Saturday, April 7, 2007

IF Greg Oden stays...

In what could shape up to be one of the biggest stories of the next few months, Greg Oden is actually contemplating going back to Ohio State for another year in order to secure a national championship. Though he has said nothing other than "no comment" himself, his best friend Mike Conley has opined that he might just come back so that they can win another title together. If Oden stays, likely mid-first rounder Mike Conley would surely stay as would Big Ten 6th man of the year, Daequan Cook.

Next years lineup could be much more fearsome than this year's version despite the loss of future NBA player Ron Lewis and former McDonald's All American Ivan Harris. Oden could easily become a 22 points/10 boards/5 blocks type of player if he plays with the energy he did in the title game and moves as quickly on both ends. Conley should be around 14 points/7 assists/3 steals if he continues to improve. Let's not forget Daequan Cook, who, before Oden returned, scored over 20 points 6 times. Look for him to average 17 points/6 rebounds/2.5 threes when he is inserted into the starting lineup.

The cupboard is not bare behind these three either. Jamar Butler will be back as a senior to start at SG and backup Conley at PG. David Lighty, defensive specialist, should improve his game on the offensive end as well. Othella Hunter should bulk up some to withstand the pounding in the paint and increase his blocks to about 2 bpg. Additionally 6-10 Vanderbilt transfer Kyle Madsen will be eligible to play providing additional depth in the front court with Matt Terwilliger.

The incoming class is not slouch to the Thad Five either. Kosta Koufos is a 7-1 center that is more in the Nowitzski mold than Oden. The two of them could play an interesting high post-low post game when both are on the floor at the same time, in addition to eliminating all drives to the basket with their shot blocking prowess. Expected to be the 6th man off the bench next year is Jon Diebler, who finished his career as Ohio's all time leading scorer with over a 40 ppg average his senior year. He will without a doubt be among the Big Ten's 3pt leaders next season.

The lineup should look like this;

SF Daequan Cook David Lighty
PF Othella Hunter Matt Terwilliger/Kyle Madsen
C Greg Oden Kosta Koufos
SG Jamar Butler Jon Diebler
PG Mike Conley Jamar Butler

I don't think that there will be a team in the country that could compete with this rotation boasting at least 4 future NBA players including 3 possible top ten selections. Let's just hope that Oden stays.

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