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Ohio State basketball: New guys in town

Meet the newest members of the 2020-21 Buckeyes

COLLEGE BASKETBALL: MAR 03 Harvard at Princeton Photo by Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Ohio State men’s basketball team is going to look a lot different the next time they take the floor — which, pandemic notwithstanding, will be next Wednesday, Nov. 25 against Illinois State.

This offseason, Chris Holtmann was faced with the unenviable task of replacing three of the Buckeyes’ top four scorers from the 2019-20 campaign. Kaleb Wesson and Andre Wesson are off into the world, while D.J. Carton — Ohio State’s highest-rated recruit in the 2019 class — transferred to Marquette after just one season in Columbus. The team also lost guard Luther Muhammad and forward Alonzo Gaffney to the transfer portal.

Luckily, Holtmann has always been a professional roster builder, and has done a phenomenal job replacing most of the Buckeyes’ big losses with some key acquisitions both through the transfer portal and in the recruiting game. Let’s take a look at all the fresh faces on #Team122 to get you prepared for a new season of Ohio State hoops, presented in alphabetical order.

Eugene Brown III (Freshman, guard)

Photo via 247Sports

Brown is one of three members of Ohio State’s 2020 class. The 6-foot-6 Georgia native was the No. 19 shooting guard in the country and the No. 125 player overall in the 247Sports rankings. Jerry Meyer, director of basketball scouting at 247Sports, described Brown as a strong athlete who shoots well off the bounce and off the catch with a good feel for the game. He says Brown is skilled with the basketball in addition to being a versatile defender who rebounds his position well.

As as senior at Southwest DeKalb, Brown averaged 17 points and nine rebounds per game. He helped lead the Panthers to consecutive state tournament final four appearances for the first time in school history, and his teams won regional championships in three of his four years of high school. In his final season, Brown was named DeKalb County Co-Player of the Year, and was also named defensive player of the year by the Georgia Coaches Association.

Meechie Johnson (Reclassified freshman, guard)

Originally a member of Ohio State’s 2021 class, Johnson reclassified to the 2020 cycle so that he could join the Buckeyes this upcoming season. Planning to graduate high school early and enroll at OSU in December, the 6-foot-2, 185-pound combo guard will likely be eligible to play before the start of Big Ten play in January. He will still maintain his freshman year of eligibility as a result of the NCAA rules surrounding COVID-19.

A four-star prospect out of Garfield Heights, Johnson is the No. 19 PG and the No. 92 player overall in the 247Sports rankings. Johnson spent the last two years recovering from an ACL injury suffered in his sophomore season, but he has not allowed the injury to slow down his growth. He has shown an innate ability as a scorer, dropping 50 points in his second ever game on the varsity team. Averaging 23 points per game his sophomore year before the injury, Johnson fully recovered this past July, and has spent the summer playing with 2021 Ohio State commit Kalen Etzler.

Zed Key (Freshman, forward)

Key is another one of Ohio State’s 2020 signees. A 6-foot-8, 245-pound big man out of New York, Key was the No. 22 center and the No. 143 player overall in the class according to the 247Sports Composite. Holding nearly 30 offers, the Long Island Lutheran product chose the Buckeyes over programs such as Cincinnati, Florida, Notre Dame, Seton Hall, St. Johns and many others. Meyer describes Key as a tough interior defender with long arms and a good motor as well as a quality jump hook.

In his final season with the Crusaders, Key led the team with his 18 points and 8.7 rebounds per game, while also averaging two blocks per contest. He was incredibly efficient scoring around the rim, shooting 68% from the field and 71% from the free throw line. Key was recognized as First-Team All-Long Island, and was named a MaxPreps (5th Team) All-American.

Jimmy Sotos (Bucknell transfer, guard)

NCAA Basketball: Bucknell at North Carolina Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

Originally expected to have to sit out this season per NCAA transfer rules, the 6-foot-3 senior guard received a waiver for immediate eligibility earlier this month, and can now suit up for the Buckeyes right away. His initial request for a waiver was turned down back in October, but Sotos appealed the ruling and won it this time around. The news is of great relief to both Holtmann and Sotos alike, as Ohio State would really be lacking in experienced guard depth without the Bucknell transfer.

A veteran of 100 games played with the Bison, Sotos started all 34 games a year ago while averaging 11.5 points and 3.9 assists per game — both team highs. He also led Bucknell with 1.6 steals per contest, finishing fourth in the Patriot League in takeaways. Sotos had double-digit scoring affairs 20 times last season, including five 20-point games. Sotos previously faced off against the Buckeyes as a sophomore, recording 12 points, seven rebounds and five assists in his team’s 73-71 loss at Ohio State. Once an unranked prospect from Illinois, Sotos is excited to get to compete in a rough and tough Big Ten Conference.

Justice Sueing (Cal transfer, forward)

Sueing was actually at Ohio State last season, but was forced to sit out a year per NCAA transfer rules. Now finally eligible, the 6-foot-7, 215-pound forward is ready to become a significant part of this year’s Buckeyes squad. Making the cut as one of Jon Rothstein’s 25 Impact Transfers, Sueing spent his last two playing seasons at Cal, where he was the team’s leading scorer and rebounder as a sophomore.

His most recent season with the Golden Bears coming in the 2018-19 campaign, Sueing averaged 14.3 points per game to go along with six boards and two assists per contest. The forward is seemingly a near perfect fit for this offense, which will be looking for increased scoring from its forwards with Kaleb Wesson off to pursue his NBA dreams. Sueing’s 55.2% true shooting percentage and 19.7 player efficiency rating as a sophomore were both team-highs for Cal, and Holtmann will be hoping to see more of the same from the transfer in Columbus.

Seth Towns (Harvard transfer, forward)

NCAA Basketball: Harvard at Minnesota Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

Last, but certainly not least, is Harvard transfer Seth Towns. Looked at by many as the best graduate transfer on the market this past offseason, Towns, a Columbus native, chose to take his talents to Ohio State over other marquee destinations including Duke, Kansas, Syracuse and Michigan. The 6-foot-8 forward has missed the past two seasons with a knee injury, but is an absolute force on the court when healthy.

Averaging 16 points and 5.7 rebounds per game in his last playing season with the Crimson, Towns earned 2017-18 Ivy League Player of the Year honors. A threat to score from all over the court, Towns shot an incredibly impressive 44% from 3-point range while hitting at a 41% clip from the field overall and making over 80% of his free throws. There are obviously a bunch of question’s surrounding his health, and it is unclear whether he will be ready to go at the start of the season, but Towns will have a chance to be a true impact player for the Buckeyes when he’s fully ready to go.