WE’RE BACK AND BETTER THAN EVER! It’s the finale of the April Review, and I would like to not waste any time diving in.
CJ Walker Declares for the NBA Draft and Signs Agent, Forgoing Final Year of Eligibility
There will be one Buckeye who enters the NBA Draft without a possible return next season, and that is CJ Walker. Walker has played for the Buckeyes the last 2 seasons after transferring from Florida State, where he was an impact player for Leonard Hamilton and the Seminoles. Luckily, the Buckeyes may have gotten even more out of CJ Walker than Florida State, especially this season.
Walker posted on his Twitter:
After much discussion with my family, Coach Holtmann and the basketball staff, I’ve decided to take the next steps and pursue my professional basketball career. I will be hiring an agent and forgoing my extra year of eligibility. Ohio State thank you for everything.
I’m excited for what the future holds for me and my family. Ohio State will always be home; I’ll forever be grateful for the opportunity to be apart of the Buckeye family!
As a transfer, Walker had to sit out for the 2018-19 season after leaving Florida State (NCAA rules), but in his first season as a Buckeye he shined. Walker averaged just under 9 points per game, as well as 4 assists per game shooting at a 43% clip from the field. Entering his senior season, Walker tore a ligament in his hand (specifically a finger on his right hand), however he battled through the injury to start the season for Ohio State. After missing 5 games in January due to the hand injury, Walker accepted a role off the bench for the Buckeyes, playing exceptionally well there. Walker eventually made his way back into the starting lineup, but he played starter minutes anyway off the bench. Walker averaged under 10 points per game and over 4 assist per game this season, including a more versatile offensive game that consisted of improved shooting, especially from three.
With a daughter he has to take care off, CJ Walker obviously has to think about what’s best for his family, as well as himself. His contributions with the Ohio State Basketball program are bigger than basketball. The way he played the game; his IQ, leadership, character, attitude, savvy, all of it…truly made him a Buckeye for life, and one of my personal favorites to watch. Buckeye Nation wishes nothing but the best for CJ Walker and his family on their future endeavors of life!
Kyle Young Announces a Return to Ohio State Next Season, Using Extra COVID-19 Year as a “Super Senior”
Kyle Young might be the Buckeye I am most excited to have back next season. Taking advantage of the extra year of eligibility granted to all seniors this season (due to COVID-19), Young officially became a “Super Senior” via Twitter as he announced his return to Buckeye Nation! Young is truly a player who’s impact goes beyond the stat sheet. A defensive-minded, rebound-chasing, balls-to-the-walls type of hustle player, Young had a career year for Ohio State this past season, which included the stats.
Young went off in the Big Ten Tournament quarterfinals for Ohio State, banging three-after-three-after-three in the first 10 minutes of the game versus Purdue. Unfortunately, Young left the game with an injury, and he was unable to play not only the Michigan game that followed, but also a Big Ten title game loss versus Illinois, followed by the stunning upset loss to Oral Roberts in the NCAA Tournament. In all 3 of those games, Young’s impact, mainly on the defensive end, was missed tremendously. With Ohio State being limited in terms of size, Young can provide some of that, so Ohio State’s frontcourt becomes very depleted without him.
Young averaged 9 points, 6 rebounds, over 1 assists, and under 1 block per game for the Buckeyes the season while playing 26 minutes per game, a majority being career-best. Young has also increased his free throw percentage each season, from 45% as a freshman, to 58% as a sophomore, to another increase of 66% his junior year, to a career-best 85% last season. Adding Young provides depth, size, rebounding, and defense for the Buckeyes defensively next season, especially if they fail to land 5-Star center prospect Efton Reid, who’s still undecided on his school of the future, but has the Buckeyes in his final 5 (and rumored final 3). If EJ Liddell and Duane Washington both return next season, which they are expected to, and Ohio State can land the missing piece to the puzzle in Reid…this team might be the Big Ten favorite next season, as well as one of the favorites for a national title under Chris Holtmann’s coaching.
