Keita Bates-Diop has declared for the NBA draft and hired an agent, the Ohio State redshirt junior announced Monday afternoon.

At a news conference inside Value City Arena, the Big Ten’s 2018 men's basketball player of the year announced that he has decided to forgo his fifth season with the Buckeyes. By hiring an agent, Bates-Diop does not have an option to return to Ohio State.

ESPN ranks Bates-Diop as the No. 19 prospect in the NBA draft, and he is widely considered a late-first round pick.

 

In a breakout season, Bates-Diop averaged 19.8 points and 8.7 rebounds per game for the Buckeyes while leading them back to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2015. In his final game of the year, he made a 30-foot three-pointer at the buzzer to finish with 25 points in a second-round NCAA Tournament loss to Gonzaga.

Afterward, Bates-Diop said he would take some time to weigh his future options by consulting with his family and the Ohio State coaching staff in addition to former Buckeyes such as Evan Turner and Deshaun Thomas, both of whom left school with eligibility remaining.

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This season, Bates-Diop posted 13 double-doubles and was named first-team all-Big Ten as well as second-team all-America by the Sporting News and the basketball writers.

His departure gives the Buckeyes two available roster spots for next season. They have been in the market for a graduate transfer to help bolster a thin backcourt, but the possibility of losing Bates-Diop after this season has been on the radar of the coaching staff from the early games of the season and could result in the Buckeyes trying to add another post player as well.

Without him, Ohio State will return 43.3 percent of its scoring in coach Chris Holtmann’s second season.

ajardy@dispatch.com

@AdamJardy