When the Buckeyes hit the court tonight 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 All-American Jared Sullinger. The center position looks to be an open battle between Boston College transfer Evan Ravenel, Amir Williams and fellow Michigan Prep star Trey McDonald, and we may get some answers about the future of the position this evening.
The 6’11″ Detroit Country Day star follows the steps of Yellow Jacket alums Keith Benson, JaVale McGee, Chris Webber and Shane Battier as budding future stars. 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 entered the Big Ten as the best center of the class, and it’s undisputed that his shot blocking ability is lights out and already at the top of the conference. Some believed that Williams could contribute right away, but he only saw spot time late in games and in occasional relief of Sullinger in foul-trouble situations.
Looking for the best athlete in the Big Ten? Ohio State’s Slam, I mean Sam, Thompson is that guy.
Out of high school, Thompson came into Ohio State with the reputation of being a high flyer and during his freshman campaign for the Buckeyes he proved just that.
Hometown: Chicago, Illinois
High School: Whitney Young
- 10.6 MPG
- 2.1 PPG
- 1.1 RPG
- 49.3 FG% (34/69)
He showed himself very capable of making the highlight reel play on the offense side of the ball and to be a solid defender as well. He has all of the tools to become a lock down perimeter defender this season.
Thompson will still be coming off of the bench for the Buckeyes in 2012, but his role will have to change a bit. A lot more will be asked of him offensively. Thad Matta said yesterday at Big Ten media day in Chicago that Thompson has worked extremely hard on his offensive game, specifically his jump shot. And he needed to. Watching Thompson shoot the ball was painful at times as he seemed to have absolutely no confidence in his jumper.
While there is a lot of doubt about Thompson’s jump shot and overall offensive game, nobody questions his game-changing athletic ability. Just take a look at this dunk he threw down against Indiana last year:
And because we all love watching Thompson dunk so much, here’s one more video from a few weeks back when CBS’ Seth Davis visited an OSU practice and wanted Thompson to dunk over him: Read More
Of the returning players on this team, Thomas has to be the one with the most upside. His freshman year he was clearly talented, and quickly became known as a ball-hog for his affinity to never pass the rock to his teammates once he got his hands on it. In fact, it was often joked that there was never a shot that Thomas didn’t like. He changed that perception somewhat last season as he took more of a team approach as a starter.
Mr. Thomas has one of the more impressive honors sheets on this entire Buckeyes team. If not for Jared Sullinger, he would have been, without question, the star of the 2010 class. Now that Sullinger has departed, it’s time for Thomas to step out of his shadow and be the player for the Buckeyes this year.
Hometown: Ft. Wayne, Indiana
High School: Bishop Luers
Position: Forward (4)
High School Awards:
- State Scoring Title: 817 points, 30.3 points per game (2009)
- State Scoring Title: 764 points, 31.8 points per game (2010)
- McDonald’s All-American (2010)
- Indiana Mr. Basketball (2010)
- Parade All-American (2009)
- Parade All-American (2010)
- All State (2007-2010: 4 years)
- All SAC (2007-2010: 4 years)
Deshaun Thomas was the top rated Small Forward coming out of High School as rated by several different recruiting services. He was one of the most impressive players in the state of Indiana, and was the first Indiana Mr. Basketball to join the Buckeyes since Greg Oden in 2006. He is number three on the all-time scoring lists in the state of Indiana, and his Bishop Luer teams won the Class 2A state title in both 2008 and 2009. His 34 points and 15 rebounds in the 2009 state title are 2nd most in Indiana Class 2A history.
After a season spent riding the pine behind Aaron Craft and Jon Diebler, Lenzelle Smith came into his own as a starter last season for the Buckeyes. His transition to the 2 role on the team was a little rocky at first, but he settled in and managed to have several strong showings towards the end of the year. His place is now pretty well cemented, and he’s poised to have a true breakout year this season.
