It is difficult to win in college basketball today without at least one or two stars on the roster.
Thad Matta is perfectly aware of this fact and has coached more than his fair share of excellent players during his time at Ohio State.
The short list of those stars includes Terence Dials, Jon Diebler, David Lighty, Greg Oden, Mike Conley Jr., Evan Turner and Jared Sullinger.
However, none of those players are still lacing it up in Columbus. That means the Buckeyes are going to need a new crop of stars to lead them into the future.
Read on to see three players who will make up that next wave of Ohio State stars (Aaron Craft and Deshaun Thomas were not considered because they are already established household names within the college basketball world).
If scientists could build the perfect basketball player, there is a chance they would construct a 6’8” wing man who has ball-handling skills, an excellent three-point shot, athleticism and speed for defense and the ability to slash around defenders.
What I just did was describe LaQuinton Ross, which is why it can be easy for Buckeye fans to become so frustrated with his lack of production so far in his short career.
A major reason why Ross didn’t make his presence felt last year was the academic based suspension that he drew right before the season started.
But Ross will have another chance in 2012-13 to demonstrate the talents that helped him earn a 4-star recruitment ranking coming out of high school.
Ohio State is going to need him to step up and score now that Jared Sullinger and William Buford have departed from Columbus.
However, Ross is only a sophomore this year, so if he does step up expect him to be a key contributor for years to come.
Ohio State has become accustomed to welcoming in 4- and 5-star freshmen centers in the past few years.
Unfortunately for Buckeye fans, they have been somewhat hit or miss in terms of living up to the hype. For every Jared Sullinger and Greg Oden, there has been a B.J. Mullens and Kosta Koufos.
Amir Williams is the latest McDonald All-American center to come to Columbus, and he has not yet had a chance to show Buckeye Nation what he is capable of, thanks to the presence of Sullinger.
However, Sullinger is now wearing Celtic Green, so Williams will in all likelihood be Ohio State’s man in the middle going forward.
The 6’11” Williams has more athleticism than Sullinger did and is a better shot-blocker. While he isn’t quite the offensive weapon Sully was yet, Williams could actually improve the Buckeyes’ defense from game one.
What’s more, Williams will probably be in Columbus for a few more years, so he has the chance to develop into something none of those other centers did—a four-year collegiate player.
Sam Thompson is admittedly not as talented as the other players on this list.
However, Thompson does a lot of things that will endear him to his coaching staff. He provides great energy off the bench, is a solid defender who can stay in front of his man with his athleticism and is an effective rebounder.
Thompson isn’t the best offensive player, at least from outside 15 feet, but he can slash the lane and get some easy baskets by attacking the hoop and grabbing some offensive rebounds.
While these small things are great for the coaches and for Thompson’s effort to earn playing time, the fans appreciate him more for his aerial display of unbelievable dunks that he busted out in garbage time numerous times last year.
Thompson will never be the primary option when the Buckeyes have the ball, but his athleticism, defense and nose for the ball will make Thompson a crucial Ohio State contributor for the next three years.