What a difference four years makes. The Ohio State Buckeyes 2015 recruiting class was projected by many to be one of the best in the country. The five-player class, which consisted of shooting guards JaQuan Lyle and Austin Grandstaff, center Daniel Giddens, point guard A.J. Harris, and small forward Mickey Mitchell, was ranked No. 5 in the country and atop the Big Ten in that year’s recruiting cycle. The group was supposed to help the Buckeyes reload rather than rebuild; one that many believed would re-stockpile the program with plenty of talent, much like Thad Matta’s 2006 class did. That five-player class — guards Mike Conley and Daequan Cook, forwards David Lighty and Othello Hunter, and center Greg Oden — Matta inked in his third offseason with Ohio State was the best in the Big Ten and No.2-ranked class in the country. They lived up to those expectations.
The 2015 class not only didn’t live up to expectations but in the blink of an eye, they were no longer even at Ohio State. It wasn’t even that they had declared for the NBA Draft either, all five players in the 2015 class transferred from the program within the first two years of them being in Columbus. What was projected by many to be one of the best-recruiting classes in the country were no longer donning the scarlet and gray, four of which transferred after just one season with the Buckeyes. It was part one of the handful of reasons that led to Matta’s departure from Ohio State.
Those five would have all been seniors this past season. Instead, the Buckeyes had a three-player senior class, one that looked much different than many would have predicted back in 2015.
So let’s take a look at where those five players are and the type of players they have become:
At 6-foot-11, 247 pounds, Giddens has the look of a dominant big man that can have his way in the post. While he has been solid defensively during his college career, the big man has had plenty of struggles finding ways to contribute on the offensive end of the floor.
He averaged 3.8 points, 3.6 rebounds, and 1.5 blocks while shooting 46.4 percent from the floor in 18.2 minutes per game as a freshman at Ohio State. In his two seasons in Tuscaloosa, the big man averaged 3.6 points and 2.3 rebounds while shooting 54 percent from the field in 11.8 minutes a night with Bama.
Now, after graduating from Alabama and with one season of eligibility remaining, Giddens has entered the transfer portal and will transfer for his fourth and final collegiate season.
A player some projected to be the next knockdown three-point shooter for the Buckeyes, Grandstaff didn’t even last one season in Columbus. The sharpshooter from Rockwall, Texas transferred just 10 games into his freshman season. At first, it was to Oklahoma but then the guard decided to transfer to DePaul after not even playing for the Sooners.
After averaging 4.4 points while shooting 39 percent from the floor and 33.3 percent from three-point range in 11.5 minutes per game (10 games) for the Buckeyes, Grandstaff averaged just 1.4 points while shooting a dismal 19.1 percent from the field and 18.4 percent from beyond the arc in 7.5 minutes per game for DePaul in 2017-18.
Although he was the smallest member of the class at just 5-foot-9, 170 pounds, Harris has had the best college career so far. Although, that’s not saying much given how much the group has struggled overall.
The point guard couldn’t seem to find his way at Ohio State, averaging just 2.8 points, 1.7 assists, and 1.0 rebound while shooting a dismal 32.3 percent from the floor and 32.7 percent from long distance in 13.7 minutes a game. With Mexico State, Harris has averaged 9.5 points, 3.1 assists, and 1.9 rebounds while shooting 41.4 percent from the floor and 31.5 percent from three-point range while averaging 26.6 minutes per game in two seasons.
The longest-lasting member of the Buckeyes in the 2015 recruiting class, Lyle quit the team in April of his second season and hasn’t played for anyone else since.
During his two seasons at Ohio State, the point guard averaged 11.3 points, 4.4 assists, 4.0 rebounds, and 1.0 steals while shooting 42.4 percent from the floor and 31.4 percent from beyond the arc in 29.5 minutes per game. He started in 54 games while appearing in 66.
Mitchell was expected to be a big man that could dominate in the post for the Buckeyes. Much like the other four players in his class, those expectations never became a reality. After averaging just 2.0 points and 2.8 rebounds while shooting 35.4 minutes per game as a freshman at Ohio State, the forward transferred to Arizona State.
During his first season in the south, he was a solid contributor, averaging 5.8 points, 5.2 rebounds, and 1.6 assists while shooting 50.5 percent from the field in 22.5 minutes a night, but due to back problems, Mitchell only played in six games (8.8 minutes per game) this season.
The five players haven’t been stars or lived up to expectations, but they absolutely would have helped the 2018-19 Buckeyes, a team that was looking for depth and solid rotation players. Then again, head coach Chris Holtmann still made the most out of what he had, leading Ohio State to their second-straight NCAA Tournament and upsetting sixth-seeded Iowa State along the way.