The first player that is not an incoming freshman that we will preview for the upcoming Buckeyes basketball season is senior Jimmy Sotos. The super-senior guard is one of the two players for the Buckeyes taking advantage of the free season that the NCAA has given players following the COVID-19 pandemic; the other being Kyle Young.
The 6-foot-3, 200-pound guard from Elk Grove Village, Ill. came into the program last season after playing his first three years at Bucknell University. Sotos was an important pickup for Holtmann and the Buckeyes after losing back up point guard Abel Porter for the season due to an illness that forced him to end his basketball career.
Before Sotos came in and Meechie Johnson Jr. reclassified, the Buckeyes did not have a backup to C.J. Walker. Unfortunately, Sotos’ season came to end after just 12 games as he injured his shoulder hustling for a loose ball and was unable to return to the court for the remainder of the season.
WHAT HE HAS DONE: From the second that he walked onto campus at Bucknell, Sotos made his name stepping up in big moments. In his first game, Sotos hit a go-ahead three-pointer to break a 64-64 tie against Monmouth.
Sotos averaged 4.8 points and 2.1 assists per game his freshman year, 8.2 points and 6.1 assists in his sophomore season, and 11.5 points, 4.0 assists, and 1.6 steals in his junior year; his final season at Bucknell.
Sotos decided to transfer to Ohio State and was granted immediate eligibility to play for the Buckeyes. In his 12 games, he averaged 1.7 points and 1.1 assists per game in just under 10 minutes of playing time. A significant drop from Bucknell where he averaged 31.5 minutes over his last two seasons there.
Even though he didn’t score or play as much with the Buckeyes, Sotos made his impact felt on the court all the same. He played a nice compliment to Washington and Walker and provided a significant impact on defense. That was shown in games that he did not play and particularly against Oral Roberts. Who knows how the game might have gone if he had played, but I’m confident that Sotos would have had at least a small impact on Max Abmas’ ability to score at will.
It was apparent, especially on defense, when the Buckeyes lost Sotos for the season. His presence on the defensive end was missed.
WHAT’S NEXT: With his injury and the way that the Ohio State season ended, it was no surprise that Sotos decided to exercise his extra season of eligibility.
His role in the roster for 2021-22 is still up in the air as the Buckeyes wait to hear if Duane Washington Jr. will be back in the lineup or not. If the team’s leading scorer does opt for the pros, Ohio State will look for Sotos to make a jump in overall production this season.
Sotos averaged 11.5 points per game his junior year at Bucknell and proved to be a capable scorer. At Ohio State, he made six field goals in 12 games and five of those came from behind the arc. He wouldn’t have to be the team’s leading scorer without Washington around, but it would be nice for him to give the squad some consistency in terms of bench scoring and helping to take the load off of the main guys.
PROJECTED ROLE: No one was affected more than Sotos by the addition of Jamari Wheeler over the offseason. Sotos likely will be the third-string point guard entering the season because of the Wheeler addition.
Sotos will see some playing time for sure, but it will be limited with all of the guards on the roster. Between Wheeler, Johnson, Malaki Branham, Eugene Brown and potentially Washington, the minutes at guard are scarce.
However, what will keep Sotos on the court is his defense. With Wheeler coming in and bringing his defense as well, the Buckeyes suddenly have a few solid defensive backcourt pieces. I expect Sotos to play a similar role to last season and play around 10 minutes per game with a slightly larger sense of urgency on the offensive side. I think Chris Holtmann will urge the senior to not always take a backseat to others now that he is in his second year in the system and presumably more comfortable with the program.
Next up in the series will be sophomore Eugene Brown III.