Since his freshman year, one that saw him moved into the starting lineup during Big Ten play, Jae’Sean Tate has been looked at as a leader for Ohio State.
That was certainly the case as a sophomore last season. The Buckeyes had no seniors on the roster and just one junior, and as a captain Tate was expected to lead a young bunch. He did what he could in that regard before being sidelined for the final seven games of the season with a torn labrum.
Despite being considered a leader since he stepped on campus, Tate said he is focused on improving his leadership entering his junior season and tailoring his message to each individual on the team.
“I might be vocal, but I happen to understand that everybody doesn’t think or process information the same way,” he said after a rehab workout for his shoulder Thursday. “We’ve got a lot of different characteristics and different characters on the team. Some people may need to be yelled at, some people may need to be pulled to the side and talked to privately. One thing I’ve worked on, because I’m one of the guys that yells and you might not get the information to the right people, so I’ve got to figure out how I can reach teammates. Just continue to lead by example. Don’t just talk about it, be about it.”
That would be a step forward for an Ohio State team that seemed leaderless at times last season as the Buckeyes struggled through nonconference losses to UT-Arlington and Louisiana Tech and never found its footing in Big Ten play.
The team is hoping that the departure of four players via transfer may be addition by subtraction as it left the roster full of players who truly want to be Buckeyes and thus players who may be more likely to follow the team’s leaders.
Obviously Tate is not the only one looked at to lead for the Buckeyes. Marc Loving will be the lone senior on the roster this season while Kam Williams has been in the program just as long as a redshirt junior.
Loving said after being forced into a leadership role as a junior he is more prepared to lead as a senior.
“Obviously I was one of the leaders on the team last year being one of the older guys so having the opportunity before I was a senior I feel like was a plus,” the forward said. “I think there’s a few small things I can adjust, yes.”
Loving, who has often been the target of criticism amongst fans for his quiet demeanor, is not that way outside the public eye according to JaQuan Lyle.
“He may seem quiet, but Marc really isn't quiet,” the point guard said. “He probably talks the most out of everybody on the team within us when we're behind closed doors and in practices. I think that is just because he knows this is his last go-around and doesn't want it to be like it was last year. We didn't have no fun last season and nobody wants that. I think now that he is a season it's really hitting him that 'this is my last go-around so we have to go about this the right way.' He's been talking the most, but leaders come on and off the court and he leads by example.”
As the team’s point guard Lyle said he knows he too is expected to be a leader for the Buckeyes despite his sophomore status.
To a man, every Ohio State player who has spoken with the media since the season ended has talked about improving their leadership skills and perhaps a team-wide effort is what is necessary to propel the same top six players who missed the NCAA Tournament last season to greater heights in 2016-17.
“It’s time to win something. It’s been awhile since the Ohio State basketball program has made some noise and I think this is our year,” Tate said. “Especially having our six returning scorers and with our freshmen coming in, I think they’re going to be really good to us, and I think all the pieces of the puzzle are there. We’ve just got to make sure we put them together.
“I don’t want to be remembered at Ohio State for being one of the worst teams. This is my legacy I’m trying to build and being the captain of this team two years in a row, it reflects on me. I’m just trying to work hard and make sure I can at least leave here with some sort of ring or some type of title.”