Well everyone, welcome back to “You’re Nuts.” Welcome back to March Sadness. And welcome back to the off-season. Ohio State fell to two-seed Villanova last weekend in the second round of the NCAA Tournament, ending their season just short of the Sweet Sixteen yet again. The Buckeyes gave Jay Wright’s squad a run for its money, but the Wildcats were simply too well-rounded for Ohio State.
Two weeks ago, we debated which team would be the worst potential first-round matchup for Ohio State in the NCAA Tournament. Connor chose Loyola-Chicago, while Justin chose the North Carolina Tar Heels. The selection committee did wind up pairing Ohio State with the Ramblers, but the people sided with Justin that UNC would be the tougher opponent. Maybe he was right after all!
After 43 weeks:
(There have been two ties)
Now that the season is over, it’s time to start thinking about roster construction for the 2022-23 season. The Buckeyes could lose up to 11 players off of the current roster, with three of those 11 (Justice Sueing, Seth Towns, and Malaki Branham) being undecided on if they will use additional eligibility. The Buckeyes have five freshmen in their 2022 class, meaning that there will be a few spots remaining for transfer players this season.
Undoubtedly Chris Holtmann and his yet to be filled out staff will be adding multiple players from the transfer portal in the coming weeks and months. Holtmann has brought in 10 total transfers since taking over in 2017 — can you name them all? Today, Connor and Justin are debating which of those 10 transfers has had the biggest impact during their limited time in Columbus.
Today’s question: Who has been the most impactful transfer of the Chris Holtmann era?
Connor: CJ Walker
CJ Walker was a home run transfer, and I think Ohio State fans know that now after watching some combination of Jamari Wheeler, Meechie Johnson, Cedric Russell, and Jimmy Sotos run the offense this season. Walker was the de-facto floor general who did not come out of games unless he physically couldn’t go (like tearing tendons in his fingers, which happened). He was a three to four assist per game guy who could also go get you a few buckets when the well dried up elsewhere. If E.J. Liddell, Duane Washington Jr., and Justice Sueing were all on the bench, CJ could cook something up himself.
Walker transferred to Ohio State via Florida State in 2018 after reaching the Elite Eight with the Seminoles the previous season. He sat out the entire 2018-19 season and was Ohio State’s starting point guard for two seasons. Over those two seasons (58 games), Walker averaged 9.1 points, 3.9 assists, and 3.1 rebounds per game over nearly 30 minutes per contest.
During the 2021 Big Ten Tournament, he averaged 10.7 points, 5.8 assists, and 4.8 rebounds per game as fifth-seeded Ohio State made a four-day run all the way to the Big Ten title game. The Buckeyes wound up falling to Illinois in overtime. Walker played 33 minutes in that game and scored 16 points to go along with 6 assists and 4 rebounds.
One of my favorite Walker moments was photographed after Ohio State beat Michigan in the 2021 B1G Tournament semifinal, with Walker embracing Holtmann next to the court and yelling, “We’re going to the championship!”
Walker didn’t wind up getting a championship ring, but thanks to his efforts, the Buckeyes came spectacularly close.
CJ Walker and Chris Holtmann pic.twitter.com/w7nb7ybovw— Mike Hlas (@Hlas) March 13, 2021
Walker was also a near-automatic free-throw shooter, knocking them down at a clip of 88% while he was in Columbus — including an absurdly high 94% as a senior during the 2020-21 season. He shot 42% overall which wasn’t spectacular, but it got the job done. He assisted on shots more than twice as often as he turned it over, which is a mark that guards strive for.
Walker was just an all-around superb floor general for Ohio State. There weren’t many games where Walker’s offense was the reason you won the game, but he did not make silly mistakes or force bad shots. If an opponent was hoping Ohio State would lose due to self-inflicted wounds, Walker was not the one shooting the gun. He was as steady as they come and was loved by coaches, teammates, and fans.
I really think Ohio State’s point guard play this season pointed out how dependable and reliable Walker was running the show for the last two seasons. He was a great pickup by Chris Holtmann and his staff four years ago.
Justin: Keyshawn Woods
Don’t look now, I am only three back in the “You’re Nuts” standings. Throughout the entirety of us doing the “You’re Nuts” series, I have trailed the entire way. But everyone loves an underdog, especially in March.
However, there is still business to attend to. Chris Holtmann has had some solid transfers come into the program during his time in Columbus. Looking at the players that have joined the team via the portal (and players lost to the portal), Holtmann and his staff have seemingly had the upper hand on the transfer stream, bringing in more impact players than impact players lost.
The transfer portal is a fun aspect of college basketball in my opinion and it helps take some pressure off of incoming freshmen to perform right away. For teams like Ohio State, there have been some hits and some misses. And in the case of Seth Towns, some of what could have been.
CJ Walker is a solid pick because he clearly filled a hole that OSU had at the point position over the past couple of years. However, my pick is someone who not only filled a role but did it at a time when they needed him immensely.
Charlotte and Wake Forest transfer guard Keyshawn Woods came to Ohio State as a grad transfer in 2018-19. After losing Kieta Bates-Diop, Kam Williams, and JaeSean Tate, the Buckeyes desperately needed someone to step in and make a scoring difference. Holtmann and the staff immediately added Woods from the transfer portal. Woods averaged 12.5 and 11.9 points per game at Wake Forest in his two seasons on campus and had a knack for showing up on the biggest of stages.
At Ohio State, he only averaged nine points per game but he was able to make a difference in big games scoring and knocking down big shots. In my opinion, the 2018-19 team was the least talented team Holtmann has had at Ohio State yet, but they still won 20 games and won a game in the tournament. Woods was a helpful cog in that machine, playing all 40 minutes in their game against Iowa State in the first round and scoring 19 points, including the game-clinching jumper late in the fourth quarter. He also averaged 17 points per game during the Buckeyes' two conference tournament games.
Basically, everything Ohio State was able to accomplish during the 2018-19 season would not have happened if it wasn’t for Woods. That is impactful. He also plays for Carmen’s Crew now and that is fun.
Who was the most impactful transfer since Chris Holtmann took over?
This poll is closed
CJ Walker (Connor)
Keyshawn Woods (Justin)
One of the other 8