Washington D.C.—Emotions were running high following a crushing Ohio State loss to the lowest seed in the 2017 Big Ten Tournament, Rutgers. As the players struggled to process what had just happened in the 40 minutes on the court prior, given the current climate of college basketball, the inevitable look towards next season became a recurring topic amongst those most discussed about possible pro jumps.
“Yeah, I’m coming back,” sophomore guard JaQuan Lyle said. When asked to confirm he was back next season, he nodded his head.
Some had speculated the one time Oregon signee could entertain options playing in the NBA’s developmental G-League or perhaps abroad given his age (21) being older than much of the rest of his eligibility class. Lyle struggled to find his shot — as did many of his teammates — during the 66-57 loss to Rutgers and while it’s possible the Buckeyes will still pursue a post season tournament, it’s a sure bet Lyle didn’t want his OSU career to end the way the game against the Scarlet Knights did.
One of the more visibly impacted players by the difficult loss, Buckeye big man Trevor Thompson, had previously tested the draft waters, taking advantage of a new NCAA rule which allows players to go through workouts if they pay their own way and pull themselves out of draft consideration after a month or two if they aren’t receiving the kind of feedback they were hoping for.
Improved overall considerably from even a season prior, Thompson struggled on the glass against Rutgers at times and also didn’t have the kind of game any Buckeye big would want to be their swan song. But while battling through the difficult aftermath of a challenging loss, he wasn’t ready to tip his hand definitively one way or the other.
“I’m not really sure right now,” Thompson said. “I’m just frustrated right now. That’s what my focus is on,” a visibly emotional Thompson echoed. “Only time will tell, I guess.”
While lost-for-the-season junior wingman Keita Bates-Diop arguably held the Buckeyes’ highest draft grade heading into this past season, he’s already stated in the wake of a year stolen by a leg injury that he’s planning to return to Ohio State. An already thin on the interior basketball Buckeyes would be even thinner if Thompson decides to go through the draft process for good this time.