Each of Ohio State’s three scholarship freshmen has a unique story that he brings to the team. Kaleb Wesson, Kyle Young and Musa Jallow will all be expected to contribute at some level this season, but it is Jallow who has gotten singled out on multiple occasions since fall camp started for having had an impactful start with the Buckeyes.
It could be that, unlike Young and Wesson, Jallow is not known to have missed any time due to injury. Wesson missed about 10 days with an ankle injury and Young was out for about two weeks after having his tonsils removed right at the start of the preseason.
But either way, when asked Saturday evening if any players had surprised him during his first preseason with the program, Ohio State coach Chris Holtmann pointed to the youthful Jallow.
“I’ve been a little surprised, and maybe it’s because he’s one of the freshmen that’s not been injured, but Musa’s development has been pretty good,” Holtmann said at halftime of the football game against Penn State. “He’s 17. I’ve had to have some patience, but Musa’s development has been good for us and important for us and I’d say that’s probably been most surprising.”
Holtmann also praised sophomore Andre Wesson, who missed the entire summer due to an undisclosed medical condition, for making better progress at regaining full fitness than he had anticipated. But for Jallow, who won’t turn 18 until Feb. 3, multiple onlookers have been impressed with how physically prepared he looks despite his age.
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Holtmann said he made a point to single out Jallow to the parent of a recruit.
“We had a recruit in and we were sitting after practice and I said to the dad, ‘See that kid right there?’ ” Holtmann said. “He said, ‘Yeah, he’s one of your upperclassmen, right?’ I said, ‘No, he’s 17.’ He goes, ‘Seventeen? That kid?’ When you look at him, he’s got a physical maturity level. He takes care of his body.
“He’s always remained a really disciplined eater. We could all take lessons from him – at least I could. No sugar. Limited carbs. Vegetables, protein, we should all be on the Musa Jallow diet.”
At Big Ten media day held Oct. 19 at Madison Square Garden in New York, senior Jae’Sean Tate also praised the freshman.
“He’s shooting the ball very well right now,” Tate said. “He’s the best rebounder we have at this point. He crashes the glass like nobody I’ve ever seen and he always gets his hands on it. Very athletic. He’s just one of those people that the ball just kind of lands in his area. And that’s coming from me, and I’m a pretty good rebounder, but he’s got the number. He’s the best rebounder we’ve got right now.”
Jallow’s unofficial debut will come Sunday, when the Buckeyes host the College of Wooster for an exhibition game at Value City Arena at 4 p.m.