In practice, Ohio State will observe senior day Sunday afternoon at Value City Arena. In reality, the name could stand a review.
Yes, both before and after their regular-season finale against Michigan, the Buckeyes will pay tribute to a sizeable group of players who won’t be in uniform when the 2022-23 season gets underway. But that list of seven players features one in his sixth year (Joey Brunk), four in their fifth years (Kyle Young, Jimmy Sotos, Cedric Russell and Jamari Wheeler), a third-year player destined for the NBA (E.J. Liddell) and, finally, one traditional, fourth-year senior in Justin Ahrens.
Also being honored are senior managers Kevin Marklay, Luke Trondson, Michael Adamo, Jack Betz, Tyler Hicks and Bryce Hawkins.
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Festivities will get underway roughly 20 minutes before the 12:30 scheduled tip. Afterward, depending on time constraints, the seven players could speak to the crowd and continue a tradition coach Chris Holtmann brought with him to Ohio State.
It will be a day unlike any previous senior day celebration, but it’s likely to become the new normal.
“The days where you have a three-man or four-man senior class, and they stay together, it’s such a different look today when it comes to senior day,” Holtmann said. “You can probably even change the title of the day because technically it’s not senior day, it’s almost a, ‘We’re honoring these guys who will be playing at home for the last time.’ ”
Young went through senior day last season in a game played without fans in the stands, but he’s unlikely to be in the lineup against the Wolverines after being placed in concussion protocol following Tuesday’s loss to Nebraska. He needs one more appearance to tie Marc Loving and Amir Williams for ninth in most career games played for the Buckeyes.
Brunk (Indiana), Wheeler (Penn State) and Russell (Louisiana) had senior days last year at their prior schools. Sotos is in his second year with the program after transferring from Bucknell.
“When I think of Jimmy and Cedric and Joey and some of those guys like Jamari, I’m just really appreciative of the kind of impact they’ve made and their buy-in with how we want to do things here,” Holtmann said.
The list does not include sixth-year graduate forward Seth Towns or fifth-year graduate forward Justice Sueing, both of whom could still return for one more season and neither of whom have yet finalized their future plans.
“We gave them the option,” Holtmann said. “They didn’t want to choose this particular time for senior day. We have constant conversation and dialogue with those two about if they want to return and if it’s best for them and across the board. Obviously, we love both guys and have really missed them this year. It’s something they’re obviously seriously considering, and we’ll have more of those conversations after the season.”
Senior Harrison Hookfin, a converted walk-on forward, will not participate in the festivities.
Owing to the team’s veteran lean, the team voted for four players as preseason captains: Ahrens, Liddell, Sueing and Young. Along the way, as Sueing has missed all but the first two games of the season due to injury, Wheeler has emerged as a de facto captain. Thursday’s scoring outburst against Michigan State notwithstanding, Brunk and Sotos have primarily contributed on the scout team while Russell, Young and Ahrens have made various impacts throughout the season.
For four years, Holtmann has praised Ahrens’ work ethic and everyday approach to practice even when his in-game results have waned. He’s done so alongside Young, a quiet, emotional leader, who is hoping to close his career on his own terms.
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“It’s been absolutely awesome, seeing him playing for a school he loves,” Young’s mother, Mary, said. “The coaches have meant everything to him, and to me also. And the friendships that he has built, they’ve always felt like family.
“Wherever life takes him next, all I want is for him to be healthy and the happiest ever.”
Liddell has been the star throughout — the first Ohio State player to earn first-team All-Big Ten honors and return since Aaron Craft did so in 2013.
“It’s been the kind of season you would hope someone would have when they decide to return to school,” Holtmann said. “It doesn’t always work out like that. It’s happened with him, and it’s a credit to his work and his buy-in to what we’ve been challenging him with.”
Sunday provides one final in-person look at nearly half the roster.
Buckeyes to host Scotty Middleton for official visit
What is expected to be a capacity crowd will also include a handful of recruits at Sunday’s Ohio State game.
Scotty Middleton, a four-star small forward in the 2023 class, will be taking an official visit to Ohio State for the game. Listed at 6-6, 180 pounds, Middleton is a Florida native who is playing for Wichita (Kansas) Sunrise Christian.
Middleton is the No. 50 national recruit in the 247Sports.com composite database.
Also expected to be on hand: 2022 signees Roddy Gayle and Felix Okpara and 2023 commitment George Washington III.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism