The season freshly over, Chris Holtmann was meeting with local reporters when the topic of the next season came up. Having just led Ohio State to his second NCAA Tournament in as many years on the job, Holtmann stood in the hallway outside the Buckeyes locker room at the BOK Center and said the current landscape of college basketball all but guaranteed some roster turnover.
“I think you always experience some change across the board in your program in an offseason,” Holtmann said after Sunday’s 74-59 loss to Houston in Tulsa, Oklahoma, in a Midwest regional. “That’s expected now in college basketball, right? We anticipate that there will be some of that. What it looks like, I’m not sure and haven’t put a ton of thought into, but it’s an expectation now in college basketball.”
Those words have been proven out. Forward Jaedon LeDee, after one season with the program, has asked for and received his release for the purpose of transferring to another school.
LeDee averaged 3.0 points and 1.2 rebounds in 26 appearances as a freshman, including two starts. He averaged 6.6 minutes per appearance and scored 41 of his 77 points from the free-throw line, where he was a 74.5 percent shooter (41 for 55).
His departure, plus the transfer of junior Micah Potter during the week before the season opener, now gives Ohio State two more available scholarships for the upcoming season. The Buckeyes have signed a three-man recruiting class consisting of five-star guard DJ Carton and four-star forwards E.J. Liddell and Alonzo Gaffney.
The loss of LeDee further thins Ohio State’s interior depth. Although he has often said he feels most comfortable on the wing, LeDee primarily logged minutes at center as starter Kaleb Wesson and backup Kyle Young, who often saw minutes at power forward, dealt with foul trouble, a suspension for Wesson and injuries for Young.
Asked by The Dispatch while in Tulsa what he felt he needed to do to gain more playing time next season, LeDee said, “Just keep working on my game, keep getting better in the offseason, keep working, get with coach, see what they want me to do to impact the team and go from there. I can always get bigger, stronger, faster, work on my three-ball. I think everything, working on my game in total because I’m not the best ever to do it yet so I’ve got a lot of room to grow.”
A four-star prospect from The Kinkaid School in Houston, LeDee was the first member of Ohio State’s class of 2018 to commit. At the time, the 247Sports.com composite rankings listed LeDee as the No. 8 overall prospect from Texas, the No. 31 small forward in the nation and the overall No. 115 prospect. His final decision came down to Texas A&M and Ohio State after having publicly stated a final top eight list consisting of Ohio State, Oklahoma, Texas A&M, LSU, Houston, Iowa State, California and UCLA.
Houston’s Cedrick Alley Jr., who was AAU teammates with LeDee while playing for Houston Hoops, told The Dispatch prior to their game that the two had been roommates and discussed their recruitments.
“I didn’t think he was going to go to there (to Ohio State), though,” Alley said. “I didn’t know all the schools he was looking at, but I thought he was going to stay somewhere in Houston or in the Texas area. It’s a good look for him, though.”
The Buckeyes will look to add another post player for next season, either a graduate transfer or another incoming freshman. They are one of the two finalists for unranked 7-foot center Ibrahima Diallo from Napa (California) Prolific Prep, and Holtmann is expected to meet with him late this week.