As the transfer portal closes, here are five thoughts on where Ohio State stands (2024)

Adam JardyColumbus Dispatch

That sound you heard just before the stroke of midnight was the collective sigh of the college basketball landscape celebrating the first major milestone of the offseason.

On May 1, at 11:59 p.m. Eastern, the transfer portal officially closed. Any player with eligibility remaining had until that point to enter their name into the portal and retain eligibility for the 2024-25 season, otherwise they would be forced to sit out a year before playing. At least, that’s how the rules are currently written, although the NCAA isn’t much in the business of denying waivers these days.

Nonetheless, while players can still transfer to schools after Wednesday night, the influx of players entering the portal will now draw to a close. One technicality: a few new names could still pop up in the coming days as compliance offices formalize any last-minute requests. Requests only have to be made before the deadline, not finalized paperwork.

Under first-year coach Jake Diebler, Ohio State has lost five players to the portal and signed three more. Two roster spots remain, and the Buckeyes might not be far off from adding more frontcourt talent.

Here are five thoughts on where the Buckeyes stand with the portal now closed.

Ohio State took some hits

While the transfer portal hadn’t given Ohio State a whole lot of immediate production in recent seasons (Jamison Battle, Keyshawn Woods, and Sean McNeil notwithstanding), it hadn’t really hurt the Buckeyes with key players leaving, either. In the last 10 seasons, just one top-five scorer transferred out of the program: JaQuan Lyle in 2017. He finished third at 11.4 points per game.

This year, the Buckeyes lost three. Roddy Gayle will play at Michigan after finishing third at 13.5 points per game, Zed Key will play at Dayton after finishing fourth at 6.6 points per game and Felix Okpara will play at Tennessee after finishing fifth at 6.6 points (Okpara scored 231 points in 35 games; Key had 238 in 36). Of the three, Gayle and Okpara still had two years of eligibility remaining.

All three could reasonably have impacted the rotation in 2024-25.

The roster is high on upside

There are a few known, high-level contributors on the roster. Bruce Thornton has been a lineup mainstay since the second he walked on campus two seasons ago. Meechie Johnson grew into a second-team all-SEC player who averaged 13.4 points in two seasons at South Carolina. Micah Parrish and Evan Mahaffey have proven themselves capable rotation pieces.

Otherwise, there’s a lot of guarded optimism for a roster with talent that still needs molding. Aaron Bradshaw was a top-five national recruit and McDonald’s All-American a year ago, before a foot injury sidelined the start to his year at Kentucky, where he averaged 4.9 points, 3.3 rebounds and 0.7 blocks. Likewise, Ohio State’s Taison Chatman and Austin Parks had the starts to their freshman seasons affected by offseason injuries and struggled to make impacts once they got to full health during the year. Chatman was the highest-rated player in Ohio State’s four-man 2023 recruiting class, checking in at No. 33 in the rankings.

Even Devin Royal, who played his way into a prominent role late in the year, finished only seventh on the team in scoring at 4.7 points per game. This year, Bradshaw, Royal and Chatman will be expected to step into more significant roles while Parks will have an opportunity to carve out a role as a backup center. There is reason to believe each has more to offer than what was shown last year, and they will have chances to prove that this season.

Will there be enough shooting?

Ohio State shot 34.5% from 3 last season, the fifth-lowest mark in the Big Ten. When you remove fifth-year forward Jamison Battle and his 91-for-210 (43.3%) shooting mark, the rest of the Buckeyes were a combined 163 for 526 (31.0%) from deep.

Thornton shot 33.3% (58 for 174) as a sophom*ore, down from 37.5% (42 for 112) as a freshman. In his three seasons as a primary rotation player, Johnson has shot 32.1%, 32.7% and 32.1%, respectively, from deep, showing enough of a track record to wonder how much more improvement can be reasonably expected. Micah Parrish shot 35.3% in 2021-22, his first season at San Diego State, but dropped to a career-low 29.2% on a career-high 161 attempts last season.

Freshman Juni Mobley cemented himself as a prolific prep shooter. Thornton and Johnson figure to take a lot of shots, particularly in late-game situations. There’s probably not a sharpshooter on this roster like Battle, and it seems unrealistic to think one is going to be added at this point. It’s going to take a collective effort for the Buckeyes to be able to pressure teams from the perimeter.

Needs remain, particularly in the frontcourt

Although Johnson, Bradshaw and Parrish were all viewed as impact additions, the Buckeyes have been linked with and missed out on several other transfers. Most notably, Ohio State targeted Oakland’s Trey Townsend, only for him to pick Arizona instead.

Aside from better shooting, two needs remain, and they’re both down low. Ohio State could use another versatile forward down low and another center to add support to a rotation of Bradshaw and Parks. It’s folly to draw conclusions until the roster is complete, but it does look like a team with more high-end talent and versatility than a season ago

It will be on Diebler and his new coaching staff, which still needs one more addition, to maximize the potential of this group.

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Outside expectations are higher

Despite some of the roster turnover and a second straight year of missing the NCAA Tournament, Ohio State has frequently been included among national top-25 lists. As of Wednesday night, the Buckeyes were No. 15 in CBS’ Gary Parrish’s “Top 25 And 1”, No. 19 in Jon Rothstein’s top 45 at, No. 23 in Andy Katz’s rankings for and No. 24 in ESPN’s rankings last updated April 25.

The Buckeyes figure to open as a ranked team next season.


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As the transfer portal closes, here are five thoughts on where Ohio State stands (2024)


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