Our “Nuts” this week are of the celebratory variety, as our very good, quite large basketball son E.J. Liddell hit the 1,000-point plateau last evening during Ohio State’s 75-64 victory over the Minnesota Golden Gophers at the Barn. Liddell scored 23 points and grabbed a career-high 15 rebounds to help power the Buckeyes to their first win in Minneapolis in seven years.
It was also a milestone victory for Chris Holtmann, who became the third-quickest coach in Ohio State history to reach the 100 victory mark (in 147 games). The two who got to 100 quicker are Ohio State legends Thad Matta and Fred Taylor.
More on milestones in a moment. But first, a recap.
Last week, we each picked our favorite Liddell game to this point in his career. Connor picked his career-high 34 points against Northwestern a few weeks ago. Justin picked his 26-point performance to beat Illinois in Champaign during the 2020-21 season. With 57% of the vote, the people sided with Justin while 36% of the people agreed with Connor, and the remaining 7% said it was a different game.
With Justin’s victory, here are our standings:
After 36 weeks:
(There have been two ties)
This week, we are taking a guess at who will be the next Ohio State men’s basketball player to hit 1,000 points. The Buckeyes have some older players on this team, several of whom have already surpassed the 1,000 point mark when you combine their points on both teams they’ve played for. None of those players count. We’re specifically looking at players who haven’t gotten to 1k yet — and both current players and future players are options.
Today’s Question: Who is Ohio State’s next 1,000-point scorer?
Connor: Zed Key
The mathematically correct answer to this question is our good friend Zed Key and I’m not anti-math, anti-science, and certainly not anti-Zed. Right now Ohio State’s finger gun-shooting, roof-raising boulder is sitting at 322 career points, and is averaging just under 10 points per game as a sophomore starter.
For a team that makes the NCAA Tournament, the college basketball season typically runs roughly 30-35 games. Let’s predict this conservatively: let’s say Zed only averages 10 points each of the next two seasons — completely removing the possibility that he scores more than 10 ppg as a junior or senior, which seems unlikely. If he averages 10 ppg for 60 games, that is 600 additional points, putting him at 922. That leaves him 78 points short.
However, there are still 11 games left in the regular season — plus at least one B1G tournament game and one NCAA Tournament game. That means that Key would need to average six points per game the rest of this season to assure that he joins the 1,000-point club. It really is that easy.
Now, the big variable for if Key hits 1,000 will be playing time. With Felix Okpara joining the team next year, Key may get pushed for minutes a bit. But even with Okpara around, I don’t expect Zed to get pushed from the starting lineup — I actually think he’ll be even more productive next season. During Key’s senior year, he and Okpara will likely tangle for minutes — assuming both are still on the team — but the Buckeyes’ front court is going to be pretty bare starting next season. As long as Key stays at Ohio State for four seasons and doesn’t have any longterm injuries, I think that he clears 1,000 points fairly easily.
Kyle Young was another option, but at 786 points he would need to average essentially 18 points per game for the rest of the season to make it — assuming only one Big Ten Tournament game and one NCAA Tournament game. Unfortunately, I don’t think he’s going to make it. I do think that at least one of the incoming freshmen will make it (Brice Sensabaugh, Bruce Thornton, or Roddy Gayle), but that will be after Key does it.
Justin: Bruce Thornton
Scoring 1,000 points is no easy task. Only 60 players in Ohio State history have done it and the list is full of superstars. There are three things that I think you have to have to get 1,000 points: The first is you have to be confident. Everyone will go through scoring slumps, but the guys that don’t let it get to them and stay aggressive are the ones that break out of it.
The second thing is minutes. You have to be on the floor in order to score. So guys who come in and play immediately as a freshman obviously have a huge advantage to get to 1,000. And the third thing is you have to be a three-level scorer. The guys that get to 1,000 are all guys who can drive, create their own shot and shoot the deep ball; because they are so versatile on offense they are really hard to stop, hence they score more.
That being said, I am picking Bruce Thornton. I almost picked Malaki Branham, but I think he will leave for the draft after his sophomore season and 1,000 points in just two seasons would be a pretty huge accomplishment, so I am going with Thornton who I think will be at least a three-year guy.
Thornton is the top recruit in the Buckeyes’ 2022 recruiting class and will be with the squad next season. He is currently ranked as the No. 48 recruit in the class and the No. 8 point guard.
He also matches my criteria for a 1,000 point scorer. Thornton is a guy who will come in and play at the point guard position with Meechie Johnson as Jamari Wheeler and Jimmy Sotos are on their way out.
Thornton is a killer and will have no trouble with confidence as he steps up into the next level. He just recently won the Father John Savage Award at the Bass Pro Shop Tournament of Champions, which awards a player’s spirit and competitiveness.
Thornton will come in and immediately play and — as long as he stays at least three years — 1,000 points should be an attainable goal for him.
Who is Ohio State’s next 1,000-point scorer?
This poll is closed
Zed Key (Connor)
Bruce Thornton (Justin)