Believe it or not, basketball season is almost upon us. While most of you are still dialed in to the Ohio State football team and its quest to repeat as national champions, Thad Matta and the basketball Buckeyes are preparing for a Sunday exhibition against Walsh.
One new player will not be eligible when the Buckeyes officially get things started Nov. 15 against Mount Saint Mary’s as freshman Mickey Mitchell was not cleared to play by the NCAA. Matta said he hopes that the freshman would be back at some point this season but was not able to provide much other information.
Sophomores Kam Williams and Keita Bates-Diop, two of just four scholarship players with court experience for the Buckeyes, agreed that Mitchell was handling the situation well.
“When practice starts and the ball goes up, he brings it,” Williams said. “He puts his heart and soul into everything that he does and he plays extremely, extremely hard so that’s something that we need from him every day.”
If you head over to Value City Arena for the contest that game – one that tips at 4 p.m. – you might not recognize the guys on the court if not for the familiar Scarlet and Gray uniforms. Six players who contributed for the Buckeyes last season have either exhausted their eligibility or left for the NBA while seven players are likely to see their first action for Ohio State this season, assuming Mitchell becomes eligible.
He is one of five true freshman for the Buckeyes, making players like Bates-Diop and Williams leaders on the team despite limited time in the program. Both sophomores said they have welcomed that role and are anxious to get things going against Walsh.
While Sunday marks the first time the team will play an opponent in any official capacity, the Buckeyes have participated in multiple scrimmages. The most recent of which came against Bowling Green with the biggest takeaway being that the team struggled to defend without fouling.
While that has been an issue, the players said that they have worked on that throughout the preseason and have accomplished a good deal in the month since they last met with the media.