Chris Holtman is “going to rely on” the top four freshmen to play important roles: “There’s definitely some anxiety but certainly some excitement too”

Ohio’s freshman class won’t have the luxury of going easy as it moves to the level of playing college basketball.

Given that 11 players from Buckeye’s roster last year left the program, Ohio State’s six freshmen — five scholarship recruits and one — make up roughly half of the 2022-23 team. in the program Media day last monthOhio State head coach Chris Holtman made no effort to hide how significant the play of many of his early years at the Buckeyes this season was, and he mentioned Four in particular.

Rudy Gale, Bruce Thornton, Bryce Sensapo and Felix Okpara – all four stars Top 65 recruits overall In this year’s class – you will not only get chances at garbage time this season. Holtman will count on all of them to contribute for the night to the Buckeyes.

“I think we have four new students who will all play. They will all play a part in this group for sure. Bruce, Rudy, Bryce and Felix are all able to help this team and play,” Holtmann said. “They will go through some ups and downs, they will have some challenges, but the four They will all play. You’ll see them as a part of every game for sure. We are excited about that. We are definitely excited about the capabilities of this group.”

Last season, Holtman had nine seniors on another unique makeup list. This year, the challenge is to incorporate a group of 10 new faces in total, more than half of those are first-year Buckeyes. In fact, with Kalen Etzler falling behind in Kindergarten a year ago, the Buckeyes technically had seven new students on the roster.

But in terms of first-year players, Holtman didn’t have to rely on as many players as possible this year.

“I haven’t coached a team that probably counts on four new players as much as this group will. And again, there are some real positives to that,” Holtmann said. In Big Ten Media Days Wednesday. “And you know, what can we grow into? If we run into some bumps along the way, what can we grow into? But I think there is a mix of feelings. There is definitely some anxiety but certainly some excitement as well.”

In a sport that has become increasingly centered on guardsmanship in recent years, Holtman said the play by Gayle and Thornton — who are ranked No. 46 and No. 47 in the country — will be central to the success Ohio State can have.

“I think that will be as key as anything for our season this year, not just the development of four freshmen but the development and growth of these two young goalkeepers (Thornton and Gayle),” Holtman said. “We know how important playing guard and wing is in college basketball, and certainly in the NCAA tournament, the diversity it provides.”

Gayle, a highly rated Buckeye freshman, according to the 247Sports Composite Rankings, earned plenty of praise from Minneapolis’ Holtmann when Holtmann was asked about Gayle’s role on the team this season. In fact, Holtmann said Gayle’s cap might be the highest in the entire distance, which ranked Holtmann’s 8th best class to date as the Bucks Head Coach.

“We know there will be moments that will be bewildering, with the general lack of experience these four will experience. But if we can play with them through that earlier in the year, we are excited about what could be.”– Chris Holtman

“It’s going to be really important. He’s 6-4, he’s strong, he’s my body. I’m excited about Rudy. I think he has as much upside and potential as anyone in that four-man class,” Holtmann said. The practical aspect where you look at it and be like, ‘Okay, with continued growth, (he can excel.)’ It’s not there yet. But he will play with both, and others may slip to the wing point. But he will provide us with a versatile defender who is a really good athlete at 6-4, 210, 205.”

For a long time, Thornton was believed to be the class’s crown jewel, and he might end up with that title. Physically ready to step to the next level as little – if any – that Holtman has ever seen before in a point guard position, it looks like Thornton will finish one day initially with the Buckeyes.

“I don’t know if you’ve seen a goalkeeper who is ready as he is. You see that with the youngsters or with the goalkeepers, with the younger kids. He came from a great programme, he’s a very good coach,” Holtmann said. “He’s got really good habits now. He is used to winning. Because of that, I think Bruce will be able to help us right away as much as any new student we’ve trained.”

Okpara, who is 6-foot-11 in center and a potential 62nd in his class, isn’t a polished producer on the offensive just yet. In terms of defence, the hum about the Nigerian national’s defensive prowess began to emerge shortly after he arrived on campus this summer.

At the Buckeyes open practice Monday, members of the media were able to see it firsthand, as Okpara blocked shots at two of his team’s first three defensive properties as soon as melee play began.

“There will be moments where you look at it and say, ‘Wow, that’s impressive. “There were moments for us as coaches, we’ve been doing this for 25 years, where we said, ‘Wonderful.’ We haven’t really had a position that can do those sports plays,” Holtmann said. It’s really exciting. But there are also moments when he’ll struggle to get out of the traffic, crash from somewhere and not be able to grab the ball because he’s not physically there yet. There are these things, too.”

As much as Holtman expected him to come out of his freshman class, he stopped short of comparing any one of them’s appearances to the appearance of Malaki Branham – the New Big Ten of the year in 2021-22 who was drafted into the first round shortly thereafter. One season in Columbus.

Of course, early in his college career, Branham himself was not so attached to the immediate success that he ended up enjoying at Ohio State. For this reason, Holtmann is unlikely to make any comparisons with the previous Crimson and Gray star until his new students prove they are capable of such a standard on a regular basis.

“I don’t think there is any doubt that the development of all four new players who are going to play is going to be critical to this team. Just the growth these guys are seeing,” Holtmann said. “I was asked the other day, do I see these guys developing at the rate that my own? This is a difficult request for men. I think they should run their own race. But we will definitely need significant play from these two guys (Thornton and Gayle) as well as the four of our freshmen this year.”

Amid flashes of brilliance, Holtman saw an inconsistent play from his new semester during pre-season. He expects to see that continue once the season officially begins next month as well. But with a group that holds so much promise that Holtmann’s top-rated recruiting class has to offer, patience may pay off in the end.

“It’s not just that they’re guys. They’re guys that we’re going to rely on to play,” Holtmann said. “So I think accelerating their development, we were just talking about that in the movie, there are things we probably don’t see now that are going to happen in the games. And we’ll scratch our heads and say, “Where did that come from?” Well, this is an inexperience. And you try to photograph and go ahead and see as much as possible some of the things that will appear.

“But we know there will be bewildering moments, with the general lack of experience these four will experience. But if we can play with them through that earlier in the year, we’re excited for what that could be.”

Leave a Comment