Happy Friday morning, Buckeye Nation. Eighteen days into the life of The Empire and the response from you guys and gals has been exciting for those of us who have put so much work into getting off the ground. We had pretty high expectations upon launching our little corner of the Ohio State blogosphere but the reaction in the form of visits and feedback has surpassed anything we expected this early. From your entire Empire team – Thank You.
We’re focusing on our laundry list of plans for the site and working 24/7 on a few additions we feel will help us serve one of the most content-thirsty fan bases in America, including our number-one priority of adding more talent and experience to your current Empire staff of hooligans – which we did yesterday, and will again Monday. The guys and gal on the Dark Side are getting their feet under them as well and have a few plans of their own, including one specific project that might just interest you going forward.
Alright, enough about us – until after the jump anyway. Ring the damn bell.
After two years of undying dedication to The Ohio State University, followed by three months of rumor and speculation leading up to last night’s NBA Draft, the Boston Celtics drafted Jared Sullinger 21st overall. Shortly after NBA Commissioner David Stern announced the pick, 10TV’s Dom Tiberi posted this video of Jared’s reaction on YouTube which is just about enough to give Buckeye Nation a few goose bumps. In short, Sully is as “Buckeye” as you’ll find.
It was no surprise two years ago when he committed to Ohio State out of Northland High School in Columbus. It was a surprise when he declared he would be back for his sophomore season considering at the time he was projected as a top-5 lottery pick. With his NBA ticket and a potential check in hand, he dedicated another year to the university and city that he loves and, in the end, likely paid for it. That’s something you simply don’t see this day and age, especially out of someone projected so high in the draft after his freshman season. It’s a one-and-done college basketball world we live in. Sully isn’t from the same world, apparently. Best of luck to Jared, and his earth-moving booty, as they pave their way through the next level.
Ohio State graduate William Buford joined known names such as Drew Gordon and Tu Holloway as those who went undrafted last night. At 6’5″ 209 pounds, with a 6-10 wingspan and a pile of experience, this one comes as a bit of a surprise. While he didn’t excel as a Buckeye senior last year as expected, he was ranked as high as 13th in the 2008 draft analysis by Draft Express on a list with names such as Brandon Jennings, Tyreke Evans, Kemba Walker and the Kansas Jayhawks’ Morris twins, Marcus and Markieff, all currently in the NBA.
While WillieB has the perfect NBA frame and the ‘look’ of a professional swingman, his inconsistent jumpshot and lack of lift haunted him last night. In a league where players thrive when they can take their man off the dribble and create their own shot, Buford stands out as a misfit. He comes off of picks well enough (see Michigan State – 2012 B1G Tournament) and has a good set of handles for a player his size, but his athleticism just doesn’t fit perfectly with what we see in the NBA these days.
Where Tim Duncan was served well as a big man for sticking around at Wake Forest for four years in the 90’s, Buford isn’t reaping the rewards for doing the same at Ohio State. Bu stuck around when he didn’t have to, watching the class he came in with completely disappear before his senior year. He came back to clean up unfinished business and very likely hurt his own draft stock by doing so. While Jared was Jared last year, All-American status and all, Buford’s struggles landed him behind Sully and sophomore DeShaun Thomas in the offensive pecking order by the time March Madness rolled around. As we step back and look now, it’s very likely Thomas may have even gone ahead of Sully had he come out this year, but at least Jared landed in a soft spot later in the first round.
Buford going completely undrafted? Makes me sick. He was, and is, a great Buckeye. He always represented the university well on and off the court. Unfortunately that doesn’t always translate into immediately becoming a great pro.
Alright, Back to The Empire
We’re extremely excited to officially announce the addition of two very talented men to the Empire team, including one who roamed the turf at Ohio Stadium for a few years under Jim Tressel.
Former Ohio State punter Jon Thoma made his official welcome post yesterday, looking back on his ultra-important role with Ohio State under Tress. We’re looking forward to Jon’s weekly contribution, coming to you each Thursday with his Thoma’s Coffin Corner feature. He comes on board with a bag full of stories and the desire to tell a few in his own unique way. In short, this could get fun in a hurry.
The talented Joe Dexter will also officially join The Empire crew with his first post on Monday, coming to us with an extensive blogging background – most recently with the popular Ohio State Super-Blog The Buckeye Battlecry.
We want to welcome both to the squad, as they each make us a definitively stronger site with their backgrounds, unique experiences and perspectives. Jon and Joe, we’ve sent your new Club Cards over to our state-of-the-art Lamination Department, but feel free to roam about the tree house in the meantime. Watch your step – we’re not insured. Welcome aboard.
This is never not funny. Ever. Never. Have a great weekend, Buckeye Nation.