The Ohio State men’s basketball team is now 11-17 overall and 3-14 in the Big Ten. They have now lost 13 of their last 14 games after falling to Penn State 75-71 Thursday night. So naturally, we have been thinking about some what-ifs, or hypotheticals, or whatever you want to call it, because it has been a long season.
This week, we are looking at which current Big Ten player we would want to plug into the current team.
Last week, we celebrated the return of Carmen’s Crew to The Basketball Tournament and took turns picking which player we want the team to add with some roster spots opening up.
Connor’s pick of Kam Williams just edged out Justin’s pick of CJ Walker for the 15-13 voting win.
Here are the updated standings after 89 weeks.
After 89 weeks:
(There have been four ties)
Here is this week’s prompt.
Today’s question: Which current Big Ten player would you add to this Ohio State team if you could?
Connor: Trayce Jackson-Davis
As countless Ohio State fans have reminded me on Twitter, everything is easier when you’ve got a five-star big man anchoring the middle. Now, Trayce Jackson-Davis wasn’t a five-star, but he sure as hell is playing like one this season, setting career highs in pretty much every stat category that counts. If it weren’t for what Zach Edey was doing at Purdue, TJD would be a shoo-in for Big Ten Player of the Year.
And for the record, picking Edey felt like a cop-out, and boring. So I went with one of my favorite players in the country, who also happens to be playing on another level this season.
This isn’t meant to be a knock on Zed Key, who is a more than capable center in the Big Ten, having averaged nearly 11 points per game before his season was cut short with a shoulder injury recently. But Jackson-Davis is a force on both ends of the court at a level that Key is not. He’s second in the Big Ten in scoring this season at 20.5 PPG and is seconds in rebounds with 11.1 per night. On top of that, he’s leading the B1G in blocks, with 2.9 blocks per game, and is third in overall shooting percentage at 57.5%.
Having a center that dominates so much attention opens up opportunities for other guys on the perimeter as well. Right now teams do not respect Felix Okpara below the basket, and therefore don’t ever need to commit more than one defender to him. This lines up a perfect one-for-one matchup on the outside, making it difficult to create wide-open shots on the perimeter with any kind of consistency. The situation was not as dire with Key healthy, but the same concept applies. TJD is a different type of beast — teams have no choice but to throw two and sometimes three defenders at him.
If TJD was in the post clogging up some space, it would open up more wide-open opportunities for Bruce Thornton, Sean McNeil, and Brice Sensabaugh — three guys who are all shooting north of 37% from distance this season and could benefit greatly from some extra space.
And, as noted earlier, Jackson-Davis leads the conference in blocks this season and is generally regarded as one of the better low post defenders in the B1G. It doesn’t really need to be said, but the Buckeyes are no good, very bad on defense — No. 132 in KenPom, to be exact. Think Okpara’s ability to block shots, but without getting in foul trouble every time. That’s what TJD can do for you on defense.
Justin: Jalen Pickett
It is easy to say Trayce Jackson-Davis, Zach Edey, or another big guy in the Big Ten to add to this team. And I don’t disagree that they would be helpful and impactful. But here is the thing. There are a couple of reasons why adding an elite guard is better and more important. So I am adding Jalen Pickett.
For those who are unfamiliar, Pickett is in his fifth collegiate season and second season at Penn State. He is one of the top guards in the country this season, averaging 18.6 points per game, 7.4 rebounds per game, and 7.0 assists per game.
Jalen Pickett’s last three games:— Ben Stevens (@BenScottStevens) February 24, 2023
• 2/14 vs. ILL - 41 pts, 15-20 FG (75.0%)
• 2/18 @ MIN - 32 pts, 11-20 (55.0%)
• Tonight @ OSU - 23 pts, 8-11 FG (72.7%)
And below is the company he now keeps.
Jalen Pickett deserves more national recognition than he gets. pic.twitter.com/wJ6FU1dL77
This stat line is genuinely unbelievable for a college player. It is not often a guy averages 18-7-7 while also playing elite-level defense on the other end of the court.
I think he would be the most impactful on this Ohio State team for a couple of reasons. First of all, he is a leader. This team seems to be lacking an upperclassman really stepping up and taking over the leadership role and that is a void that Pickett would easily fill.
Also, elite guards win in March. A big man is great, but guards win games late in the season. That is obviously something Ohio State has struggled with, as they have lost 11 games by single digits. Pickett would be able to help with that and be their closer down the stretch.
Not to mention, before his injury, Zed Key was playing well, averaging close to 14 points a game and just over eight rebounds a game with five double-doubles and shooting close to 65 percent from the floor. I think Pickett and Key could have a solid two-man game and Pickett could help take some pressure off freshman point guard Bruce Thornton, who has been great this season but has had to mature very fast and has been put in a tough position early on in his career.
Jalen Pickett would have Ohio State in the tournament. That is how big I feel his impact would be.
Which current Big Ten player would you add to this Ohio State team if you could?
This poll is closed
Trayce Jackson-Davis (Connor)
Jalen Pickett (Justin)