Keita Bates-Diop has been Ohio State basketball’s standout star in what’s been a surprisingly good season for the Buckeyes under new coach Chris Holtmann. Here are five things to know about Bates-Diop as he leads the Buckeyes in the 2018 NCAA Tournament:
Keita Bates-Diop came to Ohio State as a recruit in the Class of 2014
Bates-Diop was a big-time recruit for Ohio State in the 2014 class. He was ranked 29th in the country and was considered the eighth-best small forward in the class when he committed to the Buckeyes and former coach Thad Matta. Bates-Diop made his commitment to Ohio State way back in November 2012, nearly five-and-a-half years before he would win Big Ten Player of the Year. Out of Normal, Ill., Bates-Diop also had offers from Big Ten schools like Michigan, Purdue and Illinois.
Bates-Diop needed some development before he could succeed in college
There were some obvious growing pains for Bates-Diop during his freshman season. Playing on a team led by D’Angelo Russell and Sam Thompson, Bates-Diop was not heavily used in the Buckeyes’ rotation. Playing 9.9 minutes per game in the 2014-15 campaign, Bates-Diop averaged 3.8 points and 2.1 rebounds three seasons ago. He did have some impactful games, including a season-high 14 points vs. Rutgers, but Bates-Diop was also held scoreless 11 times as a freshman.
Injuries derailed Bates-Diop’s 2016-17 season for Ohio State
Bates-Diop’s 2016-17 season was cut short after nine games. He suffered a stress fracture in his left leg and was ruled out in early January. Former coach Thad Matta called it a “punch in the gut,” and Ohio State went 7-10 without him the rest of the season. Bates-Diop averaged just 9.7 points per game in limited action last season.
From his first game this season, Keita Bates-Diop was the star Ohio State desperately needed
Under first-year Ohio State coach Chris Holtmann, the Buckeyes needed a new identity for the 2017-18 season. Bates-Diop gave it to Ohio State right away, as it started the season with four straight wins against non-Power 5 opponents. Bates-Diop instantly emerged as the team’s go-to player. He averaged 19.3 points per game over the first four contests and has nearly maintained that average throughout the season. Bates-Diop has repeatedly stepped up in big moments for the Buckeyes this year, including a clutch putback to lift Ohio State to a road win over Purdue on Feb. 7.
KBD CLEANIN' UP pic.twitter.com/iNetd23U4D
— Land-Grant Holy Land (@Landgrant33) February 8, 2018
Simply put, there is no way Ohio State would be where it is this season without the phenomenal play of Bates-Diop.
“This has been the best chemistry we’ve had on any team since I got here,” Bates-Diop told said of the 2017-18 Buckeyes in an interview with the Big Ten Network.
Enjoy him while you can, because Keita Bates-Diop is likely headed to the NBA after this season
Though he has one more year of eligibility, Keita Bates-Diop participated in the Buckeyes senior night this season and it’s almost a guarantee that he will enter the 2018 NBA Draft. The lanky 6-foot-7 wing is projected as a first-round pick by DraftExpress.