Unfortunately no former Ohio State Buckeye hoopers are playing in tonight’s NBA All-Star Game in Cleveland. That doesn’t mean there isn’t any history of Buckeye alums making some noise not only at the All-Star Game, but during All-Star Weekend. Since its inception in 1951, seven Ohio Staters have been selected to the All-Star Game, making 32 overall appearances between them. Six Buckeyes have been selected to the Rising Stars Challenge, and two scarlet and gray stars have participated in the Three-Point Contest.
Rising Stars Challenge
Since Tate played in Friday night’s Rising Stars, we’ll start off with him first. It had to feel like a bit of a home-court advantage for Tate last night, since not only was he returning to Ohio, he also teamed with Evan Mobley and Issac Okoro, who play for the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Team Barry won game 1 of the #CloroxRisingStars tourney fueled by the #CloroxClutch play Jae'Sean Tate hitting the game-winner.— NBA (@NBA) February 19, 2022
Not to be outdone, Cade Cunningham showed up big in game 2 to secure the #CloroxRisingStars MVP and the tourney win for Team Barry! pic.twitter.com/cDsw1ujCgD
While Cade Cunningham and Evan Mobley got more attention because of their scoring prowess, Tate sealed Team Barry’s game against Team Payton to earn a spot in the tournament final. Tate finished the first game with seven points and six rebounds, and followed it up with five points in the championship game.
Even though Cunningham earned MVP honors for his performance, Tate did impress a few voters, with P.J. Carlesimo and Grant Hill throwing their support behind Tate for the award. Tate was the only other player besides Cunningham with multiple votes for MVP.
The point guard has competed in four different events during All-Star Weekend over the course of his career. After being taken with the fourth pick in the 2007 NBA Draft. Conley was selected to play in the 2008 Rising Stars Challenge. Even though he was still finding his feet at the professional level, we could see some of the pieces coming together, as Conley dished out eight assists for the Rookies Team in the 136-109 loss.
Had it not been for Kyrie Irving scoring 34 points, Evan Turner would have had a strong case for MVP. Turner scored 16 points, grabbed 11 rebounds, and was credited with seven assists in Team Chuck’s 146-133 win over Team Shaq in Orlando. The collection of talent along with Turner on Team Chuck was pretty wild, as Irving, Paul George, DeMarcus Cousins all played with E.T., and Kawhi Leonard was on the team but didn’t play in the game.
Two years later, Jared Sullinger was the next former Buckeye to play in the Rising Stars Challenge. As a sophomore, Sullinger was part of Team Webber, along with another Columbus product, Trey Burke. Unfortunately the stars from Ohio’s capital city couldn’t lead Team Webber past Team Hill, who won 142-136. Sullinger finished with 13 points and four assists.
The only Buckeye to play in two editions of the Rising Stars Challenge was D’Angelo Russell, who played as a rookie for Team USA in 2016, and returned in 2017 as a sophomore. Russell’s best performance was as a rookie, scoring 22 points and dropping seven dimes in Team USA’s 157-154 win over Team World. The next year, Russell was a little quieter, scoring 12 points in a 150-141 loss.
In 2009, Cook became the first Ohio State alum to participate in the three-point contest. The Buckeye sharpshooter made the most of his opportunity, taking the crown from two-time defending champion Jason Kapono. In the finals, Cook not only bested Kapono, he held off Rashard Lewis, who tied Cook with 15 points, leading to a tiebreaker shootout that Cook won 19-7. Cook returned the next year to defend his crown, but failed to make the finals.
Originally Conley wasn’t scheduled to participate in the three-point contest last year, however an injury to Devin Booker opened up a spot for Conley. The Utah point guard almost made magic happen in Atlanta, making it to the finals before seeing Steph Curry top his score 28-27.
It was Conley’s second appearance on Saturday night of All-Star Weekend during his career, as he was matched against Boston’s Jayson Tatum in the 2019 Skills Challenge. Conley was unable to defeat Tatum, who went on to win the event.
Hondo has 13 All-Star Game appearances, which is almost nearly double the next most by a former Buckeye. About the only thing that is missing from Havlicek’s resumé is an All-Star Game MVP award. In each of his first 10 All-Star appearances, Havlicek scored at least 10 points, with his personal best coming in 1968 when he scored 26 points. Havlicek actually had the most points in the game, but Philadelphia’s Hal Greer earned MVP honors likely because he scored 19 points in the third quarter.
For a few years, one of Havlicek’s teammates at the All-Star Game was Jerry Lucas, who made seven All-Star Game appearances, with his first coming in 1964. The following year, Lucas became the first Buckeye to win the All-Star Game MVP award when he registered a double-double, finishing with 25 points and 10 rebounds. It would be the first of two double-doubles for Lucas in the All-Star Game, as he scored 10 points and grabbed 19 rebounds in 1966.
Before Jerry Lucas burst onto the scene, Neil Johnston was known as the best basketball player to come out of Ohio State. Johnston was selected to the All-Star Game six times during his career. The center made his first appearance in 1953, scoring 11 points and grabbing 12 rebounds. Johnston would record his only other double-double in 1956, with 17 points and 11 rebounds. The next year Johnston had his best scoring performance, registering 19 points. In that game, Johnston barely missed a double-double, pulling down nine rebounds.
The first Buckeye to be selected to the NBA All-Star Game was Arnie Risen, who would earn four All-Star selections during his career. Even though Risen didn’t make some of the noise that Havlicek, Lucas, and Johnston did during All-Star Games, nobody will be able to take away the fact that he was the first Ohio State alum to play in an NBA All-Star Game, with his appearance in the 1952 exhibition coming a year before Johnston made his debut.
It’s mind-boggling that Michael Redd was only selected to one NBA All-Star Game during his career, especially when you consider there was a six season stretch in which he scored at least 21 points per game. Redd’s lone trip to the All-Star Game saw him scored 13 points in just over 14 minutes in 2004. Out of the six other players that scored in double figures for the Eastern Conference in the game, Redd had the least time on the court.
After being selected to replace an injured Victor Oladipo in the 2019 All-Star Game, D’Angelo Russell was drafted to be a part of Team Giannis. Russell and his teammates didn’t have enough to slow down Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, and the rest of Team LeBron. In the loss, Russell played 12 minutes and finished with six points, with both of his field goals coming from three-point range.
Following over a decade in the NBA, last year Mike Conley was finally selected to his first All-Star Game. Much like D’Angelo Russell two years before, Conley was chosen as an injury replacement after it was announced that Devin Booker wouldn’t be able to play due to injury. Conley must have used up all his good shots the previous night in the three-point contest, as he was 1-6 from the field, with four his misses coming from behind the three-point line. Even though he didn’t play as well as he was hoping, it had to still feel great to finally play in an All-Star Game.