The 2020-2021 basketball season is still a ways away, and this Ohio State team in particular still has quite a few questions that need to be answered. Between the health of one key contributor, questions surrounding the new transfers, and the ceiling of E.J. Liddell, this Buckeye team could end up being a middling Big Ten team or a Final Four contender — depending on how those things shake out.
With that in mind, I decided to project two stat lines for every player on the 2021-2022 Ohio State men’s basketball team. One of the stat lines is what I think will actually happen. The second is my eternal optimist/ best-case scenario/ “ceiling” stat line.
No, I don’t think that all of these players will perform at their absolute ceilings this season. In fact, Ohio State will be an elite team if even just a few of these players do that. Instead, that stat line expresses what I think that player’s maximum output could be. In other words, I don’t think they can physically perform at a higher level or produce higher numbers than that.
Let’s get into it:
Johnson will likely see 10-15 minutes per game this season after averaging just 5.8 minutes last season. Ohio State’s backcourt is suddenly a little crowded after adding Cedric Russell and Jamari Wheeler, but Johnson will continue to improve.
Best possible stat line: 11 PPG, 2 AST, 2 REB, 44% 3PT
Realistic stat line: 6.2 PPG, 1.2 AST, 1 REB, 37% 3PT
A bit surprised that Sotos is still with Ohio State, as he seemed to be a candidate to transfer even before Russell was added. But hey, he’s still here, and we’re all grateful for it. Jimmy Sotos is Ohio State’s third or fourth-best guard, and very few teams can boast someone as talented as him as their fourth-best guard.
Best possible stat line: 8.6 PPG, 3.7 AST, 38% 3PT
Realistic stat line: 5.8 PPG, 1,4 AST, 33% 3PT
Eugene Brown III
He only played six minutes per game last season, but Brown still appeared in 29 of Ohio State’s 31 games, which shows that Chris Holtmann already expects him to contribute in big games. Brown is one of Ohio State’s better perimeter defenders, and will only improve as the season goes on.
Best possible stat line: 8 PPG, 3 REB, 41% 3PT, 1.1 STL
Realistic stat line: 3.6 PPG, 1.7 REB, 35% 3PT, 0.6 STL
Justin Ahrens for THREE! Oh, how I have missed typing those words. pic.twitter.com/mNam95Qlue— Land-Grant Holy Land (@Landgrant33) March 13, 2021
Ahrens legitimately might be the best shooter in the country this season — he is that good and can become quite a problem for opposing defenses. Or, if he gets too passive, he becomes a non-factor due to his game being limited in other areas. Quite a range for this one.
Best possible stat line: 14.2 PPG, 3 REB, 50% 3PT
Realistic stat line: 9.2 PPG, 2.1 REB, 41% 3PT
"Give Sueing the hockey assist from his rear end!" @JusticeSueing's alert pass leads to an @OhioStateHoops transition 3. pic.twitter.com/vdYHwbPevv— Big Ten Network (@BigTenNetwork) January 20, 2021
Sueing is fun because at his best, he’s a double-double threat every night. And at his worst, he’s still a very useful player who can contribute in a myriad of ways, even if he’s not knocking down shots. He’s going to be extremely important for Ohio State on both ends of the floor.
Best possible stat line: 15.6 PPG, 7.4 REB, 2 AST, 52% FG, 38% 3PT, 80% FT
Realistic stat line: 12 PPG, 6.5 REB, 1.2 AST, 50% FG, 36% 3PT, 78% FT
Branham won’t start this season — at least not initially. He’s the highest-rated guard Holtmann has ever brought in, and he’s going to be a star in Columbus eventually. But this season, he’ll likely back up and learn from Cedric Russell, the starter.
Best possible stat line: 10.8 PPG, 3 AST, 2.6 REB
Realistic stat line: 7.8 PPG, 1.9 AST, 1.4 REB
Key was a tank in the paint last season, and was very productive in limited minutes. He only played 11 minutes per game, but extrapolating his per-game stats out to 40 minutes would put him at 17.7 points and 11.5 rebounds per contest. He won’t play nearly 40 per night, but there aren’t many backup centers in the Big Ten as talented as Key.
