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Broken Records: Dennis Hopson’s Ohio State scoring record feels unbreakable

Only one other Buckeye has surpassed 2,000 points during his time in Columbus.

Ohio State University Dennis Hopson Set Number: X34312 TK2 R2 F20

They say all records are meant to be broken. Even though there is truth in that, sometimes the writing is on the wall that certain records will never be surpassed. The career scoring mark for the Ohio State men’s basketball program is one of those records that feels like it will never be topped.

Dennis Hopson has scored the most points in program history, netting 2,096 points while he wore the scarlet and gray from 1983 to 1987. Hopson surpassed Herb Williams’ career scoring total of 2,011 points. Rounding out the top-five in career scoring in school history are Jerry West and William Buford, who both scored 1,990 points, and Kelvin Ransey’s 1,934 career points.

There are numerous reasons why it feels like Hopson’s career mark will never be passed. The biggest of those reasons is it’s pretty rare to see players stick around for the three or four years needed to even come close to Hopson’s school record. Those players that do tend to stick around for that amount of time aren’t putting a ton of points on the board.

Arizona v Ohio State Photo by Harry How/Getty Images

Had Deshaun Thomas not decided to declare for the NBA Draft following his junior season, he would have had a great shot at setting a new career scoring record for the Buckeyes. Maybe if NIL had been around a decade ago, Thomas might have stuck around for his senior season, but it’s impossible to blame Thomas for wanting to move on to the professional ranks. Even though NIL could help players on the fence about declaring for the NBA Draft, it isn’t going to significantly cut down on the underclassmen declaring.

Just think about the players over the past couple decades who were big time scorers that stayed in college for 3-4 years. Oscar Tshiebwe just finished four years in college and went undrafted. Purdue big man Zach Edey withdrew his name from the NBA Draft last month and returned to the Boilermakers. Tyler Hansbrough played for 14 years at North Carolina because he was a “tweener” that didn’t have a true position in the NBA. Otherwise, if players get a hint their draft stock is rising, they are declaring for the draft.

Thad Matta brought in a lot of four and five-star recruits during his time at Ohio State, and Chris Holtmann has targeted a lot of high level recruits since taking over as head coach. While landing some big recruits could lead to a year or two of fun, those stars aren’t sticking around for four years. D’Angelo Russell scored 675 points during the 2014-15 season, but it was quite obvious after a year in Columbus that he was ready for the NBA.

Another reason we are unlikely to see another Buckeye score at least 2,000 points in a career is the transfer portal. If players aren’t declaring for the NBA Draft after a strong season, they might be hitting the portal. There’s nothing wrong with a player wanting to put himself in a better position as he works toward playing at the professional level. Since the end of the most recent season, Michigan’s Hunter Dickinson, Max Abmas of Oral Roberts, and North Carolina’s Caleb Love have all moved on to different schools.

Even though there have been some changes made to try and increase scoring in college basketball, it doesn’t seem to have made a huge difference in the scoring outputs of Ohio State’s leading scorers annually. There have been a few players to score at least 600 points in a season over the last decade, but a good amount of the scoring leaders have been in the 450-525 point range.

Ohio State v Maryland Photo by G Fiume/Maryland Terrapins/Getty Images

While those numbers would put the team’s leading scorer in the 14-15 point per game range, even those players aren’t sticking around long enough to come close to Hopson’s record. Kaleb Wesson led Ohio State in scoring in 2018-19 and 2019-20, but he only notched 1,240 points after three seasons with the Buckeyes, which put him over 800 points shy of Hopson’s mark. Prior to Wesson leading Ohio State in scoring in back-to-back years, the last Buckeye to accomplish that feat was Jared Sullinger.

It also doesn’t help scoring outputs that the Big Ten is such a grinding conference. A lot of games in the conference are played in the 50s-60s. While points could add up for players if they are scoring consistently, eventually they are going to wear down as the season moves along, and some of the shots that were falling earlier in the season aren’t falling in February or March. The physicality of the conference is why you rarely see Big Ten teams make it to the Final Four these days.

Let’s be honest, sometimes it can be rough to watch college basketball since the shooting is so inconsistent. There are games when it feels like some guys can’t miss, and there are other games where teams can’t throw a basketball in the ocean. Sometimes players fall in love with the three-point shot, and won’t stop jacking them up even though those shots aren’t falling. Don’t get me wrong, there are some players that have gone on to be great shooters in the NBA, they just weren’t as consistent in college as they went on to be at the professional level.

Does anyone need to break Hopson’s school record? The world isn’t going to end if nobody ever does. It would just be fun to see someone come close to the mark. William Buford was a little over 100 points shy of the record, but other than that there hasn’t been much of a threat to it.

For someone to break the record, they are going to have to be a unicorn. By that I mean they have to be good enough to put in big minutes early in their college career, but also not good enough to be wanted at the professional level or by other schools. Just putting it that way is crazy, which is why the school’s scoring record will likely never be surpassed.