Ohio State Basketball: Top 50 Players in School History

Thad Novak@@ThadNovakCorrespondent IDecember 13, 2011

Ohio State Basketball: Top 50 Players in School History

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    The Ohio State Buckeyes have produced some of basketball’s greatest players, from bygone legends such as John Havlicek to contemporary stars like Mike Conley Jr. As Ohio State vies for a shot at its first national title in a half-century, the current Buckeyes have an impressive legacy to carry on.

    Even with OSU’s rich basketball history, there have been few collections of talent to match the current roster. Stars like Jared Sullinger, Aaron Craft and William Buford have made their marks on the school record books in little time.

    Here is a closer look at Lucas, Sullinger and the stars in between who have made up the 50 greatest players in Ohio State history.

50. Richard Schnittker (1946-50)

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    A 6’5” forward with a soft touch as a scorer, Richard Schnittker was one of the earliest players to put Buckeye basketball on the map. Boasting a scoring average of 17.9 points per game, Schnittker was the first OSU player to score 1,000 points in his career.

    Schnittker was drafted by the NBA's Washington Capitols, but spent just one season there before the franchise folded. He landed in Minneapolis where he won two titles with George Mikan’s Lakers and averaged as many as 11.3 points and 4.8 boards per game in five seasons.

49. Larry Bolden (1973-77)

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    He may not have been much of a scorer, but Larry Bolden was a key cog in the Buckeye offense. Bolden’s 401 career assists place him eighth all-time on the OSU charts.

    Like many undersized point guards, the 6’0” Bolden didn’t make a big impression on the NBA. He went undrafted and never played in the league.

48. Terence Dials (2001-06)

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    A classic college PF at 6’7”, Terence Dials did everything needed in a low-post presence.

    His career FG percentage of .558 is the fourth-best in school history. His 876 rebounds rank eighth, and his 103 blocks rank 10th on the Buckeyes' charts.

    Dials didn’t have the length to make it as a post player in the pros. He went undrafted out of college and never played in the NBA.

47. Brent Darby (1999-03)

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    A combo guard with a terrific outside shot, Brent Darby is tied for fourth all-time at OSU with 153 career three-pointers.

    As a senior, he led Ohio State in scoring (18.3 points a game), assists (4.4 a night), and steals (1.8 per game).

    Darby never played in the NBA, but he played professionally overseas until blood clots forced him to retire in 2010. Tragically, at 30 years old the same ailment took his life in December 2011.

46. Tony Campbell (1980-84)

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    Among the Buckeyes’ platoon of notable shoot-first swingmen is Tony Campbell. 

    He was at his best with the ball in his hands, scoring 1,529 points (16th in school history) in his college career.

    But Campbell was also a staunch defender, tying for the team lead with 44 steals as a senior.

    Campbell spent five seasons as an NBA backup—winning a title with the Lakers in 1988—before getting a chance to shine with the expansion Minnesota Timberwolves. In Minnesota he had a pair of 20 point-per-game scoring seasons before fading into obscurity.

45. Gary Bradds (1961-64)

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    Built like a power forward at 6’8”, Gary Bradds did not make his mark in Columbus by crashing the boards.

    Instead, Bradds became one of the most overpowering pure scorers in OSU history.

    He set a school record with 49 points in a game and averaged 20.7 points per game for his career, which ranks sixth-best in Buckeyes history.

    A flop as a backup for the Baltimore Bullets (now the Washington Wizards), Bradds had better luck in the ABA. He scored as many as 18.7 points a game for the Oakland Oaks, one of four teams he played for in as many ABA seasons.

    Image from fanbase.com

44. William Buford (2008-Present)

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    He’s no longer playing alongside fellow sniper David Lighty, but William Buford is an outstanding shooter in his own right.

    The 6’6” shooting guard has moved into 11th place in Buckeye history with 1,573 points and counting.

    Buford is also alone in third place with 166 career treys. He’s averaging 16.6 points per game as Jared Sullinger’s sidekick this season.

43. Clark Kellogg (1979-82)

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    A talented 6'6" combo forward, Clark Kellogg’s 872 rebounds are the sixth-best total in Buckeye history. He was a fine scorer as well, posting as many as 17.3 points per game for OSU.

