Ohio State won’t have DJ Carton available when it travels to the Bettendorf, Iowa native’s home state to take on the Hawkeyes on Thursday evening.
Carton, a freshman point guard, announced his plans to take a leave of absence to improve his mental health on Jan. 30. He has since remained away from the team and back with his family in Iowa as he takes classes away from Columbus.
Chris Holtmann says Carton won’t play in or attend Thursday’s game.
“I think there's a lot that has to happen before that's even in the conversation, medically and in terms of overall health,” Holtmann said on Wednesday. “That's not even in consideration.”
Since Carton left the team, Holtmann has made sure to clarify on multiple occasions that the first-year guard remains with the program.
In his first comments after the announcement that Carton needed time away, Holtmann threw his support behind him, thanking fans for their thoughts and admonishing anybody’s “antiquated thinking” who disagreed with the decision. After Ohio State beat Purdue on Saturday, he said Carton is still “very much a part of our team.”
Because of the mental health issues he’s currently working through, though, there’s no timeline for Carton to return to the court. When asked on Wednesday whether he’ll be back playing basketball for the Buckeyes this season, Holtmann was noncommittal.
“I would say, as it pertains to him, I'm hopeful that we can get him on a path toward improved health. That's the only priority,” Holtmann said. “Obviously we're late in the season, so you can draw your own conclusions on that. It's late in the year. He's been away for a while. If and when he returns, when you leave for medical reasons, there's a lot that goes into being in any way, really even outside of our hands, acclimated back into any type of organized activity.”
Ohio State has six games remaining on its regular-season schedule. The season ends in two-and-a-half weeks with a road game against Michigan State.
Holtmann clarified that should Carton’s health improve to the point when he decides to come back this season, there’s an “extensive” process he’ll have to undergo before again playing basketball.
“When a player is pulled away for medical reasons, specifically mental health, there's very specific and extended protocol that goes into that,” Holtmann said. “And it's to protect the player. It's pretty extensive.”