Buford not ready to say goodbye.

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Established October 31, 1996
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Last updated: 03/26/2011 3:58 AM
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Men's Basketball
Buford Not Ready To Say Goodbye
By Brandon Castel

NEWARK, N.J. — It took William Buford a while to come out of his funk.

With a towel draped over his head, he sat in the locker room after the game, staring blankly at the reporters gathered around him.

He couldn’t believe what had just happened. No one could.

Ohio State’s smooth-shooting junior had missed the game-winning three in the final moments as the Buckeyes were bounced from the Sweet 16 for the second year in a row.

“I feel like I let the team down,” said Buford, who could have given Ohio State a 63-62 win had he connected on his three from the top-left of the circle.

“I didn’t do what I was capable of doing.”

After scoring 18 points in three straight games, Buford could not find his touch at the Prudential Center in New Jersey.  He was just 2-of-16 from the floor against the Wildcats, and after the game he wasn’t ready to say goodbye to Ohio State.

“From where we just ended, this isn’t where I wanted to end it,” Buford said.

“I love these guys and I don’t want it to end.”

Considered a borderline first-round prospect at the start of the season, Buford’s stock had been on the rise recently. He was being projected as a mid-first round pick if chose to leave after his junior season, but Buford said he has no intentions of jumping early to the NBA.

“I’ll be back,” Buford told the-Ozone in the locker room.

“I just want to get better so when I do go to the next level, I’ll be prepared to make an impact and not just go to be another player in the league.”

Buford had far-and-away his best season at Ohio State as a junior, averaging 14.6 points, 4.0 rebounds and 3.0 assists while shooting 48 percent from the floor and 44 percent from behind the arc. With a great tournament, Buford could potentially have propelled himself into the lottery, but said he was thinking all along that he would be back.

“I knew more than likely what I was going to do,” Buford said.

The Buckeyes will lose seniors Jon Diebler, David Lighty and Dallas Lauderdale, but they will add five new players next year and could be a national title contender again now that Jared Sullinger has announced he will return for his sophomore season in Columbus.

“That’s great news,” Buford said.

“He’s a tremendous player and I love playing with him.”

With Buford and Sullinger back, along with Aaron Craft, Deshaun Thomas and some of the other young kids, Ohio State would likely be the favorite to win the Big Ten again next season. That’s part of the reason Sullinger said he will do his best to make sure Buford is back for another year.

“Nah, I’ll be back,” Buford said, finally cracking a smile.

“He doesn’t have to make me, I’ll be back.”

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