Breaking Down Ohio State's 13-Man Scholarship Roster for 2022-23 After Transfer Portal Additions

By Griffin Strom on May 5, 2022 at 8:35 am
Chris Holtmann
Charles LeClaire – USA TODAY Sports

Any need to speculate on Ohio State’s offseason roster construction came to a sudden end on Wednesday.

The 13-man scarlet and gray ensemble is set, as Oklahoma State transfer Isaac Likekele took the final scholarship spot with his commitment to the Buckeyes, who can now proceed with a plan for the coming season with all the pieces in place (barring walk-ons) on the 2022-23 roster.

Personnel developments have been frequent over the last six weeks and change. Ten scholarship players from 2021-22 have departed the program since the season came to a close, and eight players on next year’s team will be brand new faces in Buckeye uniforms. There have been multiple transfers out and multiple transfers in; two stars have left early for the NBA draft while two others have stayed for additional years of eligibility.

If you’ve missed out on any of those happenings, simply need a refresher or want to know how the newly former Buckeye roster will fit together come next November, we’ve got you covered with a full breakdown below, starting with a recap of the double-digit departures from the program since the season ended.


Guard: Malaki Branham, Jamari Wheeler, Meechie Johnson, Cedric Russell, Jimmy Sotos
Forward: E.J. Liddell, Kyle Young, Justin Ahrens, Harrison Hookfin
Center: Joey Brunk

It’s important to understand just how different the current Ohio State roster is than the one that took the court at PPG Paints Arena in Pittsburgh for the NCAA Tournament less than two months ago, and with 10 players now gone from that group, different is probably an understatement.

The list of players who exhausted their eligibility at the end of 2022-23 includes Kyle Young, Jamari Wheeler, Cedric Russell, Joey Brunk and Jimmy Sotos – the first two being starters while the latter three proved depth this past season.

The two most impactful departures for the Buckeyes will be the pair of players who opted to leave early and enter the 2022 NBA draft, where both E.J. Liddell and Malaki Branham are projected to be first-round selections. Liddell and Branham were the only players that averaged more than 8.2 points per game on the Buckeye roster last season, and that duo combined to account for 33.1 of Ohio State’s 72.8 points per game in 2021-22.

Ohio State also lost two players to the transfer portal, as Meechie Johnson has since committed to South Carolina while Justin Ahrens explores options in the West Coast with trips scheduled to San Diego and Loyola Marymount this weekend.

Walk-on Harrison Hookfin, who earned a scholarship spot this past season, also will not be returning for Ohio State in 2022-23.

Returning seniors

Forward: Justice Sueing, Seth Towns

Ohio State won’t be without returning senior leadership in 2022-23, but the two players that fit that bill hardly had more in-game college experience last season than the incoming true freshmen.

Between sixth- and seventh-year seniors Justice Sueing and Seth Towns, the eldest statesmen on the Buckeye roster logged just two games combined last year. Plagued with an abdominal hernia issue, Sueing appeared in the first two games of the season before missing the rest of the year for Ohio State. Towns did not play at all as an offseason procedure on a herniated disc in his back ended up keeping him off the floor for the entire season.

If Sueing, a first-time Buckeye captain last season, returns to full strength, he figures to be a surefire starter for Ohio State. The Hawaii native was the Buckeyes’ third-leading scorer two years ago, averaging fewer points than only Duane Washington and E.J. Liddell, and he started every game of the 2020-21 campaign. 

Towns’ potential impact is harder to gauge. The former Ivy League Player of the Year has missed three of the past four seasons due to injury, and played 10.8 minutes per game across the 25 he appeared in for the Buckeyes in 2020-21. Word from Chris Holtmann is that Towns’ knees are healthier than they’ve been in years, but all the time off the court can’t be much of an aid to his game.

Returning juniors

Guard: Eugene Brown
Forward/center: Zed Key

Both starters for a significant chunk of last season, Ohio State’s two returning juniors figure to play important roles for the Buckeyes this year, although it’s likely one of them has a clearer path to big minutes than the other.

Zed Key started 23 of his 29 appearances for the Buckeyes a season ago, and was Ohio State’s second-leading scorer in the early stages of the year, averaging 10.4 points per game through the first 10. But certain matchups in the Big Ten were unkind to Key, a 6-foot-8, 245-pound big man, and a late-season injury didn’t help matters as his production tapered off in the final 10 games of the year.

