What Justice Sueing's Transfer Means For Ohio State Basketball

By Colin Hass-Hill on May 10, 2019 at 10:35 pm
Justice Sueing

Nicole Sweet – USA TODAY Sports

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Finding the right fit for your college basketball program isn't just about what happens on the court, but off it as well. Today, Ohio State added a key piece. How will that commitment impact the Buckeyes?

Justice Sueing won't be able to suit up for Ohio State until the 2020-21 season, but he fills a long-term need.

The 6-foot-7, 215-pound forward announced his intention to transfer from California and become a Buckeye on Friday. He visited Columbus last weekend and will practice with the team for the next year, though he'll be ineligible to play.

Sueing reportedly visited San Diego State and held interest from Seton Hall and Pittsburgh but ultimately decided to leave the west coast and join the Buckeyes.

Let's take a look at what role Sueing could play in the future plans of Ohio State's basketball program and Chris Holtmann.

On The Court

How Sueing influences games won't change much as a Buckeye, though how much he's relied upon will decrease.

As a sophomore last season, Sueing led the Golden Bears in both points per game (14.3) and rebounds per game (6.0). He's not a prolific long-range shooter, averaging 30.2 percent on 3-pointers as a sophomore and 31.1 percent from beyond the arc as a freshman. Instead, he creates most of his points from 2-point range, with many coming on drives to the hoop.

Sueing's ability to draw fouls and get to the free-throw line attracted the Buckeyes to him. With 5.3 free-throw attempts per game last season, he had nearly twice as many free-throw attempts per game than every Ohio State player. Only Kaleb Wesson averaged more free throws per game, with 5.5 per game. With E.J. Liddell, DJ Carton and Sueing expected to be on the team in 2020-21, the coaches expect improvement in that area.

Sueing can play multiple positions, giving the Buckeyes an additional wing who can fit into different lineups. Given his versatility, Ohio State believes he can play together in lineups with Alonzo Gaffney, E.J. Liddell, Justin Ahrens or any other wings and forwards.

Even though Sueing had a large role in California's offense and led the team in scoring, he didn't have an abnormally high usage rate, which is an estimate of plays "used" while on the floor. Though his 22.4 percent usage slightly led the Golden Bears, four Ohio State players had higher usage rates last season. He also had just a 13.2 percent turnover rate, well below the Buckeyes' team turnover percentage of 16.4.

The Golden Bears, who endured a 16-game losing streak last season, certainly weren't a strong team, so Sueing could have some bad habits he'll need to correct. But he'll have a full year to adjust to Ohio State's system.

In The Class

With Andre Wesson entering his senior year, Ohio State needed to find a wing or forward to replace him, and it landed Sueing to fill the eventual void.

When CJ Walker sat out the 2018-19 season, he watched C.J. Jackson and Keyshawn Woods run the backcourt, knowing he'd replace them. Sueing will have the same vantage point to watch Wesson, whose spot in the frontcourt he'll eventually take.

The addition of Sueing maxes out Ohio State's available scholarships for the 2019-20 season. Holtmann never intended to use his team's 13th scholarship on someone with eligibility for next season, instead only targeting transfers who would have to sit out a year. 

Here's how the scholarship chart now looks.

Pos SENIORS JUNIORS SOPHOMORES FRESHMEN
C KALEB WESSON IBRAHIMA DIALLO
PF KYLE YOUNG EJ LIDDELL
SF ANDRE WESSON JUSTICE SUEING JUSTIN AHRENS ALONZO GAFFNEY
SG MUSA JALLOW LUTHER MUHAMMAD
DUANE WASHINGTON JR.
PG CJ WALKER DJ CARTON
TOTALS 1 5 3 4

Since Sueing will redshirt, he'll eventually be part of the class of rising sophomores – Justin Ahrens, Luther Muhammad and Duane Washington Jr. – who are scheduled to graduate after the 2021-22 season. 

With all scholarships filled for the 2019-20 season, the Buckeyes can now look ahead to the 2020 recruiting class. 

Sueing's transfer has not eliminated the possibility of Ohio State adding a wing in its 2020 class, a source told Eleven Warriors. The Buckeyes still plan to look at skilled wings or forwards with shooting ability, and they'll also continue to recruit big men. 

There's only one scholarship open in 2020 since Wesson is set to graduate after next season.

However, that could change if Kaleb Wesson opted to eventually leave school early for the NBA, or if someone else opts to transfer. Wesson is going through the pre-draft process right now and is expected to return for his junior year. But with his brother graduating after the 2019-20 season, he could go through it again next spring and opt to remain in the draft pool, which would both open a hole at center on Ohio State's roster and a second scholarship in the 2020 recruiting class.

The Intangibles

Sueing has basketball bloodlines.

His father, also named Justice, played for the University of Hawaii from 1994-96. In the 1995-96 season, he averaged 17.4 points, 6.5 rebounds and 2.5 assists per game. After his collegiate career concluded, he headed overseas to play professionally in Israel and Luxembourg before returning to Hawaii, where he and his wife, Jennifer Le'i, raised Sueing.

Sueing's basketball career began in Honolulu, Hawaii, but his family moved to Los Angeles when he began playing high school basketball so he could attend Mater Dei, a well-regarded high school that has developed many high-level athletes.

Also a strong student, Sueing was named Pac-12 All-Academic honorable mention this spring with a 3.275 cumulative GPA. He did not declare a major, but he intended to pursue pre-med at California, hoping to eventually become an orthopedic surgeon.

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