On Monday, the Big Ten Conference made it official, as Ohio State’s Keita Bates-Diop was named the 2018 conference Player of the Year. The fourth-year junior becomes the sixth Buckeye to earn the individual honor, following Dennis Hopson (1986-87), Jim Jackson (91-92, 92-93), OSU’s current director of player development Scoonie Penn (98-99), Terence Dials (05-06), and Evan Turner (09-10).
KBD finished second in the Big Ten with 19.2 points per game, behind only Penn State’s Tony Carr. He was also tied for second in rebounds per game with 8.9, along with PSU’s Mike Watkins. Minnesota’s Jordan Murphy led the conference with 11.4. Bates-Diop was also sixth in blocked shots (1.7), first in defensive rebounds (7.5), and ninth in minutes played (32.7).
The Normal, Ill.-native was an All-Big Ten honorable mention following the 2015-2016 season, but played only nine games in 2016-2017 due to a stress fracture in his left leg. This season, under Big Ten Coach of the Year Chris Holtmann, Bates-Diop assumed the mantle of one of the team’s leaders and was named Big Ten Player of the Week four times (12/11, 1/8. 1/15, 2/5), and is on numerous national player of the year watch lists.
Even though KBD has one more year of eligibility remaining, having graduated with a degree in economics in the fall, he participated in last week’s Senior Day ceremonies with his classmates. So, it is likely that the forward will forego his fifth year, and enter the NBA Draft, where he is expected to be a first-round pick.
Congratulations to Keita on this, and everything he accomplished this season.