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Ohio State men's basketball preseason power rankings: No. 2 Justice Sueing

Adam Jardy
Buckeye Xtra

The 2020-21 men’s college basketball season is slated for November 25. It will mark 262 days since the Ohio State men’s basketball team last played a game, and until November 5 the plan was to open the season with three games in three days as part of the Crossover Classic in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.

Instead, the same COVID-19 pandemic that forced the cancelation of the 2019-20 postseason has made the Buckeyes change their plans. They will no longer participate in the event and are now looking at all available options, multi-team event or otherwise, to get their season underway. The hope remains 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, but ultimately the Buckeyes might end up scheduling 25 games and playing fewer.

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. They are designed to be 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. 2 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, and were put in motion before Meechie Johnson Jr. announced his plans to graduate early and join the Buckeyes this season.

No. 2 – Justice Sueing

Position: Forward

Class: Junior

Height/weight: 6 feet 7 / 215 pounds

Jersey number: 14

Background: Although he played high school basketball at Santa Ana (California) Mater Dei, Sueing is a native of Hawai’i and the first known to have joined the Ohio State men’s basketball roster. Sueing was a three-star prospect in the 247Sports.com composite rankings, the No. 19 player from California, the No. 45 power forward in the nation and the overall No. 171 national recruit. He landed offers from California, Hawaii, Montana, San Francisco, Vanderbilt, and Utah before committing to play for the Golden Bears. As a senior, he averaged 18.2 points per game.

After two seasons in the program, Sueing opted to transfer after coach Wyking Jones was fired following an 8-23 record in 2018-19. He narrowed his decision to either a school on the West Coast or one in the Midwest and, after taking visits to San Diego State and Ohio State, picked the Buckeyes. ESPN ranked him as the 13th-best “sit one” transfer that offseason.

As a sophomore, Sueing led California in scoring and rebounding at 14.3 points and 6.0 rebounds per game, good for 12th and 13th best, respectively, in the Pac-12.

Need to know: Ohio State coach Chris Holtmann recruited Sueing while he was the coach at Butler. This offseason, he was listed as one of 25 “impact transfers” by CBS’ Jon Rothstein. His father, Justice Sueing Sr., was known as a high-flying basketball player in Hawai'i.

2019-20 recap: Sueing was a highly valuable member of Ohio State’s scout team until he suffered a foot injury that required surgery January 14, sidelining him for a few months. The Lisfranc injury required a screw to be inserted into his left foot, and the need to have it removed kept him in Columbus for a few extra weeks when the COVID-19 pandemic took hold and made all non-essential medical procedures more difficult to schedule.

He watched, he waited and he healed.

“I just landed funny and the way I moved, I forget who was by me, but they kind of had a part of my foot clipped so when I moved it created that clean cut in my foot,” Sueing told The Dispatch during the preseason. “Luckily it was clean and didn’t mess with any bones or anything like that. It was very precise, so that made the recovery a lot easier.”

2020-21 outlook: Now back to full health, Sueing is expected to step into a significant offensive role on a team that is replacing its primary post presence and top scorer in Kaleb Wesson.

Sueing figures to immediately be Ohio State’s best slasher and finisher at the rim. He finished No. 126 nationally in free-throw rate as a sophomore at Cal and will be relied upon to generate offense and opportunities at the rim.

“What I think they’ll see is just how all-around of a player I feel like I am,” he said. “I feel like a big thing people see from me is my scoring ability, but along with that I want to be able to get my teammates involved as well.”

He’s not been an elite three-point shooter. Sueing brings a career 31.0% mark from deep, but the Ohio State coaches are high on his ability to raise that to around 35% this season. He’s also got a steep defensive learning curve to deal with after playing in mostly a 2-3 zone for a Cal team that finished 286th nationally in adjusted defensive efficiency.

“His defense, he’s transitioning from a 2-3 team that was quite frankly one of the worst defensive teams in the country to now a system where he really has to do things a certain way and it takes a lot of your mind and your body and your heart in a lot of ways,” Holtmann said. “He’s transitioning with the demands of that, but he’s been exciting to watch and to see him grow and get better.”

Additional reading:

Fully healthy, Justice Sueing ready to make impact at Ohio State

Connection with Chris Holtmann brought Justice Sueing to Ohio State

Previous power rankings:

No. 3 – CJ Walker

No. 4 – E.J. Liddell

No. 5 – Kyle Young

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

ajardy@dispatch.com

@AdamJardy