Aaron Craft and Deshaun Thomas earned preseason all-B1G honors and Tayler Hill was named the conference’s POY (coaches) and Co-Player of the Year (media) in a big day of news for Ohio State’s basketball programs. The men’s announcement took place at today’s Big Ten Media Day in Chicago.
Craft and Thomas, both juniors, were the only teammates selected to the preseason version of the men’s all-conference team, joining Indiana center Cody Zeller, Michigan guard Trey Burke and Tim Frazier of Penn State. Zeller was the men’s preseason Player of the Year. Despite having two members of the preseason all-conference team, the Buckeyes were selected to finish third in a media poll, behind Indiana and Michigan. This is logical, inasmuch as there are several question marks entering the 2012-13 season, with All-American Jared Sullinger now with the NBA’s Boston Celtics and the graduation of William Buford, the school’s third all-time leading scorer.
Lenzelle Smith Jr. completes the trio of returning Ohio State starters. The final two slots are open, with Evan Ravenel and Amir Williams locked in a battle to start at the pivot. The final slot will likely go to either LaQuinton Ross, Sam Thompson or Shannon Scott. Head Coach Thad Matta, entering his ninth season at the OSU helm, did not indicate that the lineup was set, when he addressed B1G Media Day. He did say that Williams, Ravenel and Trey McDonald were all improving and that Ross was starting to get the “meat and potatoes” of his system.
Overall, Matta said that he liked his team’s progression so far and that he thinks the team will be deeper than years past, with a “scoring by committee” mentality. He doesn’t want anyone to think they are replacing Buford or Sullinger, and that his current players should just be themselves. This year’s squad should run more. Finally, he mentioned that freshman Amadeo Della Valle has a great understanding of the game, which could mean he’ll play a lot or only the final minute of blowout games. Who really knows at this point?
Hill, a senior coming off an All-Big performance last year, averaged a league-best 20.4 points per game a season ago, leading the Buckeyes to a 25-7 record (11-5 in the B1G). Although the media gave her preseason POY honors alone, she shares the coaches’ honor with Penn State senior guard Alex Bentley. Rounding out the coaches’ preseason all-conference women’s team are: aptly named Nebraska junior forward Jordan Hooper, Minnesota sophomore guard Rachel Banham, Iowa senior center Morgan Johnson, and Bentley’s backcourt partner at Penn State, junior Maggie Lucas. The media selected Hill, Bentley, Lucas, Hooper and Nebraska senior guard Lindsey Moore. The coaches selected a top three of Penn State, Nebraska and Purdue, while the media swapped out the Lady Buckeyes in third instead of the Boilermakers.