Who will be playing for Ohio State basketball in 2022 is still an unknown, but we do know the Buckeyes will be headed to the Maui Invitational. Ohio State will join Arkansas, Arizona, Cincinnati, Creighton, Louisville, San Diego State, and Texas Tech in the 39th edition of the legendary tournament.
The Buckeyes will be making their fourth appearance in the Maui Invitational, with their previous trips to Maui coming in 1988, 1993, and 2003. Ohio State has won two out of the three games they’ve played in the tournament in each of their three appearances, but have only won their opening game once.
There are some interesting possible matchups for Ohio State in this tournament, with the most notable possible opponent being Cincinnati, who the Buckeyes had played to open up the season in each of the previous two seasons prior to this year. Ohio State has won the last four meetings against their foe from a couple hours down I-71.
Another opponent that Ohio State has played recently is Creighton. The Buckeyes and Blue Jays matched up in the 2018 edition of the Gavitt Games, with Ohio State earned a 69-60 victory in Omaha. Ohio State took a hard look at Creighton head coach Greg McDermott when they were looking for a replacement for Thad Matta. While it still remains to be seen if McDermott is still with Creighton when the 2022 Maui Invitational rolls around, it would be interesting if Chris Holtmann could earn a second win since coming to Ohio State against McDermott, if the teams end up playing.
Before Ohio State can turn their attention to the 2022 Maui Invitational, they’ll have a non-conference tournament on their schedule this year. The 2021 Rocket Mortgage by Quicken Loans Fort Myers Tip-Off will feature Ohio State, Florida, Cal, and Seton Hall. The tournament will be held over the Thanksgiving holiday. It will be Ohio State’s first non-conference tournament since the 2017 PK-80 Phil Knight Invitational.
Ohio State forward E.J. Liddell files for NBA draft but leaves open possibility of return to Buckeyes https://t.co/uPjxGk0Eff— BuckeyeXtra.com (@BuckeyeXtra) April 1, 2021
While it seems unlikely that E.J. Liddell will be on Ohio State’s roster for the 2022 Maui Invitational, the Buckeyes are holding out hope that Liddell will be around for the 2021 Rocket Mortgage by Quicken Loans Fort Myers Tip-Off. Yesterday Liddell declared for the 2021 NBA Draft, but did leave the door open to return to Columbus. Liddell has until July 19th to decide if he is going to stay eligible for the July 29th NBA Draft, or return to school for his junior year.
After spending time learning from Kaleb Wesson last year as a freshman, Liddell took the reins of the team this season. Liddell finished his sophomore season as Ohio State’s second-leading scorer, averaging 16.2 points per game. The forward was strong on the glass for the Buckeyes, pulling down a team-high 6.7 rebounds per game. Liddell impressed enough to become Ohio State’s first First Team All-Big Ten player since Keita Bates-Diop in 2018.
Liddell isn’t the first Buckeye to test the NBA waters, as Wesson entered his name in the 2019 NBA Draft, only to return to school before leaving following last season. C.J. Walker entered the 2020 NBA Draft before returning to Columbus, where he was a big reason for Ohio State’s success this year. Walker has already announced he won’t return to school this fall, as he will pursue a professional playing career.
It would make sense for return to school this year, so he could continue to improve his game and work on raising his draft stock. Even though Liddell has found success with Ohio State, there are questions about where he would fit in on the court in the NBA. Although it would be hard to blame Liddell for trying to cash in whether it be in the NBA or overseas, especially after some of the vile treatment he received from some Buckeye fans following Ohio State’s first round loss to Oral Roberts in the NCAA Tournament.
No matter what Liddell decides, it has been a great two years watching him play in Columbus, and hopefully we are lucky enough to see the forward from Illinois grow even more on the court. If his draft evaluation leads him to the professional level, we’ll be forever thankful for how hard he played while in the scarlet and gray.