Ohio State players were gearing up for the penultimate day of basketball practice before the season-opener when coach Chris Holtmann gathered them up to deliver some news.
This was on Monday, four days after their exhibition game against UNC Pembroke, and Holtmann told the players that junior center Micah Potter had opted to quit the team and transfer.
“We were all pretty shocked, but we didn’t know until” Monday, said OSU graduate senior Keyshawn Woods, whose career has been marked by transfers from Charlotte to Wake Forest and now to Ohio State. “Everybody found out (Monday) before practice. We didn’t know anything.”
In 59 games including 16 starts for the Buckeyes, Potter averaged 4.1 points and 2.8 rebounds and was slotted to be the primary backup at center for sophomore Kaleb Wesson. He scored 13 points and had six rebounds in 10 minutes against Pembroke.
Potter hasn’t spoken publicly about the decision, but Holtmann said the situation was first brought to his attention over the weekend. He said he did not want to get into too many specifics about Potter’s transfer.
“We had a real honest conversation,” Holtmann said. “Micah’s a great kid. We wish him well in his next move.”
Speaking generally on transfers, Holtmann added, “We all know it’s very much a part of our game. As a coach you would always love to be able to start all 13 guys and have everybody play as much as they really want to play. We know that’s not possible. It’s our job to try to figure out what we feel like is best for the team.”Join the conversation at Facebook.com/groups/BuckeyeXtraFans and connect with us on Twitter @BuckeyeXtra
Both Woods and sophomore forward Kyle Young, the two players made available to the media on Tuesday, said they had not communicated with Potter since the news.
“We wish him the best with what he plans on doing but we’ve just got to focus on our next step and getting better with every day,” Young said.
Said Woods: “We’ve still got a job to do. We’re still focused on Cincinnati.”
Young likely will have to help at center in Potter’s absence, and he said he’s planning to work hard and follow whatever direction the coaches have planned for his season. Holtmann said the impact on the team’s rotation won’t be known for a while but that freshman Jaedon LeDee likely will see more minutes than previously planned.
“Obviously he was a guy that was going to be a significant part of our rotation,” Holtmann said of Potter. “Obviously we’ll need to continue to get Jae ready and then there might be some times we might not play with a center, just play with a couple forwards. We did some of that last year as well.”
Among the returnees, Young and Andre Wesson spent some time at center, as did departed Keita Bates-Diop, the Big Ten player of the year.
Is LeDee for what might now be thrown at him?
“We’ll see,” Holtmann said. “I think his attitude has been tremendous. He’s got to get in better shape and he has to continue to learn what our expectations are and how we want him to play on both ends.
“The thing that translates for Jae right now is he pursues the ball at a really high level. We all know the adage that rebounding typically translates levels to a certain degree. That’s, I think, the case with Jae. We’ve got to expedite his development and in turn his conditioning as well.”