COLUMBUS — Ohio State fourth-year junior forward Keita Bates-Diop announced on Monday that he would be foregoing his final season of eligibility and will enter the 2018 NBA Draft. He intends to hire an agent, which would eliminate any ability to back out of the draft and return to school should he not perform well at the draft combine or receive negative feedback on his draft position.
His initial statement was short and to the point.
“I will be declaring for the NBA Draft and I plan on hiring an agent, but I have not chosen one at this time,” he said.
Bates-Diop came to the decision a couple of days ago, but it was not an easy decision for him to make.
“I think I said this after we lost the last game, it was going to be the hardest decision I’ve ever made because I love this place,” he said. “I’ve been here for four years. The memories I’ve made here, I had to weigh that versus my future. Weighing all of my options, talking to my family, coaches, former teammates, I think it was the best decision for me.”
Current draft projections have him landing anywhere from the middle of the first round to the early second round, but Bates-Diop believes based on the information that he has gathered that he will be a first-round pick.
Buckeye head coach Chris Holtmann believes this is a happy day for Ohio State basketball, despite losing the Big Ten Player of the Year a year early.
“This is an exciting day, and it’s really a day of celebration for all that Keita has accomplished and how he’s gotten to this point,” he said. “I know I can speak for us as a coaching staff, we’re so appreciative of Keita’s approach this year. He could have been thinking about other things, he and his teammates welcomed us as a coaching staff. Really, he lost himself in our team and in helping our team be successful. I think it’s a great credit to Keita and to [parents] Richard and Wilma and the impact they’ve had.”
For his parents, they feel nothing but pride in seeing their son have such a great season and to be able to make a decision of this magnitude.
“We’re just so proud of him,” his mother Wilma said. “We always knew what Keita was capable of, so to pull it all together this year on the court and off the court, finishing up his degree in December and doing what we had always talked about in terms of finishing his degree and having a successful career. And then seeing what the next level would hold for him. We’re just beyond proud. We always knew he could do it, and it’s just been a really exciting year to watch and follow him and do everything he set out to do.”
Bates-Diop, a second team All-America selection by The Sporting News, the NABC and USBWA, led Ohio State with 19.8 points and 8.7 rebounds per game, scoring in double figures in 32 of 34 contests in 2017-18. The 2018 Big Ten Player of the Year and first team All-Big Ten pick helped Ohio State to a 25-9 record, 15-3 in Big Ten play, a No. 2 seed in the 2018 Big Ten Tournament and a No. 5 seed in the 2018 NCAA Tournament. A native of Normal, Illinois, Bates-Diop has played in 109 career games, making 70 starts, while averaging 11.7 points and 5.7 rebounds per game. He finishes his junior season ranked 34th on the Ohio State career scoring list with 1,272 points.
The 2018 NBA draft will be held at 7 p.m. June 21 at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y.
Since 1947, 51 Ohio State basketball players have competed for roster spots on NBA teams as league draft picks, including 24 first-rounders. Greg Oden, Mike Conley Jr. and Daequan Cook were all taken in the first round during the 2007 NBA Draft with Oden going No. 1 (Portland), Conley No. 4 (Memphis) and Cook No. 21 (Philadelphia). All had just completed their freshman season at Ohio State. D’Angelo Russell is the most-recent Buckeye selected in the draft’s first round, going second to the Los Angeles Lakers in 2015. Jared Sullinger (2012, Boston) Evan Turner (2010, Philadelphia), B.J. Mullens (2009, Dallas then traded to Oklahoma City) and Kosta Koufos (2008, Utah) also are recent opening round Ohio State selections. Turner was the No. 2 overall pick in 2010.