Ohio State will open its 2019-20 men's basketball season by hosting Cincinnati for the first time in nearly 98 years. The Buckeyes and Bearcats will meet Nov. 6 in Value City Arena, marking only the 12th time the in-state programs have met and the second time in as many years that they’ve played each other within state lines after having not done so since 1921. In preparation for the start of the season, The Dispatch is counting down with power rankings for each member of the Ohio State roster.

These rankings are an educated guess at which players will have the most significant on-court impact during the course of the season.

No. 15: Harrison Hookfin

Position: Forward

Class: Sophomore

Height/weight: 6 feet 5 / 220 pounds

Jersey number: 42

Background: An Ohio State fan while growing up, Hookfin played sparingly for Lebanon, Ohio, where he averaged less than a point and a rebound during his junior season. Then he grew four inches and blossomed into an indispensable player as a senior, averaging a team-high 14.4 points and 7.3 rebounds while playing 29.7 minutes per game and earning first-team all-conference honors. It brought him interest from Division III schools, but he opted to attend Ohio State instead, where he is pursuing a degree in biology. “It’s a story of a guy that just never gave up,” Kevin Wiggins, Hookfin’s high school coach, said. “The kid just works. He knows how to work and not give up, so if you have that, it’s a huge bonus.”

2018-19 stats: Hookfin made just one appearance, playing one minute in a Feb. 26 win against Iowa and grabbing one defensive rebound.

Need to know: In practice, Hookfin has shown a nice shooting touch and given some length to the scout team. As a senior, he helped Lebanon defeat Xenia and eventual Mr. Ohio Samari Curtis, now a freshman at Nebraska.

2018-19 recap: After his strong senior season at Lebanon, Hookfin was a regular student at Ohio State when Micah Potter’s preseason transfer out of the program and an injury to Kyle Young significant thinned the team’s depth in the paint. Low on bodies simply for the sake of conducting a practice, the coaching staff did some on-campus searching and video coordinator Kyle Davis discovered Hookfin. He joined the team in the midst of Big Ten season and was added to the roster just in time for a Jan. 29 game at Michigan.

2019-20 outlook: He won’t handle things in the same manner, but Hookfin will help step into the void left behind by “Towel Gang” linchpin and emotional leader Joey Lane, a former walk-on who was eventually earned a scholarship. Well-liked within the locker room, Hookfin will be counted on to push teammates in practice, keep his grades in good order and provide behind-the-scenes assistance for the Buckeyes.

Additional reading:

Walk-on Harrison Hookfin beat the odds

ajardy@dispatch.com

@AdamJardy