Ohio State men's basketball spotlight: Musa Jallow

Adam Jardy
In 33 games as a freshman last season, including 10 starts, Musa Jallow averaged 2.5 points and 1.5 rebounds in 14.0 minutes. [Joshua A. Bickel]

Ohio State will open its 2018-19 men's basketball season by playing its first game at Cincinnati in 98 years. The Buckeyes and Bearcats will meet at the newly renovated Fifth Third Arena on Nov. 7, marking only the 11th time the in-state programs have met and the first time they’ve played each other within state lines since 1921. In preparation for the game, The Dispatch is counting down the final 14 days with power rankings for each of the members of the Ohio State roster. The series continues with the seventh player in our rankings.

No. 8: Musa Jallow

Position: Swingman

Class: Sophomore

Height/weight: 6 feet 5 / 200 pounds

Jersey number: 2

Background: Jallow hails from Indiana and attended Bloomington North, just miles from Indiana University. Never offered a scholarship by Hoosiers coach Archie Miller, Jallow was initially in the class of 2018 but reclassified last summer, graduated early and joined the Buckeyes as a 17-year-old freshman. As a junior, Jallow averaged 24.1 points, 9.5 rebounds and 3.0 assists and ended his career with 1,027 points while shooting 52 percent from the floor. Physically gifted for his age, Jallow was a three-star prospect, the No. 8 overall prospect from Indiana, the No. 35 small forward in the country and No. 149 overall recruit in the composite rankings.

2017-18 stats: In 33 games including 10 starts, Jallow averaged 2.5 points and 1.5 rebounds in 14.0 minutes. He shot 39.2 percent (31 for 79) from the floor and 25.0 percent (11 for 44) from behind the three-point line.

Need to know: Although he’s now a sophomore, Jallow is the second-youngest member of the team. He didn’t turn 18 until February, when the Buckeyes were halfway through Big Ten play, and said his teammates would tease him because his mother would have to sign official documents on his behalf. Jallow is arguably the most athletic member of the team and has been praised by coach Chris Holtmann for his natural defensive versatility. His teammates call him “Moose.”

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2017-18 recap: Despite his obvious inexperience, Jallow acquitted himself well in the early going and outplayed fifth-year senior Kam Williams for a starting spot at shooting guard in the third game of the season. He responded by scoring 13 points and nabbing four steals in 29 minutes against Texas Southern and would start the next seven games before Williams played himself back into the starting lineup as Jallow’s productivity waned. He averaged only 10.2 minutes per Big Ten game and played no more than seven minutes in any of the final six games of the season, but he helped the Buckeyes earn a statement win at Purdue by scoring 10 points and hitting three three-pointers. He dealt with an ankle injury late in the season, but his overall performance was strong enough to earn him an invite to a Team USA U-18 camp during the summer. “Musa is an everyday guy,” senior C.J. Jackson said at Big Ten media day in mid-October. “He’s one of the hardest workers on the team. Very athletic and he’s willing to defend. When you have players like that who just put it all out on the court, he’s easy to play with.”

2018-19 outlook: It was clear as the season went on that, while Jallow physically looked the part, he wasn’t ready for the grind that is a full college basketball season in the Big Ten. That should change this year as an older, fully healthy Jallow has ample opportunity to carve out a significant role among Ohio State’s perimeter players. His outside shot remains a work in progress, but Jallow is among the team’s most explosive players and has the ability to guard multiple positions at a high level. “Defensive versatility at the highest level right now is such a key and (Musa) can provide that,” assistant coach Mike Schrage said last week. “Offensively he continues to get more confident. I think he’s been better with the ball, taking care of it, getting to where he needs to go and hitting his open (jumpers). He’s going to play such a big role for us.” Look for Jallow to see more time at the forward positions rather than as a guard.

Previous power rankings

No. 9: Micah Potter

No. 10: Jaedon LeDee

No. 11: Justin Ahrens

No. 12: Joey Lane

No. 13: Danny Hummer

No. 14: CJ Walker


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