    Rejoining former OSU teammate Herb Williams on the Indiana Pacers, Kellogg was an instant hit in the NBA. He averaged 20.1 points and 10.6 rebounds per game as a rookie.

    Unfortunately, injuries derailed his career after just five seasons, the last two of which saw him play only 23 total games.

    Image from buckeyeballers.blogspot.com

42. Dave Sorenson (1967-70)

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    6’8” Dave Sorenson was a fine rebounder who finished eighth in school history with 761 boards.

    He was even more dangerous as a scorer, posting the fifth-highest career average (21.1 points a game) of any Buckeye.

    Drafted by the Cleveland Cavaliers, Sorenson put in a strong rookie showing with averages of 11.3 points and 6.2 rebounds per game. After that impressive start, he faded quickly and was out of the league in just three seasons.

    Image from lifeinlegacy.com

41. Kosta Koufos (2007-08)

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    Although he left Ohio State after his freshman year, Kosta Koufos showed plenty of promise in his lone season in Columbus. The seven-foot center averaged 14.4 points and 6.7 rebounds a game with the Buckeyes.

    Koufos has split time between the D-League and the NBA since being drafted in the first round by the Utah Jazz.

    He landed with the Nuggets as part of the Carmelo Anthony deal last year, playing just 11 games for Denver and averaging 4.9 points per game.

40. Je’Kel Foster (2005-07)

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    A junior-college transfer who paid off big for head coach Thad Matta, Je’Kel Foster proved to be a valuable shooting guard on both ends of the floor.

    His 72 steals as a senior were the fourth-best mark in school history, and he ranks in the Buckeyes’ top 10 all-time for three-pointers made (139) and three-point percentage (41.2) in a career.

    Undrafted out of college, Foster has never appeared in the NBA. He’s currently playing in Europe.

39. Lawrence Funderburke (1989-94)

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    After spending his freshman year at Indiana, Lawrence Funderburke transferred to OSU and helped lead the best Buckeye team in a generation.

    As Jimmy Jackson’s right-hand man, Funderburke averaged 12.2 points and 6.5 rebounds per game as the Buckeyes made the 1992 Elite Eight—their first since 1971.

    As a pro, Funderburke spent most of his seven NBA seasons with the Sacramento Kings, who drafted him in Round 2. He was a perfectly decent backup at PF, averaging as many as 9.5 points and 4.7 rebounds per game.

38. Troy Taylor (1981-85)

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    Troy Taylor paired with high school teammate Ronnie Stokes in one of the best backcourts in OSU history. Both undersized guards (Taylor was 6’0”) handled the ball in turn.

    Taylor ranks fifth in Buckeye history with 421 assists and seventh with 155 steals.

    Like so many height-challenged college guards, Taylor couldn’t cut it at the next level. He never played in the NBA.

37. Ronnie Stokes (1981-85)

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    Paired with high school teammate Troy Taylor at guard in Columbus, Ronnie Stokes’ career totals tracked amazingly closely with Taylor’s.

    Stokes finished with 158 steals (fifth-most in school history and just three ahead of Taylor) and 419 assists (sixth among Buckeyes and just two behind Taylor).

    Like his backcourt mate, the 5’11” Stokes didn’t have the size for a pro backcourt. He never played in the NBA.

36. Daequan Cook (2006-07)

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    Understandably overshadowed by classmates Greg Oden and Mike Conley Jr., Daequan Cook played a bit part in the "Thad Five's" success in Columbus.

    Cook’s three-point shooting helped stretch the floor for the 2007 NCAA finalists. He averaged 9.8 points and 4.3 rebounds per game in his lone season as a Buckeye.

    Cook has played a similar sniper role in four NBA seasons, scoring as many as 9.1 points per game off the bench. He hit a career-high 42.2 percent of his treys for the Oklahoma City Thunder last season.

35. Brad Sellers (1984-86)

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    Although he played just two seasons as a Buckeye after transferring from Wisconsin, Brad Sellers made his mark as a top-flight center. His 187 blocks were the fourth-most in school history, and he averaged 19.8 points and 12.6 rebounds per game in his senior season.

    A lottery pick for the Bulls, Sellers was a bust in six NBA seasons. In his lone season as a starter he averaged 9.5 points and 3.0 rebounds a game.

