Ohio State Forward E.J. Liddell Hits 1,000-Point Milestone With Buckeyes

By Griffin Strom on January 27, 2022 at 9:05 pm
E.J. Liddell
© Joshua A. Bickel/Columbus Dispatch / USA TODAY NETWORK

Halfway through his third season with the Buckeyes, E.J. Liddell has already tallied 1,000 career points at Ohio State.

The star forward entered Thursday's game against Minnesota just 12 points shy of the career milestone, but Liddell reached it in the second half at Williams Arena in Minneapolis. Liddell is the 60th player in Buckeye history to score at least 1,000 points.

"E.J. is such a special kid, he's such a special player," Ohio State head coach Chris Holtmann said last week. "I think there's gonna be a few tears shed in the Holtmann house and a lot of homes when he moves on, because he's beloved by us and he's beloved around here. He's a tremendous kid who is also a really talented player, and he allows us to push him and challenge him in areas, and I think that's the sign of a really good kid and a really good player.

"There's not a bigger advocate for E.J. than me. I want every good thing that comes his way, because I know he's gonna work for it and he's gonna continue to put in the work for it. I'm excited to see when he crosses that 1,000-point barrier, and I think that'll be a great individual honor for him."

As a true freshman in 2019-20, Liddell averaged 6.7 points per game off the bench for the Buckeyes, but the Illinois native took his game to the next level the following season. Liddell averaged 16.2 points per game last year, finishing the season as a first-team All-Big Ten selection before opting to return for a junior campaign with Ohio State.

Entering Thursday, Liddell was averaging a career-high 19.4 points per game, and the Minnesota game marks his 17th straight with at least 10 points for the Buckeyes to start this season.

“It’s pretty awesome, I’ve been thinking about it with this long layoff,” Liddell said Wednesday. “I was hoping I could get it possibly last Saturday against Nebraska, but since it’s coming up this Thursday, I’m just hoping I can go out there, do what I can to help win. If I do get it, I know it (could) be Coach Holtmann’s 100th win as well, so that should be pretty cool. But just this milestone means a lot, honestly. Coming here, making a big impact for the team. I think I saw I was going to be like the 60th player in history to do that, that’s just a pretty cool experience just to have my name in the record books and whatnot.”

Liddell's career-high scoring performance entering this season was 26 points, but he's already topped that number on four occasions, twice setting his new high mark with a 29-point game against Niagara on Nov. 12 and a 34-point explosion versus Northwestern on Jan. 9.

Holtmann did not understate the impact that Liddell, a candidate for All-American status this season, has had on the Buckeye program when discussing the topic on Wednesday.

“I love the contribution that E.J. has made to our program. I’ve said it over and over; he’s a phenomenal kid from a phenomenal family, he’s just made an incredible mark," Holtmann said. "His legacy is gonna be one that’s significant because of who he is as a player and who he is as a kid.”

Liddell said he'd prefer to wait until after the season has finished to reflect on what he's accomplished during his collegiate tenure, but also said that the person he is off the court will be just as important to his legacy as what he's done on it.

“I just want to be remembered just as a great person, honestly,” Liddell said. “Around this program, I know all the managers’ names, I know everybody in the programs names, I just feel like those things are important, really. Just being a great individual every single day coming into this program, just being remembered as one of those guys. Not even as a basketball player, because I feel like that handles itself.

"If I was a good basketball player and just a mean person off the court, I feel like it wouldn’t be the same. Just me being who I am is gonna leave my legacy here.”

Holtmann said when all is said and done, who Liddell is as a person will be inextricably linked to the reputation and reverence he has built during his time with the Buckeyes.

"He's beloved. He's a very endearing, likable person. He just really is," Holtmann said. "Not just his smile, but just who he is. You can see that through social media, you can see that in how guys play. He's very easy to like. But again, his story's still being written."

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