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‘BTPowerhouse 25’ - #21 Keita Bates-Diop

BTPowerhouse's staff counts down the best players in the Big Ten heading into the 2016-’17 season.

NCAA Basketball: Ohio State at Michigan State Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports

In the months leading up to the 2016-’17 college basketball season, BTPowerhouse will be releasing a new series called the 'BTPowerhouse 25,' which features the Top 25 players in the Big Ten as voted by members of the staff. All players set to be on Big Ten rosters for next season were eligible during the staff vote with their top selection receiving 25 points and their 25th and final selection receiving 1 point.

Today's edition will take a brief look at Keita Bates-Diop of Ohio State, who came in at No. 21 in the rankings. The Buckeyes are hoping that Bates-Diop can take a big step forward this year and help the team get back to the NCAA Tournament after the program missed it for the first time since 2008 last March.

'BTPowerhouse 25' - #21 Keita Bates-Diop:

  • Eligibility: Junior
  • Career Totals: 66 games, 1,367 minutes, 513 points, 278 rebounds, 53 assists
  • 2015-’16 Averages: 20.7 min, 7.8 pts, 4.2 rebs, 0.8 asts, 0.9 blks, 0.5 stls
  • Positional Role: Stretch Forward

Over the last decade, Ohio State has established itself as one of the strongest and most consistent programs in the country. However, last season was a down year for the program and fans are hoping that Bates-Diop can help get Ohio State back to its past heights. His career has been up and down so far, but perhaps this can be the year.

Player Strengths

While Bates-Diop didn’t have a particular skill that elevated his game exponentially last season, his versatility was a major asset for the Buckeyes. That’s because he displayed the ability to get inside, play efficiently offensively, hit the boards, and defend the paint. In a lot of ways, he was a decreased version of Michigan State’s Denzel Valentine.

Bates-Diop really showed that diverse game in conference play. By the end of the year, he ranked in the top 25 in effective field goal percentage, two-point field goal percentage, free throw percentage, defensive rebounding rate, turnover rate, and block rate across the Big Ten. Even if his numbers weren’t elite, to be that good across the board says a lot about Bates-Diop’s game.

What’s really notable about those numbers is that they also project really well to a guy playing in a stretch four role. Coaches want guys who can score, hit the boards, and hold up on the defensive end. As such, if Bates-Diop can make any noticeable improvement, he could be one of the Big Ten’s best at the four spot.

Areas for Improvement

The two areas where Bates-Diop will look to take step forwards this season will be in his outside shooting and in his assertiveness on the offensive side of the floor. His overall offensive numbers (109.4 offensive rating) weren’t bad, but if he’s going to become a top-end Big Ten player, he needs to make improvement in each.

While Bates-Diop’s three-point percentage (32.4 percent) last season wasn’t terrible on its face, it’s actually a lot weaker upon further analysis. That’s because the majority of his three-point makes came against bad competition.

In fact, not only did Bates-Diop’s three-point shooting drop to 29.4 percent in Big Ten play, but it dropped to putrid 21.7 percent against A and B rated KenPom opponents. For an average guy, maybe that’s respectable, but for a player who finished No. 4 on the team in three-point attempts, that’s rough.

If Bates-Diop is going to become a top-end Big Ten play, he will also have to take a bigger role offensively. Again, his efficiency numbers were fine, but he finished fifth* on the team in percentage of possessions used and shots taken. That might be fine for some, but for a guy looking to become a top-end Big Ten player, finishing that low on a team that finished at No. 151 in offensive rating is not a good sign.

Player Projection

Bates-Diop projects to be one of the better players on Ohio State’s roster and one of the better players in the Big Ten this season. His game is simply too diverse and he’s too experienced to think otherwise. However, to get into the serious All-Big Ten conversation, his offensive game and his three-point shooting will have to improve.

Nonetheless, as things currently sit, Bates-Diop should still be in contention to make the All-Big Ten Second or Third Team and be close to a lock to make the All-Big Ten Honorable Mention Team. There’s still plenty of room to grow for Bates-Diop, but whether he can hit his ceiling remains to be seen.

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'BTPowerhouse 25' Rankings:

*- Austin Grandstaff finished with a higher usage rate than Bates-Diop, but transferred during last season and did not finish the year with Ohio State. As such, he was not counted among the four players above Bates-Diop.