We have officially reached 50 weeks of “You’re Nuts!” articles! That’s a lot of nuts, folks. With basketball news slowing down in the month of May, we don’t have any hot or pressing topics to debate. Instead, we’ll take a look at this year’s roster and predict which of the young players on this year’s team will have the biggest impact in year one.
Last week, we dropped everything we were doing and debated who is the creepiest mascot in college sports. In what may have been the biggest blowout on record, Connor’s pick of Providence’s “Friar Dom” won with 89% of the votes. Justin and Purdue Pete picked up the remaining 11%.
After 50 weeks:
(There have been two ties)
This week, the guys are picking which of the five freshmen on Ohio State’s roster will average the most points per game this season. It’s looking like none of them will be starters initially, but they’re expected to play meaningful minutes right away come November.
Which MBB freshman will score the most points (PPG) this season?
Connor: Bruce Thornton
The answer is Bruce Thornton because he has the best chance to see starter’s minutes at some point in the season. Bowen Hardman will be one of the last guys off the bench, assuming he doesn’t redshirt. Brice Sensabaugh would not start over Justice Sueing, Seth Towns, Tanner Holden, or Gene Brown. Roddy Gayle will compete with several combo guard types, including Sean McNeil, Holden, Isaac Likekele, and even Thornton at times — although he’s more of a pure point guard. Felix Okpara will not start at center over Zed Key.
The only player stopping Thornton from being the day one starter is Likekele, and that’s assuming “Ice” is the penciled-in starter at point guard. I’d find it hard to believe someone with as much experience as he has would transfer to a school if there wasn’t a starting spot available, so I’d be shocked if Likekele starts the season as a backup to Thornton. It will probably be the opposite, with the veteran starting and Thornton playing 15-20 minutes per game behind him and — at times — beside him.
Even if Thornton doesn’t crack the starting lineup this season, he’s still one of only two true point guards on the roster. He’ll see plenty of minutes, even some minutes at the same time as Likekele. While not a lights-out shooter, Thornton is average from the perimeter at worst. And at 6-foot-1 and 205 pounds, defending him when he drives to the rack is like trying to bring down a barrel with legs. He’s entering college with an advanced offensive game and won’t be fearful on the court amongst a bunch of grown men.
It’s possible that Thornton slides into a starting spot at some point during the season. The most likely scenario in my head is McNeil coming off the bench, with Thornton sliding in to either point guard or shooting guard next to Likekele. If Thornton cracks the starting lineup for at least half the season, there’s a real chance he winds up scoring 10 or more points per game as a freshman. It’s not a foregone conclusion, but Thornton could force Holtmann’s hand and wind up being more than just a 15-20-minutes per game type of guy as a freshman.
But unlike Malaki Branham last season, I don’t think Thornton will play enough to completely explode and leave for the NBA after one season.
Justin: Roddy Gayle
Both Connor and I have been on record (check out the Bucketheads podcast) all year about just how good this freshman class is. And honestly, outside of Bowen Hardman — who I think most of us are in agreement will redshirt — any of these guys could have the biggest impact.
However, on offense, I think it is down to Roddy Gayle and Bruce Thornton. Felix Okpara and Brice Sensabaugh will for sure have an impact, but at least in the beginning that will likely be on the defensive end.
When it comes to Gayle and Thornton, I think volume will be in Gayle’s future. I do think Thornton will play more minutes and may even be a starter from day one, but Gayle is a guy who can come off the bench and give you 15 points in 15 minutes. He has everything as a scorer. He is explosive, athletic, can shoot the leather off the ball and is a three-level scorer. As a sophomore, he averaged 28 points per game in high school.
There will be games Gayle comes off the bench and gives the Buckeyes 15-20 points. It won’t be every game, but there will be enough games that he shoots lights out. Also, unlike Thornton, he will be playing with mostly the second team and will be the first or second scoring option while Thornton will share the floor predominately with the main scorers of Justice Sueing, Tanner Holden and Zed Key. Gayle averages nine points a game, Thornton averages eight points a game — mark it down.
Which freshman will average the most points?
This poll is closed
Bruce Thornton (Connor)
Roddy Gayle (Justin)