Oct. 12, 2006
After back-to-back 20-win seasons, a No. 2 seed in the 2006 NCAA Tournament, a Big Ten regular-season outright championship and a top-rated recruiting class on campus for the 2006-07 season, prospects are understandably high for the Ohio State men's basketball team.
The outlook is so bright in Columbus that college basketball analysts across the country began to rate the Buckeyes among the nation's elite just days after the 2006 season concluded in Indianapolis in early April of 2006.
Ohio State, based on early projections, likely will be rated among the Top 10 and in the Top 5 by many when the 2006-07 season gets underway in the fall.
ESPN analysts Dick Vitale, Digger Phelps, Jay Bilas, Andy Katz and bracketologist Joe Lunardi have the Buckeyes pegged from No. 3 to 10 at various points following the 2005-06 season.
National media-affiliated web sites like FoxSports.com (No. 2), CBS Sportsline.com (No. 4), NBCSports.com (No. 5), yahoo.com (No. 5), SI.com (No. 6) and Sportingnews.com (No. 7) all have projected success for Ohio State this season.
Thad Matta, who has guided the Buckeyes each of the last two seasons to 20 or more victories in his first two years as head coach, returns one starter from a year ago and the team's sixth-man from a 26-6 squad that won the 2006 outright Big Ten regular-season title, advanced to the title game of the postseason conference tournament and moved on to the Second Round of the 2006 NCAA Tournament as a No. 2 seed.
Ron Lewis, who traveled to Australia during the summer as part of the Big Ten Foreign Tour, reported for his senior season. He is the top returning scorer for the Buckeyes with an average of 11.2 points a game. He was among five Buckeyes who averaged 10 or more points a season ago.
Lewis, a 6-foot-3-inch guard from Columbus, Ohio, played in all 32 games as a junior, starting six. He would have been a leading candidate for the 2006 Big Ten's Sixth Man Award but started one too many games to be considered.
His ability to get to the foul line, score in traffic and hit the 3-point shot will be an asset to the Buckeyes in 2006-07. He is a veteran of 92 collegiate games after spending two seasons at Bowling Green before a transfer to Ohio State prior to the 2004-05 campaign.
Also back is starting point guard Jamar Butler, a third team All-Big Ten selection and an All-Big Tournament selection as a sophomore last season. He has been pegged by both Lindy's and the Sporting News as a 2006-07 preseason first team All-Big Ten selection.
Butler scored more than 300 points (314) and was credited with 100+ rebounds (101) and assists (144) a year ago. He is the first Buckeye since Brent Darby in 2002-03 to break 100 in those three categories in the same season. Darby scored 586 points, handed out 141 assists and grabbed 124 rebounds as a senior. Butler's assist total as a sophomore is the most since Scoonie Penn dished out 154 in 1998-99.
Butler, a Lima, Ohio, native, is one of 10 Buckeyes to hand out 140 or more assists in a season since 1974. He is just the second sophomore at Ohio State to record 140 or more assists in a season since assist records were first kept (1974). As a sophomore, he finished second among Big Ten guards with a +2.53 assist-to-turnover ratio, was fifth in 3-point field goal shooting percentage (.414), sixth in assists (4.65 apg.) and seventh in foul shooting pct. (.804).
When the 2006-07 season gets underway, Butler will be one of the premier point guards in the Big Ten with the ability to score, penetrate and distribute the ball. His experience will be an asset with a young roster and several newcomers.
The Buckeyes also will return another prominent senior member of the squad from last year. Ivan Harris of Springfield, Ohio, returns for his senior season. The former McDonald's All-American, one of four who will be on the Ohio State roster this season, is a 6-foot-8-inch 3-point shooting specialist with the ability to come off the bench to provide instant offense.
Matt Terwilliger played behind outgoing senior and 2006 Big Ten Player of the Year Terence Dials the last two seasons. A Troy, Ohio, native, Terwilliger made significant improvements between his freshman and sophomore seasons. He spelled Dials for most of his sophomore campaign until an appendectomy essentially ended his season just prior to the 2006 Big Ten Tournament.
At 6-8, he can guard the interior with an ability to draw defenders away from the lane with his 15-18 foot shooting range.
Sam Payne will be a sophomore in his second season as a walk-on guard for the Buckeyes. He provides the coaching staff with depth in the backcourt.
Thad Matta recruited one of the best classes nationally for the 2006-07 season. Four of the top freshmen in the country along with a talented junior college forward joined the Buckeyes for fall quarter in Columbus.
The four incoming Ohio State freshmen all played for state championships during their senior high school seasons. Three won titles with the other finishing as runner-up. Greg Oden (a 7-0 center) and 6-1 guard Mike Conley, Jr., led Indiana's Lawrence North High School to its third-consecutive state championship March 25, 2006 with a victory over Muncie Central (80-56). Oden led all scorers with 26 points on 11-of-17 shooting from the field. He also was the game's top rebounder with 11. Conley added 21 points and seven boards in the win. Daequan Cook, a 6-5 guard, led Dayton (Ohio) Dunbar to its first state title in 19 years with a 73-46 victory over Triway in the Ohio Division II state championship game (3/25/06) at Value City Arena in Columbus. Cook scored 23 points in the victory. David Lighty, a 6-5 guard/forward, led his Villa Angela-St. Joseph (Cleveland, Ohio) squad to the Ohio Division III state title game as well. Lighty scored 20 points in a loss to North College Hill.
Four First Teamers
All four incoming freshmen were named to their state's first team all-state squads as seniors. Greg Oden and Mike Conley, Jr., where honored in Class 4A, the large school division in Indiana while Daequan Cook (Ohio Division II) and David Lighty (Ohio Division III) made their respective teams. Cook, the Division II Ohio Player of the Year, and Lighty both made the Associated Press all-state tournament teams as well in their respective divisions.
