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Ohio State’s Chris Holtmann faces life after Keita Bates-Diop

With his star player gone, Holtmann has his work cut out for him next season.

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NCAA Basketball: Ohio State at Northwestern Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports

“We’re not going to find a player like him [this offseason]. You can’t replace him or [Jae’Sean Tate] at this point. We’ve got to continue to get our younger players better. Listen, we’re losing 60 percent of our scoring, almost 60 percent of our assists, 60 percent of our rebounding and 90 to 100 percent of our leadership.”

- Chris Holtmann via Austin Ward, Land of 10

Life after Keita Bates-Diop is just beginning for Ohio State head coach Chris Holtmann. After Bates-Diop declared for the NBA draft, it meant Holtmann and his staff had to get to work in making sure the Buckeyes are ready for next season. Of course, as Holtmann brought up, Ohio State didn’t just lose Bates-Diop, but also lost other key members, including Jae’Sean Tate, who played a huge role in the offense and identity of the team. Andrew Dakich also graduated, and Kam Williams will be gone as well. In all, a lot of the team’s core won’t return for next season.

Holtmann has already shown he’s capable of working some of his magic in the offseason as he displayed when taking over for Thad Matta. Through some recruiting and transfers, he got a team together that was competitive enough to reach the second round of the NCAA tournament. That’s something Ohio State hadn’t done in a few years, so it was a promising start. Now he’ll have to try and accomplish another great offseason if he hopes to have success in Year 2.

“He’s as talented a linebacker as has ever walked through these doors. He’s a big freak that can do it all, great young man... He’s got A to Z. An intelligent guy, a good person, and God has blessed him with an incredible skill set.”

- Urban Meyer via Bill Landis,

With the loss of linebacker Tuf Borland to an Achilles injury, the Buckeyes are using a lot of their depth this spring to fill the void. That means guys like Justin Hilliard and Baron Browning are getting more reps than normal, but that hasn’t stopped Urban Meyer from being excited about the linebackers. In fact, the linebackers are one of the few groups that Meyer has spoken highly of all spring, and a large part of that has to do with the depth at the position.

Both Hilliard and Browning came into the program highly recruited and while Browning is still getting his feet wet, Hilliard has had to overcome several injuries in his time with the Buckeyes. Borland is expected to be the starting middle linebacker once he’s healthy, but there’s no certain timetable for his return. Which means we could see either of those players filling in during the fall.

“Everything was great when I visited the school again. I got to see the facilities, watch practice, learn a lot about Ohio other than football, and I also got to meet Bill Belichick. It was crazy meeting him.”

- Marcus Tillman Jr. via Ryan Donnelly, Land of 10

Urban Meyer has always recruited phenomenally, and when you add Bill Belichick to the mix, it might make it even easier when it comes to a certain linebacker prospect. Marcus Tillman Jr. has been recruited by the Buckeyes for some time, but the program seems to have left their mark on the recruit after his chance to talk with the Patriots head coach. Meyer and Belichick have been friends for a while and Meyer relishes the chance to sit down with him any chance he gets.

And why not? Belichick’s success is undeniable and Meyer clearly would like to have similar success at the college level. As Ohio State prepares for the 2018 season, any help they could get I’m sure Meyer would take.