Chris Holtmann Expects a Number of Players To Handle The Ball in 2018-19

By James Grega on April 11, 2018 at 10:10 am
C.J. Jackson, Chris Holtmann

When Chris Holtmann took the job at Ohio State, he knew the point guard position would be one lacking in depth. 

In year two, he is hoping more Buckeyes can help shoulder the load when it comes to running his offense. 

After a productive grad transfer season, Andrew Dakich is gone, and the Buckeyes are back to C.J. Jackson as their lone primary ball-handler as they head into the 2018-19 season. However, Jackson isn't the only player on Ohio State's active roster that Holtmann expects to handle the ball when the Scarlet and Gray take the floor next season.

Holtmann said Tuesday that a pair of incoming 2018 recruits, as well as sophomore Musa Jallow, could contribute in some way when it comes to running the point next year.

"Duane (Washington) and Luther (Muhammad) both have the ability to be that," Holtmann said. "I look at Musa (as someone) who will handle the ball more and be more of a playmaker, but it's probably going to be more from the wing/guard spot."

You can see highlights of Washington below. 

Holtmann confirmed Wednesday that Jallow has been dealing with a minor ankle injury during the offseason and while he has been able to participate in strength and conditioning workouts, his time on the court so far this offseason has been limited. 

Much like last offseason, Ohio State is looking to add another graduate transfer point guard to add depth and a veteran presence to a locker room that currently features just one contributing senior in Jackson. 

"That is also an option we are looking at bringing in and addressing that need," Holtmann said when asked about adding a veteran player before the season. "I think there will certainly be times this year where we will play a three-guard lineup. I don't think there is any question about that. We will definitely play a three-guard lineup, in some ways more than we did last year."

Ohio State has been in contact with a number of graduate transfer prospects, and while Holtmann cannot discuss specific players, he confirmed the Buckeyes are prepared for multiple visits from players over the next two weeks. 

One name that has surfaced is UAB transfer Nick Norton. A 5-foot-10 guard, Norton averaged 7.5 points per game for the Blazers last season, while also dishing out 4.9 assists in 29.4 minutes per game. Norton also averaged 1.2 steals and committed 1.6 turnovers per contest. 

Regardless of whether or not Ohio State adds to its 2018-19 roster with a graduate transfer or not, Holtmann does not see a scenario in which Jackson moves away from the point guard position. 

After playing much of the 2016-17 season as a shooting guard and backup point guard, Jackson vastly improved his game in his first season under Holtmann. He finished the 2017-18 season as Ohio State's second leading scorer, averaging 12.6 points and dishing out 3.8 helpers per game. Because of the progress he made at point guard, especially down the stretch last season, Holtmann wants Jackson to remain in that role so he can continue to grow at that position. 

"C.J., I think grew into the position and did a really good job with it, so I don't know that I am ready to pull him back from that, because I think he does some good things there," Holtmann said. "I do think if we can find another point guard that could come in and do some things, it would help to be able to slide him some and play him like we did Andrew (Dakich) this year when we played them together."

Should a three-guard lineup emerge as Ohio State's primary lineup, it would likely feature Jackson and Muhammad along with either Washington or the graduate transfer, whoever that might be. Regardless, Holtmann should have more options at point guard in his second season, creating plenty of opportunities for the young players on the roster.

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