Tuesday, Jul 17, 2018
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Projecting Ohio State's next starting 5

COLUMBUS — Ohio State’s season ended Saturday against Gonzaga in the NCAA tournament, which was surprising for where it happened, not how.

A Buckeyes team with virtually no outside expectations finished second in the Big Ten, drew a No. 5 seed, and played into the round of 32 in the NCAA tournament in coach Chris Holtmann’s first season in Columbus.

Now that this run is finished, Ohio State will look quite a bit different next season

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Ohio State's Kaleb Wesson, left, figures to be a mainstay for Ohio State in future years.

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The Buckeyes know for sure that they will lose forward Jae’Sean Tate, shooting guard Kam Williams, and back-up point guard Andrew Dakich, as all three are out of eligibility.

Big Ten player of the year Keita Bates-Diop said after the Gonzaga game that he hasn’t made a decision about the NBA, but the fourth-year forward already has graduated from OSU and is likely to be drafted in this year’s NBA draft if he enters it.

Assuming Bates-Diop has played his final game at Ohio State, here is a projected starting five for the 2018-19 season:

Point guard: C.J. Jackson. If Jackson returns for his senior season as scheduled, he will be all but guaranteed to start at the 1. Jackson started 31 of 34 games for OSU and averaged 12.6 points and a team-leading 3.8 assists as a junior, and he would bring some reliability to Ohio State’s ball-handling.

Shooting guard: Luther Muhammad. The highly anticipated freshman-to-be has a path to starting. With Williams and likely Bates-Diop gone, OSU will need 3-point shooting, and it doesn’t hurt that Muhammad can guard three different positions. If he shows up ready in the summer, the Buckeyes might just start Muhammad right away.

Wing: Musa Jallow. This position will be interesting, as OSU has options here. Andre Wesson played in every game and had big moments, and Kyle Young played decent minutes, though Jallow is a player with All-Big Ten potential. He started 10 games as freshman after entering college a year ahead of schedule. To earn a full-time starting role, Jallow has to become a more reliable shooter. He shot 25 percent from 3 and 39 percent from the floor in 33 games as a freshman.

Power forward: Micah Potter. One of Thad Matta’s few remaining recruits, Potter averaged 10 minutes and grabbed more rebounds than any other OSU bench player. His versatility will help his cause. At 6-foot-9, 240 pounds, he can play in the paint but at his best also is a 3-point threat as well. His skill set allows him play alongside another post player.

Center: Kaleb Wesson. The younger Wesson was in Ohio State’s long-term plans from the time he stepped on campus. At 270 pounds, his strength around the basket was valuable right away, and he started 30 times and averaged 10 points and 4.9 rebounds in his freshman season. As long as he’s healthy, he’ll be a mainstay for the Buckeyes.

Contact Nicholas Piotrowicz at npiotrowicz@theblade.com, 419-724-6110 or on Twitter @NickPiotrowicz

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