34. Mark Baker (1989-92)

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    A 6’1” point guard without much of a shot, Mark Baker made his name as a distributor. In three seasons in Columbus he dished out 424 assists, the fourth-highest total in school history.

    Likely because of his lack of scoring punch, Baker went undrafted out of OSU. He played one game with the Toronto Raptors in 1999, going by his full name of LaMark Baker.

33. Dallas Lauderdale (2007-11)

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    A nephew of former NBA center Jim Chones, Dallas Lauderdale knew a thing or two about post play himself.

    The 6’8” forward blocked 213 shots in his Buckeyes career, the third-highest total in school history.

    Given his lack of offensive skills, it wasn’t a surprise when Lauderdale went undrafted. He’s currently playing in Europe.

32. Paul Ebert (1951-54)

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    The Buckeyes’ first great scoring star, Paul Ebert is still a substantial presence in the OSU record books.

    The 6’4” forward averaged 21.8 points per game for his career, ranking him fourth in program history.

    Ebert was also a NCAA All-American as a pitcher. He opted to pursue a baseball career after graduation. He never played in the NBA.

31. Scoonie Penn (1998-00)

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    Along with head coach Jim O’Brien, Scoonie Penn came to Ohio State from Boston College.

    In two seasons in Columbus Penn scored over 1,000 points, led the Buckeyes in assists twice alongside Michael Redd, recorded two of the top seven season steal totals in school history, and in 1999 helped guide the Buckeyes to their first Final Four in three decades.

    Undrafted perhaps due to his 5’11” frame, Penn landed in the NBDL. He averaged 9.1 points and 5.0 assists per game in his rookie season, but departed after only two years to play overseas.

30. Jim Cleamons (1968-71)

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    An outstanding rebounder for a 6’3” guard, Jim Cleamons pulled in 7.3 boards per game for his Buckeye career. He was a pretty good scorer too, averaging as many as 21.6 points per game.

    As an NBA rookie Cleamons was a benchwarmer for the legendary 1971-72 Champion Los Angeles Lakers. He came into his own after being dealt to the Cleveland Cavaliers. In Cleveland, he averaged five assists per game or better for three straight seasons as the peak of a nine-year pro career.

    Image from cavshistory.com

29. Jimmy Jackson (1989-92)

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    The hero of OSU’s 1992 Elite Eight squad, SG Jimmy Jackson was a respectable defender (147 career steals) and a lethal scorer.

    Jackson’s 1,785 career points are the sixth-best total in OSU history.

    Never a star in the NBA, Jackson was a valuable starter for most of his 14 pro seasons. Of the 12 teams he played for, he was most effective with Dallas (where he was drafted), scoring over 19 points a game for three straight seasons.

28. Frank Howard (1955-58)

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    A hulking power forward at 6’7”, 255 lbs, Frank Howard was Ohio State’s first dominant rebounder.

    Howard holds the school record with 32 boards in a game. His junior- and senior-year averages of 15.3 and 13.6 rebounds a night are fourth- and fifth-best in Buckeye history.

    Howard’s muscle would lead to an outstanding pro career, though not on the basketball court.

    He became a slugging outfielder (382 career homers) who won Rookie of the Year honors and a World Series ring as a Los Angeles Dodger before becoming a four-time All-Star for the second Washington Senators (now the Texas Rangers).

27. Allan Hornyak (1970-73)

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    Even at 6’1” Allan Hornyak was a lethal scorer for Ohio State. His career average of 22.8 points per game is the third-highest in program history.

    Hornyak was a second-round pick of the Cavaliers, but he never appeared in an NBA game.

    Image from thedraftreview.com

26. Evan Turner (2007-10)

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    Evan Turner was one of the most versatile players ever to wear a Buckeye uniform.

    He recorded two of the three triple-doubles in OSU history, sits fourth on the OSU charts with 159 career steals, and averaged 20.4 points, 9.2 rebounds, and 6.0 assists per game as a junior.

    Turner did not entirely live up to his billing as the No. 2 overall pick for the Philadelphia 76ers. Even so, he played respectably off the Sixers’ bench, averaging 7.2 points, 3.9 rebounds, and 2.0 assists per game.

