D.J. Carton is flying back to Columbus to return to Ohio State, but there remains no timetable for when he could return to any team activities, The Dispatch has learned.
The freshman point guard, who announced Jan. 30 that he was taking an indefinite leave of absence from the team to address mental health issues, posted on social media Wednesday that he would be "back with the gang Friday."
On Thursday, with the Buckeyes in Iowa City to face Iowa later that night, Carton posted a short video of himself inside the Quad City International Airport.
Since leaving the team, Carton has been in his hometown of Bettendorf, Iowa. Although he is returning to Ohio State, there remains no concrete timetable for when, or if, he will play again again this season.
>>Read more: Chris Holtmann: D.J. Carton ‘very much still a part’ of Ohio State team
In order to return to the court, Carton will have to go through an extensive protocol dictated by the medical staff before being allowed to rejoin the team in any sort of official capacity. Multiple boxes will need to be checked before the freshman would be allowed to even attend a team meeting, much less be permitted to practice, sit on the bench for a game or practice.
Coach Chris Holtmann reiterated those points Wednesday, when the possibility of Carton making a surprise return to play in his home state was broached during interviews.
>>Read more: Chris Holtmann angered by those with ‘antiquated thinking’ on mental health after Ohio State’s D.J. Carton takes leave of absence
"I’m hopeful that we can get him on a path towards improved health," Holtmann said. "That’s the only priority. Obviously we’re late in the season, and you can draw your own conclusions from that. It’s late in the year, and he’s been away for a while. If and when he returns, when you leave for medical reasons there’s a lot that goes into being in any way acclimated back into any type of organized activity.
"When a player is pulled away for medical reasons, specifically mental health, there is very specific and extended protocol that goes into that — and it’s to protect the player. It’s pretty extensive. That’s about as much as I can say on that."
The team’s third-leading scorer on the season, Carton averaged 10.4 points in 20 games, including three starts, shooting 47.7% from the field and 40% from three-point range. He was named Big Ten freshman of the week on Dec. 23.