Ohio State will open its 2018-19 men's basketball season by playing its first game at Cincinnati in 98 years. The Buckeyes and Bearcats will meet at the newly renovated Fifth Third Arena on Nov. 7, marking only the 11th time the in-state programs have met and the first time they’ve played each other within state lines since 1921. In preparation for the game, The Dispatch is counting down the final 14 days with power rankings for each of the members of the Ohio State roster. The series continues with the eighth player in our rankings.

No. 6: Kyle Young

Position: Forward

Class: Sophomore

Height/weight: 6 feet 8 / 205 pounds

Jersey number: 25

Background: An Ohio native, Young played his high school ball at Massillon Jackson and ultimately committed to and signed with Butler over Ohio State because of his relationship with coach Chris Holtmann. As a senior, Young helped lead Jackson to a Division I state title with a 28-2 record while averaging 18.0 points and 6.5 rebounds and shooting 59 percent from the floor. When Holtmann left to take the Buckeyes job in June before Young's freshman season, Young opted to follow him to Columbus and secured his release from the Bulldogs. At the time, Young was the highest-rated recruit to ever commit to Holtmann. A four-star prospect in the 247Sports.com composite rankings, Young was the No. 2 recruit from Ohio, the No. 18 small forward prospect in the country and the overall No. 80 recruit.

2017-18 stats: In 25 games, Young averaged 1.8 points and 1.6 rebounds in 8.6 minutes per appearance. He shot 44.2 percent (19 for 43) from the floor.

Need to know: At Jackson, Young was a three-time all-state selection and finished with 1,582 career points. He averaged 21.0 points and 8.0 rebounds per game as a junior. Multiple players have cited him as the best dunker on this Ohio State team. He spent a lot of time during the offseason with senior point guard C.J. Jackson, who wanted to help him grow as a player and get to know him better in order to be a better teammate on the court. Young has a tattoo on his left arm that reads “YoungStrong” in honor of his late father, Mark Young.

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2017-18 recap: Young was slowed during last preseason when he came down with mono, which helped hold him back a bit as players battled for roles early in Holtmann’s tenure. He ended up as the primary backup for Keita Bates-Diop at power forward, which meant minutes were a challenge to come by. Young did not appear in nine games including the final four of the season, a stretch that included all three postseason games. He played significant roles in both games against Michigan, however. Holtmann liked his skill set against the Wolverines and he averaged 21.5 minutes in those two games. In the first, a 71-62 home win, he scored a career-high six points while playing a career-high 22 points. In all, Young played 43 minutes against Michigan and 76 against the rest of the Big Ten. “I’ve just really been trying to focus on some of the things I struggled with last year: ball-handling, shooting, passing, just things like that,” he said during the summer. “I’ve seen my game in those areas take some big strides.”

2018-19 outlook: This figures to be a big year for Young. He enters as the odds-on favorite to assume Bates-Diop’s starting spot at power forward and has been singled out by numerous teammates for having taken a significant step forward during the offseason. For that, many have credited an increased confidence level – something that proved to be a challenge when playing time was limited last season. “He did some good things for us last year,” Holtmann said. “I think people see now his role being increased with Keita’s absence, and he has done some good things in practice. Kyle’s going to be a work in progress like most young guys are but he’s had some very good moments in practice.” His offensive game remains a work in progress, Holtmann has said, but he is expected to bring a physical, athletic presence along with a strong work ethic to the court and be an effective rebounder and defender. Holtmann has said Young will be a fan favorite for what he accomplishes and how he plays during his four years, and this looks to be the next big step for him.

Previous power rankings

No. 7: Duane Washington Jr.

No. 8: Musa Jallow

No. 9: Micah Potter

No. 10: Jaedon LeDee

No. 11: Justin Ahrens

No. 12: Joey Lane

No. 13: Danny Hummer

No. 14: CJ Walker

ajardy@dispatch.com

@AdamJardy