Thad Matta is no longer Ohio State men’s basketball coach, but the legacy that he left behind will remain forever. Matta coached 11 First-Team All-Big Ten selections, several First-Team All-Americans, and even a National Player of the Year in Evan Turner.
There are other players who will always be remembered as well. The Buckeyes over the last 13 years created some tremendous memories, and the players involved will always have a special place in the hearts of OSU fans.
In order to anger many of these fans, I decided that I would go ahead and put together a starting five of Matta’s players, as well as a bench of eight players. Teams today are allowed 13 scholarship players, so I should be as well. Plus, only going with a starting five could have led to violence.
So here is my All-Thad Matta Team. I have chosen it as a real team, filling needs and positions. Feel free to disagree with me via email, Twitter, the comments below, or on the message board. Keep in mind, however, that I cannot be swayed by good arguments. I never have been and I never will be.
So without further blather, here we go…
Thad Matta’s All-Stars
Point Guard – Mike Conley
Conley will be the calming influence on this team. He will control a locker room with more egos on it than any other in Ohio State history. Who else would you want here? Aaron Craft? I’m not sure he would be able to control the situation.
Shooting Guard – D’Angelo Russell
Yeah, Russell was a point guard for Ohio State, but he scores, and that’s what I need here. Plus, two lefties in the same backcourt would drive defenses crazy. If Russell had never come to Ohio State, I’m putting Jon Diebler here without a second thought.
Small Forward – Evan Turner
Turner was a point forward for the Buckeyes, so there is really no way for these three players to operate on the floor together. I’m not a good GM, but I know there is nobody else that you can put at PG, SG, or SF for the Buckeyes here.
Power Forward – Jared Sullinger
Sullinger was an All-American at center for the Buckeyes, but he had the range to be the stretch four that Thad Matta likes. Plus, he’s a tremendous rebounder, as are all of the players in this starting five. Sullinger was more than just a paint presence, so I don’t think he would clog the middle. I almost went with Deshaun Thomas here because of his shooting.
Center – Greg Oden
Oden was the best player of the Thad Matta Era in my opinion. Against two NBA post players in the Finals, it was Oden who dominated. He is always the first player that comes to my mind when putting together a list of Thad Matta’s best players. He was amazing and people should never, ever forget it.
Sixth Man – David Lighty
No matter who you bring off the floor, Lighty can go in for him. That’s partly a product of the versatility of the starters that I have chosen, but also a product of Lighty’s ability to do anything you need him to do. He was a basketball Renaissance Man and was a great leader to boot.
Point – Aaron Craft
Is the team playing a little lackadaisical? Then it’s time to bring in Aaron Craft. Have him energize things and annoy the road crowd.
Swing – Jon Diebler
Diebler is one of my all-time favorite players to watch because in an era of one-and-done, we got to see him grow as a terrified freshman to a stone-cold killer as a senior.
Swing – William Buford
Buford averaged 14 points per game his final three seasons as a Buckeye. Should he have averaged more? Maybe, but few players were as consistent as Buford over the last 13 years.
Swing – Ron Lewis
I mean, who else are you gonna call when you need some pizza dough delivered?
Stretch – Deshaun Thomas
Thomas has to be on this team somewhere. I don’t know that they need scoring, but that never stopped Thomas from providing it. He would give this team points from everywhere and rebounding as well.
Post – Kosta Koufos
Think what you want, but Koufos averaged 14.4 points per game as a true freshman and was on the verge of being a national force. Even as it was, he was still one of the best to ever play for Matta. He could score down low or hit threes.
Post – Terence Dials
Dials was Matta’s first great player. He was the Big Ten Player of the Year in Matta’s second year. He may not have been as good as Jared Sullinger or Greg Oden, but he was still plenty good enough to make this team.
By the way, here are the players that I jotted down initially before cutting the list to 13 players. You’ll notice a distinct lack of recency here, which is why we are now having Thad Matta retrospectives.
Terence Dials, Je’kel Foster, Matt Sylvester, J.J. Sullinger, Jamar Butler, Ron Lewis, Mike Conley, Daequan Cook, Greg Oden, David Lighty, Jon Diebler, Kosta Koufos, Dallas Lauderdale, Evan Turner, William Buford, B.J. Mullens, Aaron Craft, Jared Sullinger, Deshaun Thomas, Lenzelle Smith, and D’Angelo Russell.