Over the weekend, one of the most bizarre stories of this offseason surfaced regarding Ohio State rising junior guard JaQuan Lyle. On Saturday, initial reports came out that Lyle had been charged with three misdemeanor offenses, but the school later clarified that Lyle had left the team in April and was no longer on the team’s roster.
Needless to say, it was a pretty unusual series of events.
But, either way, it’s significant news for Ohio State.
As a recruit, Lyle came to Ohio State as a member of the program’s vaunted 2015 recruiting class. The class was ranked No. 5 nationally by 247Sports and Lyle found himself at the top of it, with a four-star rating. With that much talent, most figured that it would just be a matter of time before the group built the Buckeyes into one of the Big Ten’s top teams.
Obviously, those hopes would never be actualized.
With Lyle’s departure, Ohio State’s roster is no devoid of any members of the program’s 2015 recruiting class. Considering that none of those departures came by way of players heading to the NBA, that’s an unbelievable development over just two seasons. It’s even more incredible considering that the Buckeyes didn’t even make the NCAA Tournament during the last two seasons.
However, during his two seasons, Lyle had some bright moments. After a decent, but not outstanding freshman season, he showed some improvement as a sophomore. During the season, he averaged 11.4 points, 4.6 assists and 3.2 rebounds per game and shot 40.7 percent from three-point range. Lyle also scored 17 points in the team’s late season upset of Wisconsin at home.
While I try to avoid being hyperbolic about offseason news, Lyle’s departure from the roster is a crushing blow for the Buckeyes. The team now has two scholarships to fill this offseason and no obvious fix at point guard. While CJ Jackson played major minutes to end of the year, it’s hard to see him as a long-term point guard solution.
But the most frustrating part of Lyle’s departure comes when it’s put into context. With his decision to leave the team, Ohio State will now lose three of its top four players (Marc Loving and Trevor Thompson are the others) in total win shares from last season. And remember, those roster losses come from a Buckeye team that went 17-15 and missed the NIT.
No matter how you rate those players, that’s going to leave a mark.
The good news is that Ohio State will have some options. As mentioned, I’m not very high on Jackson, but he is a proven player at this point. Even if he’s not outstanding, he did play significant minutes last season and finished with a 104 offensive rating.
Additionally, Ohio State will also welcome freshman Braxton Beverly to the team this summer. He’s only a three-star recruit, but if he can handle 10-15 minutes a game, perhaps he and Jackson can do a decent job at point guard. Plus, Ohio State is still pursuing options on the transfer market.
There’s no disputing that this offseason hasn’t been a pretty one for Ohio State and Lyle’s departure does nothing to quell that tide. And while fans shouldn’t lose hope for next season just yet, Thad Matta will have his hands full in the weeks to come.