Ohio State men's basketball power rankings: No. 8 Musa Jallow

Adam Jardy
Buckeye Xtra

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.

More:How the Battle 4 Atlantis found a new home in South Dakota as the Crossover Classic

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. 8 – Musa Jallow

Position: Wing

Class: Junior

Height/weight: 6 feet 5 / 210 pounds

Jersey number: 2

Background: Following a standout junior season at Bloomington (Indiana) North, Jallow made the decision to graduate early, reclassify and join Chris Holtmann’s first Ohio State team. He was listed as the No. 138 national recruit in the 2018 class according to the 247Sports.com composite rankings, but he climbed to No. 120 when he reclassified to 2017. As a junior, he averaged 24.1 points and 9.5 rebounds per game. In the final rankings for the class, he settled at No. 149, the No. 8 overall prospect from Indiana and a three-star recruit.

Three games into his college career, Jallow started his first game and would remain a starter for eight straight games including a pair of Big Ten wins to open league play. He would start two more games, but his playing time would diminish as the season progressed. He played in 33 games, averaging 2.5 points and 1.5 rebounds in 14.0 minutes per game. His breakout game came at Purdue, where he hit three three-pointers and finished with 10 points off the bench in a thrilling, 64-63 road win.

As a sophomore, Jallow forced his way into the starting lineup midway through the season, playing a season-high 31 minutes off the bench in a home loss to Purdue and then starting the next eight games before again his playing time dwindled. Jallow kept working, played 31 minutes in a home overtime loss to Wisconsin off the bench and wound up starting all four postseason games. In two Big Ten tournament games and then two in the NCAA Tournament, he averaged 6.5 points and 4.8 rebounds in 24.8 minutes per game.

In 68 career games including 23 starts, Jallow has averaged 2.7 points and 2.2 rebounds in 14.5 minutes per appearance through his first two seasons.

Need to know: Following his freshman season, Jallow was selected to a United State U-18 training camp. After graduating high school in three years with a grade-point average better than 4.0, Jallow continued his academic excellence in college, earning academic All-Big Ten honors in 2019 and 2020 and was also named an Ohio State scholar-athlete in 2019-20. When healthy, Jallow is among the most athletic members of the team. He’s also a good cook. Jallow did not turn 18 until midway through his freshman season at Ohio State. He goes by the nickname “Moose.” Last season, he finished second in a Dispatch poll of his teammates for best dresser on the team.

2019-20 recap: After seeing his playing time ebb and flow as a sophomore, Jallow opted to stick it out with Ohio State rather than abandon his teammates and seek a transfer elsewhere. He entered fall camp poised to claim a role in the rotation, but an ankle injury sidelined him from the jump. He would undergo an arthroscopic procedure first, then season-ending reconstructive surgery in late January that allowed him to take a medical redshirt that also puts him in the class he would have originally been had he not graduated high school early.  

2020-21 outlook: The primary task is for Jallow to get back to full health. He did not start camp cleared for contact and has been working his way back into things, making him one of a number of Buckeyes who are on the mend.

Ohio State has lost its top two perimeter defenders in guard Luther Muhammad and forward Andre Wesson. If healthy, Jallow is an immediate contender to replace that void. The Ohio State coaches have repeatedly praised his athleticism and versatility during his Ohio State tenure, and his presence on the court would allow the Buckeyes to more easily switch on defense.

Offensively, Jallow has struggled to score consistently. He’s a career 28.8% three-point shooter, although he did increase from 25.0% as a freshman to 33.3% as a sophomore, and a 52.4% shooter from inside the arc. He is among the most explosive dunkers on the team, and his athleticism allows him to be active around the basket and create second-chance opportunities.

He can play on the wing or help at guard if needed, and there will be opportunities for Jallow to be a key rotation piece this season.

Additional reading:

Ohio State men's basketball players made the most of time back home

Musa Jallow's maturity praised in U18 camp

Musa Jallow gained leadership qualities during trying season

Jallow's strive for perfection, hard work pay off during NCAA Tournament

Previous power rankings:

No. 9 – Ibrahima Diallo

No. 10 – Zed Key Jr.

No. 11 – Gene Brown III

No. 12 – Jimmy Sotos

No. 13 – Harrison Hookfin

ajardy@dispatch.com

@AdamJardy