25. Luke Witte (1970-73)

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    One of the first true seven-footers to wear a Buckeye uniform, Luke Witte made his size count.

    His career average of 11.2 rebounds per game is third-best in school history, as is his 51 career double-doubles.

    Witte was drafted by the Cleveland Cavaliers, but in three seasons with the team he saw little playing time. He averaged 3.2 points and 3.0 rebounds per game for his NBA career.

24. Curtis Wilson (1983-88)

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    A classic pass-first point guard, Curtis Wilson ranks third in Ohio State history with 475 career assists. He wasn’t too shabby on the defensive end either, recording 153 steals (eighth-best for a Buckeye).

    Like many accomplished college passers, Wilson’s lack of scoring ability did him no favors with NBA scouts. He went undrafted and never played in the league.

23. Arnie Risen (1943-45)

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    A 6’9” center in an era when 6’4” was the norm, Arnie "Slats" Risen transferred to OSU from Eastern Kentucky State Teacher’s College and immediately turned the Buckeyes into a contender.

    Risen led his new team to a pair of Final Four berths with his soft touch around the basket and potent rebounding.

    Risen would join the fledgling NBA in 1948 (its second season) and help make the Rochester Royals—now the Sacramento Kings—an early league power.

    He won a title in Rochester and a second as a Boston Celtic reserve in his Hall of Fame career, averaging as many as 16.6 points and 12.7 rebounds per game.

    Image from hoophall.com

22. Aaron Craft (2010-Present)

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    After just one season in Columbus it’s clear that Aaron Craft is one of the best point guards to ever wear a Buckeye uniform.

    His freshman total of 177 assists ties him for the fifth-highest season average in school history. He set the OSU single-game record with 15 assists against George Mason in a 2011 NCAA tournament game. Craft also notched 53 steals last season, the third-best in OSU history.

    Considering that he’s raised his averages as a sophomore to 5.6 assists and 2.8 steals per game, Craft is on pace to make quite a mark in the Buckeye record books.

21. Perry Carter (1987-91)

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    Although his teams never made it past the Sweet 16, Perry Carter deserves more recognition than he’s gotten as one of the top post players in OSU history.

    Carter scored the ninth-most points (1,613) and pulled down the third-most rebounds (989) of any Buckeye in history.

    Despite his impressive totals, Carter failed to catch the eye of NBA scouts. He went undrafted and never played in the NBA.

20. Joe Roberts (1958-60)

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    A hard-nosed power forward at 6’6”, Joe Roberts was a classic glue guy on a team of stars.

    He helped the Buckeyes win the only national championship in school history as the third man in the Jerry Lucas-John Havlicek frontcourt.

    Drafted by the Syracuse Nationals (now the Philadelphia 76ers), Roberts proved a respectable NBA reserve. In his best season, he averaged 7.7 points and 6.7 rebounds per game. He chose to retire (except for a brief ABA stint five years later) when the team moved to Philadelphia.

    Image from nasljerseys.com

19. Bill Hosket Jr. (1965-68)

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    A leader on OSU’s 1968 Final Four squad, Bill Hosket Jr. never averaged under 18.5 points per game in his career in Columbus.

    One of just four Buckeyes with more than 900 career rebounds, the 6’8” Hosket is also second in school history with a career average of 12.3 boards per game.

    Hosket was a first-round pick of the New York Knicks. He spent most of his time there on the bench but contributed to their 1970 NBA championship.

    He played slightly more in two seasons with the expansion Buffalo Braves (now the Clippers), averaging as many as 8.1 points and 5.8 rebounds per game in his best season.

18. Jared Sullinger (2010-Present)

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    Jared Sullinger turned in one of the most impressive debuts in OSU history last season en route to earning national Freshman of the Year honors.

    Sullinger’s 267 free throw attempts were a school record, and his 17.2 scoring average and 10.2 rebounds per game were the second-best averages ever for a Buckeye freshman.

    Sullinger has been just as impressive this year, averaging 19.1 points and 10.3 rebounds over seven games before being sidelined with back spasms.

    If he matches last year’s performance, Sullinger will move into ninth place in school history in rebounding by the end of his sophomore season.

17. Neil Johnston (1946-48)

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    Although his college career was shortened by pro baseball aspirations, Neil Johnston became one of the greatest NBA players ever to come out of Ohio State.

