Don’t get me wrong, Thad Matta had an impressive tenure at Ohio State. The best head coach to ever lead the program, the former Buckeyes head coach left a legacy and mark on Ohio State that he will always be remembered for. He turned the scarlet and gray into a power on the hardwood, something that current head coach Chris Holtmann hopes to continue.
With that said, one of the reasons for Matta’s downfall was due to his inability to keep (and recruit) the top talent not only in the country, but in Ohio specifically. He had plenty of good recruiting classes while in Columbus, but the quick descend occurred when a handful of players began transferring from the program, including all five members of the 2015 class, a class that was ranked No. 5 in the country and atop the Big Ten.
Due to all the transfers, there are a number of former Buckeyes still playing college basketball throughout the country. Among those, four have made the NCAA Tournament and will participate in the Big Dance, along with the program that they once called home and began their respective college careers with.1 Let’s take a look:
Harris is the starting point guard for the New Mexico State Aggies, who were selected as a No. 12 seed in the Midwest region. They will open against No. 5 seed Friday night at approximately 9:57 p.m. ET.
After just one season in Columbus, the point guard decided to transfer to New Mexico State. In his first season with the Aggies this year, Harris averaged 9.6 points, 2.9 assists, and 2.0 rebounds in 27.6 minutes per game this year. The 5-foot-9 ballhandler shot 41 percent from the floor and 29 percent from beyond the arc while starting all of New Mexico State’s 32 games.
A backup big man on Alabama, Giddens and the Crimson Tide were named a No. 9 seed in the East region and will open against No. 8 seed Virginia Tech on Thursday at approximately 9:20 p.m. ET.
Much like Harris, Giddens also had a to sit out a year after transferring from Ohio State. In his first season as a backup forward-center for Alabama, the center averaged 4.2 points, 2.6 rebounds, and 1.1 blocks in 13.3 minutes per game. The 6-foot-10 big man shot 57 percent from the field while playing in 33 games (18 starts).
Arizona State was on the bubble going into Sunday night’s Selection Show, but luckily for Mitchell and the Sun Devils, they were one of the last teams to make the tournament. A No. 11 seed, Arizona State will open the tournament in one of four First Four games. The Sun Devils will take on No. 11 seed Syracuse Wednesday night at approximately 9:10 p.m. ET. The winner will then take on No. 6 seed TCU in the Midwest region.
While splitting time between starting and coming off the bench, Mitchell averaged 5.7 points, 5.3 rebounds, and 1.7 assists in 23.3 minutes per game. The 6-foot-7 forward shot 50 percent from the floor and 32 percent from long distance in 23 games (11 starts).
Although he never technically donned the scarlet and gray, Beverly was on Ohio State for a brief time before deciding to transfer following Matta and the Buckeyes departing ways. Although he never played a game under Holtmann, the NCAA ruled Beverly ineligible after he attended classes during the summer and practiced with the Buckeyes for a few weeks.2 Luckily for him, the ruling was overturned after he appealed it and the true freshman was allowed to suit up for NC State this season.
Named a No. 9 seed in the Midwest region, the Wolfpack will open against No. 8 seed Seton Hall Thursday at 4:30 p.m. ET.
As a true freshman, Beverly averaged 9.8 points, 4.0 assists, 2.5 rebounds, and 1.0 steals in 32.4 minutes per game. The 6-foot guard shot 40 percent from the floor and 40 percent from three-point range while while playing in 30 games, including 25 starts.
With all of these former Buckeyes in the NCAA Tournament, along with others who have transferred from the program and didn’t make the Big Dance, it’s just another reminder of how impressive Holtmann’s first season in Columbus truly is. He helped lead the Buckeyes, who were projected to be one of the worst teams in the Big Ten and not even make the NIT, to an NCAA Tournament berth.
One of the few reasons why Ohio State doesn’t have much depth this season is due to these transfers. Just imagine if these four players, along with the other transfers, will still donning the scarlet and gray. Although “what if” can always be said, let’s not forget how impressive the Buckeyes’ turnaround has been this season, no matter what happens in the upcoming weeks.