Ohio State Basketball: Predicting the Stat Lines of Buckeye Starters
The 2012-13 season will mark the beginning of something resembling a new era for the Ohio State basketball program.
For the past few years, some combination of the core of William Buford, Evan Turner, Jon Diebler, David Lighty and Jared Sullinger has dominated play, and the headlines, for the Buckeyes.
However, the graduation of Buford and the NBA aspirations of Sullinger mean that all of those players are now gone. Sure, Aaron Craft and Deshaun Thomas have been Ohio State staples for a couple of years, but there are statistics to be compiled for a new core this season.
Read on to see what the stat lines of the new-look Buckeyes will be in 2012-13.
No Ohio State player will benefit more, in terms of individual statistics, from Jared Sullinger’s departure than Amir Williams.
The former McDonald’s All-American came to Columbus with a formidable amount of hype, but he did not see much action thanks to the presence of one of college basketball’s most talented big men.
With extensive playing time on the horizon for Williams in 2012-13, look for a significant boost in numbers.
I envision Williams averaging 12 points, 10 rebounds and 2.5 blocks per game this season. The rebounds and scoring will come naturally for him as Ohio State’s only true center since, frankly speaking, someone will have to grab those boards.
The block totals may seem a bit ambitious, but he averaged nearly a block per game last year in only 6.6 minutes per contest. Williams’ natural athleticism allows him to float in the lane and quickly establish his presence on the defensive end.
LaQuinton Ross was probably Ohio State’s top recruit in its impressive 2011 class. However, he was far from the most impactful freshman on the court last year.
Following an academically based suspension, Ross never really saw much action (3.9 minutes per game). Nevertheless, when he was in the game the only thing that stood out more than his talent was his versatility.
At 6’8", Ross can slash into the lane, post up smaller defenders and hit three-pointers at a consistent clip, making him almost unguardable when he is playing up to his potential. Because of this, I envision Ross averaging 14 points, five rebounds and a 45 percent average from behind the arc.
Those numbers would be even higher, except Sam Thompson will probably take formidable minutes away from Ross off the bench.
Lenzelle Smith Jr.
Lenzelle Smith may be the most inconsistent Buckeye starter, which makes him the most difficult to project in terms of statistics.
He can disappear for entire stretches of games but then drop 20 points when you least expect it. However, Ohio State fans can be encouraged by the fact that Smith made a considerable leap from freshman to sophomore year. He also started to flash more consistency in the NCAA tournament and as the season wore on.
That sounds like gradual improvement to me.
Smith averaged about seven points, five rebounds and two assists last year. I think he will again make a jump and improve across the board, finishing with 10 points, six rebounds and 2.5 assists per game in 2012-13.
He won’t have Sullinger to feed in the lane, so the assists will remain about the same, but Smith will certainly be a better player this year than last.
If fantasy college basketball was as popular as fantasy football is, Deshaun Thomas would be a solid first round pick.
With Sullinger and Buford gone, Thomas is without a doubt the go-to scorer in the Ohio State offense. He averaged 16 points a game last year as the second or third option and did it while finishing third in the Big Ten in field-goal percentage.
That shooting percentage is the most important thing to pay attention to with Thomas because he will be shooting even more in 2012-13. If he can continue to do so at such an impressive clip (52 percent), then his numbers should be even more formidable this season.
Look for Thomas to average 20 points, seven rebounds and shoot 48 percent from the field this year.
His scoring will go up because he is the primary option, but his field-goal percentage will decrease slightly as defenses will be game planning to stop him.
Additionally, his rebounding will improve this year because Thad Matta has made it a point this offseason to stress to Thomas how important it is that he rebounds now that Sullinger is gone.
For anyone who has watched Ohio State play, it is clear that Aaron Craft’s impact on the game goes beyond the box score. After all, drawn charges, turnovers forced (outside of steals) and overall leadership do not really factor into the final individual statistics.
Nevertheless, when the buzzer sounds Craft will have a final stat line just like everyone else on the court.
I think that stat line will be more impressive than those of last year, primarily because Craft will be more involved in the offense in 2012-13. Look for him to average 10 points, six assists, four rebounds and 2.7 steals per game this season.
All of those numbers are improved over last year’s totals, but only by a small margin. Considering that he was second in the nation in total steals, there really is only a small margin for improvement defensively.
Additionally, Craft will be more involved in the offense this year, but not by enough to average significantly more points per game.
While there is always the chance of NBA departures (especially in the case of Thomas), none of these Buckeye starters are seniors. Despite my prediction of solid numbers across the board in 2012-13 for these players, look for even more formidable statistics the following season.
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