Ohio State star forward Bates-Diop declares for NBA draft

Ohio State forward Keita Bates-Diop (33) drives against South Dakota State guard Reed Tellinghuisen (23) during the first half of a first-round game in the NCAA college basketball tournament, Thursday, March 15, 2018, in Boise, Idaho. (AP Photo/Otto Kitsinger)

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Ohio State star forward Keita Bates-Diop is headed to the NBA following a breakout season.

As expected, the 6-foot-7 forward announced Monday that he is declaring for the NBA draft after being named the Big Ten's player of the year and leading the Buckeyes to the NCAA Tournament. Bates-Diop made his announcement on campus at a news conference accompanied by his parents and Ohio State coach Chris Holtmann.

Bates-Diop, who missed most of 2017 with a leg injury, averaged 19.8 points and 8.7 rebounds for an Ohio State team that exceeded predictions this season. The Buckeyes were one of the nation's biggest surprises and made the NCAA field in Holtmann's first season. Ohio State's tourney run ended with a loss to Gonzaga.

Bates-Diop is projected to be a first-round pick in the draft. He graduated from Ohio State in December but still had a year of playing eligibility.

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