Ohio State Buckeyes' Ross watches his game-winning three-point shot along with Arizona Wildcats' Lyons in the closing seconds of their West Regional NCAA men's basketball game in Los Angeles

Ohio State has multiple options as they address the loss of Deshaun Thomas

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With leading scorer Deshaun Thomas now playing professionally the Ohio State Buckeyes find themselves looking for a player capable of taking the reins offensively. But if anything the 2013-14 season is setting up to be one in which multiple players shoulder the load for Thad Matta’s squad.

One of those options is junior forward LaQuinton Ross, whose improved play down the stretch helped propel the Buckeyes to a Big Ten tournament title and an appearance in the Elite Eight. And by the sounds of it Ross, who was one of the nation’s best prospects coming out of high school, is quite anxious to “spread his wings” so to speak.

“I definitely think I’ve been waiting,” Ross said on Thursday during the team’s media day. “The fans have also been waiting, too, to see what I can do. They heard the buzz about me since I came out of high school. At the end of the year I gave them something to look forward to this year.”

Ross averaged 8.3 points and 2.9 rebounds per game as a sophomore but he managed to score at least 17 points in each of Ohio State’s final three NCAA tournament games. Ross tallied 17 points in wins over Iowa State and Arizona, with his three-pointer in the final seconds proving to be the difference against the Wildcats, and then scored 19 points in a loss to Wichita State.

Even with Ross being the “easy” answer to the question of who becomes Ohio State’s primary scorer, as noted above Ohio State isn’t approaching the season with this thought. And with the amount of experience on Coach Matta’s roster, it makes sense that multiple players will be expected to raise their productivity.

“Collectively, guys have got to score more,” Matta said Thursday. “The one thing you saw more last year was guys had games where they showed that they could put the ball in the basket. Sam (Thompson) at Penn State, Lenzelle’s done it, Aaron (Craft) has done it, LaQuinton’s done it, Shannon (Scott) has done it. We have to have a little bit more of a flow to our offense. It’s something that we tried to put a big premium on.”

Thomas finished the season with a possession percentage of 27.2% and a shot percentage of 32.2%, leading the Buckeyes in both categories. With him gone multiple players stand to see their opportunities increase, and that could very well benefit Ohio State in the long run.

Utah lands top-75 center Jayce Johnson

Larry Krystkowiak
AP Photo
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Utah picked up its center of the future on Monday as four-star center Jayce Johnson pledged to the Runnin’ Utes, a source confirmed to NBCSports.com. The 7-foot Johnson recently cut his list to Cal, Colorado and Utah with the possibility of reclassifying to the Class of 2015.

Regarded as the No. 67 overall prospect in the Class of 2016, Johnson will look to attend Utah in December as a walk-on who will redshirt. While Johnson likely won’t play this season, he does give head coach Larry Krystkowiak another big man to use in practice to go against sophomore center Jakob Poeltl. A solid long-term prospect, Johnson has a good frame to add weight and he’s also skilled finishing with both hands. Utah now has its replacement for Poeltl if he opts to leave for the NBA after the season and he gets an extra semester to work with the program.

Johnson is coming off of his official visit to Utah this weekend as he joins junior college guard Jojo Zamora in the Class of 2016.


PHOTO: South Carolina gets new uniforms

Frank Martin
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South Carolina debuted some new uniforms early this week as the school is going with a fresh look and three color ways.

They’re also going to with the “Carolina” branding this season, but I think these new uniforms look pretty cool.