Ohio State men's basketball power rankings: No. 15 Kalen Etzler
With the promise of fans in the stands and a return to normalcy, Ohio State will open the 2021-22 season with an exhibition game against Indianapolis on November 1. Eight days later, Akron will come to Value City for the first official game, a visit that canceled last year when COVID-19 delayed the start of the season.
The Buckeyes will bring a 15-man roster to their sideline this season, one with unprecedented experience that features two players in their sixth years of college basketball and four others in their fifth. Third-year forward E.J. Liddell is the first Ohio State player to return after being named first-team all-Big Ten since Aaron Craft did so in 2013-14, and his decision to return after exploring his NBA draft stock has the Buckeyes opening the season picked to finish fourth in a joint media preseason poll conducted by The Dispatch and The Athletic.
With all of that in mind, The Dispatch is counting down to the start of the season with our annual power rankings. These rankings are an educated guess at which players will have the most significant on-court impact during the course of the entire season and will feature each player on the roster.
The rankings begin today with Kalen Etzler.
No. 15 – Kalen Etzler
Height/weight: 6 feet 8 / 200 pounds
Major: University exploration
Jersey number: 24
A product of Convoy (Ohio) Crestview, Etzler was the first player to verbally commit to Ohio State for the class of 2020 when his pledge went public May 12, 2019. At the time, he was ranked as the nation’s No. 55 recruit according to the 247Sports.com composite database. Etzler committed to the Buckeyes immediately upon receiving a scholarship offer and was only the fifth member of his class to receive an Ohio State offer. He finished his prep career as a three-star prospect ranked No. 154 nationally and No. 4 in Ohio after a prep career that included a state championship, more than 1,000 career points and a first-team all-state selection as a senior after averaging 19.3 points per game.
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Need to know
His listed weight is more of a goal than anything else. Etzler will redshirt this season to, among other things, put on some size to better prepare himself for Big Ten play. During the summer, Etzler said his weight was closer to 180 pounds. Etzler’s uncle, Doug, played at Ohio State from 1992-95, averaging 6.6 points and 1.4 rebounds per game. He’s a fan of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and an artist who built a wooden cutout of the outline of the state of Ohio that hangs at his house back home. One of the most ferocious dunkers on the team.
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2020-21 season recap
All things considered, Etzler had a pretty normal senior season with the Knights. Although the threat of COVID loomed throughout the high school season, Crestview finished with a 19-6 record and lost in a district semifinal game. He was named Division IV district player of the year and, most importantly to Etzler, he got to play one more season with his closest friends.
“Kalen, he brings a very long skill-set,” Liddell said at Ohio State’s media day. “It’s really raw right now, but I feel like once he gets his way he’s going to be real good. You should look forward to him.”
2021-22 season outlook
Etzler’s impact on the 2021-22 season will be away from public eyes as he works to bulk up and acclimate to the college level. He projects as a future stretch-4 for the Buckeyes, a versatile athlete who can slash from the perimeter and also knock down shots.
He has a few goals for the redshirt year.
“Obviously strength, and defense is probably No. 2,” he said. “I’ve got to learn a lot of the sayings on defense and different ball screens and all that stuff, and obviously I’ve gotta remember the plays. I’m going to take this time to talk to all of the seniors that we have, all the veterans, and just try to mentally improve my game.”
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