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?
If you're trying to keep up with all of Ohio State's offseason roster movement, good luck.
Jimmy Sotos, who spent the past three seasons in Bucknell's backcourt, became the latest chess piece to move on Monday, when he announced his commitment to continue his college career as a Buckeye.
For sanity's sake, let's run through all of the departures and additions since Ohio State's postseason-less season wrapped up in March.
- March 19: DJ Carton enters transfer portal
- March 21: Seth Towns announces transfer to Ohio State
- March 22: Alonzo Gaffney plans to leave program
- April 1: Kaleb Wesson enters 2020 NBA Draft
- April 5: Luther Muhammad enters transfer portal
- April 6: Jimmy Sotos announces transfer to Ohio State
Additionally, Ohio State will add Justice Sueing, who sat out last season after transferring from Cal, and two freshmen – four-star wing Eugene Brown III and three-star power forward Zed Key – to the roster.
Sotos, the Buckeyes' latest addition, will have to sit out the 2020-21 season before playing his final college season in 2021-22.
On The Court
For each of the past two years, Sotos operated as Bucknell's starting point guard, which is the spot he'll likely fill when he becomes eligible to play for the Buckeyes. Once CJ Walker graduates, Ohio State will turn to Sotos and Meechie Johnson as its lead guards in 2021-22.
Here are Sotos' per-game averages each season at Bucknell:
- As a freshman in 2017-18: 22.3 minutes, 4.8 points, 2.0 assists, 2.8 rebounds, 1.4 turnovers, 0.8 steals
- As a sophomore in 2018-19: 30.5 minutes, 8.2 points, 6.1 assists, 3.9 rebounds, 2.9 turnovers, 1.0 steal
- As a junior in 2019-20: 32.1 minutes, 11.5 points, 3.9 assists, 3.5 rebounds, 2.8 turnovers, 1.6 steals
Sotos's shooting percentages swung significantly each season. From 2-point range, he shot 39.7 percent as a freshman, 48.6 percent as a sophomore and 43.8 percent as a junior. From beyond the 3-point line, He hit 39.3 percent as a freshman, 31 percent as a sophomore and 37.1 percent as a junior.
With the Bison, he played a number of different roles, coming off the bench for half of his freshman season, serving as a facilitator for two All-Patriot League players as a sophomore, then leading the team in scoring as a junior. As a Buckeye, he likely won't lead his team in points, but he could be tops in assists as the starting point guard.
Sotos isn't a world-beater. He's not a program-changing get by any means. In Columbus, he'll need to cut down his turnover rate, and he'll have to find game-to-game consistency while facing much tougher opposition every week, especially in conference play.
But Sotos is a smooth operator with the ball in his hands, both with the ability to facilitate the offense and shoot from the perimeter, who'll provide the Buckeyes with a veteran presence in their backcourt. Chris Holtmann always says he wants to get old and stay old, and by adding Sotos he ensures he'll have a senior primary ball-handler for at least the next two seasons.
In The Class
Though Sotos' transfer to Ohio State comes a mere day after Muhammad entered the transfer portal, the two decisions weren't closely linked.
The Buckeyes will make a final decision later this year, but as of now the coaching staff doesn't anticipate that it will attempt to get Sotos a waiver to gain immediate eligibility. Sotos' plan, as of now, will be to sit out the 2020-21 season before playing his final season of college basketball in 2021-22. When eligible, he'll be the fifth-year veteran in a backcourt that will lose CJ Walker, who's in line to be a two-year team captain.
As of Monday, here's an early look at what the scholarship chart will look like for the 2021-22 season:
|PF||SETH TOWNS (RS)||E.J. LIDDELL||ZED KEY||KALEN ETZLER|
JUSTICE SUEING (RS)
MUSA JALLOW (RS)
|SG||DUANE WASHINGTON JR.||–||EUGENE BROWN III||–|
|PG||JIMMY SOTOS||–||–||MEECHIE JOHNSON|
Provided Kaleb Wesson remains in the 2020 NBA Draft as expected, Sotos' transfer puts Ohio State at 12 scholarships next season. That still leaves Holtmann the option of pursuing a graduate transfer with immediate eligibility to shore up the backcourt.
By the time Sotos takes the court in 2021-22, he'll get a chance to start alongside Washington as a fellow senior. Provided nothing changes between now and then, which as we all know is impossible to predict in the modern age of college basketball, incoming freshman Eugene Brown III and 2021 commit Meechie Johnson will join them as backcourt pieces.
More than likely, Ohio State will add at least one more guard to its 2021 class to prepare for when Sotos and Washington graduate together in 2022. Four-star shooting guard Malaki Branham, a Columbus native who attends St. Vincent-St. Mary High School in Akron, has been a top target for a while and could fill that slot.
Most players who end up at Ohio State take at least somewhat of a traditional route. They play for well-regarded high school and AAU teams, become highly regarded recruits with a swath of scholarship offers, then choose to play for the Buckeyes. Even the team's other transfers – Justice Sueing, CJ Walker and Seth Towns – all had multiple high-major offers and played for power conference teams.
Sotos took the route less traveled.
After a strong performance on the grassroots circuit ahead of his senior year at Conant High School in Illinois, his scholarship offer count grew from just a couple to more than 20, per the Chicago Sun-Times. None of those programs, though, played in power conferences. Ultimately, he chose Bucknell over Princeton and Dartmouth, his two other finalists.
Sotos also had a growth spurt late in high school, sprouting to 6-foot-3. He told the Daily Orange that he still has a “bulldog mentality” and a “little man’s complex.”
Having played three years at the mid-major level, he'll bring a bit of a different perspective to Ohio State's roster.