CJ Walker will be forced to sit out the 2018-19 season due to transfer rules, but Chris Holtmann being able to get the former Florida State point guard transfer to the Ohio State Buckeyes is a big get for the scarlet and gray, especially once the 2019-20 season tips off.
My family and I have came to a great decision! With that being said I would like to say I have committed to The Ohio State University! pic.twitter.com/9RLrlfECy6
— Cj Walker (@Cj_Walker1) April 8, 2018
After averaging 4.9 points and 1.3 assists in 12.5 minutes per game while leading one of the best bench units in the country in all 33 games during his freshman campaign, Walker was expected to make a huge impact during his sophomore season. He did, but then his second season in Tallahassee took an unexpected turn. Although he averaged 8.0 points, 2.4 assists, 2.5 rebounds, and 1.0 steals in 23 minutes per game while shooting 41 percent from the floor and 36 percent from beyond the arc in 23 minutes a game (35 games, 34 starts), Jackson’s minutes decreased as the season, especially in March.
Due to backup point guard Trent Forrest’s improvement during the season, Forrest was given more time, which led to Walker averaging just 17.5 minutes per game during the Seminoles’ NCAA Tournament run (four games).1 With his role diminished, Walker was given his release to transfer at the end of March.
The 6-foot-1, left-handed point guard still needs to improve his ability to knockdown shots from long distance, but one of his best attributes he will bring to the Buckeyes is his quickness and ability to get to the basket, whether it be for a close-up shot or layup or to find an open shooter on the outside.
Holtmann missed out on Walker when he tried to recruit the Indianapolis native at Butler, but the head coach wasn’t going to allow it to happen again. Coming out of high school, the point guard was the 113th-ranked pure point guard in the 2016 class, according to 247Sports.
When Holtmann took the job that was once Thad Matta’s, he knew he would be in a tough situation from the minute he stepped on campus. Not because it would be tough to convince players to join his Ohio State Buckeyes, but because of the downfall the team had took in the two years prior. The scarlet and gray not only didn’t exceed expectations on the court, but Matta and company also somewhat struggled on the recruiting trail as well. Even though they didn’t come to Ohio State until June, Holtmann and his staff (somehow) assembled the top recruiting class in the Big Ten. Even with that, the Buckeyes were still expected to be talented last year, but have little to no depth, a key factor that made the conference media member’s project Ohio State to finish 11th (out of 14 teams) in the Big Ten this past season. Obviously, the Buckeyes far exceeded those expectations.
Now, in his second offseason, Holtmann has to find a way to replace four of his best players, three of which were seniors and the other who was a redshirt junior that declared for the NBA Draft. The Buckeyes shocked the college basketball world in Holtmann’s first season in Columbus, but the head coach has his hands full this offseason and it will be tough to replicate this past season’s success next winter. It’s not out of the question, it will just be very tough to have the same success given the amount of talent that they have lost in Keita Bates-Diop, Jae’Sean Tate, Kam Williams, and Andrew Dakich.
Walker still has two years of eligibility remaining following next season. With starting point guard C.J. Jackson entering his fourth and final year of eligibility next winter, Walker will have a chance to take over the starting point guard role when he becomes eligible in 2019-20. For what it’s worth, incoming freshman Luther Muhammad and Duane Washington could possibly be competing for the starting point guard spot as well.
Even though he will have to watch from the sidelines next season, being able to land a commitment from a guy who started for a program like Florida State this past season is a great way to start Holtmann’s first full offseason at Ohio State.
Hopefully Walker’s commitment is just the beginning of what is a very important offseason for the basketball Buckeyes.
- Forrest averaged 27.5 minutes per game during that stretch. [↩]