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Return to the 2006-07 Top 144 Preview

November 3rd, 2006

By Joel Welser

Broadcast Basketball


Ohio State Buckeyes


Overall Rank: #7

Conference Rank: #2 Big Ten


2005-06: 26-6, 12-4, 1st

2005-06 postseason: NCAA


Rarely does a team lose four starters and garner top ten preseason expectations, but thanks to the recruiting class, it has happened at Ohio State.  Coach Thad Matta led a good team to the top of the Big Ten last year and will look to do it again with a much different squad.


Who’s Out: Terence Dials, Matt Sylvester, Je’Kel Foster and J.J. Sullinger are all departing starters.  Dials led the squad with 15.2 points, 8.0 rebounds and 1.1 blocks per contest.  Sylvester didn’t put up great numbers, but could hit the big shots.  Foster averaged 12.2 points per contest and was the teams main long range shooting threat.  Sullinger added 10.1 points and 7.0 rebounds.  Roleplayers Sylvester Mayes and Brayden Bell won’t be returning to Columbus.


Who’s In: The Thad Five has nice balance…five players, five positions.  We’ll start on top with the most highly touted recruit in a long, long time.  There isn’t much left that hasn’t been said about Greg Oden.  Whenever he chooses to go to the NBA, he’ll be the top pick.  Unfortunately for the Buckeyes, Oden will be sidelined for a while after undergoing surgery to repair a torn ligament in his wrist.  Oden is expected to be back in January, but that could be pushed up to December.  Meanwhile, he is favoring his right wrist and working on his game left-handed, adding another scary dimension to Oden’s game.  At power forward, junior college transfer Othello Hunter will step in and probably start immediately.  Hunter averaged 16.8 points and 11.4 boards as a sophomore at Hillsborough Community College in Florida.  Small forward David Lightly is a great athlete and finisher.  He has spent some time bulking up and that increase in strength will help him get to the basket in the Big Ten as well as he did in high school.  Shooting guard Daequan Cook is a tremendous scorer.  He can hit the long ball, but excels in the mid-range game.  The Dayton, Ohio native needs to step up on the defensive end, but should be among the team’s leaders in the scoring department as a freshman.  Greg Oden’s high school teammate Mike Conley rounds out the Thad Five.  The 6-1 point guard is a great team player and will look to find his teammates first.  Spending some time with Oden on your team will develop that habit and it will continue as long as Conley sticks around OSU.  Conley can be an effective scorer when he needs to be and averaged 16.5 points per game as a senior.   


Who to Watch: As neat as it would be, that quintet won’t be starting for the Buckeyes.  Jamar Butler started 30 games at the point last year and the junior will look to improve on his 10.1 points and 4.6 assists of a year ago.  Ron Lewis will join Butler on the perimeter.  Lewis, who transferred from Bowling Green after his sophomore campaign, spent most of last season providing a spark off the bench.  At least early in the year, the 6-4 wing should be taking on a starting role.


Final Projection: Ivan Harris had so much potential coming into Ohio State.  The McDonald’s All-American started all 32 games as a sophomore, but last year saw his playing time greatly diminish and his production fell even more.  As a senior, the 6-7 forward will have the opportunity to regain his form and live up to his potential.  Matt Terwilliger, a 6-8 junior, will have an opportunity to see some quality minutes while Oden is sidelined.  Obviously a lot depends on the freshmen.  If they can live up to at least a fraction of the hype, the Buckeyes will be a very good team.  However, the most important player on the team is Butler.  He will have to effectively run the point and keep the freshmen comfortable and involved.


Projected Post-season Tournament: NCAA


Projected Starting Five:

Jamar Butler, Junior, Guard, 10.1 points per game

Ron Lewis, Senior, Guard, 11.2 points per game

Daequan Cook, Freshman, Guard, DNP last season

Ivan Harris, Senior, Forward, 3.6 points per game

Othello Hunter, Junior, Forward, DNP last season

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