Ohio State Fills Final Roster Spot in Indiana Transfer Joey Brunk
The name Joey Brunk sounds unfamiliar to many college basketball fans, but for diehard Big Ten basketball fans, they might know exactly who Joey Brunk is. Brunk missed this past season after a back injury that needed surgery forced him out of action. Last year, Brunk did average 7 points and 5 rebounds per game, playing a consistent, energy-driven role for the Hoosiers.
Brunk has never been a big minutes guy, considering he has never averaged over 20 minutes per game in his career. However, he can provide something the Buckeyes need, and something they have not had in some time from a key contributor (exception to Kaleb Wesson). That “something” is increased size, rebounding, and interior rim protection. Although he has never averaged over 0.3 blocks per game, Brunk measures in at 6’11 and 255 pounds, giving Ohio State a true, legitimate center for next season.
Coming out of high school, Brink was a 4-star center from Southport High School, committing to Butler in the 2016 recruiting class as the 14th ranked center nationally. Statistically, Brunk has not had the impact many may have expected for a player with such promise, potential, and high regards in terms of ranking, but Brunk is very similar to players like Kyle Young, playing with increased energy, hustle, and sacrificing his personal statlines for sake of team, and doing whatever it necessary for a victory. After playing 3 seasons at Butler, Brunk transferred to Indiana. The connection to Ohio State is former Butler HC Chris Holtmann, who recruited Brunk back in 2016.
Unfortunately, Brunk’s commitment qualifies for the final scholarship spot for this upcoming season. This means Ohio State will be unable to land not only 5-star Efton Reid, who I’ve spoken highly of, but also top 2021 prospect Chet Holmgren. Holmgren announced he would be attending, committing to them over Michigan, Ohio State, Memphis, Georgetown, North Carolina, and Minnesota. Ohio State settled in my opinion, taking a low-risk, intermediate-reward caliber player in Brunk over the chance of having a TOP TIER PROSPECT in Reid OR rare, potentially generational talent in Holmgren.
Overall, I am happy with Ohio State FINALLY filling their center need. However, getting Reid or Holmgren would have exceeded this team’s expectations and potential exponentially for next season (and potentially beyond with Reid). We’ll see how Brunk produces for Buckeye Nation, but I expect him to carve out significant minutes as the starting center next season, with EJ Liddell shifting to his more natural PF position. With Kyle Young returning, he may claim the starting spot over Brunk, who’s going to battle with Young, Zed Key, and EJ Liddell for minutes in the frontcourt. Considering Young’s willingness to sacrifice anything for the team, I think the likelihood of Zed Key or Joey Brunk starting next season is greater than expected. Either way, all of these guys will hover around 20 minutes per game at least on a nightly basis, dependent upon matchups.
2022 Prospect Donovan Clingan Announces Buckeyes in Final Eight
Buckeye Nation is still looking for that long-term big man of the future, and they may have found their man. Say hello to 7’1, 255 pound behemoth Donovan Clingan, a 2022 4-star prospect from Bristol, Connecticut. Clingan announced at the end of the month he would be deciding on his future school before his high school season in mid November/December, with the following schools receiving consideration:
Michigan, Ohio State, Rutgers, UConn, Georgetown, Syracuse, Notre Dame, and Providence
Clingan also plans on visiting all 8 schools before choosing a school, so it will be undetermined what school he wants for the foreseeable future. As for Clingan, he’s a top-50 prospect (42nd nationally) of the 2022 class, and a Top 10 center (6th nationally, 1st in his state). Clingan definitely sees the Buckeyes as a really good fit for him, and so does Chris Holtmann for his team. Clingan would finally be the true center the Buckeyes’ program has been missing for some time, and his size and presence around the rim would be felt tremendously offensively and also defensively.
APRIL IS OVER! Further into the spring and summer months we venture off, recruiting is wrapping up, teams are making their final pushes for prospects, and they’re putting the final pieces together to contend next season. I personally can’t wait for tip-off in a few months, when the Buckeyes take the court once again! Future installments of monthly reviews may be on the way, depending on the amount of quality, potential articles possible within each month.