Trey McDonald is headed into his fourth and final year with the Buckeyes. Since he first saw the floor, McDonald has seen his minutes per game steadily increase. This is likely attributed to the high levels of energy and grit he brings, as well as the dearth of big men on the team over the past couple of years.
McDonald has most often been used as one of the first big men off the bench for Coach Matta and the Buckeyes. Most notably last year, McDonald has been most effective as a defensive minded bench contributor who has been used to spell Amir Williams and match up against bigger lineups. What should we expect from McDonald this year?
A Look Back:
Last year, McDonald averaged 12.1 mpg, 2.0 ppg, 1.7 rpg, 0.5 bpg, and shot 52.7% from the field. He didn't produce much offensively, in large part because not much was asked of him offensively. McDonald had his biggest impact defensively against bigger lineups in the B1G. His best game last year came in a loss to Penn State in late November, where he notched nine points on 4-6 shooting and three blocked shots. Despite the loss, his performance against Penn State is a solid look at what can be expected of McDonald on his best night. He is capable of shooting a high percentage on just a few opportunities, body up bigger defenders, and alter some shots close to the basket.
Outlook for 2014-2015:
McDonald has spent his Ohio State career coming off the bench and that trend is likely to continue for the upcoming season. However, McDonald is going to see his fair share of minutes. Because the Buckeyes are thin in the front court, McDonald will be relied upon as a key contributor in order to help defend some of the bigger teams in the B1G. Although Amir Williams and Anthony Lee will receive the lion's share of front court time, McDonald will be the third man in the rotation and is likely to see his 12 minutes per game increase a bit.
McDonald is not going to have to score on this team. With a few key returning starters, as well as an influx of young talent, the Buckeyes' have a number of players who can carry the offensive load heading into the season. McDonald is going to be relied upon to provide energy and defense off the bench. While he will notch a few points here and there, it will be as a result of offensive rebounds near the basket and tip ins.
Best Case Scenario:
McDonald plays within himself and becomes an effective defensive contributor off the bench. He finds some points within the flow of the game, but makes his impact spelling Williams and Lee, especially against bigger teams like Wisconsin down the stretch. His energy and leadership help to motivate the young incoming freshman class and he makes a jump defensively. Despite only being 6'8', he is able to take on bigger opposing players with grit, tenacity, and high levels of defensive effort. The best case scenario for McDonald is to come off the bench for 13-15 minutes per game and serve as an effective and consistent defensive player down the stretch.
Worst Case Scenario:
As mentioned, due to Ohio State's thin front court, Matta is going to rely on McDonald for minutes at the 4 and the 5 all season. Worst case scenario for McDonald is that he regresses defensively and he is taken advantage of by bigger, stronger opponents on a regular basis. If McDonald cannot be relied upon and visibly struggles on the court, the Buckeyes' lack of depth in the front court could function as a considerable hinderance on the team's overall success.