While the line is not nearly as long or prodigious as with the football team, reigning Big Ten Player of the Year Keita Bates-Diop became the 55th player in Ohio State history to be selected in the NBA Draft when the Minnesota Timberwolves took him with the No. 48 overall pick in the second round.
After being injured early in his third year in Columbus, KBD came back in 2017-18 to become one of the most well-rounded forces in college basketball while helping steady the ship as the Buckeyes welcomed in first-year head coach Chris Holtmann. In his redshirt junior season, Bates-Diop led the B1G with 19.8 points per game to go along with 8.7 rebounds (second in the conference), 1.6 assists, 1.6 blocks, and 0.9 steals.
The 6-foot-7, 190-pound forward has shown tremendous athleticism, speed, and mobility for his size, something that should be valuable in the “positionless” NBA. While he will probably need to bulk up a little to battle with the pros down low, he is already a strong shooter, going for 48 percent from the floor last season and 79.4 percent from the free throw line. That should allow him to stretch the floor and create space for his new team.
Having earned his degree in Economics, KBD brings an intelligence and anticipation to the floor that allowed him to be an invaluable leader to the inexperienced Buckeyes last year. Bates-Diop’s physical and mental ability to play multiple positions on both offense and defense gives him the opportunity to have success at the next level.
Bates-Diop became the 11th Buckeye drafted that came to Columbus to play for former head coach Thad Matta, and eighth front-court player from that group. The last Buckeye selected was D’Angelo Russell who was taken second-overall by the Lakers in 2015.
Congrats to KBD, and it looks like we have a favorite team in the NBA— or at least until we figure out where LeBron is going.