After another week that heavy on football content, the basketball “Nuts” duo of Connor and Justin are back to debate another basketball topic, with only you —the lovely readers— able to decide who’s right. Last week, we debated which victory has been the biggest for Ohio State since Chris Holtmann took over as head coach in 2017. Connor picked Ohio State’s victory over No. 1 Michigan State in 2018. Justin went with 11-seed Ohio State’s opening-round NCAA Tournament victory over 6-seed Iowa State in 2019.
With 74% of the vote, Connor was the winner. 14% of the voters decided that both of us were nuts, and 12% sided with Justin’s Iowa State pick. With his monumental landslide victory, Connor jumped out to a 1-0 series lead over Justin in the never-ending nuts bowl.
After 1 week
This week, we’re shifting away from games and focusing on specific players. And instead of posing the question of who is the best player of a particular category, we’ll focus on the worst. As always, if you agree with one of us, let us know in the comments below, or respond on Twitter! We’d love to hear your thoughts on this topic in particular, and anything Ohio State hoops-related.
Today’s Question: Who has been the biggest “bust” in Ohio State basketball history?
Connor’s pick: Amir Williams (2011-2015)
To preface: this piece isn’t intended to crap all over individual players. Some players far exceed their recruiting rankings, while others never quite get to the level they were expected to reach, based on all the recruiting fanfare. Perhaps one of these weeks we’ll do a Nuts article on the former category, but this week we’re going to hit on the latter.
And my pick for the biggest bust is none other than Amir Williams, the four-star big man from that state up north.
Williams was actually the third-highest rated recruit in Ohio State’s 2011 class (which was ranked No. 6 nationally), behind fellow four-stars Shannon Scott and LaQuinton Ross —both of whom may end up playing for Carmen’s Crew this summer in TBT! Williams was the fifth-highest ranked center in the class of 2011, but that entire class of centers was pretty bad. The most successful big man in the class of 2011 was probably Wisconsin’s Frank Kaminsky, who was a three-star and the 26th-ranked center.
Williams was the No. 1 player in the state of Michigan out of Detroit Country Day High School, and in addition to Ohio State also held offers from Duke, Kentucky, Michigan, Michigan State, Texas, and 11 others. Thad Matta, who was on the tail end of a scorching hot recruiting streak and only a few years removed from a national championship game appearance, was able to swoop in and snag Williams right out of John Beilein and Tom Izzo’s backyard.
Williams wasn’t expected to play much his freshman year (2011-2012) on a loaded roster that included All-American Jared Sullinger and junior big man Evan Ravenel. That Ohio State team went on to finish 31-8, won the Big Ten, and made it all the way to the Final Four. Williams played just under seven minutes per game and averaged 1.7 points and 2.1 rebounds per game playing behind Sullinger and Ravenel.
But the following season with Sullinger gone, the chains were supposed to come off. As the most highly touted big man on the roster (sorry, Ravenel and Trey McDonald), Williams was set to become a key cog in the offense and a massive source of rebounds for the now Sullinger-less Buckeyes. But instead, Williams increased his stats only marginally, scoring 3.5 points and pulling down 3.9 boards in 16.5 minutes per contest. He took less than two shots per game, which was ninth on the team. So much for being a key cog.
Amir Williams Stats (2011-2015)
While his offense ticked up slightly during his junior and senior seasons, Williams was never able to achieve the success many predicted he would have following in Jared Sullinger’s footsteps. Nobody expected the 6-foot-11 big man to become an All-American, but finishing his career averaging 4.9 points and 4.2 rebounds per game fell far short of what scouts, coaches, and fans expected.
Williams is one of the worst passers in Ohio State basketball history, with an assist-to-turnover ratio of 1-to-4.5. Williams was not expected to create shots for others, but it really paints a picture of how inept the stone-handed big man was at moving the ball out of the post once it was delivered to him. It always got realllll interesting when Amir would take a dribble, because it ended in disaster more times than not.
Amir Williams put up fine statistics for a role player, but considering he was one of the top centers in his class and was not a role player at Ohio State, I’ll stick my neck out and call him Ohio State’s biggest recruiting bust ever.
Justin’s pick: Jordan Sibert (Ohio State 2010-2012, Dayton 2012-2015)
Thank you to the 12 percent of readers that agreed with me. You guys are the real MVP’s. For the other 88 percent (wow), this one is for you. While Amir Williams is a good pick (see, sometimes getting top centers to come to Ohio State doesn’t matter), I am going to pick a guy who not only was a bust at Ohio State, but what he did after Ohio State makes it even worse: Jordan Sibert.
Sibert was a heralded recruit for Thad Matta and company. As a senior, he averaged 19 points per game, was the 37th-ranked recruit overall in the country and the ninth-ranked shooting guard overall and was named Ohio Gatorade Player of the Year. He also led Princeton High School to the state championship, where they only lost by two to Northland, led by Jared Sullinger and Trey Burke. Not bad.
However, he was at Ohio State for two years and finished with a career high of 12 points. Once. His freshman season, he played in 25 games, starting none, and averaging just 2.1 points per game, 0.6 assists per game and 0.5 turnovers per game. In his second season when everyone thought he was going to make a huge jump, he averaged 3.0 points per game and just 0.8 assists per game and 0.6 turnovers per game. He started two games.
After those two seasons at Ohio State, Sibert transferred to Dayton. After sitting out one season, he came back in a big way, averaging 12 points per game, 2.3 rebounds per game and 1.5 assists per game. Then, during his senior season, he averaged 16.1 points per game and 3.3 rebounds. His three-point percentage went from 25.5 percent at Ohio State to 43 percent at Dayton.
Sibert even played Ohio State in the second round of the 2014 NCAA tournament as Dayton was a No. 11 seed and the Buckeyes were the No. 6 seed. Sibert and Dayton spoiled the final game of Aaron Craft by upsetting the Buckeyes 60-59. Sibert recorded nine points, five rebounds, one assist, one steal and zero turnovers. Sibert also made some huge plays down the stretch to help the Flyers get the victory. Salt meet wound.
Sibert could have been a huge scorer for the Buckeyes, but after two years it was clear the experiment was not working. Props to Sibert for figuring out a way to contribute elsewhere, but the Ohio State tenure could not have been more of a bust.
Who is the biggest bust in Ohio State basketball history?
This poll is closed
Connor: Amir Williams
Justin: Jordan Sibert
You’re both nuts