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Kyle Young had games where he didn't get off the bench for Ohio State this season, but that will change next year.

Ohio State basketball: Kyle Young will be key to Buckeyes’ next run to NCAA Tournament

Austin Ward

During the week, Land of 10 reporters following the Buckeyes address pressing questions on the minds of the Ohio State fan base with our daily feature. To ask Austin Ward a question, follow along on Twitter and suggest a topic right here. Check back Monday through Friday as we dive into the Ohio State Question of the Day. Go here to see all of our previous answers.

 

The question mark in the heart of Ohio State’s starting lineup is obviously huge, and who eventually emerges as the answer might just determine how deep of a run Chris Holtmann’s second team with the program can make. The Buckeyes have the foundation of a group that can get back to the NCAA Tournament regardless, if for no other reason that because Holtmann has already proved he can maximize every bit of potential on his roster. And if Keita Bates-Diop elects to return and put off the NBA for another year, then obviously he’s getting that open spot in the starting lineup and could carry the Buckeyes a long way.

But assuming Bates-Diop decides to cash in on his potential first-round stock, the player who likely is going to be thrust into the spotlight figures to be Kyle Young.

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Kyle Young was singled out for praise by Ohio State teammates and Chris Holtmann regularly late in the year. (Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images)

The 6-foot-8 forward’s name came up frequently in the locker room at Taco Bell Arena last week, and Holtmann brought up how well Young had been practicing and developing late in his freshman year on several different occasions. It also seemed as if the Buckeyes were setting him up to play a role in the NCAA Tournament this season, although that never materialized against South Dakota State or in the thriller against Gonzaga. But don’t bet on him just watching from the bench much next year, even if Bates-Diop returns to the Buckeyes.

Young has the versatility to stretch the floor and knock down jumpers while also bringing good size and strength in the paint, making him the kind of useful tool that Holtmann is clearly excited to unleash more often. There were encouraging signs when Young got some chances to show what he could do last season, most notably with 21 minutes off the bench that included 6 points and 4 rebounds in an eye-opening win over Michigan in December. His double-double potential will be even more important if Ohio State is trying to fill a void after losing the Big Ten Player of the Year.

The Buckeyes obviously would need more than one player to emerge to replace everything Bates-Diop gave them last season. And it could be a heavy burden to heap all that pressure on Young this offseason. But there’s surely a good reason he was singled out for praise so often by teammates and the coaching staff, and it seems clear that Young is going to be a big part of the plans to get Ohio State back to the Big Dance.

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