Aaron Craft is undoubtedly the brain of the OSU Hoops team this year, and DeShaun Thomas is probably the heart. Evan Ravenel might just be the muscle in this operation though, and you don't need to be a pre-med student like Craft to know that you can't do a lot of work without muscles.
Let's just go ahead and clear this up right away. Evan Ravenel is not Jared Sullinger. He's not Greg Oden, and he's probably not even Kosta Kofus. He's smaller (6'8) and doesn't have nearly the offensive capabilities of those other Big Men of Buckeye Yore. That's okay though, because Ravenel knows that, Thad Matta knows that, and he doesn't need to be any of those guys for this squad to be successful.
Matta is beyond finicky with his bench players, but Ravenel appeared in every game last season, averaging 10 min a game. With Sully and Buford gone, and as the Buckeye's lone Senior, he's going to be called on a lot more this year. Look for Ravenel to provide more interior defense, rebounding, and high percentage shooting next year.
Previous Season Stats: 10.2 MPG, 3.4 PPG, 2.5 RPG , 69% FGP
A Look Back:
Ravenel's main job last year was to step in when Sullinger found himself in foul trouble. He was never going to be the 1st, or even 3rd option on offense, but he could provide a few fouls to slow down an opposing forward, grab a tough board, take a charge, and almost never take stupid shots. When he saw a little more time, Evan was able to put up some numbers. In 20 min of action against Texas Pan-American, Ravenel slapped a 11-7. With Sully hurt against the first Kansas game, he put up 9-5 in 25 min (5-6 shooting), although Thomas Robinson forced him to commit a few dumb fouls. He also had a 7-5 in 14 min against Nebraska.
Outlook for 2012-2013:
Ravenel is probably going to play at least 20-25 min a game, either as a smallball center with Deshaun Thomas as a 4, or as a big power forward with Amir Williams. I think it's reasonable to expect him to be good for 6-10 points a game, and 4-5 boards. He isn't a bad free throw shooter (~70%) either, but Ravenel's biggest contributions are going to be on defense. He's a wide load in the paint (250 pounds), and in Matta's system, will be doing a lot of the dirty work for the Buckeyes: setting tough picks, boxing out, and making life difficult for the Zellers and Glen Robinson III's of the world. If he can do all those "glue guy" things for the Buckeyes and provide strong leadership, his season will be a success.
Best Case Scenario:
Ravenel thrives when opposing forwards pack in to stop Thomas, and he gets lots of second shot and high percentage look opportunities. His flexibility and ability to stay out of foul trouble allows OSU to play him when they go Big or Small, freeing up Thomas to cause more havoc. He shoots over 60% despite a higher usage, averages close to 10-6, and helps Amir Williams mature into a more complete player.
Worst Case Scenario:
Ravenel struggles with consistency and foul trouble, forcing Matta to rotate in other forwards. He averages less than 20 min a game and is unable to build on his rebounding and offense outside of dunks and putbacks.