Given the losses of Liddell, Young and Brunk, though, Key will likely be a fixture down low for the Buckeyes in his third season, and his ability to score inside will be particularly crucial given Ohio State’s current roster makeup.

Eugene Brown, who started 10 of the final 12 games of the season for the Buckeyes, may have a tougher road to remaining a starter given several of Ohio State’s roster moves this offseason. The return of Sueing and additions of Likekele and 6-foot-6 guard Tanner Holden could all cut into Brown’s potential minutes, although Holtmann said multiple times this past year that Brown would have a big role for the Buckeyes in 2022-23.

With Brown’s deceptive size certainly a factor to consider, it’s possible he could see minutes even at the power forward spot that he occasionally played for the Buckeyes this past season.

Transfer portal additions

Guard: Tanner Holden, Sean McNeil, Isaac Likekele

Ohio State added three new guards to its roster in the past several weeks. Holden committed to the Buckeyes first, West Virginia transfer Sean McNeil followed suit and Likekele rounded things out on Wednesday. Per the 247Sports transfer rating, that group is the ninth-best in the country when it comes to transfer pickups so far this offseason.

Holden’s average of 20.1 points per game for Wright State last season certainly jumps off the stat sheet, but it’s still unclear how well his game will transfer to the Big Ten after he excelled in the Horizon League for the past two seasons. Still, Holden figures to be a starter for Ohio State at some point this year unless the transition to high-major college basketball doesn’t go as swimmingly as expected.

McNeil’s presence on the floor as a 36.8 percent 3-point shooter will aid the Buckeyes in the absence of Ahrens, and he’s proven to be a capable scorer in general by putting up 12.2 points per game in each of the past two seasons in the Big 12. McNeil may also handle the ball more for the Buckeyes than he did at West Virginia, and will be another veteran guard to populate a backcourt that will have an almost completely different makeup than last season.

At 6-foot-5 and upwards of 215 pounds, Likekele is the least traditional guard of the bunch, as point forward may be a more apt description for the well-rounded athlete. Either way, Likekele is expected to be one of the primary ballhandlers for Ohio State this season, and was brought in to take some pressure off of incoming top-50 freshman Bruce Thornton at the point guard spot. His game also figures to complement that of McNeil, as Likekele will bring a sharper defensive edge and rebounding prowess to the table, but isn’t expected to impress anyone with his 3-point shooting stroke.

Having started all but four of his 114 appearances for Oklahoma State over the past four years, Likekele will certainly be in contention for a starting job come the start of 2022-23, but then again that appears to be the case for all three of Ohio State’s new transfer portal additions.


Guard: Bruce Thornton, Roddy Gayle, Bowen Hardman
Forward: Brice Sensabaugh, Kalen Etzler (redshirt)
Center: Felix Okpara

Holtmann’s best recruiting haul in five years as Ohio State’s head coach is a five-man group that collectively ranks fifth-best in the nation and tops in the Big Ten.

Four players in the group are four-star prospects, with Utah’s Roddy Gayle leading the way as the No. 41 player and second-rated shooting guard in the country. Thornton has been just as buzzed, if not more so, as the No. 42 player in the country, and both he and 6-foot-11 center Felix Okpara (No. 54 overall) may have the clearest path to playing time among the true freshmen.

Ohio State opted to bring Likekele into the fold at guard rather than pursue another big man to pair with Key down low, which means Okpara will start the season as the Buckeyes’ backup center and the only player taller than 6-foot-8 on the Ohio State roster.

Closing out the group of five first-year freshmen are Florida small forward Brice Sensabaugh (No. 55) and three-star Ohio shooting guard Bowen Hardman (No. 301), who will both be in the mix but may be hard-pressed to find big roles in year one if the Buckeyes’ transfer additions and upperclassmen have their intended impact.

Ohio State will have a second-year freshman on the roster as well this season, as Kalen Etzler looks to make his official debut for the Buckeyes after redshirting his first year in the program. Listed at 6-foot-8 and 200 pounds, Etzler told Eleven Warriors on April 24 that he has put on strength during his year of development and could play either small or power forward, but to what extent he’ll be able to contribute will be something of a mystery until the season begins.

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