On Friday night, Ohio State put out a press release with some major news for the program heading into the upcoming season. The school announced that incoming 2017 prospect Braxton Beverly had been granted his release from the program and that redshirt freshman forward Derek Funderburk was dismissed from the team.
This is, obviously, huge news for the Buckeyes.
While the hire of new head coach Chris Holtmann was expected to shake things up, few would have expected this kind of news so quickly. This is especially true given the thing roster that Ohio State should have entering next season. The team needed every option it could get and losing two players like this is a tough blow. But, expected or not, it will be reality for the team moving forward.
Although Beverly wasn’t a major prospect, he was still a nice addition that should provide depth in the backcourt. He was rated as a three-star by 247Sports and figured to be in strong position to become the team’s backup point guard this season. This has as much to do with his own potential as it does with the team’s backcourt issues.
However, the most significant departure comes from Funderburk.
Despite redshirting last season, Funderburk was the team’s highest rated commit in the 2016 recruiting class. With the departure of Trevor Thompson, Funderburk was expected to slide into a significant role upfront. Maybe he wouldn’t have earned a starting role, but he would certainly have gotten some minutes. The team will now have to look elsewhere with Funderburk (likely) moving on elsewhere.
It would be hyperbolic to present either of these departures as crushing for the team or the fans. After all, neither had even played a minute for the Buckeyes yet in their respective careers. It’s hard to be too upset by the loss of two players who haven’t helped the team on the court yet.
However, even if these losses aren’t crushing blows, they are significant. Ohio State desperately needed depth heading into next season and to lose a top 100 prospect (Funderburk) and the team’s potential backup point guard (Beverly) is a disappointing turn of events. Simply put, the team doesn’t have many options heading into next year and to lose two depth pieces has to be frustrating for fans.
With these two departures, Ohio State will now enter the 2017-’18 season with four open scholarships. Perhaps Holtmann can find a late addition or two, but that’s only nine scholarship players (including one issued to a former walk-on) heading into the upcoming season. It’s not easy to spin that as a positive. The team is now, realistically, an injury or two away from complete devastation on the depth chart.
Holtmann’s tenure in Columbus certainly won’t be determined by two early transfers in his first month with the team. However, he and his staff will now have an even bigger job to do heading into the upcoming season.