Entering the offseason, Chris Holtmann and his Ohio State staff have at least one more personnel decision to make. Because of the transfer of Micah Potter prior to the 2018-19 season, Ohio State has one more scholarship than they expected to, which means that they can add one additional player to their 2019-20 roster.
Having an extra scholarship is a big deal. There’s a ton that Ohio State can do with it, from landing one of the few remaining 2019 recruits that aren’t yet committed, to going after a grad transfer or just holding on to it to land a larger group in 2020. With those hypothetical options come some tangible options. Let’s take a look at them.
2019 recruit route
At this point, this seems like the likelier option. Ohio State already has three recruits signed in the 2019 class and ready to join the program this summer, but they have two main recruiting personnel options that could become Buckeyes sooner rather than later if Ohio State wanted to land a second large class in a row.
The first, and more likely option is California center Ibrahima Diallo. The three-star big man included Ohio State in his final two last week, along with Pitt, and will be announcing his commitment anytime between now and the end of March. He has a Buckeye offer, and I think if he wants in, he’ll be the player to take that final scholarship.
The other 2019 option is Olentangy Liberty wing Ben Roderick. Roderic, a three-star prospect, according to 247Sports, was one of the best scorers in Ohio this past high school basketball season, and has been incredible since coming off an ACL injury last season. That injury is still a red flag for coaches though, and that, paired with his lack of size has kept him from picking up a ton of offers.
Ohio State is very much interested though, and if they miss out on Diallo I think Roderick could be getting an offer shortly after.
Ohio State hasn’t really dived into the grad transfer market fully yet, but if they choose to take a one-year player and save that scholarship long term for a second member of the 2020 class, there are some pretty solid choices out there to look at.
The main one, and the only one we really know about where Ohio State has an interest in right now is former William & Mary guard/forward Justin Pierce. Ohio State has been confirmed as contacting Pierce after he announced that he’s be playing his final year elsewhere, and it’s easy to see why.
The 6-foot-7 tweener had nearly 15 points a game this year, and paired that with nearly nine rebounds as well. He’s a physical player, an excellent rebounder, a capable playmaker, and he fills a hole on the Buckeye roster as a true slasher. Ohio State could use someone who can get to the hoop, and while I think EJ Liddell will eventually be that guy, Pierce would be an immediate fix if Ohio State is looking to make a run at the Sweet 16 and beyond in the 2019-20 season. Ohio State seems to have the potential roster to do well next year.
If Ohio State would prefer a big man grad transfer to replace Micah Potter, we could see someone like Barret Benson or Shakur Juiston receive some interest from the Buckeyes.
Ultimately, I think Ohio State likely goes with Diallo and calls it a day. He’s a developmental guy, and he would leave Ohio State with just one opening for the 2020 class, but you can’t pass on someone with a ceiling as high as his is. If the Buckeyes develop him as a player, he could be an elite shot blocker, and Ohio State doesn’t have that on their roster right now. Unless something changes (attrition), or he commits elsewhere, I think Diallo is likely the final piece for the 2019-2020 Buckeyes.