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Ohio State great Katie Smith named to Naismith Hall of Fame

The former Buckeye is part of the standout 2018 class to be inducted in September.

Olympic Test Event - Basketball Photo by Guang Niu/Getty Images

“Smith scored 2,578 career points which is third in school history and in 2001, she was the first female Buckeye athlete to have her number retired.”

-Ohio State Athletics

Katie Smith, one of the most decorated basketball players in program history at Ohio State, recently added another honor to her trophy case as she was elected to the 2018 Naismith Hall of Fame class. Smith played for the Buckeyes from 1992-96, and earned Big Ten Player of the Year honors in 1993 as she led her team to a national runner-up finish. After college, Smith played for the Columbus Quest of the ABL, earning two All-Star recognitions and two league titles in 1997 and 1998. Moving on to the WNBA, Smith was a seven-time All-Star and two-time champion. She ended her career as the leading point scorer in women’s professional basketball history with 7,885 points. On the international stage, Smith was also part of Team USA for its 2000, 2004 and 2008 Olympic gold medal runs.

After retiring from her playing career, Smith worked as an assistant head coach of the New York Liberty. She was named head coach of the Liberty last fall and will start the season off in May.

The Naismith Hall of Fame honors both male and female players, coaches, referees and contributors from all levels of basketball. Other honorees in the 2018 class include fellow WNBA star Tina Thompson, who took the Houston Comets to four WNBA championships, as well as Steve Nash, Jason Kidd, Ray Allen and Grant Hill. Smith was selected in her first year of eligibility for the hall, having retired from professional basketball following the 2013 season. The enshrinement ceremony is scheduled for September in Springfield, Mass.

“The athletic, rangy forward might not have been facing the kind of slam-dunk decision of a top-5 pick, but all signs point to him being ready to move on to the next level. And neither he nor the Buckeyes should feel bad about it.”

-Austin Ward, Land of 10

Keita Bates-Diop was the lifeblood of Ohio State basketball in Chris Holtmann’s first season as head coach. Given his prolific performance throughout this season, especially given that he missed so much of 2016-17 due to injury and illness, it was not a surprise to see the redshirt junior declare for the NBA Draft even with a year of eligibility remaining at Ohio State.

Even so, declaring for the NBA Draft--a much shorter draft than the NFL’s version--can seem risky for a player who is neither a breakout freshman (e.g., Trae Young) or a career player who has had a big name for years (e.g., Moritz Wagner). Last year, Maryland junior Melo Trimble, who by most standards was having a great career at Maryland, forewent his final season of eligibility to test the draft waters, and ultimately was not selected. Bates-Diop has the disadvantage of having played on a team that did not make the NCAA Tournament for two of his four seasons with the program, so he hasn’t been seen on the national stage to the same degree that someone like Wagner has.

However, Bates-Diop’s decision remains a solid one. College players can enter the NBA Draft Combine while maintaining their NCAA eligibility as long as they withdraw from the draft within 10 days of the conclusion of the combine. So, if a player receives feedback which indicates he might not be drafted (or might not go as high as he hopes), he can still return to school and finish out his eligibility. That scenario seems unlikely for Bates-Diop, who is projected as a late first-round pick and one of just a few upperclassmen projected to be taken in the opening round. And if things don’t work out in the NBA, there are numerous options to play internationally with more-than-livable contracts.

The Ohio State Buckeyes synchronized swimming team defended its national title Saturday with a win at nationals in Arizona. The victory marks the 31st championship in program history for the squad, who won the title last season in Columbus as the host school for the championships. The 31 titles are the most of any program at Ohio State, and it was a strong finish to an undefeated regular season and a win at the North Regional Championships

Ohio State finished the day with 96 points--six ahead of second-place finisher Stanford. Ohio State units won both first and third place at the team competition to take the crucial points advantage. The Buckeyes narrowly edged out Stanford, earning 84.8667 points to the Cardinal’s 84.800 to secure the gold medal.

On the individual side, Buckeye senior Monica Velazquez-Stiak was the Individual High Point Award recipient, taking home two golds and a silver medal. She earned her individual gold with fellow senior Alyssa Hoying in the duet freestyle, and brought home a silver in the trio freestyle with Hoying and Noelle St. John. Laila Huric, a sophomore from Italy, took home the silver in the solo free event to round out the Buckeyes’ individual medals.

“I think the best leader is going to win the job. Because obviously, J.T. was the leader of the team last year and someone’s going to have to step up.”

-Ohio State quarterback Joe Burrow, via Kevin Harrish, Eleven Warriors

With all eyes on the Ohio State quarterback competition, there is little doubt as to the tangible skills of each of the competitors. Joe Burrow, Dwayne Haskins and Tate Martell all came to Columbus as four-star prospects. Burrow and Haskins have both seen playing time as backups in the last two seasons, coming in to relieve J.T. Barrett when necessary and performing competently. In addition, all are, by this point, well-familiar with the Ohio State program. Burrow is entering his fourth year under head coach Urban Meyer. Haskins is coming into his third season, while Martell, who redshirted last year, will be entering his second. All have had the chance to work under co-offensive coordinators Kevin Wilson and Ryan Day and, perhaps more importantly, witness the impact that Barrett’s leadership has had on the team as a whole and the offense in particular.

The Buckeyes are losing more than just a quarterback with the departure of Barrett, who has been the go-to man for what seems like forever in Columbus. Barrett holds most major program records when it comes to passing, but, in many ways, the intangibles that he brought to the table may be missed even more. Barrett is the only three-time captain in program history, and has been the team’s unquestioned leader since taking over the starting quarterback role for Braxton Miller following Miller’s injury prior to the 2014 season. Whoever takes over for Barrett will be looked to fill a similar role--a sentiment echoed by Day. “When we look at quarterbacks to evaluate quarterbacks, we’re looking for guys who are competitors, guys who are tough, guys who are leaders, guys who have great football intelligence and then also guys who are great decision-makers.”

Barrett was all of these things to the Ohio State program for a very long time. Now, it is up to each of the newcomers to see what roles they can fill as both a leader and quarterback.