Holtmann: 'Very Real' Chance Kaleb Wesson Leaves Ohio State
A scan of the roster suggests Ohio State will be well-stocked with proven talent next college basketball season, but don't let what's on paper distract you from the picture head coach Chris Holtmann painted Wednesday.
Holtmann went beyond hinting that leading scorer and rebounder Kaleb Wesson will leave OSU for the NBA draft.
And, while freshmen Alonzo Gaffney and D.J. Carton weren't mentioned specifically as likely departures, that possibility also hangs heavy in the air.
"In terms of Kaleb's situation, I'll let him speak for himself," Holtmann told Matt McCoy of WTVN Radio. "He's gotten significantly better every season. That's a credit to him.
"But, obviously, he's very much interested in going through the NBA process, which we're going to support him in. It's the second time (he's) going through it. I think it's a very real possibility that we could be playing without him next year. And if so, we'll have to work around that.
"But we're going to support him. We want to help him do what he wants to do to reach his goals. I just don't think he's come to that decision quite yet."
Wesson averaged 14 points and 9.3 rebounds for OSU (11-9, 21-10), which finished in a four-way tie for fifth-place in the Big Ten.
His offseason weight loss of 35 pounds answered the primary concern NBA teams had when Wesson entered the pre-draft process last summer.
That enabled him to become a better on-ball defender and help-defender on screens, but there likely isn't another leap in athleticism for Wesson to attain over another offseason.
His brother, Andre, is also a senior who has completed his eligibility for the Buckeyes, unless the NCAA adds a year to the careers of those player who were denied a chance to compete in the NCAA tournament by COVID-19 precautions.
Kaleb Wesson is what he is—a possible NBA second-rounder, a possible two-way contract player or a certain starter in Europe if he can handle the cultural adjustment to living abroad.
Few players weighing the benefit of returning for another college season evaluate the long-term benefit of completing an Ohio State career and engendering the goodwill among alumni in the Columbus business community that pays off long-term.
Maybe Wesson will be an exception to that, but his return is less likely than his departure.
The same may be true of Carton and Gaffney, rated No. 37 and No. 59 nationally in Rivals 247 rankings prior to last season.
Carton was electric in spurts as a backup point guard, but took a medical leave from the team in late January to tend to his mental health.
He wound up averaging 10.4 points in the 20 games he played.
The 6'9" Gaffney, from Garfield Heights, was a key get for Holtmann and combined with Carton (Iowa) and E.J. Liddell (Illinois) to give OSU three Mr. Basketball honorees in its 2019 recruiting class.
At just 198 pounds, Gaffney was not strong enough to bang inside in the Big Ten and his defense made him a liability on the perimeter. He wound up averaging under seven minutes and just 1.8 points per-game.
"We'll have individual meetings," Holtmann said. "If there's a young man that feels like it's not the right fit for him and wants to look for playing time elsewhere, we'll evaluate that. We'll help those young men. That's become a norm in college basketball."
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