The Ohio State Buckeyes lost 76-73 to Tennessee in a classic Sweet 16 game—but the loss is far less important than what the Buckeyes will lose in the offseason.
NBA rumors swirl about several Buckeyes this postseason.
Evan Turner has been selected as the first pick in the draft in several of the experts' mock drafts this season. He is as good as gone—even with his political correctness of staying, he has not made a decision yet. He has made the decision, Buckeye fans—and it is the dream of playing in the NBA.
Another Buckeye who is likely gone is William Buford. The sophomore has had a tremendous season—and he will more than likely leave if he gets a mid- to late first-round grade. Right now, he is predicted to go in the late first or early second round.
Buford has averaged 14.4 points and 5.6 rebounds a game this season for the Buckeyes. But before Buford makes the jump, he needs to look at former Buckeye Daequan Cook.
Cook was the 21st pick in the first round of the 2007 NBA Draft. After being drafted, he spent long stints in the NBA developmental league—something Buford wishes to avoid. Even now, several seasons into his career, Cook's minutes are still limited.
The easiest way to avoid this—and increase his draft stock—is to come back for his junior year. Turner did that—and he propelled his stock into at least a top-five pick in this upcoming draft. Buford could easily do that on this Buckeye team—which desperately needs his services next season.
Ohio State has become very successful under coach Thad Matta’s close watch. NBA talent has come and quickly gone. Names like Conley, Oden, Mullins, Koufos, and Cook have passed though the Schottenstein Center as Buckeyes. This talent has brought a NIT championship and multiple NCAA tournament appearances.
The sad thing for Buckeye fans is that all those names would still be on the roster if they had not gone early to the pros.
Jared Sullinger, DeShaun Thomas, J.D. Weatherspoon, Jordan Siebert, Lenzelle Smith, and Aaron Craft all look to make their mark next season as Buckeyes. This class is ranked in the top three on most recruiting services—and the Buckeyes will need the help after another offseason involving NBA defections.