It was never a secret and Chris Holtmann was never coy about it, but today E.J. Liddell officially announced that he will forgo his final year of eligibility and enter the 2022 NBA Draft, set to take place on June 23. In his statement, Liddell said
Liddell leaves Ohio State having scored 1,298 career points, which is 31st-most in program history, and just in front of Buckeye greats Clark Kellogg, Jared Sullinger, and Keita Bates-Diop. He was a two-time All-Big Ten selection (2021, 2022), a 2022 Third Team All-American, and was named to the B1G All-Defensive team this season. Liddell was also voted a team captain by his teammates this past season.
Throughout the season, Holtmann has repeatedly stated that this was Liddell’s final season in scarlet and gray. Liddell himself has avoided the topic, but was honored on senior day despite not being a senior — indicating that he would not be returning. Following Ohio State’s second round loss to Villanova in the NCAA Tournament, Liddell said he “Hadn’t had time yet to reflect on the bigger picture” or his future, and chose not to comment about the NBA at the time.
“I’m really hurting inside. I wish I could’ve done more to get it done,” Liddell told the media after Villanova ended Ohio State’s season. “This group of guys was really determined. We fought through a lot … I gave it my all this year. I wish I could’ve done a little more though.”
On March 21, Holtmann told Paul Keels and Ron Stokes on 97.1 FM that “all indications” point to Liddell entering and staying in the NBA Draft, but that he wanted E.J. to make that announcement on his own time when he is ready.
Liddell’s departure, as well as the likely departure of seniors Justin Ahrens and Kyle Young and potential departures of seniors Justice Sueing and Seth Towns — who still have eligibility — leaves a massive hole in Ohio State’s frontcourt. Holtmann and his yet to be filled out coaching staff will be hitting the transfer portal hard this spring to replenish that part of the roster heading into the 2022-2023 season.
Good luck to E.J. in his future endeavors. He was a joy to cover for his three seasons and we wish him nothing but success in the NBA!