The Ohio State Buckeyes endured a season of turmoil last year as they missed the NCAA Tournament and lost in the second round of the NIT Tournament, but heading into this 2016 season it’s clear that this year’s team will be noticeably different.
Throughout the past year head coach Thad Matta has saw four of his five 2015 recruits decide to leave the program. The 2015 recruiting class was poised to revamp and rekindle the magic the Buckeyes once exuded as a legitimate perennial tournament team, so who would’ve thought in just a year that this notion has basically ceased from thoughts. It’s no secret it has now become one of the tremendous recruiting class let-downs in recent Buckeye memory.
With no impact seniors who left the team, there were three freshman in particular who became the biggest losses for the Buckeyes in Austin Grandstaff, Mickey Mitchell and Daniel Giddens.
Grandstaff came into Columbus as the highest rated player in the 2015 recruiting class, holding the No.50 ranking in the ESPN 100. At 6-foot-5 with an ability to play either guard position and an innate ability to shoot the ball, in theory, it seemed to be a perfect fit in under Matta and his staff. The opposite occurred and he only played in 10 games averaging 4.4 points-per-game for the Buckeyes before deciding to transfer to Oklahoma.
Yes, 10 games is a small sample size for a freshman to gauge what he could’ve been for a program, but his departure was the beginning of a slew of fellow recruits who joined his action. So despite his blink of an eye appearance at Ohio State, his departure hurt the depth of the team, putting a lot more onus on the shoulders of freshman JaQuan Lyle.
The Buckeyes shouldn’t take it personally though as Grandstaff is now at DePaul University since leaving Oklahoma.
Now you can make a legitimate case for guard A.J. Harris to be on this list but Mitchell, despite not being in the ESPN 100, is a bigger offseason loss. First of all the 6-foot-7 forward was the second most versatile player behind Lyle. He was a do-it-all-forward on the offensive end, having the ability to pass, shoot, and use his athleticism.
Though it didn’t translate in the stat column he showed flashes of productivity especially in the first round of the NIT Tournament where he had his best statistical game of the season. The Buckeyes still have lone senior Marc Loving who’s likely to lead the team in scoring again, but Mitchell would’ve added depth to a necessary position that’s depleted.
He played in 23 games and finished the season with the team before deciding to leave the Big Ten for the Big West and play for UC Santa Barbara.
Giddens was another ESPN 100 player (59th overall) who decided to transfer from the Buckeyes after last season. The 6-foot-10 big-man’s departure should be felt more then the other two on this list because of pure impact. He averaged more minutes-per-game (18.2) then Grandstaff and Mitchell which led to more production especially as a shot-blocker. He was team leader in block-per-game (1.5).
The Buckeyes only have four big-men over 6-foot-9 on the roster this year, with two being freshmen and the other two having a combined block-per-game total of 1.5, tying Giddens. So, what might’ve been a productive sophomore year to improve for the Buckeyes will be seen in Alabama where he transferred to.
Though they were all freshman, the lack of senior players and impact players made these freshman’s decisions to leave that more apparent, contributing to a dull offseason.
As of now with this current roster, the Buckeyes opportunity to reestablish a young core group vanished with the four departed players and Matta must find a way to overcome his recruiting fail.