Three More McDonalds All-Americans
With the addition of Oden, Conley, Jr., and Cook, Ohio State will have four former McDonald's High School All-Americans on its squad in 2006-07. Senior Ivan Harris played in the annual game (first played in 1977) in 2003. Ohio State has had a total of 10 current or former students-athletes compete in the McDonald's game. Clark Kellogg (1979), Perry Carter (1987), Treg Lee (1987), Jim Jackson (1989), Charles Macon (1992) and Greg Simpson (1992) all played in the prestigious event. Ohio State has had multiple players play in the game twice previously with Carter and Lee in 1987 and Macon and Simpson in 1992. Ohio State and North Carolina had three players compete in the 2006 game.
Oden Claims Several National Awards
Greg Oden is one of the most recognized and honored high school student-athletes of all-time. His list of accomplishments grew when he was recognized in April 2006 as the Gatorade Boy's Basketball Player of the Year for the second-consecutive season, a rare feat accomplished just once before when LeBron James was so honored in 2001 and '02. The following is a partial list of awards and accomplishments for Oden during his high school career.
Associated Press First Team All-Indiana, 2004, '05, '06
Parade Magazine First Team All-American, 2005, '06
Parade Magazine Player of the Year, 2005, '06
Parade Magazine Third Team All-American, 2004
USA Today Player of the Year, 2005, '06
All-USA First Team, USA Today, 2005, '06
Gatorade Indiana Player of the Year, 2005, '06
Gatorade National Player of the Year, 2005, '06
National High School Coaches Association POY, 2006
Arthur L Trester Mental Attitude Award (Indiana)
Atlanta Tipoff Club Naismith Prep Player of the Year, 2006
McDonald's All-American, 2006
Morgan Wootten Award, 2006 McDonald's All-American Player of the Year
Indiana Class 4A Indiana State Champion, 2004, '05, '06
Nation's No. 1 ranked team (29-0) in 2006, USA Today and Sports Illustrated
Nation's No. 1 rated player by SI.com, 2006
Indiana 2006 Mr. Basketball, Indianapolis Star
Indiana record (tie) 45-consecutive wins, 2005-2006
Indiana record (tie) 3-consecutive state championships, 2004, '05, '06
Roundball Classic West Co-MVP (4/9/06)
U.S. National Team Invites Oden to Workouts
The only high school player invited to work out with the U.S. Senior National team July 19-26, 2006 in Las Vegas, Greg Oden was scheduled to practice against members from the national team who will be selected to represent the United State at the 2006 World Championships in Japan and ultimately the 2008 U.S. Olympic men's basketball team. Oden was unable to participate after right wrist surgery in June ended his summer competitive schedule.
Junior College Forward Completes 2006-07 Class
Othello Hunter, a 6-9 forward/center, was the final player to commit to the five-player incoming class of student-athletes in 2006-07. He averaged nine points and six rebounds a game for Hillsborough Community College in Tampa, Fla., as a freshman. He improved those numbers to 16.8 points and 11.4 rebounds a game as a sophomore. He had 15 games in 2005-06 with 10 or more rebounds with a season-high 20 boards vs. St. Petersburg College (1/21/06). For his career, he managed 10 or more rebounds 19 times and 10 or more points 32 times.
Hunter recorded 18 career double-doubles at HCC, including 14 during his sophomore season.
Hillsborough finished 24-6 in 2005-06 and 19-14 in 2004-05. The team lost in the 2006 Florida Community College Activities Association state tournament opening round to River Community College (75-68). Hunter scored 22 points, grabbed 17 rebounds and blocked six shots in the loss.
Ohio State will open the 2006-07 season as the host school for the 2006 SportsTime Ohio BCA Classic. Eight teams will play 12 games in Columbus Nov. 10-11 at Value City Arena. The field will be made up of Alabama A&M, IUPUI, Kent State, Loyola (Ill.), Princeton, South Dakota State and Virginia Military Institute. The Buckeyes also will take on two of the nation's top teams on the road in 2006. Ohio State travels to North Carolina as part of the Big Ten/ACC Challenge Nov. 29 and later takes on Florida, the defending NCAA champions, in Gainesville Dec. 23. A neutral-site game vs. Cincinnati in Indianapolis at the Wooden Classic renews a rivalry between the intrastate foes. Dec. 16. Tennessee also begins a home-and-home series with the Buckeyes with a clash in Columbus Jan. 13. The Big Ten season gets underway Jan. 2 with Indiana, an ESPN-televised game in Columbus. Ohio State will play Illinois, Indiana, Iowa and Minnesota once this season with home-and-home matches vs. the remaining league schools. Indiana and Iowa travel to Columbus while Illinois and Minnesota play host to the Buckeyes this season.
Early Top 25 Rankings for 2006-07
No. 4 FoxSports.com (Jeff Goodman)
No. 2 San Jose Mercury News (Jon Wilner)
No. 3 Digger Phelps, ESPN
No. 4 Dick Vitale, ESPN
No. 4 CBS Sportsline.com (Gregg Doyel)
No. 5 Jay Bilas, ESPN
No. 5 Rick Bozich, Louisville-Courier-Journal
No. 6 Andy Katz, ESPN.com
Top 5 NBCSports.com (Ray Glier)
Top 5 Yahoo.com Sports (Dan Wetzel)
No. 6 SI.com (Luke Winn)
Top 7 Sportingnews.com (Kyle Veltrop)
Top 10 ESPN.com (Joe Lunardi)
WATCH: Thad Matta Press Conference
Buckeyes on the Blacktop Highlights