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Brice Sensabaugh to remain in NBA Draft, will not return to Ohio State

The dynamite freshman led Ohio State in scoring last season and is a projected first round pick in the NBA Draft.

NCAA Basketball: Big Ten Conference Tournament First Round - Wisconsin vs Ohio State Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports

Following a breakout freshman season at Ohio State where he led Ohio State in scoring at 16.3 points per game, was second in rebounding with 5.4 per game, and was named Third Team All-Big Ten, Brice Sensabaugh plans on staying in the 2023 NBA Draft according to the Columbus Dispatch’s Adam Jardy He follows Malaki Branham as the second straight one-and-done for Chris Holtmann at Ohio State after Branham went 20th overall to the San Antonio Spurs last year.

Sensabaugh had until May 31 to withdraw from the draft, and the general consensus since January was that Ohio State’s dynamic freshman forward was a first-round pick. Nearly every mock draft for the past four months had him going in the first 30 picks, and feedback Sensabaugh received from NBA coaches and front offices over the past month mimicked that.

The No. 65 recruit in the 2022 recruiting class, Sensabaugh missed an entire year of high school basketball due to a knee injury. He worked his way from an unranked recruit after his junior year all the way to No. 65 by the time he graduated, and even that, in hindsight, looks too low.

Sensabaugh started 21 of Ohio State’s 33 games this past season, initially coming off the bench before moving into the starting lineup in December. At 6-foot-6 and 235 pounds, Sensabaugh does nearly everything NBA teams ask for on the offensive end.

Can he shoot threes? He knocked down 40.5% of them last season, and averaged 4.5 attempts per game. Can he hit free throws? He shot 83% from the charity stripe last season. Can he finish at the rim and knock down mid-range? Sensabaugh shot 48% overall last season and his sweet spot was that mid-range shot near the elbow, not any spot from three-point range.

Sensabaugh is an established scorer at all three levels, and can also score both off the dribble and off the pass. He’s not exactly a facilitator, but he’s not likely to be drafted to any team that’s looking for him to be a pass-first player. It’s a bit murky which position he’d play in the NBA, as he’s somewhere between a three and a four, but that will be sorted out down the road.

The glaring shortcoming of his game right now is his defense. On-ball, off-ball, it really does not matter — Sensabaugh was a below-average defender last season. There were times when Chris Holtmann was unable to keep Sensabaugh on the floor last season because of the frequency and relentlessness of which opposing teams were isolating and targeting him on defense (successfully too, I might add).

He was not quick enough to guard guards, but not big enough to guard taller wings and big men. He committed his fair share of bone-headed fouls on made baskets and didn’t always get back to the other end on defense after making a basket. It’s no coincidence that Ohio State’s best string of defensive performances came over the final 4-5 games when Sensabaugh was out.

Clearly, if he struggled to guard in college, he is going to struggle to guard in the NBA. The fact that Sensabaugh is still a consensus first-round pick goes to show how much the NBA values the ability to score points versus the ability to prevent them. In the eyes of NBA teams, his talent on offense far exceeds his shortcomings on defense.

With Sensabaugh’s departure, Ohio State is now down to the maximum allowed 13 scholarships. Penn State forward Evan Mahaffey announced his transfer to Ohio State back on May 3, indicating to everyone that the odds of Sensabaugh returning to Columbus were roughly zero.

Good luck to Brice in the draft and in the league! We’ll always be rooting for you here at Land-Grant Holy Land.