clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Freshmen forwards must step up if Kyle Young misses time

The junior is a game-time decision on Thursday after spraining his ankle against Maryland

NCAA Basketball: Maryland at Ohio State Joseph Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports

“[Kyle Young] suffered a high right ankle sprain in the first half of the Buckeyes’ 79-72 win over Maryland on Sunday. Head coach Chris Holtmann stated that the junior forward will travel with the team and go through shootaround before any decision is made.”

- Stephen Means,

Kyle Young is likely the toughest player on the Ohio State basketball team this season, but that does not mean he hasn’t been put through the ringer. The junior forward has dealt with more than his fair share of injuries in his three years in Columbus.

Last January, a stress fracture in his leg forced him to miss five games, and he remained limited in practice throughout the remainder of the season to avoid further damage. This year, Young needed his appendix removed near the end of December, and then rolled his ankle in a game shortly thereafter. As a result, the forward has not been practicing for nearly two months.

Head coach Chris Holtmann got a scare during Sunday’s victory over Maryland, when Young went down late in the first half with an apparent leg injury. After the game, Holtmann admitted that his first reaction was a worry that the forward had re-aggravated the stress fracture. While the Young and the Buckeyes avoided disaster, as that was not the case, he did suffer a pretty significant high ankle sprain.

Young is the spark plug for Ohio State, and is very much the glue that holds everything together. While his stats aren’t going to wow anyone, averaging 7.5 points and 5.8 rebounds per game, his high-energy style of play at both ends of the floor and a contagious competitive attitude makes everyone around him better. If he is unable to go for Thursday night’s game against Nebraska, the Buckeyes will have to get a lot more from the freshmen forwards behind him.

E.J. Liddell had already begun to play a more significant role in recent games, but his minutes will expand drastically if Young doesn’t play. The freshman basically kept the team afloat in what wound up being a tough loss to Iowa game before last, posting a career-high 17 points to go along with eight rebounds. Liddell is incredibly physical, and despite being undersized at 6-foot-6, he makes up for it with confidence and toughness.

Alonzo Gaffney, who has played very sparingly this season, should also see some extra time with Young out of the lineup. The 6-foot-9 freshman has averaged just 6.8 minutes per game, but has shot efficiently when given the opportunity, hitting over 56 percent of his shots on the year. Both he and Liddell will be incredibly important pieces for Ohio State moving forward, especially if Young misses additional time beyond the Nebraska game.

Robert Landers continues to be one of the best people around both on and off the football field. The Buckeye defensive tackle is using his Ohio State Pro Day for good, partnering with Nationwide Children's Hospital to raise money based on his bench press performance. Landers is asking for people to pledge a donation for each rep he performs on March 25, fighting to raise awareness and help transform children’s mental health.

Landers has been very outspoken about mental health throughout his Ohio State career, citing his own struggles as a way for him to try and use his platform to eliminate the stigma surrounding the subject. As described in the details of the “BB’s Big Lift” fundraiser, Landers’ father was killed when he was just 10 years old. Despite always being such a bubbly and outgoing personality, Landers admits he has bottled up anxiety and depression that came with shouldering the load in his family as the oldest son.

The man affectionately known around campus as Big Bob goes on to explain that he only began to heal once he let out his emotions, and encourages others dealing with similar mental health issues to do the same. Along with the On Our Sleeves program, launched on World Mental Health Day in 2018 with aims to break the silence surrounding children’s mental health, Landers is hoping his contributions can begin to change the conversation.

If you or someone you know is interested in making a pledge, the link is provided in Landers’ tweet above.

Seems like a pretty good strategy, imo.

Ohio State will likely be getting a ton of buzz with the NFL Combine ramping up towards the end of this week. While the nation’s top defensive prospect in Chase Young will not be partaking in the physical drills in this week’s festivities, there are a bunch of other Buckeyes in attendance that will be sure to steal some of the spotlight as the program continues to produce some of the best NFL-ready athletes in the country.

Mickey Marotti and the OSU strength program deserve a ton of credit, and as Trevor Sikkema of The Draft Network alluded to in his tweet, Ohio State has a skill for developing its athletes. Players come to Columbus already possessing a tremendous skillset, and Marotti and his staff turn them into physical specimens. I mean, just look at Young’s growth in his time at OSU!

Stick to Sports