This past season, the Ohio State Buckeyes were privileged to have Evan Turner come back for his junior season and play at the point for head coach Thad Matta.
Turner was the single best player in college basketball and he carried his team on his back for practically the whole season.
When the Buckeyes lost to Tennessee in the NCAA tournament, it was Turner who had the big shot to tie the game up in the closing seconds. If the Buckeyes were to have won that game, it would have been because of E.T.
He averaged 20.4 points, six assists, nine rebounds, two steals, and one block per game. He led his team in points, assists, rebounding, and steals for the second straight season.
After winning the Naismith Player of the Year, Evan Turner declared for the NBA Draft, leaving the Buckeyes with a huge void.
No one blames Turner for what he's doing; he will be the first or second pick in the draft. But you can’t help and think of what could have been had he decided to stay.
Ohio State has the No. 1 recruiting class coming in next season with arguably the best player in the nation with Jared Sullinger, whose brother JJ played guard for the Buckeyes a few years back.
Nicknamed “Big Sully” and listed at 6’9", 265 pounds, he is the best player at his position coming in and perhaps the best player overall in this coming freshman class.
Sullinger is a low post player that has aggressiveness and scoring ability. He uses his strength to score, defend, and rebound. He is considered the best player to grab rebounds in this class.
There’s no way that you can replace a player like Evan Turner when he did so many things for the team. So they are not going to try and replace him. Instead, this team will change how it will play.
This year the Buckeyes were slightly undersized with a four guard system and Dallas Lauderdale at 6’8" playing center.
Next year it will be interesting to see how the Buckeyes offense changes with the incoming players and the returning players. They will be a little bigger down in the post with Sullinger and Lauderdale.
But the question is, will they both be on the court at the same time?
The biggest need the Buckeyes have is at the point guard position.
Evan Turner took over because they didn’t have anyone that could distribute the ball and drive the lane like Turner could. If someone doesn’t fill this need, Ohio State may face problems down the road.
I think that the Buckeyes will make it back to the tournament and go deeper than they did this past season. You still have William Buford, David Lighty, and Jon Diebler with some proven experience.
They are simply trading one Naismith player for the next. Jared Sullinger won the high school version of the Naismith.
I think we’ll see a lot more low post play with Sullinger to draw out a double team.
I’d look for the Buckeyes to be a top 10 team this season and the team to beat in the Big Ten.