Don't Look for D.J. Carton at Iowa or any Time Soon

Bruce Hooley

Ohio State coach Chris Holtmann said it was "not even a consideration" for freshman D.J. Carton to play in or attend the Buckeyes' Thursday game at Iowa, where he won the state's Mr. Basketball last season.

Holtmann's assessment paints Carton's return to the floor for OSU any time soon in a diminishing light with just six games remaining in the regular season.

"There's a lot that has to happen before that's even in the conversation," Holtmann said. "Medically, and in terms of (Carton's) Coverall health. "That's not even a consideration.

Carton took leave from the team on Jan. 31 and has missed OSU's last five games. He remains their third-leading scorer at 10.4 per-game and was coming off his career-high of 17 points in a win at Northwestern.

Without him, the Buckeyes have won four of five to get to 17-8 overall and 7-7 in the Big Ten, the first time all season they have been .500 in the conference.'

Staying there without Carton won't be easy, given a 7 p.m. Thursday challenge from the No. 20 Hawkeyes and 4 p.m. home game Sunday against No. 7 Maryland.

Ohio State finishes with road games at Nebraska and Michigan State sandwiched around home games against Illinois and Michigan.

Carton's absence has forced OSU to split playing time at its two guard positions among C.J. Walker, Luther Muhammad and Duane Washington, but Holtmann said the challenges that brings rank behind concern for Carton's well-being.

"As it pertains to him, I'm hopeful that we can get him on a path toward health, toward improved health," Holtmann said. "That's the only priority. Obviously, we're late in the season. You can draw your own conclusion on that. It's late in the year, and he's been away for awhile."

Carton's return to campus from his home in Iowa would not guarantee an immediate return to the floor for the Buckeyes.

"When a player is pulled away for medical reasons, specifically mental health, there is a very specific and extended protocol that goes into that and it's to protect the player," Holtmann said. "That's about as much as I can say on that."

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