Brice Sensabaugh has reached the summit.
Considered just the 65th-best high school prospect in the country in 2022, the Orlando, Florida, product and former Buckeye forward became a first-round NBA draftee after just one year of college basketball as the Utah Jazz selected him with the 28th overall pick on Thursday.
Sensabaugh was the third-highest-ranked freshman on his own team as he began his college career, but that changed in a hurry as the 6-foot-6 wing consistently put up prolific scoring numbers right out of the gate. With 11 performances of 20 or more points, including a career-high 27 in a win over Iowa on Jan. 21, Sensabaugh led Ohio State with an average of 16.3 points per game in 2022-23. It had been eight years since a true freshman led the Buckeyes in scoring for an entire season, with D’Angelo Russell being the last to do so in 2014-15.
Given his 3-point shooting range and efficiency (40.5% from beyond the arc in college), high-flying athleticism and mature offensive repertoire, talk of a potential immediate NBA future followed Sensabaugh all season. By the end of the regular season, Sensabaugh was named third-team All-Big Ten and also represented the Buckeyes on the conference’s All-Freshman team.
Sensabaugh’s season ended prematurely during the Buckeyes’ improbable run to the semifinal round of the Big Ten Tournament as a knee injury cost him the final two games of his freshman campaign. The injury reportedly required offseason surgery to repair, and in conjunction with two MCL tears in high school, Sensabaugh’s history of knee issues may have cost him a spot as a lottery pick. Still, Sensabaugh was considered perhaps the best scorer in the 2023 draft class.
Sensabaugh’s defensive shortcomings occasionally cost him playing time during crucial moments of his freshman season at Ohio State, but once medically cleared for pre-draft workouts by the start of June, he set out to prove his commitment on that end of the floor.
“I think in the league, the young guys have to defend first,” Sensabaugh said at the NBA Combine. “So just keep working on that and being that kind of two-way player that’s needed.”
While he may still need to develop defensively, Sensabaugh’s shot-making ability should immediately translate to the NBA.
Sensabaugh is Ohio State’s third NBA draft selection of the past two classes, following Malaki Branham and E.J. Liddell, who were the first Buckeyes to be drafted in four years. Branham was taken 20th overall by the San Antonio Spurs a year ago, while Liddell was selected with the No. 41 overall pick as a second-round pick by the New Orleans Pelicans.
Sensabaugh follows Branham as the second consecutive one-and-done NBA draftee for the Buckeyes program.