Jared Sullinger is gone. William Buford is gone. And, as Rick Pitino might say, Evan Turner is not walking through the door. Neither is Greg Oden or Mike Conley.
With the departure of Sullinger, the Ohio State basketball program is losing a legitimate collegiate superstar who was a two-time All-American and former Big Ten Freshman of the Year. With the loss of Buford, the Buckeyes will miss one of four players in school history with more than 1,000 points, 500 rebounds and 300 assists.
With a recruiting class that consists of only one, relatively unheralded signee, it would be understandable if some fans may feel a bit uneasy about next season’s prospects. After all, who exactly is going to replace the 32 points per game that Sullinger and Buford gave the scarlet and gray last year anyway?
Realistically, if Thad Matta and company have visions of returning to college basketball’s biggest stage at the Final Four, or even competing for the Big Ten, the remaining players need to assume larger roles.
While some things will be a given in Columbus (Aaron Craft playing suffocating defense, Aaron Craft providing invaluable leadership and some guy named Aaron Craft continuing to win the hearts of Buckeye fans everywhere), four players in particular need to play significant roles for Ohio State in 2012-13.
*All stats are provided by basketball-reference.com.