Ohio State was having a very good season last year up until having a roller coaster of a finish. The Buckeyes lost their last four regular-season games, then made a run to the Big Ten title game, then got bounced by 15 seed Oral Roberts in the NCAA Tournament. Both members of their starting backcourt, CJ Walker and the team’s leading scorer Duane Washington Jr., both departed in the offseason. However, they have a ton of talented forwards. They bring in two very talented transfer guards as well as a top 40 recruit. But just like last year, this is going to be a very deep and very talented team.
Ohio State Buckeyes Preseason Preview
The Returning Buckeyes
First and foremost, there is E.J. Liddell. Liddell is one of the best players in the country and definitely this team’s best player. He has a legitimate shot to win conference player of the year this season. With Washington Jr. having gone off to the NBA, this is his team now. Liddell was ninth in the Big Ten in scoring average and eighth in rebounding average a season ago. He should be right back up there again this year.
Kyle Young and Justice Sueing are both back this year and will bring experience to the Buckeyes’ starting lineup. Sueing averaged over 10 points per game last year and they both averaged 5.5 rebounds per game. Seth Towns should see a bigger role on the team this year and you should see a lot of him off the bench. Justin Ahrens is the best shooter on the team and has a chance to start full-time this year.
Joey Brunk is a center that is transferring in from Indiana. He should provide some good size for the Buckeyes off the bench.
With Washington Jr. and Walker gone, there is a big hole that needs to be filled in this Buckeyes lineup. There are multiple players who could fill that void. First on that list is Penn State transfer Jamari Wheeler. After four years in Happy Valley, Wheeler has made the trip to Columbus. He started every game the past two seasons for the Nittany Lions. He brings plenty of experience with him, having played in 127 games over four years at Penn State.
The next option is UL Lafayette transfer Cedric Russell. He is my choice personally. Russell averaged 17.2 points per game and shot 40% from three-point range last season for the Ragin’ Cajuns en route to earning First Team All-Sun Belt honors. He also comes with lots of experience also, having played in 124 career games so far.
The other two are much less experienced. Meechie Johnson Jr. was a four-star recruit who enrolled at Ohio State for the second semester last year. He would appear in 17 games, but played very little. He could be in for a much bigger role this year. Malaki Branham is an incoming freshman and a prize of their recruiting class this year. The #37 recruit in the Class Of 2021 could end up starting at shooting guard.
If Ohio State is able to quickly get their situation at guard figured out, then this team good not only win what will once again be a loaded Big Ten, but they could also compete for a National Championship as well.
PG – Cedric Russell (17.2 PPG/ 3.2 RPG/ 1.2 APG at UL Lafayette)
SG – Malakai Branham (#37 recruit)
SF – Justice Sueing (10.7 PPG/ 5.5 RPG/ 1.5 APG)
PF – E.J. Liddell (16.2 PPG/ 6.7 RPG/ 1.8 APG)
PF – Kyle Young (8.6 PPG/ 5.5 RPG/ 1.3 APG)
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