The old sports cliché goes that fans are basically rooting for laundry, as allegiances to teams theoretically never change even if the players do (unless you are a new-age Miami Heat, ahem LeBron, fan).
However, oftentimes certain players enamor their respective fanbases enough that they become fan favorites forever, especially at the collegiate level. Ohio State basketball is no different.
With that in mind, read on to see five of the biggest favorites among Buckeye Nation to ever suit up in the scarlet and gray.
There were a number of factors about Jared Sullinger that endeared him to Ohio State fans from the moment he took the floor for his first game.
He was the Columbus kid who everyone in the city knew about for years before he arrived on campus. He was also somewhat of a legacy player since his older brother J.J. Sullinger played for Thad Matta as well.
He also had a willingness to interact with fans before games, always seemed to have a smile on his face off the court and even returned for a second season despite a number of projections that had him lottery-bound after his freshman year.
Sullinger led the Buckeyes to a Final Four during his tenure and continues to work out in Columbus during the NBA offseason. Ohio State fans will certainly be wishing him a speedy recovery for the Boston Celtics.
Aaron Craft is the only current Buckeye on this list, and he will be a part of articles like this long after his time in Columbus is over.
Cliché as it sounds, Craft gives a 100 percent effort every single time he takes the floor, be it against Michigan State in March or Savannah State in November. That type of determination and intensity is endearing to fans who become frustrated with players who simply coast by on their talent alone.
Craft may be the only player in the nation who opposing coaches have to game-plan for when he is playing defense. The Buckeye point guard is almost always the first one on the floor for loose balls, leaping over fans in the front row or laying his body on the line to draw a charge against opponents who are 50 pounds heavier.
Look for Craft to continue to earn the love and admiration of Ohio State supporters throughout his senior year.
One way to ensure that you are a fan favorite among Ohio State basketball fans is to be the best player on the team that won the school’s only national championship.
That is exactly what Jerry Lucas did. Lucas, along with a little help from a group that included John Havlicek, led the Buckeyes to the 1960 national title behind better than 26 points and 16 rebounds a night. He is one of the best players in Big Ten history and goes somewhat unrecognized for what was also an incredible NBA career.
Lucas earns the love of Buckeye fans everywhere because of his backstory as well. He was born in Ohio and dominated at the high school level before electing Ohio State over a number of other high-power suitors.
The fact that the local kid went on to become the best player in program history only makes his story that much better for the faithful.
Like the majority of the players on this list, Jimmy Jackson was an Ohio native during his high school days who chose to stay close to home and play for the good guys in the eyes of Ohio State fans.
Any time an in-state product not only chooses to play for the state’s premier athletic department but is also incredibly successful in doing so, it will immediately draw the adoration of the fans.
Jackson started immediately as a freshman and now has his number hanging in the rafters of the Schottenstein Center. He averaged approximately 16 points, 19 points and 22 points a game in each of his three respective seasons in Columbus, and he helped the Buckeyes challenge the Fab Five of archrival Michigan.
He won the UPI Player of the Year award in his final season and now regularly interacts with Buckeye supporters everywhere as an announcer for the Big Ten Network.
Perhaps no player in the history of college basketball did less on the court to inspire more love off of it than Mark Titus did at Ohio State.
He first entered the public consciousness of Buckeye Nation at a ceremony honoring Ohio State’s Final Four efforts when he announced to a crowd chanting “one more year” to Greg Oden and Mike Conley Jr. not to fear he would be returning for another season.
From there on he became one of the most popular players in all of college basketball through his Club Trillion blog where he chronicled the life of a walk-on at a major basketball program, using a sense of humor and sarcasm that only he could. His writing was so popular that he eventually wrote a book and currently writes for Bill Simmons’ Grantland website.
Buckeye fans will always hold a special place in their heart for the walk-on who they saw a little bit of themselves in. Club Trillion shirts still litter the Schottenstein Center every time Ohio State takes the floor.
Follow and interact with Ohio State basketball writer Scott Polacek on Twitter @ScottPolacek.