D.J. Carton Wants Ball, Chance to Impress NBA Scouts
The possibility loomed that freshman guard D.J. Carton would not return to the Ohio State basketball team when he stepped away in late January to tend to his mental health.
OSU confirmed Carton's official departure Thursday by noting his entry into the NCAA's Transfer Portal for the purpose of leaving the Buckeyes.
“We 100% support D.J. in this decision and we genuinely wish him all the best moving forward," head coach Chris Holtmann said in a statement released by the school. "We appreciate all he contributed to our program. We will assist him in any way we can.”
Holtmann pledged as much Wednesday in an interview on Columbus radio, in which he strongly suggested freshman Alonzo Gaffney and junior center Kaleb Wesson have also played their last for the Buckeyes.
Carton left OSU on Jan. 30 after playing one of his best all-around games in a victory at Northwestern.
He returned to his home in Iowa until Feb. 20, when he accompanied OSU's team back to Columbus following its game at the University of Iowa.
Carton was the state's Mr. Basketball his senior year and the No. 37 recruit in the Rivals 247 rankings in 2019.
Gaffney, who is weighing whether to turn professional, rather than transfer to another school, was rated No. 59 after winning Mr. Basketball in the State of Ohio.
It is likely that E.J. Liddell, No. 57 on the Rivals list, and a two-time Mr. Basketball in Illinois, will be the only one of Holtmann's three Top 60 recruits from this past recruiting class to return to OSU.
That often stokes the negative-recruiting fires and likely will in this case, but the circumstances behind Carton's departure and Gaffney's likely exit are different.
Carton shared time with junior transfer C.J. Walker at point guard and therefore did not get the minutes needed to vault himself into the first round of the NBA Draft in just one year.
The frustration of that may have contributed to the mental health concerns he voiced upon stepping away from the team on Jan. 30.
Carton wound up third on the team in scoring at 10.4 points per-game despite being sixth in minutes played.
He is likely to land at a program closer to his home where he can step in and start at the point and run his new team's offense.
Iowa State, Nebraska and Drake lead the list of Carton's probable landing spots.
Iowa State's appeal would be diminished if sophomore Tyrese Haliburton chooses to return to school in the wake of a broken wrist suffered in early February. Haliburton, a 6-5 point guard, was projected a Top 10 NBA pick before that injury.
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