As the off-season drug on and Ohio State’s roster situation became less foggy, one player with eligibility remained pretty silent. E.J. Liddell is off to the NBA, Malaki Branham almost certainly is too. Justin Ahrens chose to be honored on Senior Day despite having eligibility left, so we knew his career was a Buckeye was finished even before he entered the transfer portal. Justice Sueing announced two weeks ago that he will return next season for one more year. Tanner Holden transferred in from Wright State after three exceptional seasons in the Horizon League.
But until today, we had not heard anything about Seth Towns’ basketball future. Well, according to The Columbus Dispatch’s Adam Jardy, the Northland High School product will be returning to Ohio State for one final go-round this fall — his seventh season.
It will be Towns’ seventh year academically, but anyone who has followed the Buckeyes the past few seasons knows that Towns has been unbelievably unlucky when it comes to injuries and availability. He played two seasons at Harvard from 2016-2018, including winning Ivy League Player of the Year in 2018. Knee surgery cost him the entire 2018-2020 seasons. He then transferred to Ohio State in 2020 and played in 25 games for the Buckeyes — although he averaged just 10.8 minutes per game. He averaged 3.8 points and 2.2 rebounds per game while shooting 42.1% overall from the floor.
Heading into the 2021-2022 season Towns said that his knee felt the best it ever had, but then a back injury led to back surgery before the season, and he did not end up playing at all. So of Towns’ six seasons, three of them were spent on the bench rehabbing from injuries. At this point, 23-year-old Seth Towns has actually played fewer collegiate basketball games than 21-year-old E.J. Liddell in twice the time.
At his best, Towns is a three-level scorer and an old soul with a fundamentally sound offensive game. He’s a 40.7% three-point shooter in his career, but also loves to step back and use the glass on mid-range jumpers. In fact, he’s the only player I can think of right now who chooses to use the glass on his jumper. But hey, it works for him!
The obvious question is what will Ohio State actually get from Towns? When he had his back surgery last summer, the expectation was that he’d be back in December — which never happened. Are the Buckeyes using a scholarship for purely goodwill and nostalgia on a local product who will once again sit the bench for five months? Could the coaching staff have urged Towns to move on and use that scholarship on a safer option?
Or will Towns return in the fall, fully healthy for the first time since 2018? Coming off the bench, a healthy Seth Towns could be Big Ten Sixth Man of the Year. Having a former Ivy League Player of the Year in your second rotation would be an asset few teams could match. If he’s ready to go and can play 15-20 minutes per night, Towns could be a key asset to an Ohio State team trying to make their first Sweet Sixteen in a decade.
Towns returns to a frontcourt that will also feature returnees Zed Key, Sueing, Kalen Etzler, and Gene Brown. Don’t be shocked if Ohio State adds another wing via the transfer portal in the coming weeks as well.
Welcome back, Seth!