Best possible stat line: 9.7 PPG, 6.5 REB
Realistic stat line: 7.1 PPG, 5.1 REB
Etlzer is redshirting this season, Chris Holtmann announced last month.
Chris Holtmann says Kalen Etzler will be redshirted this season.— Colin Hass-Hill (@chasshill) July 27, 2021
Only five-plus minutes into this one, and Kyle Young has three treys. pic.twitter.com/1St3TON796— Big Ten Network (@BigTenNetwork) March 12, 2021
Young has never been the go-to scorer on this team, and he won’t be this year either with Liddell back, Russell on the perimeter, and Sueing doing a little bit of everything. But if he can simply continue to do what he’s always done, he’ll be a huge asset to this year’s team.
Best possible stat line: 12.1 PPG, 7 REB, 2 AST, 40% 3PT, 88% FT
Realistic stat line: 9.9 PPG, 6.8 REB, 1.1 AST, 34.5% 3PT, 86% FT
The gap between what Towns could be at his best and what Towns will be if he never gets healthy again is....quite steep. As we saw in flashes last year, there are moments when he rises up to shoot that there is no doubt the ball is going in. If he’s close to Harvard Seth Towns this season, Ohio State could be a juggernaut.
Best possible stat line: 14.4 PPG, 7.9 REB, 37% 3PT
Realistic stat line: 7.3 PPG, 4.4 REB, 36% 3PT
Another big E.J. Liddell bucket.— Big Ten Network (@BigTenNetwork) March 6, 2021
No surprise, No. 4 at No. 7 is a close one.@EasyE2432 // @OhioStateHoops pic.twitter.com/u7Vjzjzfkh
This may seem a bit ridiculous, but after the season he had last year, giving a “best possible” stat line is so difficult without seeming like a huge homer. He was fantastic last season, and the best-case scenario for him very well could be Big Ten POY/ National POY. It’s not far-fetched, not in the least.
Best possible stat line: 24.8 PPG, 8.6 REB, 2 AST, 1.9 BLK, 36% 3PT
Realistic stat line: 19.1 PPG, 7.4 REB, 1.6 AST, 1.3 BLK, 35% 3PT
I interviewed Sports Illustrated’s Kevin Sweeney last week, and he said that Brunk “Has not contributed to winning at any school he’s been at,” and that “Ohio State would have been better if they did not add him (and used those minutes for other players).” I don’t know if either of those things are completely true, but he is correct that Brunk will probably not be a game-changer this season at any point.
Best possible stat line: 8 PPG, 5.8 REB
Realistic stat line: 4.8 PPG, 4.7 REB
I am and have always been a huge Wheeler fan. He’s not much of an offensive threat, but I felt like he always showed out against Ohio State (maybe that’s why Holtmann picked him up). More importantly, he’s one of the top defensive players in the nation and will immediately help Ohio State improve on that end of the floor. Not to brag, but I thought he would be a great addition way before he joined the Buckeyes.
Penn State actually had a solid roster last year. I think Wheeler or John Harrar would both be awesome additions to this team. https://t.co/Tev1nTmlQQ— Connor Lemons (@lemons_connor) March 29, 2021
Best possible stat line: 10.8 PPG, 3.6 REB, 4.3 AST, 2.0 STL
Realistic stat line: 9.2 PPG, 2.5 REB, 3.1 AST, 1.4 STL
Cedric Russell can flat out shoot it. Regardless of what conference you’re playing in, the rims don’t get higher and the courts don’t get wider. Last season, Russell knocked down 40% of his three-pointers while taking roughly seven three-point attempts per game. I don’t have the numbers in front of me to prove it, but if he does something even close to that next season, he could set some Ohio State records.
Best possible stat line: 15.8 PPG, 1.3 AST, 3.5 REB, 40% 3PT
Realistic stat line: 12.9 PPG, 1.1 AST, 2.3 REB, 39.4% 3PT