2023 Ohio State University
The 2022-23 campaign can easily be described as a rollercoaster for the Ohio State Buckeyes. It may not be the best rollercoaster out there, but it was a wild ride for sure. The Buckeyes jumped out to an incredible start to the season as they started 9-3 in the 2022 half of the season with their only losses coming to San Diego State who was ranked No. 17 at the time, No. 17 Duke, and an overtime loss to UNC who began the year as the No. 1 team in the country before falling off hard in the second half of the year. After just two months of play, Buckeye fans were left feeling very excited about the young Buckeye team.
Then, everything went downhill following a win over Northwestern to begin conference play in January. The Buckeyes then took on the top ranked team in the nation in Purdue and were handed a two-point loss. This tiny loss began a landslide of events that saw the Buckeyes get decimated in conference play as they would go on to lose 14 of their next 17 games. Things got so bad that many fans and analysts were calling for Coach Chris Holtmann to be fired mid-season despite his multi-year contract extension this past summer. Athletic Director Gene Smith and Holtmann did reportedly meet multiple times to discuss the future of the program, but they reassured the Buckeye faithful that no change would be made at that time.
Following the dreadful end to the year Ohio State entered the Big Ten Conference Tournament as the second worst team in the conference and would be handed the death sentence of being the first team to play in the tournament. No team who had ever played on the first day of the conference tournament had ever made it to the conference semifinals. However, the Buckeyes suddenly opened up and took the fight to the opposition and played the best basketball Columbus had seen in quite some time. Ohio State pulled of three consecutive upsets against some of the top teams in the conference this season and found themselves in the conference semifinals matched up once again against the Purdue Boilermakers who led off the beginning of the Buckeyes downfall back in January.
Even with redemption on the line for the Buckeyes, at the final whistle it was the Boilermakers standing tall over Ohio State who would now miss the NCAA Tournament for the first time under Chris Holtmann and the first time since 2017 at the end of Thad Matta's reign as Head Coach.
But despite the catastrophic implosion that was January and February there was a light at the end of the tunnel for Ohio State and that was the Freshman class. The group who came in as a bunch of talented individuals tasked with leading a team that had only three seniors. That group left Chicago in March as a team. The selfishness and lack of chemistry that plagued the Buckeyes all season was gone. The young guns of Bruce Thornton, Roddy Gayle Jr., and Felix Okpara showed that they are going to be the big three in Columbus next season. This was a rebuilding year for Ohio State and with their play in Chicago, it's easy to see that the rebuild is working.
Ohio State must now say goodbye to their senior class of Justice Sueing, Sean McNeil, Tanner Holden, and Isaac Likele who all had very impactful moments throughout the season. They will likely also be saying goodbye to their leading scorer in Brice Sensabaugh as he is expected to depart for the NBA Draft as he is currently projected as the No. 18 best player in the 2023 Draft.
But they will be welcoming in three new recruits that are currently ranked inside of the top-100 high school seniors via 247 Sports and are currently committed to the Buckeyes as of right now. Four-star guard out of Minnesota in Taison Chatman, four-star small forward Scotty Middleton out of Kansas, and four-star power forward Devin Royal out of Pickerington, Ohio.
This is going to be the most important offseason in Holtmann's tenure at Ohio State as LeBron "Bronny" James Jr.'s college decision is in play. James has announced that his final three schools are Ohio State, Oregon, and USC. There is yet again hope in Columbus and a reason to be excited. If Holtmann can get the biggest name in sports to come play for the Buckeyes, Ohio State may very well find themselves contending for the NCAA Championship once again. If not Holtmann will find himself on the hot seat going into next season.