Ohio State Basketball Preview: Freshman Lenzelle Smith, Jr.
This article was originally published on Inside The Shoe
Lenzelle Smith, Jr.
Lucky player #4 in our adventure through player profiles of all newcomers to the basketball team is Lenzelle Smith, Jr. Lenzelle is the third highest ranked recruit in this class (according to ESPN), along with having the coolest first name in the class (according to me). In my last player preview, I gushed over Aaron Craft because he is what many pundits would call a "true" point guard, in that he is a great distributor of the ball, and also a great defender, thus making him exactly the type of player I want running my team.
Lenzelle Smith, Jr. is exactly the opposite type of point guard. First of all, at 6'3" and 230 pounds, he is bigger than Craft. In high school, his size allowed him to match up against bigger players, so much so that he was considered a "point forward."
Now, with Ohio State being infinitely deep in the frontcourt, Smith likely fits in Thad Matta's schemes as a combo guard (one who can run the point but is a good enough scorer to play the shooting guard position). Basically, my fantasy of having multiple ball-handlers (insert dirty joke here) that can compliment each other on the floor has finally manifested itself.
Do you all remember Mike Conley? He was a great college point guard, and is an above average NBA point who is still improving his game. Very good ball handler with an O.K. outside shot who was a solid free throw shooter, serviceable defender, and a great passer. Every NCAA team wants a guy like that.
The problem was that Ohio State already had a guy like that in Jamar Butler. And since neither player was big enough or had a great enough jump shot to play/defend the shooting guard position, Matta was pretty much forced to play one over the other.
Smith's versatility gives the coaches even more flexibility in setting lineups. If the opposing team has point guard that is a very quick off the dribble and a great scorer, Aaron Craft can slow him down and run the offense just fine. Maybe the other team has a point guard that isn't much of a threat to score himself. In that case, plugging Lenzelle Smith in at PG gives the Buckeyes more firepower on offense. Player versatility creates lineup flexibility, causing favorable match ups for Ohio State.
The season really needs to start so I can stop imaging what lineups will be used and actually analyze what is going on in real life. Lenzelle Smith's real life statistics from high school were pretty impressive, and wouldn't you know it, I happen to have them with me. Hailing from Zion Benton High School in Illinois, Smith averaged 20 points and 8 rebounds a game as a senior. That is a hefty rebounding average for a point guard, and shows he isn't afraid to stick his nose in there with the big fellas.
I hope you don't feel I am skimping on the statistics portion of these write ups, but at this point it is becoming redundant. Every single one of Ohio State's commits was a star player in high school and every single one has a chance to see significant minutes either as a starter or coming off the bench.
Now that Purdue is without Robbie Hummel, I now see the Big Ten as a 2 team race between Ohio State and Michigan State. Basketball season is not too far away. The season kicks off in the beginning of November with several (hopefully) easy games sandwiching a match up with Billy Donovan and his Gators at Gainesville. Prepare yourselves for what could be a very special upcoming basketball season.
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