Hometown: Zion, Illinois
High School: Zion-Benton
Position: Guard (2)
High School Awards:
- Illinois Class 4A First Team(2010)
- High School Academic All-American (2010)
- First Team All-State (2009)
Lenzelle Smith was a three star athlete by scout.com out of Zion-Benton high school. He’s a left-handed player with a smooth shooting stoke and solid ability to distribute the ball. We regularly saw him in his first season on the fast break making a sweet pass to a teammate (often Sibert or Weatherspoon) to set them up for a layup or dunk.
Hometown: Alpharetta, Georgia
High School: Milton
Position: Guard (1)
High School Awards:
- McDonald’s All American (2011)
- Jordan Brand All American (2011)
- Georgia Mr. Basketball (2011)
- Gatorade Georgia Player of the Year (2011)
- First-Team All State (2010)
- First-Team All District (2010)
- Male Athlete of the Year, NeighborNewspapers.com (2010)
Shannon Scott is a 4 star point guard out of Alpharetta Georgia. He’s been ranked the #6 point guard in the country by Scout.com, and the 34th overall player by ESPNU. As a junior, he lead Milton to a state championship in Georgia while averaging 14 points, 7 assists and 2.5 steals per game. He also participated in the McDonald’s All-American game and picked up an incredible 5 steals in 12 minutes of playing time.
Last year LaQuinton Ross was a member of a talented freshman class. Unfortunately, Ross only played in 9 games while playing a total of 35 minutes, primarily due to an NCAA mandated late start to his career, so we didn’t get to see much of what he may or may not be able to do on the court. However, this year will be different. With the loss of plenty of scoring and talent Ross will sure be a compliment to Deshaun Thomas. Today we look at Ross and what he brings to the table.
Hometown: Jackson, Mississippi
High School: Life Center Academy
Position: Forward (3)
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.
A walk-on transfer from Christian Brothers University in Memphis, Alex Rogers paid his own way through a year of school for the chance to play on Thad Matta’s team. His hard work and passion paid off when Matta awarded him a scholarship this past off-season. Now a fully-fledged member of the team, Alex has a chance to prove what he can do.
Hometown: Cincinnati, Ohio
High School: Oak Hills
Position: Guard (1)
High School Awards:
Prior to OSU: Rogers came to Ohio State after competing for Christian Brothers University in Memphis, Tenn., where he started 34 of 55 career games, averaging 4.3 points and 2.5 rebounds. As a sophomore at Christian Brothers he started 27 of 28 games, reached double figures three times, including a career-high 14 points and seven assists vs. Arkansas-Monticello, and recorded a career high four steals vs. Arkansas Tech.
We will have continuing coverage of the Buckeyes exciting win over the Nebraska Cornhuskers later today. For now, we continue the preseason look at the 2012 Buckeye Basketball team.
After being one of several new faces for the Buckeyes last year, Ravenel now takes on a role as the lone senior on the team. On the court, he expects to have a much expanded presence in the absence of Jared Sullinger down in the paint. Considering his experience and talent, Ravenel will look to be a solid, though perhaps not flashy, component of the Ohio State inside game.
Hometown: Tampa, FL
High School: Brandon HS
Position: Forward (4/5)
High School Awards:
- Tampa Tribute All-Hillsborough County second-team honors (2008).
- Tampa All-City honors (2008).
- Class 5A All-State honorable mention from the Florida Sports Writers Association (2008).
Evan Ravenel transferred to Ohio State from Boston College where he played his first two seasons in the ACC under head coach Al Skinner. His transfer was influenced when Boston College fired Skinner after 13 seasons. Not wanting to stick around for Steve Donahue’s new regime, Ravenel went looking for a new place to call home. While the Buckeyes had never directly recruited Evan out of High School, OSU assistant Dave Dickerson did recruit him while Dickerson was the head coach at Tulane. Matta happily gave Ravenel a scholarship offer, and Ravenel joined the Buckeyes before the 2010-2011 season.