The Ohio State 2017-18 regular season won’t tip off until Friday night, but Buckeye fans will get a preview later today of what might be in store for Chris Holtmann’s first season in Columbus, as Ohio State hosts Wooster in their lone exhibition game of the season. Even though this is just an exhibition game, this contest will mean a little more to new Ohio State assistant coach Ryan Pedon, who graduated from Wooster in 2000 with a degree in communications.
New head coach Chris Holtmann has some big shoes to fill, as Ohio State was able to lure the 45 year old head coach from Butler after the Buckeyes parted ways with Thad Matta, whose 337 wins with the school are the most in program history. Holtmann should be up to the task though, as he registered at least 22 wins in each of his three seasons as head coach at Butler.
Ohio State may not have a lot of depth on their roster, but at least Holtmann will have a few upperclassmen to lean on. Jae’Sean Tate is one of two seniors on the roster, and is undoubtedly the heartbeat of this Buckeye team. The Pickerington native has started 75 games during his first three years with the school, and last year became the 54th Buckeye to record 1,000 points in his career.
The other senior who is entering his final season in Columbus is guard Kam Williams. If Williams can match his scoring output from the past two seasons, he’ll be able to reach the 1,000 point mark later in the year. The Buckeyes are going to need Williams to be on target from behind the arc like he was during his sophomore season, where he buried 44% of his three-point attempts.
The biggest question mark on this year’s squad is Keita Bates-Diop, but not because of his ability. What will be the biggest determining factor in how successful the Buckeyes are in Holtmann’s first season is how effective the redshirt junior will be after missing most of the 2016-17 season due to injury. Bates-Diop registered five double-doubles during the 2015-16 season, and if he is fully healthy he’ll take some of the pressure off Tate in the frontcourt.
Ohio State fans know what to expect from the upperclassmen heading into this season, but they’ll need some of the sophomores to grow up quickly. Last year Micah Potter and Andre Wesson were able to get their feet wet, but this season a lot more will be expected from them. With Trevor Thompson and Marc Loving having moved on to the professional ranks, the sophomores will find themselves with a lot more responsibilities.
With a lack of depth on the roster, the three incoming true freshmen have a chance to make a name for themselves early. Kaleb Wesson joins his brother, Andre, on the roster, and a lot is expected of the big man who was named Ohio’s Mr. Basketball and Ohio Gatorade Player of the Year in 2017.
Kaleb Wesson was already committed to Ohio State when Holtmann took the head coaching job, but a couple Buckeyes were able to join following the coaching change. Forward Kyle Young was originally a Butler commit, but the school allowed him to follow Holtmann to Columbus. Guard Musa Jallow was originally a 2018 recruit, but over the summer reclassified to the class of 2017, and became eligible to join the team a year earlier than expected.
While there isn’t a whole lot which will be learned from today’s exhibition contest, it will at least give Holtmann a look at his players in a game setting. The contest against Wooster, along with the first few regular season games, will give Ohio State a chance to gel a bit before heading out to Portland later this month for the Phil Knight Invitational, as well as the start of Big Ten play early next month.
How to watch:
Game time: 4:05 PM ET
Radio: 97.1 WBNS-FM