Two days after the top-rated player to sign with the program in five years left the program in D.J. Carton, Ohio State landed the player ESPN ranked as the nation’s top transfer with immediate eligibility.
Saturday night, live on ESPN, local product and soon-to-be Harvard graduate Seth Towns announced that he was picking the Buckeyes over Duke to continue his collegiate career. Towns comes to Ohio State with two years of immediate eligibility and figures to slot into a significant role.
What impact does his commitment have on the Ohio State roster? Let’s take a look.
The Buckeyes will be older
Preface this by pointing out that we don’t know the future plans of either Kaleb Wesson or Alonzo Gaffney, both of whom could be gone by next season. Wesson will explore his NBA draft stock and Gaffney wasn’t with the team for the final four games after seeing minimal playing time.
But Towns’ addition highlights how different the 2020-21 roster will be compared to the one that went before. Last season, Ohio State’s 12 available scholarship players (Justice Sueing had to sit out after transferring in from Cal) had an average of 1.3 years of college experience among them. Next year’s roster, which at the moment includes Wesson (senior) and Gaffney (sophomore), has an average of 2.1 years. Six of those 14 players (again, at this moment) will begin the year with either three or four years’ worth of college experience already under their belts.
The Buckeyes had two such players last year: senior Andre Wesson and fourth-year junior CJ Walker, who transferred from Florida State.
And if you remove Gaffney and Kaleb Wesson from the equation, Ohio State would still have two players with four years of experience, three with three years and three more with two years.
Again, Kaleb Wesson’s future plans will have a significant impact on what this roster looks like and how this team plays. If he turns pro, there is no comparable body to replace him that will make a like-for-like substitution.
But there will be a number of bigger bodies at the forward spots at coach Chris Holtmann’s disposal. Kyle Young, measuring in at 6-foot-8, would be the likely starter at center. Next to him stands E.J. Liddell at 6-6, a power forward who can play alongside Sueing, also listed at 6-6. Then, slot in Towns, who is listed at 6-7 but is more of a wing/guard than a prototypical forward.
That would allow the Buckeyes to play a lineup featuring any of their guards at the point, then Towns, Sueing, Liddell and Young, for example. That’s a lot of size and length without having a prototypical big guy on the court. And that wouldn’t even include freshman Zed Key, who brings a 6-7 frame to Ohio State, and sophomore Ibrahima Diallo, who is listed at 6-10 and could be counted upon for a few minutes per game after being used sparingly as a freshman.
Plus, both Towns and Sueing figure to help open the floor for their teammates. Sueing is among the nation’s best at getting to the free-throw line, while Towns brings skill and shooting to the wing.
It is worth pointing out, though, that Towns will have some rust to knock off. He’s missed the last two seasons, so he will have to work his way back into game shape and get acclimated to playing at a high level again.
At the moment, Ohio State is one over the scholarship limit for next season with two decisions still to be made. Thursday’s departure of freshman D.J. Carton to the transfer portal hurts the Buckeyes from a depth standpoint in the backcourt (not to mention from a talent standpoint), but it appears Holtmann might stand put for now as far as making more additions to the roster.
Some of that is practicality. Adding an extra body right now would essentially push two players out the door, and if there’s a chance of keeping the team’s leading scorer and rebounder two years’ running, the Buckeyes seem likely to do so.
The most likely addition, should the Buckeyes go that route, would be for a traditional transfer who sits out for the season. Last year, that role went to Sueing. Two years ago, it was Walker. It’s a method to which Holtmann subscribes, in part because it helps with roster stability.