Abel Porter wanted to finish out his basketball career as a Buckeye. He planned to get a graduate degree at Ohio State and raise his newborn child along with his wife Presley while they made a new home for themselves in Columbus.
The next year, however, won’t go as he once hoped.
Porter, a graduate transfer from Utah State, has been ruled medically unable to participate due to a "non-COVID related medical condition," per a statement released on Wednesday morning. He later confirmed he'd been diagnosed with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, a heart disease.
The condition ends his basketball career before he ever had a chance to play for the Buckeyes.
“This has been a difficult past few weeks for Abel and his family,” Chris Holtmann said in a statement. “He is a tremendous person and I know he is very appreciative for the opportunity to be a Buckeye. Abel has expressed how thankful he is for the fantastic medical care he has received. He will remain a part of our program.”
Earlier this year, Holtmann brought Porter in to serve as a backup to CJ Walker and Duane Washington Jr. at guard, where the Buckeyes lacked depth.
At Utah State, following his two-year church mission trip to Russia, the one-time walk-on earned a scholarship and a starting spot in the backcourt midway through his redshirt sophomore season that he held onto through the end of his redshirt junior season. He averaged 5.6 points, three assists and 2.4 rebounds in 23.8 minutes per game across his final two years as an Aggie.
Despite the large role at Utah State, Porter felt comfortable coming off the bench in Columbus behind Washington and Walker – especially since the presence of COVID-19 wiped away his chance to participate in the NCAA tournament after upsetting San Diego State to win the Mountain West title.
“A big part was I wanted to really get back to the NCAA tournament,” Porter told Eleven Warriors soon after choosing Ohio State. “There's only so many schools that can really offer a chance at that, right? Ohio State's absolutely near the top when it comes to that. I loved the pitch that they had and the winning culture and the winning history that Ohio State basketball has, and I wanted to be a part of that.”
Porter took the long route to get to this point. He went on a mission trip, walked on to Utah State, earned a scholarship and became a starter before eventually transferring to play in the Big Ten. Unfortunately for Porter, he won’t get rewarded for his journey with one more season of basketball due to his medical condition.
Ohio State, knowing it won’t be able to rely on Porter anymore this season, suddenly has a gaping hole in terms of its backcourt depth.
Holtmann’s staff will rely on its two starting guards – Walker and Washington – as the primary ball-handlers on the team. Justice Sueing, a 6-foot-7 forward, is also expected to carry some of the load as a playmaker who can handle the ball better than most his size.
Some of the concerns about the backcourt would be alleviated if Bucknell transfer guard Jimmy Sotos has his immediate eligibility waiver approved by the NCAA. The initial waiver was denied, but the program appealed and has yet to receive word on a final decision. Ohio State’s expecting to hear back on the waiver at some point in the next week or two, per a source.
Without Porter, the Buckeyes will open the 2020-21 season against Memphis in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, on Nov. 25 as part of the Crossover Classic.