Updated Wed, Nov 6, 2013 11:36 am
For the past few years, Ohio has had the luxury of having one of the best point guards in Mid-American Conference history in D.J. Cooper leading its backcourt. With Cooper and fellow standout Walter Offutt now gone, the Bobcats will need several players to step up. Luckily for them, they are armed with a deep backcourt that features several vastly improved players.
Javarez “Bean” Willis: Even though Willis, a Texas Tech transfer, was a part of the basketball program last year, this is the first time he will be on the court for the Bobcats. He sat out last season due to NCAA transfer rules. In his sophomore season at Texas Tech, Willis averaged 8.1 points and 1.9 assists per game. Willis is a viable scoring threat at the point guard position. Willis, who goes by his nickname Bean, is currently battling for the starting point guard position with fellow junior Stevie Taylor.
Nick Kellogg: The Bobcats will look to Kellogg for both leadership and production, and as a senior, he has the potential to provide both. Kellogg started 33 out of the 34 games at the shooting guard position last season. Kellogg, a 3-point marksman, shot 34 percent from beyond the arc. For the past few seasons, Kellogg has hovered around the 3-point arc waiting for a pass from a driving Offutt or Cooper for an open shot. However, with those two players now gone, Kellogg will have to create his own shot more, which is something he worked on in the offseason. The ability to put the ball on the floor and get into the lane will make it more difficult to guard Kellogg. It may also keep him from falling into shooting slumps, which he did about halfway through last season.
Ricardo Johnson: For the first three years of his career, Ricardo Johnson was a role player. The 6-foot-5 guard did a little bit of everything; he defended, rebounded and even scored a little bit. This season will be a completely different story for Johnson. With a much improved offensive game, Johnson is poised for a breakout senior season. In the offseason, he worked on improving his jump shot along with getting to basket for easy shots. Johnson showed off his newly improved game against Ashland to the tune of 11 points on 5-of-6 shooting. He drove to the hole and converted a short shot in the half court twice. He also hit a particularly impressive one-dribble pull-up jump shot over a defender. An aggressive Johnson will be huge for Ohio this season.
Stevie Taylor: Junior point guard Stevie Taylor finds himself in a peculiar position heading into the 2013-14 season. Early in Taylor’s career, it looked as though he would inherit the starting point guard position from Cooper. Enter Willis, and everything changes. Taylor clearly put in a lot of work in the offseason to try to earn the starting spot. Over the past few seasons, Taylor at times tried to do too much, which ended up hurting the team. Against Ashland, however, he made the simple, smart plays and showed exceptional command of the offense. If Taylor continues to play like he did in the exhibition game, Ohio will be in good hands regardless of who is the starting point guard.
Travis Wilkins: Travis Wilkins was productive from behind the 3-point line last year as he shot 41.8 percent on 3-point attempts. There’s no reason to expect that anything will change for Wilkins this season. He will again be used as a 3-point specialist as well as one of the Bobcats’ steadier defenders.
D.J. Wingfield: Wingfield, the son of former NBA player Dontonio Wingfield Sr., comes to Ohio by way of Walnut Hills High School in Cincinnati. The 6-foot-5 combo guard averaged 16.6 points per game and 6.3 rebounds per game in his senior season. For a player of his size, Wingfield possesses exceptional vision and ball handling skills, so he could potentially see some time at point guard this season.
Drew Crabtree: Crabtree, a walk-on point guard, comes to Ohio from North Union High School. He averaged 14.8 points per game for North Union his senior year.