122. That's where Ohio State ranked amongst NCAA teams in three-point baskets made per game in 2014-15. Not very good. And now, almost everybody who was making those three point baskets either graduated, or left for the NBA.
So if the 2015-16 Buckeye team is going to improve upon that statistic, and really, if they're going to improve in getting buckets at all, they're going to need to Kam Williams, one of the closest things to an old hand this basketball team has, to step up in a big way.
A look back
Williams arrived at Ohio State in 2013 as a 4-star prospect out of Baltimore. Unfortunately, Williams came down with mono upon arriving on campus and was forced to redshirt during the 2013-14 season.
Last year, Williams saw significant playing time off the bench in the early season - including a 15 point effort against Marquette and a career high 23 points against High Point.
However once the Buckeyes entered Big Ten play, Williams saw his playing time fluctuate, going from a major contributor during the middle of the Big Ten slate, to nearly falling out of the rotation entirely near the end. Over the course of the entire year, Williams appeared in all 35 games, averaging 5.4 points in about 14 minutes per game.
Outlook for 2015-16
Williams will have every opportunity to play a major role in the Buckeye backcourt.
As the only guard with any collegiate playing experience, Williams will have to assume the role of a veteran, even though he is only a redshirt sophomore. Williams will likely see the bulk of his minutes at shooting guard, potentially even starting there, but if A.J Harris has a rocky start, or if the Buckeyes have any injuries, it's also possible Williams will see time at point guard.
Improvement on his .346 shooting percentage from three point range will be expected as he and Junior Marc Loving are the only proven, albeit streaky, shooters on the roster. Williams struggled a little bit getting his shot off against strong Big Ten competition last season, which, since it was his first year playing college basketball, is understandable. He'll need to be more reliable all year long for Ohio State this season.
Williams can do more than just bomb from long range. He's athletic, he can drive to the basket, and handle the basketball too. Can he defend well enough for a Thad Matta coached team to lock down this start job? Can his offensive game expand and showcase those other skills consistently? What Williams becomes next year will go a long way towards determining what kind of team Ohio State has.
Best case scenario
Williams logs heavy minutes and contributes as both a scorer and distributor.
Averaging double digit points would provide much need scoring relief, particularly if Williams can prove himself a consistent deep threat, giving players like Jae'sean Tate and Trevor Thompson room to work in the paint. Williams shows himself to be a capable playmaker at the two guard, and even playing spot minutes at point, and most importantly, makes improvements in defending both positions, helping keep Lyle and Harris fresh on offense. He isn't perfect every night, but he becomes a proven secondary scoring option on a regular basis.
He may also be able to teach teammate Marc Loving how to properly walk:
Worst case scenario
Williams shot isn't falling, he's lacking defensive intensity and is careless with the basketball. The Buckeyes struggle to score and the young guards are forced into the lineup before they are ready. In this scenario, Williams isn't able to provide much to Ohio State beyond three point shooting, and when that shot isn't falling, he becomes a liability, and his minutes fall.
We'll still have a few "Kam Williams games", especially in November, but his inability to defend or create keeps him from playing more than 15 minutes a night, forcing Ohio State to rely even more heavily on A.J Harris, JaQuan Lyle, and other true freshman. It's hard to imagine Ohio State scoring the ball effectively, or winning too many games, in this scenario.