Justice Sueing is the real deal. Sueing scored 19 points in his debut with the Buckeyes, shooting 8-9 from the field to go along with 8 rebounds and 3 steals. A transfer from California, Sueing averaged roughly 14 points, 6 rebounds, 2 assists, and over a steal per game over the last 2 seasons, shooting 43% from the field, and 30% from three.
This might be the most well-rounded group the Buckeyes have had in a few years, and they have a plethora of scoring threats. They are usually a stout team defensively, and they have some real depth this season. The Buckeyes started this game on a 22-0 run, and it was a wrap from there. They can score inside and out, but they have been a solid team defensively for the entirety of Chris Holtmann‘s tenure at Ohio State.
Ohio State has a true 9 or 10 guys that can play every night and contribute. For starters, you have CJ Walker, Duane Washington, Sueing, Kyle Young, and EJ Liddell, who finished with 16 points and asserted himself late in the post. Kyle Young nearly had a double-double, and CJ Walker had 10 points plus 6 assists. Off the bench, the Buckeyes have sharpshooter Justin Ahrens (91% of his points last season where from threes) who shoots roughly 40% from downtown. Junior defensive stalwart Musa Jallow, graduate transfer Jimmy Sotos at the point, and freshman Zed Key down low all are players to watch. Key had a huge debut game with 12 points for the Buckeyes.
Ohio State plays in arguably the toughest conference in the country: The Big Ten. Iowa, Wisconsin, Illinois are all true national title contenders, while Michigan State, Ohio State, Rutgers, and Michigan are the best of the rest in the conference. A big sleeper team in the conference is Indiana, while Maryland, Purdue, and Minnesota all lost major contributors, but have veteran coaches. Penn State, Northwestern, and Nebraska will be the bottom feeders of the conference this year and are not threats.
Ohio State should definitely be in contention to not only compete in the Big Ten, but also be in the conversation for winning the conference. They can play with any of the teams in this conference, but it will require consistent play. Each of the past 2 seasons, Ohio State had extremely rough, and long stretches of play in the month of January. Big Ten play starts to ramp up in January, so they have to be locked in as the season wanes on.
As for the team, they did lose Kaleb Wesson (undrafted in the NBA Draft), Andre Wesson (graduation), Luther Muhammed (transferred to #18 Arizona State), and DJ Carton (transferred to Marquette). Even with these losses, the Buckeyes look extremely potent on both sides of the ball. Luckily, the Buckeyes brought in the most highly-touted transfers in the country in Seth Towns. The Harvard transfer chose the Buckeyes over Duke, Kansas, Virginia, Syracuse, Michigan, and Maryland. He has missed back-to-back seasons with knee injuries, but in his sophomore season he was the Ivy League Player of the Year averaging 16 points, 6 rebounds, and shooting 44% from three. Towns is a 6’8″ 230-pound forward who will be a lethal, versatile player for the Buckeyes. He’s expected to be healthy and able to play around January, when he will be needed most!
A native of Columbus, Towns will have two fulls season of eligibility remaining, and he will unlock Ohio State’s offense AND potential if he can stay healthy. The Buckeyes have a strong recruiting class coming in next season to mesh with Towns, Liddell, Washington, and Sueing as well. Next season is when Ohio State may take the leap and become a dark-horse national title contender. They have a chance to be one this season if they can knock off the top teams of the Big Ten this season and have big-time seasons from Sueing, Towns, Liddell, and Washington.
Next Game: 11/29 vs UMass Lowell (4:00 PM on BTN)
Photo: Joshua A. Bickel