Ohio State will always be a football school. However, the Buckeyes have had their fair share of talent when it comes to the hardwood as well. Thad Matta turned around a woeful program when he became head basketball coach in 2004. He recruited the likes of Mike Conley Jr. and Greg Oden among other NBA talent.
Matta led the Buckeyes to nine NCAA Tournament appearances, two Final Fours, four Big Ten tournament championships, and five Big Ten regular-season titles. He also won the NIT in 2008.
Following some subpar seasons to close his reign, Matta handed the keys to the program to current head coach Chris Holtmann. Holtmann has had the Buckeyes in the big dance in both of his seasons as head coach and has his team primed for another run this year. With the success of the program this past decade, it feels right to throw together and all-decade team for Ohio State basketball.
Point Guard: Aaron Craft
Craft is by far the easiest selection for the all-decade starting lineup. When you think Ohio State basketball, you think of Aaron Craft. Craft played from 2010 to 2014 and appeared in at least 35 games each season, becoming a regular starter in his sophomore season.
He achieved Big Ten All-Defense honors every season as a Buckeye and won conference defensive player of the year twice. Craft was an absolute menace on the defensive side of the ball, leading the Big Ten in steals per game in three of his four seasons. He was also the Big Ten tournament MVP in 2013.
Despite not being the most prolific scorer, Craft was an elite ball-handler and distributor. He holds the school record for both career and single-season assist numbers at 579 and 241 respectively. Aaron also never shot lower than 30% from 3-point territory throughout his Buckeye career.
Even though there are certainly more memorable shooters in Buckeye basketball this past decade, Craft’s game-winning 3-pointer against Iowa State in the 2013 NCAA Tournament remains one of the top Buckeye hoops moments of the last ten years.
Honorable Mention: D’Angelo Russell
Russell is certainly the better player of the two, but Craft had a much larger impact on the Buckeyes program and that’s why he deserves the spot.
Shooting Guard: Jon Diebler
Not as obvious a choice as Craft, but Jon Diebler is right up there in terms of the best Buckeye hoopers to lace up their sneakers.
Columbus was excited for the arrival of Diebler after he broke the Ohio high school scoring record previously set by a man by the name of LeBron James. While not the physical specimen that James was and still is, Diebler could score with the best of them.
Diebler shattered the Big Ten three point-scoring record in his four-year career, draining 374 of them from 2008 to 2011. He averaged over 11 points per contest his final three seasons with Ohio State. The sharpshooter also led the conference in 3-point percentage every season and was named to the All-Big Ten Tournament team in 2011.
Diebler shot over 40% from downtown in each of his last three seasons, including a ridiculous 50% in his senior season.
Honorable Mention: William Buford
This game-winner from Buford in East Lansing is just too good to leave out of this article.
Small Forward: Deshaun Thomas
Need a bucket from any Buckeye this past decade? You might just pick Deshaun Thomas over all the rest.
Thomas averaged 19.8 points a contest his junior (and final) season, leading the Big Ten in scoring. That’s tied with Keita Bates-Diop for the second-most points per game this decade, behind Evan Turner who averaged 20 a night back in 2010. Not bad company to be with considering all were drafted to the NBA.
Thomas shot a respectable 34% from beyond the arc in each of his last two seasons. Deshaun made his presence felt on the boards as well, averaging over five rebounds a night his final two years.
He was named to the All-Big Ten Tournament team twice, was all-conference once, and earned NCAA Tournament All-Region honors in 2013 when he led the Buckeyes to a Final Four appearance.
Honorable Mention: Keita Bates-Diop
I excluded Evan Turner from this list because he only played one season this decade
Power Forward: Jae’Sean Tate
The man I referred to as mini-Draymond Green during his Buckeye career. The nickname came with good reasoning. Watching Tate play can’t help but remind you of the power forward out in Golden State.
He was typically the smaller man in most of his Big Ten matchups, but that never mattered to him. Tate led the Buckeyes in scoring his junior season and was the clear vocal leader of the team throughout his four-year career. Jae’Sean was another glass eater, averaging over six rebounds a game in each of his last three seasons in Columbus.
Tate was named to the Big Ten All-Freshman team in 2014-2015. His hustle and passion at all times on the floor will forever be remembered by Buckeye fans.
Honorable Mention: Kyle Young
Center: Jared Sullinger
The most coveted Buckeye recruit after the Mike Conley and Greg Oden season was Jared Sullinger. His older brother, J.J., had an excellent Ohio State career and Jared followed suit.
Jared made an impact immediately not only in Columbus but in all of college basketball. In his freshman season, Sullinger was not only named to the All-Big Ten freshman team but the all-conference team as well. In addition, he received All-Big Ten Tournament MVP honors and was the USBWA Freshman of the Year. Jared was also a Wooden Award finalist.
He repeated much of the same in his second year, being named all-conference, all-conference tournament, another Wooden Award finalist appearance, as well as All-Region in the NCAA Tournament.
Sullinger averaged over 17 points per game during his two-year Buckeye career. He was also the centerpiece of the 2012 Final Four team. The big man also averaged 9.7 rebounds over the course of his two seasons. Additionally, he led the Buckeyes to a 65-11 record in his two seasons.
His premiere passing ability paired well with the sharpshooters Ohio State had during that time, such as Buford and Diebler. Though a short Buckeye career, it was without a doubt one of the best.
Honorable Mention: Amir Williams… I guess. Sullinger was really the last quality big man to roll through Columbus.
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