As you've probably heard by now, Ohio State basketball suddenly has a lot more scholarship room than they had, oh, a week ago. After the departures of Daniel Giddens, Mickey Mitchell and A.J. Harris, the Buckeyes suddenly have three more scholarships to go with the one left open by the earlier departure of Austin Grandstaff.
Ohio State returns the bulk of their actual production from last season (assuming Trevor Thompson doesn't actually leave for the NBA, the Buckeyes return their top six scorers), but such significant attrition means there are some holes on this roster that need patched. Specifically, those holes are in the backcourt. The Buckeyes have just two true guards on scholarship at the moment.
Some of that imbalance can be addressed from recruiting high schoolers in the 2016 and 2017 class. 6-7 wing Andre Wesson is expected to eventually commit to Ohio State by many observers, and he'd give the Buckeyes an athletic wing who can defend. But Wesson isn't likely to be a big contributor next season (he might even redshirt, if he committed to Ohio State), and he also wouldn't solve the guard issue. Since it's a bit late in the game to make another big splash in the high school class of 2016, Ohio State's next best option would be to add a graduate transfer.
There aren't a ton of big-time scoring options available right now, but the Buckeyes might not need one. The biggest priorities seem to be with grabbing a backup point guard (or secondary ballhandler), additional three point shooting, and then maybe general scoring. It would be a big surprise if Ohio State went after a tall wing, or another big man, given the roster composition.
Who are some of the names Ohio State might take a run at? They've only been formally linked to one, but there are other names that, on paper, could potentially make some sense.
Cullen Neal, SG - New Mexico
We've written about Neal before, but a lot of what we said is now dated since suddenly, the Buckeyes have plenty of scholarships open. Neal is the only player that has been connected to Ohio State (he'll visit later in April), and is unique among graduate transfers in that he'll actually have two years of eligibility, instead of one. A scholarship used on Neal would not open up again until the class of 2018, the next time Ohio State will likely make a big splash with recruiting high schoolers.
Neal adds size (he's 6'5), and experience handling the ball (his usage rate of 20.6 was one of the highest on New Mexico's team), two things the Buckeyes will need. He struggled a little bit on an average New Mexico team this season, especially shooting the ball, but his percentages were higher during his previous campaign. Neal would add some shooting, but his turnovers and consistency would need to improve. Still, if all he's asked to do is play 12-15 minutes a night and set up teammates, he could be just fine.
If Ohio State wants Neal, they'll need to beat out other programs like Texas A&M and Ole Miss. Neal does not have an obvious tie to Ohio, on paper.
Grant Mullins, PG - Columbia
Mullins has not been tied to Ohio State, but other major programs, like Syracuse, Michigan, Cal and Hawaii have reached out to him, and others may as well. The Lions point guard helped lead Columbia to one of their best seasons ever. The 6'3 Mullins averaged 13.3 points and 3.3 assists in 31.1 minutes per game, and dropped 20 in the CIT Title game against UC-Irvine. Mullins was also a 43.9% three point shooter. His inability to defend against high level competition without fouling may be an issue, but he could be a solid backup guard on a bigger stage. Mullins is from Burlington, ON, which isn't *that* far from Columbus.
Katin Reinhardt, SG - USC
On paper, there isn't an obvious tie for Reinhardt to Ohio State. He's from California, played at UNLV and USC, and isn't a point guard. But he was also a four-star talent coming out of high school, has great size (6'6), and is a great three point shooter (career 37.3%), something that would be very helpful for the Buckeyes next season. Katin can pass, but his shooting is his best attribute. He's been linked to UTEP, Xavier, among other places.
Akeem Springs, SG - UW-Milwaukee
A 6-4 guard from Waukegan, Springs has heard from Ole Miss, Butler, Florida State and others. A 35.1% three point shooter, Springs averaged 13.2 points and 5.3 rebounds a game for a Panthers squad that won 20 games. He also scored 22 points in a loss to Notre Dame, and 33 in a win over Youngstown State. Springs brings a little more scoring and better rebounding, but maybe a little less playmaking, than other possible candidates.
Spike Albrecht, PG - Michigan
This is a bit of a longshot, but it's worth discussing anyway. Albrecht vaulted into the limelight after he dropped 17 points in a half in the national championship game against Louisville, but he missed most of this season with an injury, and his longterm status is uncertain. Albrecht isn't much of a scorer, but he takes care of the basketball and, if healthy, can be a good on-ball defender. He'd probably be a capable backup PG in limited minutes. Albrecht recently had all of his transfer restrictions limited, so he could theoretically go to Ohio State, if both parties were interested.
Javon Bess, SG/SF - Michigan State
This is a wild card. Bess isn't a graduate transfer, so he'll need to sit out for a year. There's been nothing to formally tie him to Ohio State, but Michigan State isn't attaching conditions on his transfer, and the 6'5 Bess is from Gahanna. He didn't have an Ohio State offer, but he was a high three-star prospect who was rated the 3rd best in the state. He struggled to crack the rotation at Michigan State, but maybe Ohio State might be interested.
The full list of transfers is being kept at ESPN, and it's pretty overwhelming. Chances are, some other names that Ohio State could potentially be interested in might poke up later on down the line.