    The 6’8” center used his signature hook shot to average nine points per game as an 18-year-old sophomore.

    In the NBA Johnston became a star for the then-Philadelphia Warriors. He led the league in scoring for three straight seasons and in rebounding once in an injury-shortened eight-year career that earned him a spot in the Hall of Fame.

    Image from gosu02.tripod.com

16. Ken Johnson (1997-01)

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    6’11” Ken Johnson didn’t have much in the way of shooting touch, but he turned his length to good account on the defensive end.

    Johnson obliterated the Buckeyes’ record for blocked shots, swatting 444 (116 ahead of second place) in his OSU career.

    A second-round pick of the Miami Heat, Johnson lasted just 16 games in the NBA. Unsurprisingly, despite playing less than 10 minutes per game he still recorded 12 blocks in those 16 appearances.

15. David Lighty (2006-11)

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    A terrific three-point shooter who knocked down 141 career treys (ninth-best all-time for a Buckeye), David Lighty was even more dangerous on the other end of the floor.

    Lighty’s 191 career steals are the second-best total in program history, an achievement worthy of one of Thad Matta’s storied Thad Five recruiting class.

    Although Lighty’s 6’6” frame and two-way game seemed like a good fit for the NBA, he went undrafted last June. He’s currently playing in Europe. It wouldn’t be a surprise to see some NBA team give him a shot before his career ends.

14. Robin Freeman (1953-56)

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    Three decades before the advent of the three-point line, 5’11” Robin Freeman still found plenty of ways to put points on the scoreboard.

    Freeman holds the Ohio State records for scoring average in a career (28 points per game) and a season (32.9 points per game as a senior).

    Freeman’s scoring exploits got him drafted by the then-St. Louis Hawks. Unfortunately, a hand injury suffered while chopping wood prevented him from ever playing in the NBA.

13. Mel Nowell (1959-62)

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    A sophomore on the famed 1960 national championship squad, Mel Nowell played in the NCAA championship game all three years of his OSU career.

    The 6’1” guard finished with 1,100 points in spite of all the scoring stars playing alongside him.

    Nowell played half a season in the NBA with the Chicago Zephyrs (forerunners to the Washington Wizards). He also took a shot at the ABA several years later, lasting one season with the New Jersey Americans.

    Image from nasljerseys.com

12. Greg Oden (2006-07)

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    Despite playing a large chunk of the year with his hand in a cast, Greg Oden dominated in his one season as a Buckeye.

    The 7’0” center with the soft shooting touch blocked 105 shots (the eighth-best career total at OSU) while averaging 15.7 points and 9.6 boards a game for the 2007 NCAA finalists.

    Constantly held back by health problems at the NBA level, Oden has showed flashes of immense potential for the Portland Trail Blazers.

    He missed all of last season due to microfracture surgery on his left knee, and a recent setback in his rehab has left his 2011-12 season in jeopardy.

11. Jay Burson (1985-89)

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    Undersized for a shooting guard at 6’0”, Jay Burson proved to be a devastating weapon in the Buckeyes’ backcourt.

    His 204 career steals are a school record, and he ranks seventh in program history with 1,756 career points (including 22.1 per game in his All-Big Ten senior season).

    A broken neck suffered late in his senior season wreaked havoc with Burson's NBA hopes. He went undrafted and never played in the league.

    Image from amog.com

10. Larry Siegfried (1958-61)

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    A superior defender at 6’3”, Larry Siegfried wasn’t half-bad as a shooting guard either. He scored 1,228 points in a career highlighted by two national title-game appearances, the first of which saw him help the Buckeyes earn the 1960 national championship.

    Drafted by the Cincinnati Royals, Siegfried opted instead to play in the ABL for two seasons.

    Buckeye teammate John Havlicek convinced the Boston Celtics to give Siegfried a tryout. He went on to win five NBA titles as a supporting player for Celtic stars like "Hondo" and Bill Russell.

    Image from thedraftreview.com

9. Jamar Butler (2004-08)

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    As combo guards go, they don’t come much better than Jamar Butler.

    The Buckeyes’ career leader in assists (579), Butler is also second in program history with 242 three-pointers made.

