The freshman guard is home in Bettendorf, Iowa, after taking an indefinite leave from the Ohio State men‘s basketball team to address what he described as mental health issues.

Ohio State freshman guard D.J. Carton can continue his academic studies at home while on an indefinite leave of absence from the men’s basketball team, coach Chris Holtmann said Friday.


Carton, who left the team Jan. 30 and returned to his home of Bettendorf, Iowa, in order to work on what he described as mental health issues, is expected to miss his third game when the Buckeyes go to Wisconsin on Sunday.


Asked if Carton is taking classes from home, Holtmann said, "He can, and we’ve had conversations regarding all that. I don’t want to get into specifics about what our communication’s been like, but we’ve leaned on our medical personnel to guide us through all that, the best way to go about that. There’s opportunity for him to do that from where he’s at, for sure."


A team spokesman told The Dispatch that, as in all individual cases regarding student-athletes and their academics, the university would not be commenting on the specifics of Carton’s situation. There is no set date by which he would have to return for classes in order to remain eligible.


Through 20 games, Carton averaged 10.4 points and 2.8 rebounds while shooting 47.7% from the floor and 40.0% percent from three. He started three games and ranks among the Big Ten’s top freshmen in multiple offensive categories.


There remains no concrete timetable for when or if Carton will rejoin the team while he works on his issues. In a statement posted to social media, Carton’s mother, Jennifer, said her son has been "dealing with mental health issues since his senior year. This means he has had these issues throughout the season, contrary to what some believe."


In addition to thanking Holtmann and the rest of the coaching staff for their support, Carton said her won "will continue to receive care from OSU staff and confide in his coaches and teammates as he takes this time away.


"He will be back stronger than ever in a Buckeye uniform. I guarantee that!!"


After the Buckeyes beat Indiana in their first game without the freshman, Holtmann’s first public comments since Carton’s departure strongly backed the freshman and took umbrage with those who had criticized him and the program, calling that line of thinking "antiquated."


Friday, junior forward Kyle Young and sophomore guard Duane Washington Jr. said they’ve had communication with Carton since he stepped away. Carton has also posted images to social media supporting his teammates.


"I’ve talked to him a few times, just told him I’m here," Young said. "You can all me any time of the day, no matter when it is, and we can talk. Just letting him know I’m here for him and here if you want to talk."


"Same thing Kyle said," Washington said. "I’m just checking in with him, making sure everything is going good. We’re going to be here for him whenever, if he needs a phone call, if he needs to ask us anything. Just always being there for him."


Holtmann reiterated that the Buckeyes are being mindful of giving Carton space to work through his issues while also offering their support.


"It’s good for him to have some time," he said. "There’s probably a fine line and a balance there. That’s stuff that we’ve asked our medical people given the fact that, we treat it like an injury but it’s uncharted territory in terms of a specific situation where a young man is away from your team. We’ve really relied on our medical staff for that."


ajardy@dispatch.com


@AdamJardy