Since becoming Ohio State's men's basketball coach, Chris Holtmann has consistently pointed to Keita Bates-Diop and Jae’Sean Tate as examples for the younger Ohio State players to follow. This weekend, the two will have multiple opportunities to show why.

Saturday, the Buckeyes host Appalachian State at Value City Arena. Sunday, Bates-Diop and Tate will return to the arena and walk across the stage to accept diplomas as Ohio State graduates. Friday afternoon, Tate expressed the same thought as most of his classmates.

“Finally over,” he said with a smile.

Bates-Diop and Tate signed with Ohio State as members of its 2014 recruiting class. Bates-Diop was forced to take a medical redshirt last season but is putting together an all-Big Ten season this year, while Tate’s hustle and passion have made him a fan favorite during what has been a difficult period for the program.

Tate will graduate with a degree in sport industry with a goal of being a high school athletic director — after what he hopes is a professional career that lasts at least a decade. Bates-Diop’s degree is in economics.

“I’m good with numbers and analytics and all that,” he said. “When everyone else hated micro and macro, I actually liked it.”

Obtaining his degree could potentially impact whether Bates-Diop returns for a fifth season, but he said that hasn’t been on his mind.

“I didn’t know I was going to graduate early until the beginning of the semester, so I hadn’t even thought that far ahead,” he said. “I was worried about this season and trying to do the best I can to have a good season.”

Holtmann said both players should be commended.

“I think it speaks a lot to who they are as people and how they’ve been raised and what’s important to them,” Holtmann said. “Both guys have been here for a good bit and they’ve taken care of their business. It’s been really impressive to see.”

They are the first Buckeyes to graduate since walk-on Jake Lorbach did in the spring of 2016. Marc Loving, a senior last year, and Trevor Thompson, a redshirt junior who had transferred from Virginia Tech, are both close but currently not in classes after turning pro in the spring, according to a team spokesman. Holtmann said he hopes Kam Williams, a fifth-year senior, will graduate after spring semester.

Starting with the 2012-13 year, the APR for the men’s basketball team dipped each year from 977 to 975 in 2013-14, 967 in 2014-15 and 950 in 2015-16. Last year’s ranking has not yet been released but is expected to slip again, particularly after Derek Funderburk transferred from Ohio State while ineligible.


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