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.