What does Sean McNeil's commitment mean for Ohio State's roster?
One month into the offseason, the Ohio State roster is nearing completion.
When the Buckeyes exited the NCAA Tournament with a second-round loss to Villanova, they were abruptly plunged into an offseason that promised significant change. Now, after adding a weekend commitment from West Virginia transfer guard Sean McNeil, they find themselves zeroing in on their final position of need to finalize their roster: a big, be it a traditional center or a versatile forward.
Otherwise, Ohio State is set to welcome in five freshmen, add a pair of transfers and return two veteran players who combined to miss all but two games last season. With McNeil, the Buckeyes now have 12 of their 13 roster spots filled and their backcourt set.
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Primarily a bucket-getter who averaged 12.2 points in each of the last two seasons for the Mountaineers, McNeil said he’s ready to show off a little bit more of his game with his final season of eligibility.
“I feel like there’s other parts of my game I still haven’t been able to tap into yet,” he said. “I want to be able to prove on the biggest stage what I’m fully capable of, what I have in my arsenal. Obviously what I bring is shooting and scoring, but being a playmaker, being able to come off ball screens and just being a leader. I’ll have a lot of responsibility and there’s a big role to fill, but I’m ready for it.”
Listed at 6-3, 205 pounds, McNeil played a lot of shooting guard at West Virginia, but he and Wright State transfer Tanner Holden both figure to contribute on the wing as well. Last season, the 6-6, 185-pound Holden primarily logged his minutes at the small forward position.
Their additions give the Buckeyes seven players who figure to rotate through the backcourt in varying capacities. Freshmen guards Bruce Thornton and Bowen Hardman will also be joined by wings Gene Brown III (third year) and Roddy Gayle (freshman), while sixth-year forward Justice Sueing is likely to help handle point guard duties.
How it all fits together will be determined in the coming months, especially with one piece still to be added. Given where the roster stood a month ago, though, Ohio State is starting to face higher preseason expectations from the national media following McNeil’s commitment.
As is tradition, the morning after Kansas fended off North Carolina to capture the 2022 NCAA Tournament championship featured a number of immediate predictions for next preseason’s top teams. Most of them did not mention the Buckeyes due to the massive pending roster changes.
Now, after McNeil’s addition, that is changing. CBSSports.com’s Gary Parrish, who produces a Top 25 and 1 list each day during the season and updates throughout the offseason when events dictate, now has Ohio State at No. 25.
“The Buckeyes' ranking is based on Zed Key and Justice Sueing returning and being joined by a top-five recruiting class featuring four top-65 prospects,” he wrote Monday. “Transfers Sean McNeil (West Virginia) and Tanner Holden (Wright State) will provide Chris Holtmann with a couple of experienced double-digit scorers.”
Also at CBS Sports, Jon Rothstein now lists the Buckeyes at No. 20 nationally in his top 45. At NCAA.com, Andy Katz ranks the Buckeyes at No. 30 in his “Power 36.”
“The Buckeyes have a healthy Justice Sueing, picked up Wright State’s Tanner Holden and West Virginia’s Sean McNeil,” he wrote. “Malaki Branham is likely to stay in the NBA Draft.”