Freshman guard D.J. Carton is leaving the Ohio State basketball program indefinitely to attend to a health issue.
The news, which was announced Thursday by a team spokesman, comes before the Buckeyes host Indiana and on the heels of one of his best performances of the season. It’s not clear whether Carton will return this season, although it’s a possibility that he remains a part of the team.
In a statement posted to social media, Carton said the move is to deal with mental health issues he has been struggling with for some time.
“I have been suffering with mental health issues for a couple years,” he wrote. “I’m disappointed to say I’m not 100% right now. I am not doing my teammates justice if I don’t work on this now. I am doing everything in my power to strengthen my mental health.
“I will fight for my team and buckeye nation and I will come back stronger!
“If you are going through mental health issues, I have learned through this you are loved and valued. Thank you for the continuous love and support buckeye nation.”
“D.J. remains a valued member of our program and we will continue to love and support him,” coach Chris Holtmann said in a statement. “Please respect the family’s privacy in this matter.”
The move is a significant loss for an Ohio State team that enters the weekend at 13-7 overall and 3-6 in Big Ten play. Carton, a former five-star prospect from Bettendorf, Iowa, is third on the team in scoring at 10.4 points per game, second in assists per game (2.9) and fourth in minutes per game (23.9).
Carton brought an explosiveness to the game that Ohio State had not experienced since D’Angelo Russell’s lone season with the program. Holtmann has described Carton as having the quickest burst of any player he has coached, and the freshman has frequently found his way to TV with his highlight-reel dunks.
Sunday night at Northwestern, Carton finished with a team-high 17 points and also finished with three assists, one turnover and an acrobatic alley-oop dunk to help seal the victory.
Without him, the Buckeyes have only three available scholarship guards: junior CJ Walker and sophomores Duane Washington Jr. and Luther Muhammad.