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You’re Nuts: Which Buckeye hooper exceeded their recruiting rankings the most?

When you’re not a national powerhouse, you’ve got to find a diamond in the rough every now and then.

NCAA Basketball: Big Ten Conference Tournament-Minnesota vs Ohio State Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

Friends, Ohioans, countrymen, lend me your ears. We have yet another intriguing “You’re Nuts” debate raging between Connor and Justin, this time of the “Who was great that we didn’t expect to be great?” variety. As is customary, we’re sticking to the hardwood, the more underrepresented of the two major sports at Ohio State.

Last week we talked TBT and picked which two non-Carmen’s Crew teams we were most excited to watch in this year’s edition of The Basketball Tournament. Connor went with last year’s runner-up, Sideline Cancer, while Justin picked the newly-formed Xavier alumni team, Zip ‘Em Up.

With 46% of the vote, the “you both suck” choice won, to which I can only say forget y’all. Perhaps you all forgot we were saying other than Carmen’s Crew, so they were not a choice? We need to start leaving you people with fewer choices. Justin’s Zip ‘Em Up pick garnered 43% of the vote for a close second, and Connor’s Sideline Cancer team came in a distant third with the final 11% of the vote.

After neither of us won, Connor still holds a 4-0 lead after five weeks. There’s still plenty of time for a comeback, as we will continue to write this nonsense every Friday until someone tells us to stop.

After 5 weeks

Connor- 4
Justin- 0

Last month we debated who was the biggest bust in Ohio State basketball history, and Amir Williams was the big winner. This week, we’re doing the exact opposite. 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, or anything Ohio State basketball-related!

Today’s Question: Which Ohio State basketball player (past or present) exceeded their recruiting rankings the most?


Connor’s pick: Duane Washington Jr.

NCAA Basketball: Rutgers at Ohio State Joseph Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports

To me, any player who was rated at least four stars on 247 Sports or Rivals is out of this conversation. The only player I considered nominating who had four stars was Evan Turner, but I think that most four-star recruits are expected to be good anyways. Two and three-stars? Not always. So after much thought and deliberation, I’m going with everyone’s favorite gunslinger from that state up north, Duane Washington Jr.

Washington Jr. was the No. 167 ranked recruit in the class of 2018, the 14th-best player in California (where he played his senior year of high school), and the 17th-best combo guard according to 247 Sports. He was offered scholarships by 10 schools, but only three of them (Ohio State, Clemson, and Missouri) came from the power five conferences. He’s averaged 11.4 points per game over the course of three seasons in Columbus, including a team-high 16.4 this past season.

How many of the 13 Californians ranked above him have averaged more per game than Washington, you ask? Well, thank goodness you asked. The answer is just two:

  • James Akinjo (Georgetown/Arizona) - 4-star - No. 8 in CA, No. 90 overall
  • Bryce Hamilton (UNLV) - 3-star - No. 12 in CA, No. 149 overall

And how many of the 16 combo guards ranked above Washington in the class of 2018 have averaged more per game than him, you may ask? Well, lucky for you I already checked. The answer is six. Which means he has outperformed the other ten above him. The six who have scored at a higher level are:

  • Quentin Grimes (Kansas/Houston) - 5 star - No. 2 CG, No. 10 overall
  • Ayo Dosunmu (Illinois) - 4-star - No. 3 CG, No. 32 overall
  • Javonte Smart (LSU) - 4-star - No. 4 CG, No. 35 overall
  • David Duke (Providence) -4-star - No. 6 CG, No. 47 overall
  • Marcus Zegarowski (Creighton) - 4-star - No. 11 CG, No. 110 overall
  • A.J. Lawson (South Carolina) - 3-star - No. 16 CG, No. 146 overall

Stars and ratings are assigned based on high school performance, so perhaps all the players ranked above Washington Jr. truly had better high school careers. But so far — and he may have another year to go, we’ll see — Washington has blasted right on past most of the players who had more hype surrounding them coming into college.

