Buckeye point guard C.J. Walker will be sidelined for the near future due to a hand injury.
Ohio State head coach Chris Holtmann met with the media Thursday to discuss the upcoming Rutgers game where the Buckeyes travel to Piscataway, NJ to take on the #15 ranked Scarlet Knights. It was there that the Buckeye head coach broke the news about Walker.
Holtmann announced that Walker has been suffering from torn ligaments in his right hand and he will not be available for at least Saturday’s game at Rutgers.
Adam Jardy of the Columbus Dispatch first reported that Walker had injured his thumb during the team’s first intrasquad scrimmage back in November. Walker has been dealing with it ever since.
“CJ has battled this hand injury since our first preseason scrimmage and as the pain and discomfort has increased it became clear to him and our medical staff that he needed to rest and rehab in hopes his hand will heal,” Holtmann said.
“His leadership and toughness in battling this through 11 games has been really impressive. Obviously, he is very important to our team but I’m most disappointed for CJ because I know how much work he put in during the offseason. CJ will closely remain with our team while he rests and rehabs his hand.”
Currently, there is no timetable on Walker’s return as the Buckeyes are in full-force Big Ten play and the competition won’t be getting easier.
With the absence of Walker, the Buckeyes are very thin at guard and now look for more depth off the bench. Walker leads the team in minutes played and has been the starting point guard for the past two years.
The only “true” guards on the team are Duane Washington Jr., who has been averaging 14.9 points per game, and Bucknell transfer Jimmy Sotos, who has struggled to find his place on this talented Buckeyes squad.
Not knowing how long Walker is out could allow for a rising star to develop at point guard. Meechie Johnson is a mid-year enrollee who reclassified to the class of 2020 and was ranked the 76th recruit overall in the nation. Holtmann did say that Johnson will be starting to practice with the team at this point.
Johnson was able to take the scholarship spot of Abel Porter, the Utah State transfer who had an undisclosed medical condition that sidelined him for the season.
This is going to be a tough stretch for Ohio State. Walker is a valuable piece that the Buckeyes will need to replace for their upcoming game against Rutgers on Saturday at noon.
Walker is averaging 8.7 points, 4.2 assists, and 2.8 rebounds per game this season.