Keita Bates-Diop became the first Buckeye since D'Angelo Russell in 2015 to be drafted into the NBA last week when the Minnesota Timberwolves selected him with the No. 48 overall pick on Thursday night.
Bates-Diop's fall into the late second round came as a bit of a surprise to some, but the former Buckeye will still get his chance to make the Timberwolves' roster as one of two new rookies in the Land of 10,000 Lakes, joining Josh Okogie from Georgia Tech.
With Bates-Diop onto the next level, Ohio State's roster is much younger, but does boast some potential to send more players to the NBA.
The Buckeyes' best chance at sending another player to the next level by way of the draft, at least in the opinion of this writer, has yet to play a game in Columbus.
Luther Muhammad has perhaps the highest ceiling of any player on Ohio State's 2018-19 roster. His athleticism at the guard position and his ability to create his own shot offensively makes him instantly a prospect for the next level.
In addition, Muhammad is an elite defender for his age, a talent that will also make him attractive to NBA scouts. At 6-foot-4, he has good but not great size for a shooting guard, but his style of play translates well to the next level.
He already has experience playing against NBA talent, as Muhammad played a part in shutting down former Alabama guard and Cleveland Cavaliers draft pick Collin Sexton in a 2016 matchup between their two high schools. Muhammad scored 16 points in a 65-51 win over Sexton's Pebblebrook team that also resulted in video that has since gone viral.
When you catch someone staring at you pic.twitter.com/TtlrFODqSy— Basketball Videos (@bballvines) December 22, 2016
When you look at Ohio State's current roster, there isn't another name that jumps off the page as a sure-fire NBA prospect. C.J. Jackson made tremendous strides from year one to year two as a Buckeye, but doesn't appear to bring the elite level of athleticism that is required to play in the NBA.
While scouts might not be looking at Muhammad just yet, his game has already been recognized by some that are playing at the highest level, including Kevin Durant, who broke down a portion of Muhammad's tape late last year.
Muhammad is a legitimate threat to be a one-and-done caliber player if he has an electric freshman campaign. He will likely have an opportunity to start right away as Ohio State replaces three starters in Bates-Diop, Jae'Sean Tate and Kam Williams. He could easily fit into Williams' spot in the lineup, providing a more versatile offensive game that would also allow him to play off the ball.
A top-100 player in his class, Muhammad is surely going to have professional scouts keeping an eye on him as he develops his game in his first year under Chris Holtmann. Since Ohio State is ushering in a fresh crop of players, Muhammad will have plenty of chances to shine. Even if he doesn't go straight to the NBA after his first season in Columbus, he still remains Ohio State's best chance to put another player into the association from the 2018-19 roster.