When Musa Jallow arrived on campus last summer, most people his age were preparing for their senior years of high school. Jallow was enrolling in college courses.
The Bloomington, Ind. native reclassified to the 2017 class in order to play basketball for the Buckeyes last season, and despite being 17 years old for the majority of the 2017-18 season, he found ways to contribute.
Jallow scored in double figures in two of his first three games, looking as though he would get acclimated to the college game faster than most expected. He even earned a starting role before the new year, as his athleticism on the defensive end proved to be an asset Chris Holtmann needed on the floor.
However, Jallow's early start quickly faded. He saw his minutes drop early in the Big Ten season as he failed to score in nine straight games. Then came Ohio State's trip to West Lafayette, Ind. on Feb. 7.
After not scoring a single point in a month, Jallow exploded for 10 points off the bench in an upset win over No. 3 Purdue, hitting three clutch shots from behind the arc to keep pace with the Boilermakers.
Jallow would go on to score just 13 points in Ohio State's last eight games of the season, but he said the entire experience from last season should serve him well moving forward.
"Having a year under my belt, I definitely feel older," Jallow said. "I feel like I have a better grasp on what I need to do and what the team needs me to do and what the coaches want me to be able to do."
As anyone who had a standout game would, Jallow said he has watched last season's win over Purdue multiple times on film to see how he can build on performances like that in 2018-19. That said, he has also watched his less impactful performances as well, all in an effort to be more productive as a sophomore.
"I want to be more consistent in my game. I had a lot of ups and downs last year. Sometimes that's how it happens for freshmen as you're just trying to get your feet wet and learn the ropes from the older guys," Jallow said. "I want to be able to produce on a consistent basis and have something that I can hang my hat on for every single game."
Jallow has often been described as one of Ohio State's most athletic players, alongside classmate Kyle Young. That athleticism has made him a versatile defender, which is what got him on the floor last season as a freshman.
As he enters what would be a freshman campaign for most people his age, Jallow has been working out extensively with assistant coach Mike Schrage on becoming a more versatile offensive player. As the Buckeyes transition to more of a guard-dominant team, Jallow will need to become more of a scoring threat in order to stay on the floor for more extensive minutes.
"We have been drilling ballhandling a lot, my finishes (at the rim), my reacting off a move off of a ball screen, shooting, catch and shoot, pull-ups, everything," Jallow said. "I am just trying to have a full package and be comfortable out there."
If Jallow is able to take the next step in his game offensively, Ohio State's three-guard lineup next season could end up being lethal. Add in highly recruited freshman Luther Muhammad and veteran Keyshawn Woods with C.J. Jackson, the Buckeyes should be more athletic than they were a season ago, perhaps leading to a more exciting brand of basketball.
"It is a faster pace and you don't have to rely on one person to take the whole load," Jallow said of Ohio State's potential three-guard lineup. "It makes it easier for each individual player and things just flow a little bit better."