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Chris Holtmann still actively looking to add to the Ohio State basketball roster

Is there anyone of value left to add to the squad?

NCAA Basketball: Butler at Marquette Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

“In a conversation with Matt McCoy, (WTVN-AM)’s sports director, (Chris) Holtmann said the Buckeyes are actively trying to add to a roster that features eight recruited scholarship players plus one walk-on.”

- Adam Jardy, The Columbus Dispatch

The expectations for the 2017-2018 men’s basketball were already tough to nail down given all of the tumult in the program as of late, but the idea of the Buckeyes going into the season with just six returning scholarship players, two true freshmen, and a walk-on is a little terrifying for fans.

In a sport where five people play at once, not having enough players to run a full-court scrimmage is probably not the best way for new coach Chris Holtmann to implement his system. Obviously managers and assistant coaches can fill in the gaps during practices, but the lack of depth on the roster will have further-reaching implications than just in games.

With an inexperienced team playing under a new staff, the goal is often for them to improve as much as possible in practice, perhaps while taking their lumps during games. However, given the current configuration of the roster, it is easy to envision the gains made being slightly more incremental than the team would like.

If Holtmann and company can pull off another substantive late addition, as they did when Kyle Young flipped from Butler to OSU (say if Eric Ayala reclassifies to 2017 and joins the squad), that would be a huge help. However, this close to the fall, with a less than fully-stocked cupboard, Buckeye fans might need to resign themselves to a very thin roster positioning itself for 2018-2019.

“Today’s linebackers must be able to run, chase and cover to match up against the spacing and personnel today’s game presents. Ohio State’s Jerome Baker has the skill set needed to win at linebacker in today’s NFL.”

- Joe Marino, NDT Scouting

Last season, little was expected from former four-star recruit Jerome Baker until starting linebacker Dante Booker went down with a knee injury against Bowling Green. From there, Baker became a vital part of the team’s stalwart defense, recording 86 tackles (including 9.5 for loss), 3.5 sacks, and two interceptions.

As Marino notes, while Baker is an incredibly physically gifted player, his best skill might be his ability to diagnose a play and anticipate where the flow of the offense will go. Add that in with exceptional technique, and Baker has the makings of a difference-maker for the Buckeyes, and perhaps beyond.

Despite the recent exodus of high-level players from Columbus to the NFL, the Buckeye defense is loaded with experienced players at nearly every position. There is a legitimate chance that OSU starts 10 upper-classman on defense come August 31st against Indiana.

With Raekwon McMillan now a member of the Miami Dolphins, the linebacking corps of Baker, Booker, and returning starter Chris Worley should be an integral part of Greg Shiano and Kerry Coombs’ veteran squad.

“Ohio State had a league-high and school record 115 student-athletes named Big Ten Distinguished Scholars, the conference announced Wednesday. This is the first time Ohio State has had 100+ honorees; the previous record of 91 was set last year.”

- OhioStateBuckeyes.com

While Academic All-Big Ten recognition only requires that athletes maintain a cumulative 3.0 GPA, Big Ten Distinguished Scholars must achieve a 3.7 or higher GPA for the previous academic year, excluding summer school.

Today, 15 Buckeyes were recognized for maintaining a 4.0 GPA during the previous academic year, and OSU set a conference-record 394 Academic All-Big Ten honorees and a school record 626 student-athletes were recognized as Ohio State Scholar-Athletes.

Included in the Distinguished Scholar honorees were Kelsey Mitchell (women’s basketball), Billy Price (football), and three members of the National Champion men’s volleyball team; Christy Blough, Sanil Thomas, and Josh Tublin. Congratulations to all of the Buckeyes maintaining excellence in their sport and in the classroom.

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