Ohio State forward Keita Bates-Diop has been named Big Ten Player of the Year, the conference announced Monday during its postseason awards show.
— Big Ten Men's Hoops (@B1GMBBall) February 26, 2018
Bates-Diop has led the Buckeyes to a surprising 24-7 record and the No. 2 seed in the Big Ten Tournament, which kicks off Wednesday at Madison Square Garden in New York City. In the regular season, the junior averaged team highs in points (19.2), rebounds (8.9) and blocks (1.7). He also averaged 1 steal per game and 1.7 assists per game.
After an impressive sophomore year, during which he averaged 11.8 points, 6.4 rebounds and 1.2 blocks, Bates-Diop suffered a stress fracture in his left shin and played in only nine games in 2016-17.
His comeback has been triumphant, help eviscerate doubts about his long-term health after the stress fracture. Ohio State was hardly considered a preseason Big Ten favorite, but with Bates-Diop leading the way the Buckeyes might have the best chance of knocking off sophomore forward Miles Bridges and Michigan State.
Besides, the Buckeyes have already proved they can beat the Spartans. They did as much Jan. 7., in a decisive 80-64 victory over then-No. 1 Michigan State at home. It was a win that proved Ohio State’ early-season success was no fluke, in addition to validating Bates-Diop’s excellence; he scored 32 points and recorded seven rebounds, three steals and a block in the win.
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