Entering the 2015-16 season, the Ohio State men's basketball team was counting on its five-man recruiting class to serve as the future of the program -- and with good reason. Each of the five incoming freshmen arrived with four-star credentials, the main reason why the quintet was ranked as the eighth-best 2015 class in the country by 247Sports.
Through 10 games, it's been a difficult start for the group.
Until being finally receiving clearance from the NCAA on Friday, swingman Mickey Mitchell had been ineligible since the days leading up to the season in early November. When Thad Matta spoke about Mitchell's situation earlier this month, the Buckeyes coach said Mitchell's predicament was not related to academics.
Center Daniel Giddens has missed two games due to illness and a hamstring issue. When he's been on the court, Giddens has flashed impressive tenacity and effort, but his foul-prone nature (3.1 fouls per game) and poor free-throw shooting (29 percent) leave major room for improvement.
Point guards JaQuan Lyle and A.J. Harris are unsurprisingly exhibiting trouble running Ohio State's half-court offense and are badly struggling with their shots, as both are shooting under 40 percent from the field. Lyle and Harris clearly possess the talent to be very good college point guards, however.
Which brings us to Austin Grandstaff.
Ohio State announced on Thursday that Grandstaff, a freshman sharpshooter from Texas, had decided to transfer after logging just 115 minutes as a Buckeye. While the timing was strange, I believe Grandstaff's decision to move on is a mutually beneficial one for both parties. Let me explain...
Grandstaff was going to have a tough time seeing the court now and in the future
As I wrote prior to the season, Grandstaff's best shot at playing time was proving himself to be a better option off the bench than redshirt sophomore guard Kam Williams. Through 10 games, that scenario wasn't happening for Grandstaff, as Williams (16.0) was averaging nearly five more minutes per game than Grandstaff (11.5). Williams (40 percent on 25 attempts) was also out-shooting Grandstaff (33.3 percent on 36 attempts) from three. Factor in Williams' superior athleticism, ball handling, and knowledge of Ohio State's defense -- as well as Matta's tendency to trim his rotation once Big Ten play begins -- and Grandstaff was likely going to be glued to the bench through March.
Curiously, Grandstaff's father, Wes, admitted to Cleveland.com on Thursday that he "didn't watch Ohio State play enough" before signing off on his son's commitment to Ohio State, going on to say he didn't expect that Marc Loving and Keita Bates-Diop were going to see so much time at the two and three. (Really?). In any case, with the Buckeyes standing to bring their entire team back again next winter and factoring in the addition of at least two freshmen (and a possible third newcomer), Grandstaff clearly saw the writing on the wall.
Wes Grandstaff also told Cleveland.com that Austin fathered a son before the season, so transferring to a school closer to Texas would seem to be a logical priority.
Grandstaff's transfer ensures that Ohio State has an open scholarship immediately, avoiding a potential roster issue after the season
Prior to Grandstaff's announcement, Ohio State had used up its allotment of 13 scholarships, with 11 players on the current team and a pair of Class of 2016 signees in Derek Funderburk and Micah Potter. In spite of this, the Buckeyes are in heavy pursuit of five-star combo guard Kobi Simmons. So, instead of having to deal with prospective roster drama after the season -- I'm convinced someone would have transferred out anyway -- the Buckeyes avoid a potential headache and now have an open scholarship for Simmons, another high schooler, or a transfer.
With 10 freshmen and sophomores -- most of whom were highly-regarded prospects -- Ohio State's future remains bright. It's a shame Grandstaff won't be apart of the growing process, but both sides will be just fine in the end.