Turner's Injury Could Lead to a Buckeyes Title in 2010-2011 season
Is it possible that Evan Turner's back injury could be the key factor in an Ohio State Buckeye's NCAA Championship run in the 2011? Earlier in this month, Evan Turner fractured two vertebrae in his back and is expected to be out for six to eight weeks. That sets his comeback date at some point in early February and missing about 14 Ohio State games during that span. Turner was probably the best player in the nation before his injury and had he kept up his high play, he would have likely won the Naismith and John R. Wooden Awards given to college player of the year. It's difficult to argue against that by looking at his stat line and impact for the Buckeyes:
In seven games this season (not counting the Eastern Michigan game when Turner was injured), he has averages of 20.6 points, 12.9 rebounds and 6.6 assists. He led his team to a victory over #12 California and a tough Florida State squad.
By sidelining Turner for two months, his 2010 NBA Draft stock has also taken a hit. What if he struggles when he returns to the court? Will he be able to jump right back into things for the tail end of Big Ten play? Will scouts and front offices worry about the future of Turner's injuries? All of these are factors that Turner could deter the Buckeye star from entering the NBA Draft next June, and instead, give him reason to return to Columbus next season.
Ohio State's other star Guard, Willie Buford has not been as productive as everyone thought he would be this season, which leads us to believe he could be back in the scarlet and gray in 2010-11. His play has picked up since Turner's injury- averaging 15.7 points and 6 assists in three games, but after starting the year as our 8th ranked Shooting Guard, he has dropped to #18. In addition to Buford, Junior wings David Lighty and Jon Diebler, the team's 2nd and 3rd leading scorers this season, have little hope of being drafted in June, and should return to the Buckeyes next season.
Those three players would make Ohio State an experienced team, capable of making a run in the 2011 NCAA Tournament, but the Buckeyes also bring in the #1 recruiting class in the nation. 6'8" post player, Jared Sullinger, leads the incoming OSU class as the #2 prospect in 2010 who should start right away next season. He is fresh off a 32-point (11-23 FG, 10-10 FT), 17-rebound performance in a win over #1 ranked Findlay Prep. He should immediately contribute as one of the NCAA's best big men next season; just what Ohio State is missing this season. In addition to Sullinger, OSU will add another top10 prospect to the Small Forward position- 6'7" DeShaun Thomas. He is a left-handed wing who is a potent inside and outside scorer, who will come off the bench to create all sorts of match up problems next season. Ohio State rounds out the class with two top-75 ranked Shooting Guards and two more highly recruited wing players.
If Evan Turner returns next Ohio State should be one of the nation's best teams; the combination of Sullinger and Turner should rank as the best inside-outside tandem in the country. Combine those two players with Willie Buford and Senior-to-be wings Lighty and Diebler, the sensational incoming freshmen class and Coach Thad Matta, and Ohio State has its best team since the 2006-07 Buckeyes.