Ohio State Prepared for Luther Muhammad Transfer
It's not addition by subtraction, but Luther Muhammad's transfer from Ohio State to parts unknown also isn't a debilitating, out-of-the-blue blow to aspirations for head coach Chris Holtmann's fourth team in Columbus to be his best yet.
Despite starting 56 of 64 games, including all but two this past season, Muhammad has entered his name in the NCAA Transfer Portal and will become the fourth OSU player who could have returned for 2020-21 to leave the program.
That sounds bad, but all four have different motivations and none caught Holtmann or his staff by surprise, according to those close to the program.
Muhammad's exit leaves the Buckeyes a bit thin in the backcourt, but the staff believes eligible transfer Justice Sueing can run the point in a pinch as OSU did in Holtmann's first year with forward Jae'Sean Tate..
Incoming freshman Eugene Brown and junior Musa Jallow, who redshirted this past season because of foot surgery, could also fill the gap left by Muhammad's absence.
OSU's starting backcourt next year is set with senior C.J. Walker and junior Duane Washington Jr., both of whom played well down the stretch in the Buckeyes' 9-2 finish that brought a 21-10 overall record.
Muhammad is the third player from that team to transfer, following freshmen D.J. Carton and Alonzo Gaffney.
Junior center Kaleb Wesson, OSU's leading scorer the past two years, has announced his intention to enter the NBA Draft.
Wesson plans to hire an NCAA-approved agent and thus is leaving open the chance to return to Ohio State, but those inside the program view his departure as a virtual certainty.
Muhammad averaged 7.0 points and 2.3 rebounds for the Buckeyes, who reached No. 2 in the nation after an 11-1 start, fell out of the Top 25 for several weeks, then rallied to win nine of their last 11 games and finish tied for fourth in the league.
Holtmann suspended Muhammad and Duane Washington Jr. from a Jan. 14 home game against Nebraska for "a failure to meet program expectations." OSU won without them to break a four-game losing streak.
Muhammad went back into the starting lineup after that game and highlighted the Buckeyes' closing burst with a career-high 22 points in a late-February upset of No. 7 Maryland.
OSU's roster is likely to grow from a graduate or undergraduate transfer in coming days, having already added the nation's No. 1 grad transfer in Harvard's Seth Towns two weeks ago.
Towns has two years of eligibility remaining.
Bucknell guard Jimmy Sotos is a strong Ohio State target after entering the Transfer Portal on Saturday.
The 6-3 guard from Elk Grove, Ill., is said to be considering OSU, Butler, Gonzaga, Minnesota, Missouri, Vanderbilt and Xavier.
Sotos is not eligible next season, but could be if the NCAA grants the immediate one-time transfer waiver it is considering or he obtains a waiver.
OSU's staff is debating whether, if Sotos doesn't receive immediate eligibility via an NCAA rule change, if it wants to petition for him to play in 2020-21 or would be better served long-term having him become eligible once Walker graduates.
Sotos averaged 11.5 points last season at Bucknell and has scored 810 points and made 111 three-point field goals in three seasons.
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