Grant Freking is a Lantern (OSU Newspaper) sports writer. Ology magazine managing editor. OSU football featured columnist for Bleacher Report. High school football reporter for Newark Advocate. You can follow him on Twitter @GrantFreking.
The Good: Jared Sullinger is coming back. The Big Ten Freshman of the Year wants another crack at a national title, in addition becoming more familiar with the four or power forward spot, the position he will play in the NBA. It’s a bit of a risk for Sullinger to stay; he’s a sure-fire lottery pick and is giving up millions of dollars to spend another year in Columbus.
Sharp-shooting guard William Buford, whose 2-for-16 performance against Kentucky was one of the main reasons the Buckeyes lost in the Sweet 16, also appears to be returning. Buford, who has an outside shot at the OSU career scoring record, could use another year to improve his defense and further tone his offensive game.
The Bad: David Lighty, Jon Diebler and Dallas Lauderdale have graduated. According to Doug Lesmerises of Cleveland.com, those three accounted for 41.8 percent of minutes played, 37.5 percent of the scoring and 57.9 percent of OSU’s three-pointers in 2010. Lighty has more victories than anyone in program history, and his ability to defend positions one through four will be missed, as well as his leadership.
“3-bler” made more treys than anyone in Big Ten history. His field goal and three-point shooting percentages increased in each of his four seasons. Although Diebler was by no means a great defender, he did an adequate job on everyone he guarded.
Lauderdale was a true teammate. After averaging 25 minutes a game as a junior, Lauderdale’s minutes as a senior were eaten up by freshman point guard Aaron Craft in 2010. He still managed to block 1.5 shots a game and shot 73 percent from the field, albeit most of Lauderdale’s shots were dunks and tip-ins.
The Ugly: The outlook for the rest of the Big Ten and the country. OSU, barring any shocking defections, will be the favorite to win the Big Ten for the third year in a row. The Buckeyes’ top four players: Sullinger, Buford, Craft and guard/forward Deshaun Thomas, all played major roles in 2010 and will form the core of the team in 2011. An incoming freshman, probably sparkplug guard Shannon Scott or big man Amir Williams, will be the fifth starter.
The Buckeyes will also be deeper next year. Guards Jordan Sibert and Lenzelle Smith Jr. will see increased playing time. Freshmen wings Sam Thompson and LaQuinton Ross should see minutes. Boston College transfer Evan Ravenel, a 6-foot-8, 255-pound forward who sat out this past season, should bolster the front line.
All in all, OSU is deeper on paper and is in good position for another Big Ten and national championship run in 2011.
Stay tuned for the next edition of TheSportsKraze.