Justice is more than just a name for Ohio State senior forward Sueing

Adam Jardy
The Columbus Dispatch

Justice is more than just a word in the Sueing family.

It’s been a few decades since Otis L. Sueing headed off to serve his country in the Vietnam War. What he saw and experienced there couldn’t help but influence his worldview, and those feelings intensified when the Black Marine veteran returned to the United States to start his post-war life. When it came time to start a family, he had a name and a reason in mind.

“He did his time, he served his time in the war and all of this,” Justice Sueing, father of the fifth-year Ohio State forward of the same name, told The Dispatch. “And he came back to the States and there were a bunch of racial things going on. He wasn’t getting any justice, so he said he was going to name his son Justice.

“That was his start of getting some justice.”

It began with the elder Justice Sueing, a high-flying basketball player in his own right, who grew up in Phoenix but lettered for the University of Hawaii in 1995 and 1996. During his final season with the Rainbow Warriors, he averaged 17.4 points and a team-high 6.5 rebounds per game before launching a professional career that took him across the globe.

Along the way, he carried a name with some weight. So when it came time for Sueing (who has a sister named Freedom) to have a son of his own, there was no doubt what he would name him. And this year, the younger Justice Sueing is preparing for a final season at Ohio State.

“My pops decided it was important enough to him to name me Justice as well,” he said at Ohio State’s media day. “It’s definitely some weight to it. It’s making sure that I really do what I believe in and caring for myself in a way that supports that.”

Those lessons were first instilled in the elder Sueing when he was a child. His father’s military background imparted lessons of discipline, self-control and a mandate to help pave the way for the next generation. As he raised the younger Justice, it didn’t take long to see that the seeds being planted were already bearing fruit.

Ohio State forward Justice Sueing is a fifth-senior year who averaged 10.7 points and 5.5 rebounds last season with the Buckeyes.

In elementary school, Sueing had prerequisites for his friends.

“He wouldn’t let them curse,” his father said. “He wouldn’t let them do anything bad. I saw kids that were bad start being good just to hang around. From that point, I was like, ‘OK, he understands. He’s not gonna be following too much, I guess.’ ”

That leadership mentality has remained strong in Sueing. Midway through his prep career, he transferred to the mainland and played two seasons at prep powerhouse Santa Ana (California) Mater Dei, where he eventually committed to the University of California as a three-star prospect. He was ranked No. 171 nationally in the class of 2017 according to the 247Sports.com composite database. After two seasons as a go-to player on a pair of bad Golden Bear teams that went a combined 16-47, Sueing opted to transfer after coach Wyking Jones was fired in 2019.

Two primary options emerged: Sueing could stay out west to finish his collegiate career, or he could challenge himself and sign with a school in a state he had never visited until he came as a recruit.

Why Justice Sueing chose Ohio State basketball

He opted to push outside of his comfort zone, in large part due to the bond built with Ohio State assistant coach Ryan Pedon, and after sitting out a year to satisfy NCAA rules at the time Sueing averaged 10.7 points and 5.5 rebounds last season. A forward by trade, he spent time in the backcourt when mid-season injuries decimated the point guard position.

He’s the first native Hawai’ian to sign at Ohio State.

“He’s Hawai’i, laid back,” coach Chris Holtmann said. “He’s very much his own person. He’s a great kid and a really good player, really talented, but he’s got a really laid-back, island approach. It’s taken a little bit of time for me to figure out the best way sometimes to challenge him, but he had a really good junior season.”

As a fifth-year senior, Sueing will serve as one of four team captains on a 15-man roster. It’s the next logical step for a man born with high expectations who started to realize them at an early age.

“I’m proud of how he still carries himself the same way,” his dad said. “He hasn’t changed from being a youngster helping take care of his siblings to the same now, the same type of caring, thoughtful person.”

ajardy@dispatch.com

@AdamJardy

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