He isn’t a big name, but California Golden Bears wing Justice Sueing’s decision to transfer to the Ohio State Buckeyes is quite a big get for head coach Chris Holtmann and company.
— Justice Sueing (@JusticeSueing) May 11, 2019
During his two years on the west coast, the 6-foot-7, 215-pound forward averaged 14.1 points, 5.7 rebounds, 1.7 assists, and 1.6 steals while shooting 43.3 percent from the field and 30.2 percent from beyond the arc in 33.2 minutes a game (63 games, 61 starts). As his team’s leading scorer and rebounder in 2018-19, Sueing was by far Cal’s best player this past season and one of the best his freshman campaign. He essentially started a max exodus when he put his name in the transfer portal after the Golden Bears replaced head coach Wyking Jones with Mark Fox, causing a number of players to transfer from the program.
Through his freshman and sophomore seasons, the versatile wing has been quite consistent. So much that he had very similar numbers during his first two years at Cal.
Outside of his scoring, rebounding, and versatility on both ends of the floor, one of the most glaring traits Sueing will add to the Buckeyes is his ability to get to the free-throw line. Ohio State averaged just 18.6 free throws in 2018-19, 193rd-most in the country. While a very improved team in 2019-20 will help that number, adding a guy like Sueing will also help that once he is eligible. The wing averaged 5.3 free-throw attempts per game last season, knocking down 78.2% from the free-throw stripe. If he can continue to improve that efficiency (up 11% after knocking down only 67.2% during his freshman season), then that will be a huge boost for the Buckeyes, especially late in games when they are trying to secure a win.
The biggest problem, if there is one: Sueing may have been Cal’s leading scorer and rebounder, but we’re also talking about a team that went 16-47 over the last two years, including 5-31 in the Pac-12, which is arguably the worst Power Five conference in college basketball. There’s a legitimate argument that the Golden Bears would have been the worst team in the Big Ten this past season, which says a lot. With that said, you could also make an argument that the forward’s play will improve if he is surrounded by better talent. So, take that as a grain of salt and just let it play out.
Sueing also took a visit to San Diego State, but after a really good visit to Columbus last weekend, the Buckeyes seemed to be a prime spot to land the transfer. He is the 13th-best non-graduate transfer in the portal, according to ESPN. He’s the 10th-best, according to Stadium.
Versatile forward Andre Wesson will be the lone senior on the Buckeyes in 2019-20. Unless another player decided to forego his final years of eligibility to enter the NBA Draft, the Wesson will be the only player Ohio State has to replace ahead of the 2020-21 season. While that is quite a bit down the road, Sueing seems like the perfect replacement for Wesson. The two have a very similar game, size, and versatility, and with Sueing able to learn from both in practice and while watching from the bench during the game, the Cal transfer can expect to take Wesson’s spot in the rotation when he becomes eligible in 2020-21.
The former three-star prospect played at Mater Dei high school in California after growing up in Hawaii, which makes Ohio State nabbing him even more fascinating given that he has seemingly never been on this side of the Mississippi, or at least has never called a place as far east as Ohio home. Then again, Holtmann seems to be building something special in Columbus, so who wouldn’t want to be part of it?
Sueing having to sit out the upcoming season due to transfer rules isn’t a big deal. In fact, Holtmann has expressed his desire for his Buckeyes to use their 13th scholarship on a transfer that would still be eligible for multiple years after sitting out a year, rather than spending it on a high school prospect for the upcoming season. With a four-player recruiting class — four-star point guard DJ Carton, four-star power forward EJ Liddell, four-star small forward Alonzo Gaffney, and three-star center Ibrahima Diallo — that is the 12th-best class overall and has the eighth-best average per commit, the Buckeyes are set for the upcoming season. Ohio State’s main focus was adding depth and filling holes for future years. Sueing does exactly that.
Unless big man Kaleb Wesson decides to remain in the NBA Draft, which is highly unexpected, Ohio State’s 2019-20 roster looks to be finalized. Even though Sueing cannot play in the upcoming season, he will take up one of 13 scholarships on the team, meaning all 13 spots are now taken.