Hometown: Jackson, Mississippi
High School: Life Center Academy
Position: Forward (3)
The fifth member of the 2011 class, LaQuinton Ross is reportedly the most talented and athletic of the bunch. During summer workouts it was commented that Ross was easily the most ready of the class to play now. Unfortunately, he was declared an academic non-qualifier before the season started due to a snafu with the State of Mississippi’s grading system. Being declared a non-qualifier is far worse than being simply declared as ineligible. As a non-qualifier, Ross was no longer bound by his letter of intent and could be recruited again by other programs. That Ross is back speaks volumes both of his integrity, and of his desire to play with this team.
As a four star recruit (by Scout.com), Ross was highly recruited out of high school, picking up offers from names such as Tennessee, Florida, Mississippi, and Syracuse. He was the 16th ranked player at his position, three spots behind Sam Thompson, and the 53rd ranked player in the ESPNU 150.
It’s almost like christmas for Ohio State basketball fans on Sunday afternoon. After watching the football team beat Indiana to kill some time (of course with vested interest), now we wait until the precious 2 PM ET to watch the unwrapping of the 2011-12 season against Walsh University.
There are so many different possibilities that sit under the basketball tree, and while we wait for tip-off this afternoon, Eric and I cannot contain our excitement. While staying up all night and into daybreak waiting for the season to start, we decided to chat a little bit about the season.
Of course, we’ve already been busy previewing the season. You can see our team previews of the Big Ten Conference and Player Previews here. Make sure you take a listen to our conversation with Bob Baptist of the Columbus Dispatch too. And of course, we will be live blogging today’s exhibition against Walsh University right here on tBBC. Eric got us ready for the competition on Saturday. After the jump, Eric and I will take a deeper look of what’s got us excited and what we expect in the upcoming season and the first live action against Walsh University.
Basketball season is rapidly approaching, and I’m sure you’re wondering what we’re planning to do about it here at the BBC. The answer is, getting totally pumped!
With the Buckeyes taking on the Walsh Cavaliers for an exhibition matchup this weekend (Sunday, November 6th, 2 PM) it is the perfect time to run the first Buckeye Basketball LiveBlog of the season!
But, you point out, the game is not on television? You’re correct, it’s on the BigTenNetwork.com – behind a paywall no less. But you didn’t think I’d leave you hanging without a solution, did you?
If you go to The Big Ten Network “Net Only” section (just click the link) and scroll to the middle of the page, you’ll see a “Subscribe Now” button. But you don’t have to pay $15 to see the game! Just enter “BTDN3FR33” in the coupon code box and you’ll be signed up for a free month of the BigTenNetwork online! Just remember to cancel before the end of the month if you don’t want to continue using the service.
Viola! Basketball LiveBlog here we come! They start 30 minutes before the game, so feel free to be late!
We were also approached a couple of days ago by the Minnesota basketball blog From The Barn to answer some questions regarding the upcoming basketball season for them. Joe Dexter and I were more than happy to oblige. We offer the questions and answers here for our viewers to read and enjoy!
When the Buckeyes hit the court on Sunday against Walsh University, one of the major things head coach Thad Matta and his coaching staff will be looking for is a defensive presence to replace graduating senior Dallas Lauderdale. With Jared Sullinger moving over to the power forward position,the center position is an open battle between Boston College transfer Evan Ravenel, Amir Williams and fellow Michigan Prep star Trey McDonald.
Today we take a look at the best defensive player of the bunch in Amir Williams, who many believe could earn a starting spot early in the year with the right showing in exhibition play. The 6’11″ Detroit Country Day star follows the steps of Yellow Jacket alums Keith Benson, JaVale McGee, Chris Webber and Shane Battier as impact players during their first year on campus. He is by far the tallest player on the roster and offers the Buckeyes a post power on both sides of the basketball.
He’s no Greg Oden or Jared Sullinger, but without a doubt, Amir Williams has the talent to grow into an All-American candidate in the future.
Hometown: Birmingham, MI
High School: Detroit Country Day
High School Accolades:
- 2011 McDonalds All-American
- 2011 Parade All-American
- 18 PPG (2011)
- 12.6 RPG (2011)
- Finished 3rd in Michigan Mr. Basketball Voting (2011)
A four star prospect, Williams was considered the 10th best center in the 2011 class according to Rivals.com and ESPNU ranked him the fourth best of his class. Without a doubt, Williams enters the Big Ten as the best center of the class, and it’s undisputed that his shot blocking ability is the best of his class and already at the top of the conference. Some believe that Williams could contribute right away, but the truth of the matter is he has to earn Thad Matta’s trust. If he does, the Buckeyes put a solid rebounder and shot blocker on the floor that could be the extra spark Ohio State needs to have a successful season. Read More
We’re in the home stretch of our player previews leading into the start of the OSU Basketball season. Next up on the list is Sullinger’s High School teammate and swing-forward JD Weatherspoon.Weatherspoon hasn’t seen the court much for the Buckeyes yet, having suffered from academic issues early in his freshman campaign. Once he had sorted out his grades it was already to late for him to make a solid case for breaking into the lineup. He was relegated to the bench for the remainder of the season and only saw spot duty in the waning minutes of blowout victories. Now that he’s got a year of experience in the program under his belt, and the Buckeyes are looking around for scoring options, you’d better believe he’s ready to make his mark on this team.
Hometown: Columbus, OH
High School: Northland HS
Position: Forward (3/4)
- Team’s Leading Scorer (18 points) in 2009 State Championship victory – Northland’s first ever.
- Undefeated in four years of Columbus City League play.
- Helped Northland to a 95-4 record over his four seasons of play.
