Ohio State men's basketball power rankings: No. 7 Seth Towns

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.

The series continues today with the No. 7 player in our rankings.

No. 7 – Seth Towns

Position: Forward

Class: Graduate

Height/weight: 6 feet 8 / 230 pounds

Jersey number: 31

Background: As a child, Towns had a mural of himself in an Ohio State basketball jersey painted on the wall in his bedroom. A standout basketball player at Columbus Northland, he would go on to set the all-time scoring record for a Vikings program that has produced the likes of Jared Sullinger and Trey Burke. 247Sports.com ranked him as a three-star small forward, the No. 129 national recruit and the No. 9 prospect from Ohio as a senior, and after landing scholarship offers from Ohio State, Michigan Dayton, Iowa and others, he opted to attend Harvard.

More:Seth Towns has long been outspoken about social justice

“That was my dream, growing up, (to play at Ohio State) and I had to say no to them, but Harvard presented an opportunity that no other school could,” Towns told The Dispatch.

There, he excelled through his first two seasons, averaging 14.2 points including 16.0 as a sophomore, when he was named Ivy League player of the year. That would be the final season he would spend on the court, however, as injuries would rob him of the next two seasons including the team’s first-round NIT loss during his sophomore season.  

Following the 2019-20 season, Towns opted to leave Harvard as a graduate transfer with two years of eligibility remaining and ESPN ranked him as the No. 1 available graduate transfer in the nation. He chose the Buckeyes over Duke, which made a strong late push as well.

Need to know: Former Ohio State player David Lighty has called Towns an “honorary Buckeye” during recent summers when he would be back home from Harvard. He is close friends with Malik Harrison, a former Ohio State football player and Columbus Walnut Ridge graduate. Towns was selected as the No. 12 returning player in college basketball for the 2020-21 season according to the March Madness podcast in mid-August. He was initially recruited by Ohio State coach Chris Holtmann out of high school to play at Butler. At Northland, Towns was a member of the National Honor Society, a competitor on Dr. Sybil Brown’s STEM math team and carried a grade-point average north of 4.0.

2019-20 recap: Due to injury, Towns’ last year has been defined more for his off-the-court activism. He was briefly detained by police officers after participating in a peaceful protest in downtown Columbus in the wake of the murder of Black man George Floyd at the hand of white police officers in Minneapolis, Minnesota. He spoke openly to multiple national media outlets about using his platform as a prominent athlete to bring about awareness to issues of social justice.

He posted a monologue to his personal Twitter page at the time where he said, “There is a huge dilemma in this country right now that needs to be addressed and I won’t shut up. I won’t stop.”

2020-21 outlook: The looming question regarding Towns is how healthy he is. When he committed to the Buckeyes in late March, Towns told The Dispatch he was planning on being back on the court in June, but as of now he hasn’t been able to participate in contact drills or do anything in the way of cutting.

Holtmann has said that Towns is unlikely to be available when Ohio State opens its season on the 25th, and it is now looking like he might not available until sometime in early January. When he does return to the court, though, there will be significant rust Towns will have to knock off after missing more than two full years of competition.

When healthy, Towns is a high-level shooter with size who can stretch the floor and cause mismatch problems for opposing defenses. It’s a fair question how much he will resemble his 2017-18 self right away, and Towns addressed that while speaking on the March Madness podcast. When asked what fans will see from him when he finally takes the floor for his hometown Buckeyes, Towns promised that they would see how much it means for him to be on the court for Ohio State.

The quicker he is back to full health, the higher he would be in these rankings.

Additional reading:

Late pitch from Duke didn't sway Seth Towns from picking Ohio State

Seth Towns speaks out after being detained during protest: "We have to be heard"

Previous power rankings:

No. 8 – Justin Ahrens

No. 9 – Musa Jallow

No. 10 – Ibrahima Diallo

No. 11 – Zed Key Jr.

No. 12 – Gene Brown III

No. 13 – Jimmy Sotos

No. 14 – Harrison Hookfin

ajardy@dispatch.com

@AdamJardy