The early offseason in college basketball means a handful of things—NBA departures, last second recruiting pitches, coaching changes, transfers and way too early Top 25 polls, to name a few.
Each program is facing its own unique challenges that come from roster turnover.
Some programs such as Kentucky are dealing with first world-like problems such as the fact that there is only one basketball to share among approximately 245 5-star prospects, while others like Florida Gulf Coast must deal with the loss of its coach after a Cinderella run.
Defending Big Ten tournament champion Ohio State is also facing turnover thanks to the graduation of Evan Ravenel, early departure of Deshaun Thomas and the addition of two recruits.
Read on to see a breakdown of each addition and subtraction heading into next year.
There were only four power conference teams that allowed one player to take more than 32 percent of the shots from the field.
Ohio State was one of those squads.
Deshaun Thomas attempted 32.2 percent of the Buckeyes’ field-goal attempts in 2012-13, and the result was 20 points a night and a Big Ten scoring title. To say the Scarlet and Gray are going to miss Thomas on the offensive end would be a massive understatement.
The good news for Ohio State fans is the fact that Thad Matta has the horses to replicate Thomas’ production, albeit working under the assumption that a number of “ifs” work out in the Buckeyes’ favor.
Incoming freshman Marc Loving plays a similar style as Thomas, with touch from the inside and from mid-range.
Aaron Craft proved down the stretch last season that he is capable of scoring more by slashing the lane and Sam Thompson was much more of an offensive factor in the second half of the year. Throw in the emergence of LaQuinton Ross, who figures to lead Ohio State in scoring, and there are pieces in place to score.
While Thomas’ offense and rebounding will be missed, his defense really won’t be.
Yes, it improved during his three years in Columbus, but he got lost in space too often and had some trouble guarding bigger opponents.
Spotty defense or not, Thomas will be incredibly difficult to replace.
When discussing departures and Ohio State basketball this offseason, the conversation has started and ended with Deshaun Thomas’ decision to enter the NBA draft.
Considering that Thomas was the Big Ten’s leading scorer in 2012-13 that is fair, but the Buckeyes will dearly miss Evan Ravenel.
Ravenel was a selfless player who gave up his starting position in the middle of the season for the benefit of the team. The irony was he gave it up to someone less talented than he was (Amir Williams), but it was better for the Buckeyes to have Ravenel’s rebounding and energy coming off the bench.
Ravenel was Ohio State’s third-leading rebounder despite playing only 16 minutes a night and provided Thad Matta with solid interior defense and timely baskets.
He never scored a ton, but when he did it seemed like it was always in the biggest moments.
His best games came against elite competition (Michigan State and Indiana come to mind down the stretch) and he played with toughness that Williams still has not developed.
The departure of Thomas may be the biggest hole to fill in Columbus, but considering the lack of reliable big guys on the roster, Ravenel may prove to be even more difficult to replace.
Ohio’s defending Mr. Basketball comes to Ohio State after a senior season that saw him score better than 21 points and grab 8.4 rebounds per night.
Loving also finished his prep career as his school’s all-time leading scorer.
He stands 6’8” and will be critical in the team-wide effort necessary to replace Deshaun Thomas.
He will ultimately assume the role of stretch forward that Thomas left vacant based on his size and offensive skill set alone.
It is unfair to expect Loving to produce that type of scoring right away, but he should pose as a matchup nightmare for opposing defenders. He can play either forward position and can post up smaller defenders, face up and drive around slower opponents or hit the mid-range jump shot with soft touch.
Defensively, Loving uses his length and athleticism to contest shots, rebound and get inside passing lanes.
It is on that end of the floor that he may prove to be even more formidable than Thomas was as an upperclassman. He won’t have much of an issue acclimating to Ohio State’s defensive-oriented culture.
Look for Loving to see plenty of action next season off the bench for Matta, especially if he gives the Buckeyes much-needed rebounding.
He is capable of spelling LaQuinton Ross or Sam Thompson in the 3 or 4 spot or even filling Thomas’ vacant role as the “big man” in Matta’s center-less lineup.
Kameron Williams will have one primary responsibility as a freshman in Ohio State’s program—put the ball in the basket.
The Buckeyes struggled far too often on the offensive end in 2012-13 on nights when Deshaun Thomas struggled, and with Thomas now gone a number of players will need to pick up the slack.
The high-scoring Williams may be slight in frame, but if his high-school career was any indication, he should have no issue scoring.
He is an excellent three-point shooter and is nearly automatic from the free-throw stripe (both areas that Ohio State had some issues with last year). If Williams can give Thad Matta his first legitimate three-point threat since Jon Diebler, the Buckeyes suddenly become much more formidable.
Williams also adds an intriguing option on the defensive side.
He is small, shifty and quick, which will fit in perfectly with the Aaron Craft and Shannon Scott full-court press that Matta utilized down the stretch last season. The Buckeyes gave a number of grind-it-out Big Ten teams fits with their athleticism, and Williams should only exacerbate that.
Look for Williams to spell Craft, Scott and Lenzelle Smith Jr. at times in 2013-14, but if he can find the basket with a fraction of the consistency that he did in high school, he will see significant minutes even as a freshman.