Ohio State could get CJ Walker back for Wisconsin game

Adam Jardy
Buckeye Xtra
Injured Ohio State Buckeyes guards CJ Walker (13) and  Jimmy Sotos (1) watch the video screen before team introductions at Wednesday's NCAA Division I basketball game against the Northwestern Wildcats at Value City Arena in Columbus, Oh., on Wednesday, January 13, 2021.

Ohio State could regain the services of fifth-year senior point guard CJ Walker for Saturday’s game at Wisconsin, coach Chris Holtmann told The Dispatch on Thursday night.

Walker, who has missed the last four games with torn ligaments in his right hand, received a favorable evaluation Tuesday and his status will be determined for the game against the Badgers following Friday’s practice in Madison, Wisconsin.

He is possible to practice, though, and that’s a favorable sign.

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“We’ll see how he does if he can return to practice and to what degree he feels confident in his hand,” Holtmann said. “I wouldn’t rule it out, but it’s going to depend on what he feels like his pain tolerance can be coming back.”

Walker also posted a photo of himself to Instagram on Thursday night with the caption, "IM BACK"

Walker suffered the injury during a team scrimmage in mid-November and played through it for the first 11 games before undergoing tests and shutting it down following a 77-60 loss at Minnesota on January 3. In that game, he missed all five of his field-goal attempts and finished with two points at the free-throw line.

In 11 games, Walker has averaged 8.7 points and 4.2 assists while shooting 30.1% (25 for 83) from the floor, 20.0% (4 for 20) from three and 97.7% (42 for 43) from the line. Since shutting it down, Walker has worn a heavy protective brace/tape job on his right, non-shooting hand. His average of 31.5 minutes per game is still tops on the roster.

The No. 15 Buckeyes have won three of four games without him. He was initially replaced by Jimmy Sotos, but he suffered a shoulder injury in the first game without Walker and has missed the last three games. In their places, junior forward Justice Sueing has handled many of the point guard responsibilities while freshman Meechie Johnson Jr. has made his debut and pitched in as well.

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“Jimmy would be doubtful (against the Badgers),” Holtmann said. “It’ll be a tip decision but it’s probably doubtful. CJ, he could practice (Friday). I wouldn’t expect it necessarily to be a situation where he’s thrown right back into 32 minutes a night. I think it’s going to be based on how he feels.”