Last season the Ohio State basketball team used primarily two players -- Trevor Thompson and Daniel Giddens -- down low with the pair of centers combining for 10.3 points and 8.7 points per game. Following the season Giddens decided his time at Ohio State was over, electing to transfer out of the program. Thompson. meanwhile, elected to take advantage of a new rule allowing him to declare for the NBA Draft and return to school so long as he doesn't hire an agent, which he hasn't.
Considering Thompson's sophomore season saw him average just 6.5 points and 5.1 rebounds as Ohio State's starting center the decision came as a bit of a surprise. The Virginia Tech transfer was not invited to the NBA combine and, unsurprisingly, the coaching staff expects Thompson to return to school armed with an evaluation from the NBA.
"From our aspect, we think that Trevor will be back," Ohio State assistant coach and big man specialist Dave Dickerson said Wednesday. "I think that Trevor knows this is a really good situation for him at Ohio State especially with Daniel Giddens leaving. Trevor knows that he’s young from a basketball standpoint and that his development is in front of him and that he’s going to be more of a focal point of who we are in our success next year. I think he will be back. "
Assuming Thompson does return the Buckeyes will bring back all five starters from last year's team. Dickerson said that Thompson did a good job of doing what he was asked to do last season for the Buckeyes, but thinks that role could expand next season. Regardless of exactly how Thompson is used as the starter, the Buckeyes are seeking depth after the departure of Giddens and there are a handful of candidates to serve as the primary backup at center.
Next season Dave Bell will be the only center aside from Thompson with experience in the program. The Cleveland native saw limited action as a redshirt freshman last year, serving as the third big man in the Buckeyes rotation Bell saw action in 23 games, averaging just 5.5 minutes per contest, usually playing when both Thompson and Giddens were in foul trouble.
Dickerson said that the 2017-18 season was always the one the staff was targeting for Bell to become a contributor and that remains the expectation.
"Dave is going to have to come in and work and prove his worth," the assistant coach said. "The great thing about this level is you can’t promise anyone anything and Dave is willing to work. When we recruited Dave Bell, we kind of told him this at the end of the year and I know coach Matta told him this as well, this was the season we needed him to be a good player which is the 2017 year. We knew there was going to be a development process with him. Now that process is over and we need him to be a player. We’re excited about his progression to this point, he has a great mindset and I see him helping us be a good team this year."
Joining Bell in providing depth will be true freshman Micah Potter, a center who is expected to ring more of a shooting touch to the position than any player at that position on Ohio State's roster. Freshman Derek Funderburk also brings a diverse skillset as a power forward, and while he could be used as a nominal center in smaller lineups, Dickerson said he doesn't expect Funderburk to be in direct competition with Potter and Thompson.