Ohio State Buckeyes head basketball coach Thad Matta announced Tuesday that he's allowed guard A.J. Harris to explore the prospect of transferring.
Tim Shoemaker of Eleven Warriors passed along Matta's statement. Harris played sparingly as a freshman, averaging 13.7 minutes, 2.8 points and 1.7 assists per contest during the 2015-16 campaign.
"I have given freshman guard A.J. Harris permission to seek a transfer," said Matta in a statement, per Shoemaker. "Mickey Mitchell and Daniel Giddens have asked for their release as well. We appreciate what A.J., Daniel and Mickey did for our program as freshman and we wish them well."
ESPN Insider Jeff Goodman commented on the fact that Harris isn't the only one from the Buckeyes' 2015 recruiting class who's already keen to flee Columbus:
Ohio State exodus continues: Daniel Giddens, Mickey Mitchell and now A.J. Harris all transferring.— Jeff Goodman (@GoodmanESPN) March 29, 2016
Harris shot a woeful 32.3 percent from the field in his limited action this past season as Ohio State went 21-14 and failed to qualify for the NCAA tournament.
Former Buckeyes star Jared Sullinger was among those to criticize the OSU players who fled for perceptibly greener pastures:
I will say this though.... Leaving because you didn't play as much as you hoped after your Freshman year says a lot.... That's weak to me.— James JJ Sullinger (@MrOH1O) March 29, 2016
JaQuan Lyle, the only remaining 2015 recruit, also had something to say:
Grass ain't always greener on the other side...— JaQuan Lyle (@JMamba13) March 29, 2016
Regardless of who supports him, the reality is Matta has to pick up the pieces from a prior recruiting class that essentially netted him nothing.
Following a successful tenure at Xavier and a fine start to his lengthy stint with the Buckeyes, Matta has seen his program regress in recent years. Since an Elite Eight berth in 2012-13, OSU has gone to the Big Dance's round of 64, round of 32 and this year lost in the second round of the NIT.
Getting back to the NCAA tournament will be a tall task for Matta to pull off with a shortage of younger up-and-coming players to count on. An inability to get such a massive trove of players to buy in is also a discouraging sign for his future at the helm.
But if Matta can coach up the 2016-17 Buckeyes well enough to emerge from a competitive Big Ten with a respectable squad, he likely won't have to worry about job security. He will return his top six scorers, headed by rising senior Marc Loving.