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Keita Bates-Diop ended his career by helping Ohio State get back to the NCAA Tournament.

Ohio State basketball: Losing Keita Bates-Diop early is business as usual in college game

Austin Ward

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With a first-round projection, a degree and having contributed to a remarkable season that put Ohio State back on the national map, Keita Bates-Diop might have had one of the easiest decisions of any player with remaining eligibility. The athletic, rangy forward might not have been facing the kind of slam-dunk decision of a top-5 pick, but all signs point to him being ready to move on to the next level. And neither he nor the Buckeyes should feel bad about it.

Considering how long he stayed with the program and how much he wound up giving it after finally getting healthy and breaking out in his final campaign, there was good reason for Ohio State to celebrate his choice last week instead of stress about how it will replace him. The Buckeyes wouldn’t want to deal with losing their best player every offseason under Chris Holtmann, but dealing with early defections is a way of life in college basketball under the current rules. It’s not a problem that’s unique to Ohio State, even with those examples in recent years that didn’t work out as well as intended.

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Chris Holtmann obviously will miss having Keita Bates-Diop on the roster next season. (Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

But the decision on the hardwood is a lot different than a football player making up his mind about skipping off to the NFL, mostly because there are more basketball options internationally where guys can use their skills to collect a check. That’s significant, because a decent living can be made even for somebody who doesn’t earn a roster spot in the NBA. And it’s not uncommon in hoops, since more than 60 underclassmen declared for the draft and signed with agents last season, which obviously can leave some recognizable names undrafted. Touted Big Ten performers such as Maryland’s Melo Trimble and Indiana’s James Blackmon left last year with eligibility on the table only to wind up undrafted. The tweak in the rules that gave players the freedom to test the waters by declaring for the draft but reserving the right to pull their names out after getting feedback has helped, but college basketball is always going to be dealing with this issue in some form or fashion.

But, again, the choice for Bates-Diop was relatively straightforward. It obviously leaves a big hole for the Buckeyes to fill heading into Holtmann’s second season with the program, but he has plenty of company at this time of year dealing with a situation that is business as usual in college basketball.

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