Ohio State faces a big gap in its lineup for next season as center Felix Okpara after announcing that he was staying has changed his mind and is now leaving the team.

Okpara, a key player for the Buckeyes, has decided to transfer after playing two seasons. He was a top performer for Ohio State, leading in rebounds during the 2023-24 season with an average of 6.4 per game and also scoring 6.6 points per game. His strong defensive play put him second in blocked shots in the Big Ten with 2.4 per game. Okpara started in most of the games for the Buckeyes, missing only one due to illness and sitting out another to allow a teammate to start on Senior Day.

Zed Key, another player for Ohio State, also chose to transfer this April, joining Dayton. To fill the gap left by Key, Ohio State has recruited Aaron Bradshaw from Kentucky, a highly rated player expected to start in the upcoming season. Initially, Okpara had planned to stay with Ohio State, but he changed his mind this weekend.

Originally from Nigeria, Okpara was a promising prospect out of high school, joining Ohio State as part of the 2022 recruiting class. He made significant contributions to the team, especially in defense. However, with other players leaving, like Brice Sensabaugh who went on to the NBA, and Roddy Gayle Jr. who also entered the transfer portal, Okpara’s decision to leave means that Bruce Thornton is the only one from the 2022 recruiting class who now remains.

In his freshman year, Okpara didn’t start many games initially but earned a spot in the starting lineup later in the season. Throughout his time with the Buckeyes, he showed consistency in his performance, setting a school record for consecutive games with a blocked shot. His departure leaves Ohio State with two open spots for the upcoming season. The team aims to fill these positions with versatile forwards and strong defenders to compensate for the loss of Okpara’s contributions on the court. Players like Trey Townsend from Oakland, Tucker Anderson from Central Arkansas, and Sam Walters from Alabama have visited Ohio State recently, indicating potential recruits for the team.