What has already been a trying start to 2019 has become more difficult for Ohio State.
After taking a hard fall Friday against Maryland, sophomore forward Kyle Young is out indefinitely because of a stress fracture suffered to his lower right leg. That leaves the Buckeyes without one of their primary post players as Purdue, winner of three straight, comes to Value City Arena on Wednesday night looking to hand the Buckeyes their fifth straight loss, which would be their longest losing streak in more than two decades.
Young will be on the bench, leg in a walking boot, hoping for the best and swallowing his disappointment.
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“When you first hear something like that, whenever you have to sit out anything, even if it’s just a practice, I was disappointed,” Young said Tuesday. “I was sad. I want to be there to play with these guys, but right now I have to focus on rehab and things like that and being the best teammate I can, helping them in other ways with my energy on the bench and finding ways to help them in practice.”
After playing in 25 games as a freshman but totaling just 216 minutes, Young has already surpassed that while stepping into a more significant role on a young team. He has averaged 22.0 minutes while shooting a Big Ten-best 73.2 percent from the field, going 52 of 71. If he could reach the minimum requirement of 125 made field goals, Young would shatter the Ohio State record of 63.7 percent set by Jerry Lucas, who went 283 of 444 during the 1959-60 season.
“We’re really proud of him for the growth he’s had,” coach Chris Holtmann said. “He’s been an instrumental player for this team in every way, so you hate it for him and obviously for our team given how important he’s been for us.”
Young said there is no timeline for his return, but he is expected to be back on the court this season. It’s the first significant injury he suffered since a broken leg at the end of his freshman high school season at Massillon Jackson, he said.
He has dealt with leg soreness throughout the season, he said, and didn’t initially think anything of the fall that appears to have exacerbated the situation. Young returned but played only four minutes during the second half because of foul trouble.
“I’ve just got to stay positive, work on things and control the controllables,” Young said. “Work on getting better every day with rehab, trying to be a better teammate, stuff like that. We’ll get through this, and then I’ll be able to come back.”
His loss adds another challenge for an Ohio State team already short on confidence and seeking its first win this calendar year.
In Young’s place, Holtmann said, more will be expected out of a trio of players: sophomore Musa Jallow and freshmen Justin Ahrens and Jaedon LeDee. Those three have combined for 355 minutes, 19 fewer than Young has played.
“Anytime you have an injury, you’re looking forward to the next guy, whoever that is, stepping into a new role, but you try to stay away from that kind of thinking where, ‘Nothing can go right for us. We’re losing games, now we lost one of our really important players,’ ” Holtmann said. “I think you just accept it, move on and speak with optimism about the opportunity for more guys.”