Musa Jallow perseveres through injuries to lead Ohio State men's basketball to win

Adam Jardy
Buckeye Xtra
Ohio State's Musa Jallow (2) knocks the ball away from Notre Dame's Dane Goodwin on Tuesday night.

For the first time this season, parents of Ohio State men's basketball players would have a chance to see their sons play in person.

Musa Jallow told his family not to come. After having sat out the previous two games due to injury, he had been cleared for Tuesday night’s game at Notre Dame only the day before. The expectation was that his role against the Fighting Irish, if he had one, would be minor.

More:Men's hoops: Re-watching the ESPN broadcast of Ohio State's comeback win at Notre Dame

Instead, Jallow played 22 minutes, had a team-best plus-10 rating and added seven points, two rebounds, a steal and some versatile defensive play to a 90-85 win.

His family watched from home. There are no hard feelings.

“The excitement and happiness took over in general and they were just excited to see me play,” Jallow told The Dispatch.

He said that leading into the game coach Chris Holtmann told him "to just be ready to do your role at a high level. I guess I just stayed ready and it worked out.”

That’s been the truth for Jallow for the last year-plus. He missed the entire 2019-20 season with a right ankle issue that eventually led to reconstructive surgery and a medical redshirt. The COVID-19 pandemic delayed his rehab process because he couldn’t get access to the necessary equipment to recover as quickly as possible. It wasn't until Nov. 17 that he was cleared for contact drills in practice.

That marked more than a month since the start of practice. The next day, the Buckeyes had a simulated game during which Jallow said he had approximately nine fouls and a bunch of turnovers as he began the process of returning to form.

“It was fun, though,” he said. “I was all over the place but it was fun to just feel like a basketball player again, being out there with my team.”

More:Musa Jallow gained leadership qualities during trying basketball season

He played in the season opener, logging 13 minutes against Illinois State on Nov. 25, but while warming up before the UMass Lowell game four days later felt pain in his right Achilles tendon. He was held out of the game, and the concern was that the injury could cause him to miss significant time – again.

The diagnosis was inflammation from doing too much, too soon in his return to play. Once he returned to practice after sitting out a game against Morehead State on Dec. 2, Jallow jokingly said he’s been put on a “jump count” as he continues to acclimate to the workload.

“Before Notre Dame, I only did maybe one hard dunk and maybe two other light ones to feel like I can jump again,” he said. “They’ll be like, ‘You can’t be jumping up throwing 360 windmills in warm-ups.’ ”

Listed as a guard, Jallow essentially entered the Notre Dame game at power forward and spent time at shooting guard and small forward while guarding multiple positions. HE came in with 13:48 to play in the second half and did not leave the court, helping turn around a 55-47 deficit.

“We don’t win the game without Musa Jallow tonight, obviously,” Holtmann said after the game. “He’s got to keep building on that and hopefully we can keep him healthy.”

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