Ohio State men's basketball power rankings: No. 5 Kyle Young

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. 5 player in our rankings. Note: the rankings have been reflected to address the loss of Abel Porter, who was slotted to be No. 7 before he was announced as being unavailable for the season.

No. 5 – Kyle Young

Position: Forward

Class: Senior

Height/weight: 6 feet 8 / 225 pounds

Jersey number: 25

Background: A native of Canton, Ohio, Jackson played at Massilon Jackson, where he was a three-time all-state selection and helped the Polar Bears win the 2017 state championship with a 28-2 record. He scored 1,582 points in his prep career and averaged 18.0 points and 6.5 rebounds per game as a senior. A four-star prospect according to the 247Sports.com composite rankings, Young was recruited by the Buckeyes but ultimately opted to sign with a coach with whom he had developed a close relationship: Butler’s Chris Holtmann.

When Holtmann accepted the Ohio State job during the summer of 2017, Young decided to follow him and play for his home-state school. Since then, Young has battled injuries but proven himself to be among the Big Ten’s grittiest players, routinely drawing praise from opposing coaches for his energy and high effort level. He moved into the starting lineup as a sophomore before a stress fracture in his leg forced the staff to limit his minutes, and he then started all 25 games in which he played as a junior.

More:Healthy Kyle Young hoping to show more in junior season

For his career, Young has averaged 5.1 points and 4.0 rebounds while shooting 59.9% from the floor in 81 games including 39 starts.  

Need to know: Young graduated from Ohio State during the summer, earning a bachelor’s degree in sport industry. He has been named an academic all-Big Ten recipient in 2019 and 2020, an Ohio State Scholar Athlete in 2020 and was named to the 2019-20 National Association of Basketball Coaches Honors Court for academic excellence. At the time of his commitment, Young was the highest-rated recruit to ever sign to play for Holtmann. He was the No. 80 overall prospect and the No. 2 player from Ohio, behind only future teammate Kaleb Wesson. Before picking Butler, Young had a final list of five schools that also included Michigan, Ohio State, Clemson and Purdue.

2019-20 recap: Young announced his presence early with the first double-double of his career, and his 14 points and 13 rebounds helped the Buckeyes fend off a challenge from Cincinnati in the season opener. He would notch another double-double, 15 points and 10 rebounds, in only 17 minutes of a blowout win against Stetson three games later.

He would flirt with the single-season shooting percentage record at Ohio State set by Jerry Lucas in 1960, but Young’s season would take an uncomfortable turn right around the holidays. He complained of feeling sick prior to a game at Cleveland’s Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse against No. 22 West Virginia, but played through it and finished with only two points but a game-high 11 rebounds in 22 minutes before he was discovered to be suffering from appendicitis. He would soon undergo an appendectomy that would cost him the next two games, but it would be a few weeks until he would be fully recovered.

As he shook off the effects of the procedure, Young suffered what was described as a high-ankle sprain to his right ankle during what would be a home win against No. 7 Maryland in late February that would eventually sideline him for the remainder of the season. He missed the final four games but was slated to return to action in the Big Ten tournament, only to have it canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Young finished the season averaging 7.5 points and 5.8 rebounds in 22.8 minutes per game, all career-high totals. He also gave the Buckeyes perhaps their defining moment of the season, when his torn jersey during the final minute of a road game against Michigan gave the Buckeyes key free throws and helped them to a 61-58 win in Ann Arbor. Young hit his two free throws while wearing a backup No. 50 jersey.

More:Controversial call helps Kyle Young, Ohio State win at Michigan

He posted an offensive rating of 127.9, a number that KenPom.com ranked 11th-best in the nation. The category measures personal offensive efficiency.

2020-21 outlook: By now, Ohio State fans have a pretty good idea what they are likely to get from Young. When healthy, he is among the Big Ten’s best at creating offense for himself and keeping possessions alive for his team by using his natural athleticism and high motor to be impactful around the glass.

The key for Young this season will be to expand his game further from the rim and return to his roots by adding an outside jumper to his arsenal. He is a career 13.8% three-point shooter (4 for 29), but Holtmann has said that Young has consistently been among his team’s top four three-point shooters during offseason workouts. Roommate and teammate Justin Ahrens said he has been impressed with the versatility Young has demonstrated.

“I’ve seen a couple of his workouts, a couple of the shooting drills he’s done,” Ahrens told The Dispatch. “From what I’ve seen, he just looks like he’s more comfortable doing it. He’s getting back to his old ways, letting it fly and being a confident shooter.”

The biggest concern is the fact that Young has yet to make it through a full Big Ten season while logging starters’ minutes without suffering an injury, whether it was the stress fracture as a sophomore or the high-ankle sprain as a junior. Without Wesson to man the center position, Young figures to slot right into that spot even though he checks in roughly 40 pounds and two inches shorter than his former teammate. The demands of playing a full season as the primary post player in the Big Ten will stress Young’s body, and it remains to be seen if the coaching staff will look at trying to limit his minutes or find ways to keep him as fresh as possible.

Regardless, he will be a starter, a team leader and a key component to whatever success Ohio State experiences this season – and probably a fan favorite again, as well.

Additional reading:

Kyle Young glad divergent path led him to Ohio State

Young commitment signals change at Ohio State

Kyle Young working back into shape after appendectomy

Previous power rankings:

No. 6 – Seth Towns

No. 7 – Justin Ahrens

No. 8 – Musa Jallow

No. 9 – Ibrahima Diallo

No. 10 – Zed Key Jr.

No. 11 – Gene Brown III

No. 12 – Jimmy Sotos

No. 13 – Harrison Hookfin