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. 7: Kyle Young
Height/weight: 6 feet 8 / 205 pounds
Jersey number: 25
Background: A product of Massillon, Young was a three-time all-state selection at Jackson High School, where as a senior he helped lead the Polar Bears to a 28-2 record and a Division I state championship. He committed to play for Chris Holtmann at Butler, then followed him to Ohio State for his freshman year. Young was a four-star recruit in the 247Sports.com composite rankings, which ranked him No. 80 nationally and No. 2 in Ohio.
2018-19 stats: As a sophomore, Young averaged 6.0 points and 4.4 rebounds while playing 20.5 minutes per game, making 14 starts and appearing in 31 games. He shot 67.2 percent (78 of 116) from the field.
Need to know: If not for injury, Young was on pace for the best-shooting season in Ohio State history by a wide margin. The single-season program record, with a minimum of 125 makes, was set in 1960 when Jerry Lucas shot 63.7 percent from the floor (283 for 444). Young was named Academic All-Big Ten in 2019. For his high school career, Young scored 1,582 points and was a three-time all-Ohio selection. At the time of his commitment, Young was the highest-rated recruit to ever sign to play for Holtmann. His best time running the mile during the preseason was 5:27.
2018-19 recap: Young began the season as a starter after seeing sporadic playing time as a freshman and immediately showcased his athleticism around the rim. One of the best dunkers on the team, Young proved especially effective on tip-dunks and set plays that resulted in him scoring in the paint. At times, too, he shifted to center as the Buckeyes utilized a smaller lineup. Young started 10 of the first 11 games and transitioned to a reserve role when Holtmann went to a guard-heavy lineup, but a hard fall during the first half of a Jan. 18 home loss to Maryland would cost Young the next four games and limit him the rest of the way when X-rays revealed a stress fracture in his lower right leg.
Young would return ahead of schedule, but he was barely able to practice while the training staff monitored his workload. He averaged 18.7 minutes per game after the injury after playing 22.0 through the first 17 games, and his production dropped accordingly. Young was averaging 7.3 points and 4.8 rebounds at the time of the injury but averaged 4.3 points and 3.9 rebounds in his final 14 games. He did not score a point in either of Ohio State’s NCAA Tournament games.
2019-20 outlook: Young will again be an integral part of Holtmann’s rotation. Fully healthy, he will play starters’ minutes whether he is on the floor from the opening tip or not. Offensively, Young needs to continue to grow his game, and he spoke in the preseason of work put in to develop his jumper. If he can reliably hit more shots from outside the paint, the Ohio State offense might be able to start occasionally running through him as opposed to primarily making his contributions off of effort plays. He also might not have to spend as much time at center, instead being able to focus more on his natural spot at power forward.
Young will be battling freshman E.J. Liddell for a starting spot. On a team dominated by youth, he will be counted on to be a steady, veteran presence both on the court and in the locker room.
“We definitely are a really deep team,” Young said on Ohio State media day. “We have a lot of talent. We’re excited to see what that brings. I guess you never really know what your role is going to be this early on in the season. It just depends how we’re going to go work, what this team earns.”
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