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. 5: D.J. Carton
Height/weight: 6 feet 2 / 190 pounds
Jersey number: 3
Background: The highest-rated recruit to ever sign with Ohio State coach Chris Holtmann, Carton emerged as a five-star recruit at Bettendorf, Iowa, where he was the state's Mr. Basketball as a senior. Although he would eventually get bumped down to a four-star recruit, Carton arrived at Ohio State as the No. 34 recruit in the nation and the No. 4 point guard in the 247Sports.com composite rankings. Carton also held offers from Michigan, Iowa, Indiana and others.
2018-19 stats: As a senior at Bettendorf, Carton averaged 24.4 points, 7.6 rebounds and 6.0 assists per game. He shot 54.5 percent from the field (206 for 378), 33.3 percent from three (42 for 126) and 70.4 percent (107 for 152) from the free-throw line.
Need to know: Carton hadn’t necessarily planned to commit to Ohio State, but his official visit left such a strong impression on him that he pulled the trigger a few days later. After his senior season, he spent time working out with a few local players: Ethan Happ (Wisconsin), Isaiah Roby (Nebraska) and Tyler Hall (Montana State). In an anonymous poll of his teammates during the preseason, Carton was voted as the best dunker on the team. In a preseason media poll conducted jointly by The Dispatch and The Athletic, Carton was selected as the Big Ten freshman of the year.
2018-19 recap: After Bettendorf went 10-13 during Carton’s junior year, he helped lead a turnaround that included a No. 1 state ranking and a 21-2 overall record. Carton nearly doubled his assist average from the previous season and was a more efficient offensive player while running the point for the Bulldogs.
2019-20 outlook: Expectations for Carton have been sky-high since before his arrival, with talk of one-and-done potential and a starting role from the opening tip. Athletically, Carton presents a talent in the backcourt that Ohio State hasn’t seen in some time, and he will be counted on to help lead the attack in transition and finish at the rim – two areas in which the Buckeyes especially struggled last season. He will see significant playing time for the Buckeyes this year, both on and off the ball. Look for Carton to play alongside CJ Walker and without him as Holtmann figures out which guard combinations (and trios) he can utilize effectively.
However, Carton suffered a sprained ankle during the first half of an Oct. 20 closed scrimmage against Louisville that will cause him to miss some time. On his Instagram page, Carton said he will be back in time for the season opener. He still has some maturing to do, like most freshmen, and will need to continue to make smarter decisions with the basketball. But he is going to play a major role on this team and has the potential to become one of the league’s best.
“D.J.’s done a good job in a lot of areas,” Holtmann said before the Louisville scrimmage. “I think he’s learning right now what you can and can’t do at this level. D.J. has made real solid strides. I’ve been proud of him with that on the floor, but we’ve got a ways to go.”
A look at each Ohio State player as the season nears
Who’s new to the Buckeyes: D.J. Carton