In 2005 the NBA instituted what is commonly referred to as the one-and-done rule, which virtually requires high school basketball players to attend college (or go overseas) for one season before entering the draft.
Few rule changes have generated so much debate, discussion and controversy.
Regardless of how you feel about the requirements, the fact of the matter is college basketball underwent a drastic change.
No longer would the LeBron James of the world be able to jump straight from reading the Scarlet Letter to dunking in the Staples Center. College basketball has been inundated with uber-talented freshmen ever since.
If you want proof, look no further than Kentucky’s “rent-a-team” national championship from a year ago.
One school that has also benefited from players that may have otherwise jumped straight to the NBA without the one-and-done rule is Ohio State.
Read on to see a power ranking of the five best one-year players that have suited up for the Buckeyes.
There is really no other way to classify B.J. Mullens’ Ohio State career other than a bust.
He came to Columbus as the top-ranked center in the country and a consensus 5-star prospect. He had the size and talent to be an unstoppable force at the college level if he ever put it all together.
Unfortunately for the Buckeye faithful, Mullens never really did.
The 7’ big man averaged 8.8 points and 4.7 rebounds for Thad Matta’s squad and rarely ever imposed his will on a game.
The thing is, it’s not as if Mullens was a bad player or necessarily a liability on the floor. He just offered so much more on paper than he did in the actual games.
Perhaps the most disappointing thing about his brief tenure at the college level is the fact that he averaged fewer than five rebounds a contest from the center position. For context, that is less than William Buford did from his shooting guard spot last year.
Despite his lack of production at the collegiate level, Mullens was drafted and plays for the Charlotte Bobcats today.
Truth be told, there were supposed to be some one-and-done players that were part of Thad Matta’s 2006 “Thad Five” recruiting class.
Of course, you hope that someone with the talent of a Greg Oden or Mike Conley Jr. sticks around for a few years, but Buckeye fans understood they probably would only have the chance to enjoy that ride for one season.
But the story was supposed to be different for Daequan Cook.
Cook was an immensely talented prospect who could shoot the three-pointer with deadly accuracy. He put up a respectable 9.8 points and 4.3 rebounds per game (about the same number of rebounds as B.J. Mullens in far fewer minutes) during his one season in Columbus and hit some crucial shots in the NCAA tournament.
Nevertheless, many Ohio State fans expected Cook to make noticeable strides in his sophomore year and become one of the team leaders. However, that sophomore year never happened.
Considering the inconsistent production Cook has given various teams in the NBA, he may have benefited from another year of college basketball.
It’s easy to lump B.J. Mullens and Kosta Koufos in the same category when discussing Ohio State’s one-and-done prospects.
After all, they were both 7’ tall and surrounded by a considerable amount of hype coming out of high school.
Perhaps it is because of this easy association that some Buckeye fans forget that Koufos was actually a much more productive player in his one year in Columbus than Mullens. Koufos averaged 14.4 points, 6.7 rebounds and nearly two blocks per contest in the 2007-08 season.
He even made the occasional three-point shot.
Furthermore, he was an integral part of Ohio State’s NIT championship run in March. Sure it was only the NIT, but if you are going to be in it you may as well win it.
Koufos has yet to really make his mark in the NBA, but he was more productive during his time as a Buckeye than many give him credit for.
While Kosta Koufos may have been a statistically productive player, there is a clear separation on this list between the top two spots and the other three.
The distinction of the best two one-and-done players in Ohio State history goes to Mike Conley Jr. and Greg Oden (sorry for the spoiler alert for the top spot).
Conley was the freshman point guard that helped lead the freshmen-fueled Buckeyes to the national championship.
He was the one who hit the game-winning floater to beat Wisconsin in a No. 1 versus No. 2 matchup that determined the Big Ten championship and ended the regular season. He was also the one that hit the game-winning free throw in the Sweet 16 to beat the pesky Tennessee Volunteers.
Conley averaged 11.3 points, 6.1 assists and better than two steals per game in his one collegiate season. However, his impact went beyond the statistics.
Despite his freshman status, Conley was the on-court leader for that Buckeyes team and controlled the pace on offense and set the tone with his tenacious defense.
Even though he was only there for one season, the argument can be made that Conley was one of the best point guards in the history of the Ohio State basketball program.
It’s difficult to remember just how much of a force Greg Oden was in college because of his unfortunate injury problems at the NBA level.
In fact, Oden averaged 3.3 blocks per game in his one season in Columbus, which was good enough to earn him a National Defensive Player of the Year Award.
In addition to leading the Big Ten in total blocks and blocks per game, he also led the conference in total rebounds, rebounds per game and field-goal percentage. Oden also averaged about 16 points a contest, despite spending the first month of his season shooting with his left hand because of an injury to his shooting hand.
If there was any doubt that Oden was going to be the top pick in the draft after his freshman season, he quelled that in the NCAA championship game. Sure, the Buckeyes lost, but Oden scored 25 points, grabbed 12 rebounds and swatted four shots.
Oden’s health has become a sad story to follow in the NBA, but he truly was a superstar at the collegiate level.