Weatherspoon may not have had a super prestigious individual High School career, but he certainly teamed up with Sullinger to make one of the most dangerous backcourts at the high school level. With Weatherspoon and Sullinger on the court together Northland was nearly unstoppable. That’s as much due to Weatherspoon’s talents as it is to Sullinger.
Weatherspoon was a three star recruit as listed by scout, given a grade of 91, and listed as the 30th ranked player at his position. He’s got the skills to be an excellent player for the Buckeyes, but he has plenty of things to work on before he gets a chance to see the court in significant minutes for the Scarlet and Gray.
The BBC decided to bring in the big guns for this preview, and for good reason…no one knows the Boilers better than me.
34 teams in this year’s preseason ESPN/USA Today coaches poll were rated higher than the Purdue Boilermakers. Let me be the first to caution those who voted in the poll: you just poured gasoline onto a burning inferno. Not smart. Anyway, just like in years past, Purdue struggled come postseason and tourney time this past season in college basketball; managing just one win in the NCAA Tournament and an early, embarrassing exit at the hands of Michigan State in the Big Ten Tournament. (The 18 point loss to VCU in the Round of 32 of the Tourney doesn’t seem so bad now).
All joking aside, it was still a solid year for Purdue, finishing 26-8 and second in the Big Ten was a far cry from where most preseason prognosticators had them once the news of forward Robbie Hummel’s second ACL tear was announced on Saturday, October 16. As you can imagine, I remember where I was, how stunned I looked when I panned down at my cell phone while standing on the sidelines of the Minnesota-Purdue football game and reading ‘Robbie Hummel out for the year with 2nd ACL tear.’ Immediately, Purdue was dropped out of the Top 25 by most writers, picked to finish in the middle of the pack in the Big Ten. Why do the voters feel the need to do this again, this time with Hummel returning to the team? I can tell you immediately: this team will compete for a Big Ten title, even without 2 of the best to ever play in West Lafayette.
Sam Thompson just might be the freshman of the 2011 class that is sneaking under the radar. The 6’6″ wing out of Chicago Illinois has shown throughout his career a versatility, intensity, and athletic ability that is bar none one of the top in the 2011 class.
The truth of the matter is, the 2011 class is more athletic than any other incoming group in Thad Matta’s tenure. Shannon Scott has the intangibles to be a starting point guard at nearly every school in the Big Ten Conference. He has the ability to make sound decisions on the floor creates open space. Which very much compliments the play of Sam Thompson.
The slasher gets to the hoop quickly and finishes plays in emphatic fashion. He can take you to the hoop and loose you with one step. If you stay with him, he’ll put up a solid floater from just beyond the free throw line. If you are physical, he’ll back you down until he finds the cylinder.
If none of that gets the job done, Thompson will just dish off to the wide open man. He’s regarded as a scorer and offensive threat, but like Scott, he’s a top ten passer in the 2011 class.
Though Amir Williams, Trey McDonald, and even his guard counterpart Shannon Scott will probably have more playing time in their freshman campaigns, it’s Sam Thompson that has the most upside. Make sure you lock your DVR on every single moment that this high flyer is on the court in 2011.
Without a doubt, it’s going to be exciting.
Hometown: Chicago, Illinois
High School: Whitney Young
Position: Forward (2/3)
High School Accolades:
- 17.6 PPG (2011)
- 8.7 RPG (2011)
- 3.3 APG (2011)
- McDonalds All-American Nominee (2011)
- Two-Time Chicago Sun-Time All-Area
Despite playing on a highly talented Whitney Young squad, in arguably the Mecca of college basketball, Thompson found a way to stand out.
Now he is doing so on campus.
Thad Matta told CBS Sports’ Jeff Goodman that Thompson is the ”most athletic player I’ve ever coached.” He’s that talented, yet ranked by most as the fourth best prospect in the Ohio State 2011 class.
Yet even more proof the future is bright in Columbus.
Since 2000, Northwestern fans have known what to expect on the court to start the basketball season. A constant struggle in the Big Ten. A Princeton offense that had yet to fully see the proper personnel to completely flourish under head coach Bill Carmody. Finally in 2008, things started to come together. After a 17-14 record to finish the season, the Wildcats went into 2009 strong. After the defeat of back to back top 25 teams (Michigan State, Minnesota), the Wildcats became ranked in December, for the first time since 1969. Northwestern would ride that momentum into 2010, when the Wildcats battled within the conference all year long.
Ohio State fans can attest to their ability to stay in ballgames. After a one point win over the purple machine in late January, the Wildcats battled with the Buckeyes to overtime in the Big Ten Tournament.
Gone though is the heart of the Wildcat offense in Juice Thompson, who made the Princeton attack flow. The Wildcats didn’t just lose a hard working scrapper turned top notch point guard for the Northwestern system — they have to replace the production of the all-time assists leader in NU history. He went from being a scrappy defender to one of the biggest clutch shooters in school history. Most importantly, he gave the Wildcats control of the ballgame. Thompson played a major part in the 1.7 assist to turnover ratio last season, which was the second best in the nation to Big Ten foe Wisconsin.
Though a lot of talent returns to this team, Northwestern basketball will still have an uphill battle during the 2011-12 season. Every year, Chicago’s Big Ten team battles with the fact that expectations are low no matter who takes the court. Another winning season, with a better showing in Big Ten play, could finally change the identity of a school best known for it’s struggles and inability to compete at a high level.
There is always something strange about watching a team that wears purple uniforms competing on the court. What’s even more strange is that this team has a chance to be above .500 for the fourth straight year. They also have the talent to make a run in the NCAA tournament, if everything comes together.