Ohio State Mens Basketball 2022-23 Season Preview

Ohio State Mens Basketball 2022-23 Season Preview

Barry Devoe
3 months ago
3 min read
Ohio State head coach Chris Holtmann talks to Bowen Hardman during game vs. Chaminade University

The Ohio State Buckeyes making the NCAA Tournament each season has become a foregone conclusion. That said, the Buckeyes have not been a true force in the Big Ten or in March Madness for quite some time. Every new season brings new hopes, though, as the new NCAA basketball season is set to get started on Monday.

While Chris Holtmann is certainly earning his money with consistency, the program has flirted with a .500 record in conference play for the last three seasons.

The sixth-year head coach has never made it out of the first weekend during his time in Columbus and may have an uphill battle this year.

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Key Losses

Along with being one of the best programs in the country comes star players that eventually need to be replaced.

Buckeyes cornerstone big man E.J. Liddell has moved on after a season that saw him average nearly 20 points and eight rebounds per game. The junior big man was an All-Conference first-team selection last season, as well as an All-Conference defender.

Joining Liddell on the professional circuit was former top 35 recruit Malaki Branham. The 6'5 wing was an All-Big Ten selection (third team) as well as the conference rookie of the year.

Branham started the season a little slow but turned it on after his first ten games and averaged 17 points per contest the rest of the way. He logged two 30-plus point efforts and shot over 43% from deep during the final 22 games.

Unfortunately for Holtmann, the losses didn't end with his best two players. Kyle Young, Justin Ahrens, Jamari Wheeler, and Cedric Russell were all seniors that moved on, while freshman guard Meechie Johnson transferred out of the program.

Those players accounted for roughly 28 more points and 12 more rebounds per game on top of the 33 points and 11 rebounds left behind by Liddell and Branham.

Key Returnees

While replacing star players is the hard part of being one of the best programs in the country, the ability to recruit talented players to take their place is one of the benefits.

Junior forward Zed Key was a contributor during his freshman season and an integral part of the Buckeyes' success last season. Ohio State will lean on him during his junior campaign to lead this team in the paint and take that next step in becoming the latest star in the Ohio State frontcourt.

Justice Sueing also returns after missing all but two games last season due to a hernia. The versatile big man averaged 10.7 points and 5.5 rebounds in 2020-21 for the Buckeyes while shooting 36% from deep.

Former top 100 recruit Eugene Brown III also returns and can hopefully take a step forward as the shooter that he was rumored to be coming out of high school.

Additions

As is typical in the current college basketball landscape, coach Holtmann was able to backfill his roster via the transfer portal. Isaac Likekele joins the program after transferring from Oklahoma State, where he averaged roughly seven points and five rebounds per game last season. He should fill in nicely for the departed Kyle Young though he is a little undersized.

Sean McNeil joins the fray as well after transferring out of West Virginia. McNeil is a career 36.8% shooter from behind the arc and an 86% shooter from the free throw line.

This 6'3 scoring guard will look to fill the scoring perimeter void this season. Joining McNeil is Tanner Holden. A transfer from Wright State, Holden averaged 20 points per game last season and was second-best on the team in rebounding at 7.1 per contest. 

The Buckeyes also boast the best recruiting class in the Big Ten, with four star players joining the program. Felix Okpara will likely make the biggest impact, for better or worse, as Ohio State needs the frontcourt help. Roddy Gayle could also open some eyes if his shooting translates to the college level.

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