Ohio State men's basketball power rankings: No. 10 Zed Key

Adam Jardy
Buckeye Xtra
Incoming freshman Zed Key Jr. of Bay Shore, New York, attends Ohio State’s football game against Cincinnati with coach Chris Holtmann on Sept. 7, 2019.

Ohio State will open its 2020-21 men's basketball season by traveling to South Dakota to participate in the Crossover Classic. The three-day event that takes the place of the Battle 4 Atlantis will see the Buckeyes face Memphis on Nov. 25 in what will be the first Ohio State game in 262 days. The hope is to play a 27-game season that will include 20 Big Ten games and lead into a conference and then NCAA Tournament amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

In preparation for an unprecedented start to 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 entire season.

No. 10 – Zed Key

Position: Forward/Center

Class: Freshman

Height/weight: 6 feet 8 / 245 pounds

Jersey number: 23

Background: A standout at Glen Head (New York) Long Island Lutheran, Key played his way onto Ohio State’s radar with a standout performance at the NBAPA Top 100 camp held at the University of Virginia in mid-June, 2019. He committed to Ohio State on Sept. 22, 2019, during a weekend he had initially scheduled an official visit to Marquette. An official visit was also scheduled for Florida the following weekend. The Buckeyes were his only official visit. He is listed as a three-star prospect, the No. 22 center in the nation and the overall No. 143 recruit according to the composite rankings. Florida, Cincinnati, Georgia, Illinois, Notre Dame, Wisconsin, Penn State and Rutgers, among others also offered him.

Need to know: While on his official visit to Ohio State, Key spent time with program legends Evan Turner and D’Angelo Russell. He primarily spent time with Duane Washington Jr., E.J. Liddell and Luther Muhammad, the latter of whom has transferred to Arizona State. He has an aunt who lives roughly 15 minutes from campus. Ohio State assistant coach Jake Diebler was his primary recruiter.

2019-20 recap: As a senior, Key led his team in scoring (15.9) and rebounding (8.7) average, blocked 2.0 shots per game and shot 68.1% (178 for 261) from the floor. He scored 25 points and had 12 rebounds in a win against Chatsworth (California) Sierra Canyon, a team ranked No. 2 nationally by Key followed that up by scoring 37 points and grabbing 16 rebounds in a win against Hillside (New Jersey) The Patrick School. In addition to being one of five finalists to be named New York’s Mr. Basketball, Key was named to the all-tournament team in three different events: The 2019 Beach Ball Classic in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, The ‘Iolani Classic in Honolulu, Hawaii, and The Montverde Invitational in Montverde, Florida.

His season was cut short due to COVID-19. The Crusaders finished 22-3 overall.

2020-21 outlook: Although he lacks the size of a prototypical Big Ten big man, Key will have an opportunity to carve out a role within the Ohio State rotation due to the current makeup of the roster. After losing Kaleb Wesson to the NBA, the Buckeyes have just one traditional center on the roster in still-raw sophomore Ibrahima Diallo. Senior Kyle Young, sophomore Liddell and Harvard graduate transfer Seth Towns will all see time down low when healthy, but Key has a real chance to emerge as the primary backup at the position.

He’s listed as the heaviest player on the roster, and he brings a reputation as a pure post scorer with the ability to grow into an all-Big Ten player by the time his career is finished. If he can quickly acclimate to the level of conditioning all freshman must encounter and get used to the speed of the game in short order, he will have a chance to be a key player for the Buckeyes this season.

Additional reading:

After high school basketball career cut short, Zed Key wants to come up big for Ohio State

Freshmen's parents put trust in Ohio State, coaches

Ohio State freshmen Gene Brown, Zed Key surprising their teammates

Previous power rankings:

No. 11 – Gene Brown III

No. 12 – Jimmy Sotos

No. 13 – Harrison Hookfin