Ohio State’s basketball team — the actual names on the roster — is just not what it was expected to be when the Buckeyes’ 2015-16 season ended in the second round of the NIT in mid-March. Yes, the top 6 scorers from last season return, but fans of the Buckeyes will need to learn some new names and new faces — again.
That is because four members of Thad Matta’s top-ranked 2015 signing class transferred, one during the season (Austin Grandstaff) and three more (Daniel Giddens, A.J. Harris and Mickey Mitchell) in the offseason.
Those departures threw a major wrench into the idea that last year’s struggles could be a net positive and that having five talented, but frustrating, freshman would mean having five battle tested and Big Ten-ready sophomores. So now, as the Buckeyes prepare for Matta’s 13th season at Ohio State, let’s take some time to get to know his new roster.
Though the Buckeyes lost those four freshmen during and following the season, only Giddens’ departure could be viewed as even slightly major, at least at least from a statistical standpoint, as the center was emerging as a valuable and counted on player for the 2016-17 season.
Here is a look at the departed players’ final stats:
Yes, the loss of continuity and the impression that something is missing culture-wise certainly could have had a negative effect on the roster. But redshirt junior Kam Williams said he and his teammates spent the offseason preparing for a summer unlike any he’s had in Columbus.
“We’re not happy at all with where we ended and that’s all the motivation that we need to become better players and expand our games over the summer,” Williams said. “That’s the big key for us motivation-wise. We feel like if each player gets better individually when we all come together it’ll just fall into place.”
For things to fall into place, Ohio State will need a big season from the guys who have been entrusted with rebuilding the now-questioned culture.
Key returning players
Ohio State may lack depth when it comes to returning players, but it certainly doesn’t lack for firepower, with players who accounted for more than 65 points per game last season returning. If the Buckeyes can stay healthy they may yet make some noise in the Big Ten this winter. That is something that dogged them at the end of last season, with third-leading scorer Jae’Sean Tate missing the final seven games last season following shoulder surgery.
Here are the returners’ 2015-16 numbers:
|Kam Williams||SG||Junior (RS)||8.3||1.8||0.8||0.7||0.1||.443||21.9|
|Trevor Thompson||C||Junior (RS)||6.5||5.1||0.2||0.3||1.2||.522||17.9|
|David Bell||C||Sophomore (RS)||1.2||1.5||0.0||0.0||0.3||.462||5.7|
Ohio State will lean heavily on its starting five — Loving, Bates-Diop, Tate, Lyle and Thompson combined for 155 starts last season — needing them not only to provide big splashes on the hardwood, but also a stronger presence away from the court as they attempt to initiate another group of new faces. To make sure these newcomers live up to the standards of Ohio State, the Buckeyes are starting with the basics.
“The biggest thing is accountability,” Thompson said over the summer. “Holding everybody to a high standard, regardless of class, regardless of who it is. Everybody’s held to the same standard. Everybody does the right thing, that’s the biggest thing, on and off the court. Just going to class on time, doing your work on time, it may seem like a small thing but small things add up.”
That began immediately with incoming freshmen. Let’s get to know a bit more about who those new players are.
Ohio State signed three freshmen, one junior-college standout and one transfer — with a familiar name — to fill in the gaps left following last season.
|C.J. Jackson||G||Sophomore||Charlotte, N.C (Eastern Fla. St.)||★★★|
|Jimmy Jent||G||Sophomore||Columbus, OH (Wofford)||N/A|
|Andre Wesson||F||Freshman||Columbus, OH||★★★|
|Derek Funderburk||F||Freshman||Cleveland, OH||★★★★|
|Micah Potter||C||Freshman||Mentor, OH||★★★|
Here are the key things to know about each of these new names, with biographical information courtesy of OhioStateBuckeyes.com.
- No. 3 C.J Jackson
- Played 2015-16 season at Eastern Florida State, where he was a second team National Junior College Athletic Association All-American
- Led the Titans with 16.9 points, 4.4 assists and 2.3 steals per game
- Started all 32 games, reaching double figures 25 times, including 11 contests with 20 or more points
- Three-time NJCAA Region 8 Player of the Week and was named NJCAA Division I Player of the Week once
- Graduated from Olympic High School where he helped the team win the 2013 North Carolina State 4A Championship
- Olympic was 53-5 over his final two seasons
- Son of Cleveland and Shawn Jackson
- Has two siblings, Camiya and Camryn
- Father played basketball at Georgia from 1992-95
- No. 23 Jimmy Jent
- Played 2015-16 season as a freshman at Wofford, appearing in six contests off the bench
- Came to Wofford from Fork Union Military Academy, where he was a team captain and averaged 13 points per game
- Son of Chris and Alice Jent
- Has two sisters, Corrin and Robin
- Father is an assistant coach on the Ohio State staff and a four-year letterwinner for the Buckeyes from 1988-92
- No. 24 Andre Wesson
- Helped Westerville South win the 2016 Ohio Division I state title
- Averaged 17 points, six rebounds and three assists per game as a senior
- Named Ohio Capital Conference Player of the Year and second team All-Ohio as a senior
- Averaged 15 points per game and named third team All-Ohio as a junior
- Son of Keith and Stephanie Wesson
- Has a younger brother, Kaleb (who is a 4-star prospect in the 2017 class and is committed to the Buckeyes)
- Father lettered at Ohio State from 1983-87 and played in 115 career games
- No. 4 Derek Funderburk
- Played senior season at Hargrave Military Academy
- Named to the 2016 Naismith Trophy Boys High School Player of the Year watch list
- Part of 2013-14 Ohio Division I state champion St. Edward team
- State semifinalist as a junior in 2014-15, when he averaged 14.2 points and 6.7 rebounds per game
- Son of Derek and Caren Funderburk
- Has a sister, Ashley Ventura
- No. 0 Micah Potter
- Played his senior season at Montverde Academy (the alma mater of former Ohio State star D’Angelo Russell) where he was named Team MVP and Beachball Classic MVP
- Averaged 10.7 points and 5.5 rebounds in 2016 at Montverde
- Named first team All-State and All-Conference as a junior at Mentor where he averaged 20.2 points and 9.1 rebounds per contest
- Named first team Cleveland Plain Dealer as a junior
- Son of Tim and Ronda Potter
- Has three siblings, Caleb, Noah and Emma
There you have it, folks. The 2016-17 Ohio State Buckeyes. And to answer your question: No, Derek Funderburk is not related to former Ohio State star Lawrence Funderburke.
Now, is there enough talent on the roster to get Matta another 20-win season?