Ohio Bobcats

The Ohio Bobcats return AJ Brown and Elmore James, who came back this year aiming to be MAC Player of the Year.


After finishing fifth in the MAC, the Ohio Bobcats were able to keep its core players. Losing only one starter from the team, Dwight Wilson is a blessing, but he will be a challenge to replace. This team had a demanding nonconference schedule last year, including an opening game at Belmont. The Ohio Bobcats started the 2022-2023 season losing 3-of-4 its first games, losing to Belmont 70-69, a blowout to Detroit Mercy 88-74 and then took ranked #20 Michigan into OT to lose 70-66. These were tough losses, but they helped build a strong team. The losses this team suffered were against good teams or just had the ball bounce wrongly for the Bobcats.
Ending its 2022-2023 season with a loss in the MAC tournament to Toledo, Coach Jeff Boals returned on a mission. Losing three players to graduation, he quickly used the portal to replace them with talent. The surprise for the Bobcats was that he did not replace Dwight Wilson with a similar player style. Coach Boals went with a player who can stretch defenses, and making this switch may pay off in a big way for the Bobcats. This is a young team, but the talent brewing and ability to mesh can come quickly. Coach Boals and the Bobcats have the same goal of becoming the MAC champions and a trip to the NCAA on their minds.

Click here to learn more about our preseason top 100 teams heading into the 2023-24 college basketball season.

Head coach:  Jeff Boals (7th season, 4th at Ohio)

2022-23 record: 19-14 (10-8)

2022 postseason finish: Lost in the conference tournament

Notable departures: Dwight Wilson (Graduated), Ben Roderick (Graduated), Devon Baker (Graduated)

Notable nonconference games: N/A

Projected Rotation

PG: Jaylin Hunter (5-11, 185, Sr.)

2022-23 stats: 13.2 PPG, 4.2 APG, 3.6 RPG, 1.8 SPG

SG: Miles Brown (6-1, 180, Gr. Sr.)

2022-23 stats: 10.0 PPG, 3.1 RPG, 1.9 APG, 1.2 SPG

SF: A.J. Brown (6-4, 195, So.)

2022-23 stats: 10.3 PPG, 2.5 RPG, 0.8 APG, 37.5 3P%

PF: AJ Clayton (6-7, 195, Jr.)

2022-23 stats: 7.8 PPG, 4.7 RPG, 0.6 APG, 0.6 BPG, 43.0 FG%

C: Gabe Wiznitzer (6-11, 240, Sr.)

2022-23 stats: 3.3 PPG, 0.4 APG, 3.3 RPG, 0.2 SPG

6: Elmore James IV (6-3, 205, So.)

2022-23 stats: 6.8 PPG, 1.9 RPG, 0.4 APG, 40.5 3P%

7: Shereef Mitchell (6-0, 170, Sr.)

2022-23 stats: 1.9 PPG, 0.6 APG, 0.6 RPG, 0.4 SPG (Creighton)

8: Ike Cornish (6-6, 185, Rs.-So.)

2022-23 stats: 1.5 PPG, 0.3 RPG, 0.0 APG, 35.7 FG% (Maryland)

9: Ajay Sheldon (6-1, 185, So.)

2022-23 stats: 1.2 PPG, 0.6 RPG, 1.0 APG, 0.4 SPG

10: IJ Ezuma (6-8, 240, So.)

2022-23 stats: 0.0 PPG, 0.0 RPG, 0.0 APG

Ohio Bobcats MVP: Jaylin Hunter

Overcoming his height deficit, Jaylin Hunter carries the chip and plays through people. Hunter is creative and was very impressive in the MAC. He was 2nd in steals (58) behind Malique Jacobs (90), who dominated the MAC in steals. Hunter was third in steals per game (1.8). He was the fourth leader in assists (137) and assists per game (4.2). Hunter pops up in the MAC leaderboard further down but in the top 20. He was top 20 in points (434), true shooting percentage (.573), field goals (150), field goal attempts (340), 3-point field goals (73), and 3-point field goal attempts (179).

Jaylin Hunter shows up in more advanced stats, with the best being his ranking of ninth in player efficiency rating. Hunter has been a leader for the Bobcats, and with the loss of a couple of his leaders, he will need to delegate leadership to those who want it. Hunter has been an extension of Coach Boals and tries to exemplify the type of play this team needs to have. Beyond that, he knows the role, and with the new players, the new functions will be vital to his team.

Ohio Bobcats make-or-break player: A.J. Brown

Being named a Mid-American Conference Freshman team, A.J. Brown is poised to catapult himself into MAC Player of the Year. In his first year, he shot 37.5% from 3-point range. While shooting 47.3% from within the arc, this is an area he can grow with this added year of play. Learning how to move and place your body, A.J. Brown can become a pivotal player for the Ohio Bobcats.

With the chance to have more playing time, Brown will have to step up. He showed up and had his best game in the MAC tournament at the end of last season. In that game against Ball State, Brown scored 28 points, grabbed seven rebounds, three steals, and a block. He went 10-for-16 in the game and his 29 minutes of play. He went 5-for-6 from 2-point range and 5-for-10 from 3-point range. Brown sank all of his free throws. With this ability, Brown could easily step into a role that allows him to dominate.

However, the growth Brown will need to show will include rounding out his game. He will need to add the ability to create shots for others. Last year, he handed out 22 assists in his 26 games played. This is fine, but showing Brown as a team player will be massive for the growth of the Bobcats. With the talent brought in to replace those lost, this team has a chance of growing into a beast.

Key analytic: Turnover Rate

The Ohio Bobcats have a few statistics that boost this team. They are ranked highest in 3-point percentage, ranked 25th, shooting 37.3% from distance. However, this is important because of the second-chance opportunities created by the Bobcats. This team creates second-chance opportunities by attacking the boards on offense, where they were ranked 49th.

However, the turnover rate is the focus. This team ranks 51st in turnover rate. The Bobcats cause 16.2 turnovers over 100 plays run against them. Having the ability to have run-outs and easy buckets, Coach Boals has been effective in his defensive schemes and the hunger for loose balls. The Bobcats added better shooters, and losing Dwight Wilson around the goal will hurt them for potential putbacks. This team can kick it out to a better 3-point shooter or with someone to take a better shot.

Ohio Bobcats 2023-24 projections

Projected conference finish: 1st in Mid-American Conference

Projected postseason ceiling: NCAA Tournament – Round of 64

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