Lighty: Ohio State is Part of Me
By Brandon Castel
COLUMBUS, Ohio — There were no tears on David Lighty’s face as he left the court Sunday for the final time at the Schottenstein Center, but there was plenty of emotion.
Photo by Dan Harker
As the sellout crowd rose to its feet to applaud the fifth-year senior in his last home game, Lighty dropped to the ground at center court for one final goodbye after five sparkling years in Columbus.
“I kissed it. I kissed the floor,” said Lighty, who exited Sunday’s game with 1:49 left in Ohio State’s 93-65 win over Wisconsin.
“It was just for farewell, see ya later. I’ll still be back around, it was just a tribute to Ohio State.”
In his final home game, Lighty scored 13 points, grabbed six rebounds and dished out three assists in 36 minutes. He also had one steal as the Buckeyes demolished a Badger team that came in ranked No. 10 in the country.
Afterward, they celebrated and outright Big Ten championship by cutting down the nets for the third time in Lighty’s five seasons at Ohio State.
“It was crazy. From the fireworks in the beginning to the streamers at the end, it was a great way to go out,” said Lighty.
“Especially being outright (champions) in the Big Ten.”
If that were the end of the story, it would be a fitting end for Lighty and fellow seniors Jon Diebler and Dallas Lauderdale, who led the Buckeyes to the most regular-season wins in school history this year.
But the story is far from over, at least in the minds of these three seniors who have given everything to the program.
“It’s not over, so this isn’t really the fairytale finish for me,” said Lauderdale.
For some of their former teammates, Ohio State was a school and not much more. It was an opportunity to showcase their talents on the big stage for one year while playing for a coach who would allow them to shine.
But to Lighty, wearing the Scarlet and Gray was nothing short of everything he could have imagined – the fulfillment of a lifelong dream.
“I’ve been here as long as coach almost. He’s only got two years on me. It’s a part of me,” Lighty said.
“It’s a part of my life; part of growing up, becoming a boy to a man.”
Somewhere along the way, Lighty became a part of Ohio State too. He will leave Columbus as the winningest player in Buckeye history and one of only three players to reach 1,000 points, 500 rebounds and 300 assists.
“I have said this, I think David Lighty will go down as the most underrated player to ever play at Ohio State,” Matta said earlier this season.
“The things that he brings to this program, all the intangibles he brings, he is definitely one of my all-time favorites that I've coached anywhere.”
That list also includes stars like David West, Greg Oden and Evan Turner, but Lighty holds a special place in Matta’s heart as the first of his OSU recruits to reach Senior Day with the Buckeyes.
A part of the original “Thad Five” recruiting class, Lighty has been through just about everything during his time at Ohio State. From the loss to Florida in the national title game as a freshman to an NIT title the next year, to a 29-2 regular season as a fifth-year senior, Lighty has enjoyed every step of the journey.
“Most definitely. I don’t even want to think about leaving,” he said Sunday.
“It is crazy. Just to get back in here and practice is the only thing I’ll be able to do now.”
That, and help the Buckeyes bring home another Big Ten tournament title and possibly the national title that eluded him as a freshman.
“I’m a defensive guy and that’s what will take us, hopefully, to the national championship,” Lighty said optimistically.
And why not? There is plenty of reason for optimism after the way Ohio State buzzed through the regular season. They have all the pieces to be a contender and they are playing their best basketball at the right time of year, especially on the defensive end.
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