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Ohio State is assembling a solid roster as the transfer window closes: 5 things

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

On May 1st at 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time, the transfer portal officially closed. Any player with remaining eligibility was required to enter their name into the portal by that point and retain eligibility for the 2024-25 season, otherwise they would be forced to sit out a year before play. At least that's how the rules are currently written, although the NCAA isn't as concerned with denying exemptions these days.

Although players can still transfer to schools after Wednesday evening, the flow of players entering the portal will now come to an end. A formality: A few new names could emerge in the coming days as compliance authorities formalize all last-minute requests. Only applications need to be submitted before the deadline, not final documents.

Under first-year coach Jake Diebler, Ohio State lost five players to the portal and signed three more. There are still two roster spots remaining, and the Buckeyes may not be far away from adding more frontcourt talent.

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

Ohio State took a few hits

While the transfer portal hadn't provided Ohio State with much immediate production in recent seasons (Jamison Battle, Keyshawn Woods and Sean McNeil notwithstanding), it hadn't really hurt the Buckeyes that key players had left either. In the last ten seasons, only one top-five scorer left the program: JaQuan Lyle in 2017. He finished third with 11.4 points per game.

This year the Buckeyes have lost three. Roddy Gayle will play at Michigan after finishing third with 13.5 points per game, Zed Key will play in Dayton after finishing fourth with 6.6 points per game, and Felix Okpara will play at Tennessee after finishing with 6 .6 points per game (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 very well have had an impact on the rotation in 2024-25.

The squad is very popular

There are some well-known, high-ranking contributors to the squad. Bruce Thornton has been a mainstay on the team since his first appearance on campus two seasons ago. Meechie Johnson developed into a second-team All-SEC player, averaging 13.4 points in two seasons at South Carolina. Micah Parrish and Evan Mahaffey have proven to be capable rotation players.

Otherwise, there is a lot of cautious optimism given a squad with talent that still needs to be formed. Aaron Bradshaw was a top-five national team player a year ago and a McDonald's All-American before a foot injury forced him to start his year at Kentucky, where he averaged 4.9 points, 3.3 rebounds and 0.7 blocks. Ohio State's Taison Chatman and Austin Parks also struggled with offseason injuries early in their freshman seasons and struggled to make an impact once they returned to full health later in the year. Chatman was the highest-rated player in Ohio State's four-man 2023 recruiting class, ranking No. 33 in the 247Sports.com rankings.

Even Devin Royal, who carved out a prominent role toward the end of the year, ranked just seventh on the team in scoring at 4.7 points per game. This year, Bradshaw, Royal and Chatman are expected to take on more significant roles, while Parks will have the opportunity to take on a backup center role. There is reason to believe that each of them has more to offer than what was shown last year and that they will have a chance to prove it this season.

Will there be enough shootings?

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

Thornton shot 33.3% (58 for 174) as a sophomore, compared to 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% from deep, respectively, providing enough of a track record to make one wonder how much further improvement is reasonable to expect. Micah Parrish shot 35.3% in 2021-22, his first season at San Diego State University, but fell to a career-low 29.2% on 161 attempts last season.

Freshman Juni Mobley established himself as a productive prep shooter. Thornton and Johnson expect to take a lot of shots, especially in late game situations. There probably isn't a sniper like Battle on this roster, and it seems unrealistic to think one will be added at this point. It will take a concerted effort from the Buckeyes to pressure teams from the perimeter.

The needs remain, especially up front

Although Johnson, Bradshaw and Parrish were all considered significant additions, the Buckeyes were linked to and missed out on several other transfers. Most notably, Ohio State targeted Oakland's Trey Townsend, but he chose Arizona instead.

Aside from better shooting, two requirements remain, and both are at a low level. Ohio State could use another versatile forward down low and another center to bolster the rotation of Bradshaw and Parks. It would be foolish to draw conclusions until the roster is complete, but it looks like a team with more high-end talent and versatility than a season ago

It's up to Diebler and his new coaching staff to add another addition to maximize the potential of this group.

Ohio State Buckeyes: Join the Ohio State Sports Insider text group with Bill Rabinowitz, Joey Kaufman and Adam Jardy

Expectations from outside are higher

Despite a few roster changes and missing the NCAA Tournament for the second straight year, Ohio State was frequently ranked in national top 25 lists. As of Wednesday night, the Buckeyes were No. 15 in Gary Parrish's “Top 25 And 1” for CBS, No. 19 in Jon Rothstein's Top 45 at FanDuel.com, No. 23 in Andy Katz's rankings for NCAA.com and No. 24 in the ESPN rankings, last updated April 25.

The Buckeyes are expected to enter next season as a ranked team.

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