Jake Diebler Trusting Development of Ohio State’s Three-Point Shooting Entering 2024-25

By Andy Anders on June 11, 2024 at 8:35 am
Devin Royal

There’s no denying the talent Jake Diebler has added to his first Ohio State roster in the transfer portal.

A former Buckeye turned South Carolina star at guard. A five-star prospect and McDonald’s All-American at center. A five-star prospect and McDonald’s All-American at power forward. An NCAA Tournament runner-up on the wing.

There’s one downside each of those four players have in common, however – none of them shot 33% or better from 3-point distance last season. Meechie Johnson Jr. has consistently hovered around 32% and flashed exceptional range while Micah Parrish hit 35% each of his other three seasons, but when replacing a shooter in Jamison Battle who converted 43.3% of his six 3-point attempts per game in 2023-24, those numbers don’t feel as strong.

What’s more is that Ohio State doesn’t have anyone projected to play the power forward or center positions who has shown he can consistently make triples to this point in his career. The plan for the last available scholarship seems to be more frontcourt depth that doesn’t necessarily prioritize 3-point shooting.

Diebler’s answer for this deep shot dilemma is simple, however: Development.

“A big part of it is going to be development,” Diebler said in his first press conference of the summer on Monday. “Jamison came into this (program), I don’t remember off the top of my head, but the last couple of years, his career 3-point field goal percentage wasn’t near what he finished at last year. So development is an important part of it.”

Indeed, Battle shot just 31.1% from three, a career-low, the year before he transferred to Ohio State from Minnesota. He’d never shot better than 36.6% in a season altogether.

Several such leaps might be required to replace what’s been lost. The Buckeyes – outside of Battle – didn’t set the sport on fire from downtown in 2023-24, finishing 224th in college basketball for made 3-pointers per game (7.1) and 151st in 3-point percentage (34.5%). But still, five of its top six marksmen from that campaign are gone.

Bruce Thornton is the top sharpshooter that remains, going 33.3% on five attempts per game from range last year. In total, the Buckeyes lost 73.6% of their made triples to graduation or the transfer portal.

Thornton is among the players Diebler is expecting to take a jump next season. That's to be anticipated with the star point guard returning for another season as a starter.

Less thought of by those beyond the program as an added outside threat is Ohio State’s highest-rated addition in the 2024 recruiting class, Juni Mobley, who can get involved off the bench. He’s one of just four pure guards on the Buckeyes’ roster, after all.

“The guys we brought in, certainly Meechie, I think he’s going to be able to be a threat, you’ve gotta guard him way out there at times,” Diebler said. “Juni Mobley, in my opinion, was one of the very best shooters in the country regardless of class. Bruce, I’m expecting him to take a jump, he’s certainly capable.”

“Juni Mobley, in my opinion, was one of the very best shooters in the country regardless of class.”– Jake Diebler

Taison Chatman will also factor heavily into the team’s plans at guard for 2024-25. He went 4-of-15 from outside in limited minutes last year but has the potential as a top-40 prospect to grow into a perimeter threat.

In the frontcourt, the main option to provide more outside shooting seems to be a player returning to Ohio State’s roster after an impactful freshman season, Devin Royal.

Royal hit double figures three times in Ohio State’s final nine games, though on the campaign he finished just 3-of-20 (15%) from three. His midrange game flashed a bit more consistency, however, and he’s got the ability to at least become a serviceable perimeter threat, Diebler said.

“I think some of our guys with size, the way we’re going to play, there’s going to be some more spacing,” Diebler said. “There’s gonna be opportunity for them to shoot. ... I think Devin Royal is a guy who’s improved, we worked really hard on that this spring and he’s shown some real improvement in that. It’s something we’ll monitor, certainly, but I’m confident in (our 3-point shooting).”

The fact also remains that a variety of teams have found success in college basketball, even ones that weren’t otherworldly in 3-point shooting in this modern era of the game. Kansas finished 202nd nationally in made triples per game in 2021-22 and prevailed as national champions. North Carolina did the same in 2016-2017 despite finishing 206th in made threes per game and 154th in percentage. This year’s UConn championship team was a respectable 76th in 3-point makes per game and 85th in percentage, but nothing world-beating.

Still, it’s a weapon that is useful to have in the arsenal and many prolific 3-point shooting teams have won national titles recently. But to incorporate it into the Buckeyes’ game for his first season, Diebler remains vigilant on a theme he’s presented since he took over as interim head coach – trusting his players to get where they need to go.

“I believe that we’re going to be a program that can help develop guys quickly,” Diebler said. “Certainly with the staff that we’ve hired, but also with the resources that we have here at Ohio State, which are top of the line. So I’m excited.”

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