    Despite his impressive offensive talents, Butler had a significant handicap where the NBA was concerned: his 6’1” height. He went undrafted and is currently playing overseas.

8. Mike Conley Jr. (2006-07)

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    In just one season as a Buckeye Mike Conley Jr. made a case for himself as the best point guard in school history.

    His 87 steals were a school record for a single season, as were the 238 assists he dished out in helping lead OSU to the national championship game.

    Conley has been nearly as impressive at the NBA level. He’s starting to justify the No. 4 pick the Memphis Grizzlies spent on him. He averaged 13.7 points and 6.5 assists a game for Memphis last season.

7. Jon Diebler (2007-11)

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    A fine scorer who ranks 14th in OSU history with 1,536 points, Jon Diebler was most impressive from beyond the arc.

    The 6’6” guard snapped the Big Ten record with 374 career three-pointers, and he stands second among Buckeyes all-time with a career .416 shooting percentage from long range.

    Diebler was a second-round pick of the Portland Trail Blazers in June. During the NBA lockout, however, Diebler signed with Greek club Panionios B.C. It remains to be seen whether he’ll return to play for Portland.

6. Dennis Hopson (1983-87)

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    Swingman Dennis Hopson was never much for defense, but he was as good a pure scorer as Buckeye basketball has ever seen.

    Hopson averaged 29 points per game as a senior (third-best in school history) to cap a career in which he poured in an OSU-record 2,096 points.

    A terrible bust as a No. 3 overall pick of the New Jersey Nets, Hopson played just five seasons in the NBA. In his best scoring season he averaged 15.8 points per game.

5. Michael Redd (1997-00)

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    More a slasher than a jump-shooter in college, Michael Redd was a first-class offensive weapon.

    He led the Buckeyes to the 1999 Final Four at the peak of a career that saw him score the fifth-most points (1,879) in program history.

    Injuries have almost finished Redd as an NBA player, but in his prime he was a devastating scorer as a pro. He topped 20 points per game for six straight seasons in a career that, to date, has been spent entirely with the Milwaukee Bucks.

4. Herb Williams (1977-81)

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    Herb Williams is the best pure center in Ohio State history. He dominated college opponents in every phase of the game.

    The 6’10” Williams ranks second in Buckeye history in scoring (2,011 points), rebounds (1,111), and blocks (328).

    A first-round pick for the Indiana Pacers, Williams became a good NBA center in a decade loaded with great ones. He averaged as many as 19.9 points, 9.1 rebounds, and 2.4 blocks per game in 18 NBA seasons with the Pacers, New York Knicks, and Dallas Mavericks.

3. Kelvin Ransey (1976-80)

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    A 6’1” combo guard, Kelvin Ransey was an excellent scorer who notched the fourth-highest point total (1,934) in Buckeye history.

    For all that, he was an even more dangerous passer. His 516 career assists stood as a school record for nearly 30 years and currently rank second.

    Although Ransey never managed to find a long-term home as a pro, he was a fine NBA point guard. He averaged six assists or better—and as many as 16.1 points—in three different seasons over a six-year career in Portland, Dallas, and New Jersey.

    Image from gosu02.tripod.com

2. John Havlicek (1959-62)

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    One of the most versatile players in basketball history, 6’5” John Havlicek could guard all five positions while contributing as a scorer, rebounder, and passer.

    He won the 1960 NCAA championship as a sophomore, then helped lead the Buckeyes to two more title games.

    After an opening act as one of the best sixth men in NBA history, Havlicek blossomed into a perennial All-Star with the Boston Celtics.

    He scored a Boston franchise-record 26,395 points—12th-most in league history—and won eight championships in his Hall of Fame career.

1. Jerry Lucas (1959-62)

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    The leader and star of the 1960 NCAA champs, Jerry Lucas was the best post player in Ohio State history.

    A 6’8” PF with a deadly outside shot, Lucas is third on the school's charts with 1,990 career points and holds the Buckeye records with 1,411 rebounds—17.2 per game—and 78 career double-doubles (19 above second place).

    Lucas didn’t exactly flop at the NBA level either, winning Rookie of the Year honors with the Cincinnati Royals (now the Sacramento Kings). In 11 Hall of Fame seasons, he averaged 17 points and 15.6 rebounds per game.