Ohio State head coach Thad Matta has been known for relying on short rotations during his time in Columbus, OH. Most programs that operate in such a manner typically experience lulls every few years depending on where large senior classes fall. This could be the case for Ohio State this year, a team that has been in the NCAA Tournament eight of the last nine years, with the only absence resulting in an NIT championship back in 2008.
So, let's take a look at the key losses that the Buckeyes must replace to extended their streak to seven straight appearances in the "Big Dance."
Ohio State's Offseason Departures
#1. D'Angelo Russell
Russell became the 10th player in Matta's tenure to declare early for the NBA Draft, and the first freshman to leave the Ohio State program since Byron Mullens did so back in 2009. It's no surprise that Russell was drafted second overall by the Los Angeles Lakers when looking at his lone season with the Buckeyes statistically. Far and away the go-to guy averaging 19.3 points per game, while at the same time grabbing 5.7 rebounds and dishing out 5.0 rebounds per as well, leading the team in the first two categories. To go along with his offensive production, Russell also committed 1.6 steals per game in his lone college campaign.
The 6-foot-5-inch shooting guard averaged nearly four points less per game in losses last season, and that includes a 27 point performance in a loss at Iowa. Russell shot nearly 45-percent from the floor and over 41-percent from beyond the arc. Ohio State will certainly miss Russell's incredible productivity as he now enjoys the greener pastures of not trying to anger Kobe Bryant on Twitter over the next calendar year.
#2. Sam Thompson
Thompson was the Buckeyes' second leading scorer last season, dropping in 10.2 points per game. Grabbing just under 4 rebounds per game, Thompson was a staple of the Buckeyes lineup during his career, listing third all-time with 146 games played. His play was solid enough to earn an All-Big Ten Honorable mention nod from the media as well. Thompson spent the is currently on the Charlotte Hornets preseason roster.
#3. Shannon Scott
Ohio State's true point guard of a season ago, like Thompson, received an All-Big Ten Honorable mention. He averaged 8.5 points per game to go along with a team-high 5.9 assists per. Scott spent the summer with the San Antonio Spurs, helping the team to a Summer League championship, including a game-winner against the Boston Celtics in the semi-finals. Scott is currently signed with the Toronto Raptors.
The Buckeyes lose a lot of size this offseason with the graduations of Amir Williams, Anthony Lee, and Trey McDonald. Williams was the team's sixth leading scorer with 6.4 points per game, while Lee and McDonald both served as role players, both contributing around 3 points per game.
Despite the loss of nearly half of its' roster, there is certainly a lot of promise for the 2015-2016 Buckeyes. Jae'Sean Tate and Marc Loving both return and should be expected to lead Ohio State offensively. A recruiting class that features five players, led by projected point guard JaQuan Lyle from Evansville, IN should help fill in the gap left by last year's large senior class. In addition, Virginia Tech transfer Trevor Thompson will be eligible after sitting out last season.
Thad Matta must piece his young squad together, but certainly the raw talent on this team gives the Buckeyes a high ceiling.