Washington’s 16.4 points per game last season slotted him at No. 7 in the Big Ten, and his average jumped over one full point after he went ballistic in the B1G Tournament, scoring 92 points over four games. Of those top seven players, Washington’s 13.2 shots per game was the third-fewest, his 38.1% 3-point percentage was the third-best, and his 85.2% free throw percentage was the best. He’s also one of three three-star recruits in the top seven scorers last season, next to former Minnesota guard Marcus Carr (19.4 ppg) and former Nebraska guard Teddy Allen (16.5 ppg).

Washington Jr. entered the Ohio State basketball program in 2018, but was blocked by then-point guard CJ Jackson. The second starting guard spot ended up going to fellow freshman Luther Muhammad, who ended up transferring to Arizona State after two seasons. Washington still played 17 minutes per game that season off the bench, although his 7 points per game on 7 shot attempts per contest was hardly efficient.

Since his freshman year he has improved considerably, averaging 11.5 points per game as a sophomore while starting 15 of Ohio State’s 28 games, and then really taking off this past season as a full-time starter for the first time, averaging 16.4 points per game and shooting just above 38% from beyond the arc.

It’s not too common that a three-star recruit ranked outside the top 150 players in the country elevates their game to a point where they’re a candidate for conference player of the year, but if Washington Jr. returns this season he’ll have done just that. What his future holds beyond Ohio State is still to be determined, but the boldest, most explosive Buckeye on the team has certainly pulled himself up by his bootstraps and put together one heckuva career after only being recruited by a few big schools in high school.

Hats off to you, Duane.


Justin’s pick: Evan Turner

Even though the “you both suck” option won last week (thanks America), I beat Connor so I am counting that as a win.

I know Connor said he was sticking to three-stars but I’m not. I am picking Evan Turner. And honestly, for as much as he accomplished a Buckeye, Evan Turner might as well have been a three-star recruit.

Tuner come out of St Joseph High School in Illinois in 2007 as the No. 47 ranked recruit in the country according to 247 sports and the No. 49 ranked recruit in the country according to ESPN. Top 50 is obviously a great ranking, but he was behind some pretty forgettable names. Any one want to tell me who Scenario Hillman, Darquavis Tucker, Rakim Sanders, Rico Pickett, Chris Allen or Jamelle Horne is? No? That’s okay. Most don’t.

Turner went on to average a cool 15 points per game, seven rebounds and four assists per game as a Buckeye. During his coveted junior season, he averaged 20.4 points per game, 9,2 rebounds per game, six assists per game and 1.7 steals per game. Not to mention he might have hit the most famous shot in Ohio State basketball history. I said might Matt Sylvester calm down.

Besides, this one was against Michigan. That makes it roughly 2 million times cooler. He finished as a two-time First team All-Big Ten, Big Ten Player of the Year, National Player of the Year and First team All-American. Not bad for No. 47 huh?

And hey, not to mention, he almost broke his back that season and was expected to miss over two months and maybe even the rest of the season. He barely missed one month. The “Villian” was tough as nails too.

That junior season he had is one of the better ones I have ever seen in college basketball. The efficiency matched with tenacity and motivation was simply fun to watch.

I am honestly going to keep this one short because it seems like a no brainer and I don’t want to talk myself into a circle.

Plus, he was named to the First Team All-Decade in the Big ten basketball streak.

If you want to know just how much Turner overachieved, just look at the Ohio State recruiting class THAT SEASON. Turner was third on the list. He ranked behind Kosta Koufas (No. 13) and, the gunner himself, Jon Diebler (No. 40). Koufos and Diebler had admirable careers as Buckeyes and had their fair share of accomplishments, but neither of them can hold a candle to what Tuner accomplished.

For Evan Tuner to go from No. 47 recruit in the country and third ranked recruit at his own school to National Player of the Year in three years is an accomplishment that truly speaks for itself.


Poll

Which Buckeye outperformed their high school recruiting rankings the most?

This poll is closed

  • 31%
    Connor: Duane Washington Jr.
    (32 votes)
  • 57%
    Justin: Evan Turner
    (59 votes)
  • 11%
    There’s another player who I think has overachieved more than both of these two.
    (12 votes)
103 votes total Vote Now