After an early first round NCAA loss to Siena on Friday night, questions turn to who will stay and who will be leaving the basketball program for the NBA this summer. The three players that are within reach of an NBA contract are freshman center BJ Mullens, freshman guard William Buford and sophomore small forward Evan Turner. And with a revolving door of great talent coming through Ohio State will Coach Matta be able to return to the highest pinnacle of college coaching?
By Steve Patterson
BJ Mullens came into the program as the third 7' center in a row in 2008. The first two, Greg Oden and Kosta Koufos left after one year for the NBA. Mullens was considered a high draft pick when he came to Ohio State and NBA coaches often draft on potential not on past performance. His draft status is still very good if only to have fallen slightly this year in college. It wasn't clear after the Siena loss if Mullens was talking about his college career in the past tense or his freshman season. But he is the most likely to leave and earn a big pay check improving his game next year on some NBA roster.
William Buford was Mr Basketball in Ohio two years ago and the freshman of the year this year for the Big Ten. His performance and potential are both very higher. He seemed to be set to return to Ohio State after the Siena loss. He'll should remain a starter next season even with David Lightly returning from injury.
Turner stepped up his game in the NIT tournament at the end of last season and dominated the Big Ten in his second year with the Buckeyes. He is now considered a first round draft selection. He wants to stay and create a legacy of greatness at Ohio State but the draw of the NBA is very strong. Unless something changes in the coming months, Turner should return for a third season next year.
Coach Thad Matta
Coach Matta responded to reporters earlier this season when asked about his players leaving that his team would be so much better if he had everyone for four years. Later in the year he also quipped that he would quit if he lost a couple of players from the 2008-2009 squad. Yet he recruits the kind of talent that will not stay more than two years for the most part and that is why his teams are as good as they are. I would rather hear him say that Ohio State recruits to put every player in the NBA and the sooner they make it, the better. In a perfect world he could continue to recruit the best and have them leave and still win titles. But in the real world that doesn't happen as we saw this season.