are returning from injury, Jallow might have a tough go getting minutes ahead of more proven commodities in Towns and Sueing in a wing slot, or even sophomores Duane Washington and Luther Muhammad at the off-guard.
Also entering at shooting guard will be four-star Georgia prospect Eugene Brown, who has teetered around the nation’s top 100 recruits in the 2020 class as a 6-foot-6 wing scorer.
The Buckeyes will lose senior forward Andre Wesson, as well as 6-foot-9 freshman forward Alonzo Gaffney, to professional opportunities, but retooling their wing positions for next year and beyond will be the least of their concerns.