Ohio State Buckeyes: Guard set to transfer from Penn State as another exits program

Credit: John Peterson

Credit: John Peterson

The Ohio State basketball roster makeover is underway.

Jamari Wheeler, a 6-foot-1, 170-pound guard originally from Live Oak, Fla., announced Tuesday night he is transferring to Ohio State after four seasons at Penn State.

The next day, Musa Jallow announced he is leaving Ohio State after four years.

Wheeler was a three-year starter for the Nittany Lions, who recently hired Micah Shrewsberry as their new head coach.

Wheeler averaged 6.8 points, 3.5 assists and 4.2 rebounds per game last season while shooting 35.7 percent from 3-point range.

He is best known at the other end of the court, however, as he has 191 career steals and is a two-time member of the All-Big Ten Defensive team.

“I want to thank all the coaches who reached out once I entered the (transfer) portal,” he wrote in a social media announcement. “After much thought and consideration, I have decided that I will be playing my last season of college basketball at The Ohio State University. I look forward to joining the family and fighting for a Big Ten title and national championship.”

Jallow averaged 2.9 points in 15.6 minutes per game last season for the Buckeyes.

The 6-5, 210-pound guard signed with Ohio State out of Bloomington North High School in Indiana four years ago.

A four-star prospect, he reclassified to graduate early and join coach Chris Holtmann’s first recruiting class at Ohio State.

“I am grateful for every moment that I’ve spent here at The Ohio State University since I enrolled as a 17-year-old,” he wrote on social media. “I have learned and grown from every experience positive or negative. This university has shaped the person I am today.”

He played 78 games for the Buckeyes but never quite found a niche. He redshirted the 2019-20 season following ankle surgery and played in 26 games last season with five starts.

“I gave everything I had mentally and physically to represent Ohio State the right way on and off the court,” Jallow continued. “Despite my efforts, my basketball career has been far from perfect these past four years, but I continue to hold high expectations for myself.

“I remain proud to be considered an Ohio State alum and wish the Buckeyes nothing but success.”

Ohio State was already set to lose point guard CJ Walker to graduation and add recruits Malaki Branham and Kalen Etzler.

Branham is a four-star shooting guard prospect from Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary while Etzler is a three-star power forward from Convoy (Ohio) Crestview.

They will join early-enrollee Meechie Johnson Jr., who got some experience this past season after graduating early from high school and could be the point guard of the future for the Buckeyes.

First-team All-Big Ten forward E.J. Liddell has three years of eligibility remaining but announced Wednesday he is going to put his name in the NBA Draft while maintaining his eligibility.

Third-team All-Big Ten combo guard Duane Washington Jr. is also due back along with fellow starters Justice Sueing and Justin Ahrens.

Power forward Kyle Young has the option to return thanks to the NCAA granting an extra year of eligibility to all players, but he has not indicated his plans publicly.

Ohio State went 21-10 last season and finished fifth in the Big Ten. The Buckeyes received a No. 2 seed in the NCAA Tournament but were upset by No. 15 seed Oral Roberts in the first round.

The Buckeyes ranked fourth in the country in KenPom.com offensive efficiency ratings but were just No. 83 defensively.

With the increase in transfers over the past few years and more players going pro early despite not having a clear path to the NBA, change has become more of a constant in college basketball over the past few seasons.

Given Ohio State’s defensive struggles last season, Holtmann adding another guard did not come as a surprise.

There is also much speculation the Buckeyes will try to add an experience front-court player, particularly if Young decides to move on.

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