Last week in the second round of the NCAA tournament, the Ohio State Buckeyes suffered an embarrassing first-round exit by losing to the Dayton Flyers. The Buckeyes’ demise was their inability to score. What if they had one of the NBA‘s premiere scorers and native son on their team? How would Ohio State have done in the tournament with current Miami Heat star LeBron James on their team?
As you probably know, James is from Akron, Ohio and has been spotted often at Ohio State athletic events. In their new locker room, James has a special spot reserved for him because it’s his company that designed the Buckeyes’ uniforms. While he skipped college for the NBA, it’s not a stretch to say he would’ve been a Buckeye for at least one season.
I’m sure most of the die-hard Ohioans currently despise me for even posing such a question, but it’s an interesting one pose. In his rookie year, James averaged nearly 21 points, six assists and five rebounds per game. What if he had taken his talents to Columbus rather than Cleveland right off the bat? Try to imagine with me for a brief moment how good the Buckeyes would have been with James wearing the Scarlet and Gray.
For lack of a better comparison, or maybe because it’s who everyone likes to compare him to, it would be a similar impact that Michael Jordan had on the University of North Carolina. Jordan was a Tar Heel for three seasons and won three regular season ACC championships, one conference tournament championship, made three Sweet 16s, two Elite Eights, one final four and won the 1982 national championship. What’s not say James couldn’t have had that success with Ohio State?
We’ve seen all too often in recent years how it only takes just one player to turn an average basketball team into a great one. Kevin Durant at Texas, Marcus Smart at Oklahoma State, Michael Beasley at Kansas State and Doug McDermott at Creighton are just a few names that come to mind. Having one stellar player to lead the way with solid support is a recipe for success in college basketball. With James, Ohio State would have certainly had just that.
Now comes to fun part: determining Ohio State’s would-be success with James. Obviously, it would have been a great year to be a Buckeyes fan. That team would have been a blast to watch, and Columbus would have been the place to be if you were a college basketball fan. The impact that James would have had on the program and the community would have been incredible.
I see nothing but nets being cut down and rings being put on fingers with this scenario. For as many years as Ohio State would have had James, they would have won the Big Ten regular season and conference tournament championships, as well as being the overall No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament. In the Big Dance, they would have cut down the nets with ease as the national champions.
When try to think about how a certain player would have done in college, it’s a tricky thing to analyze and always fun to debate. Things change and players who skip school sometimes struggle to develop. However, James came out of high school a superstar in the NBA, and his legend has only grown. Had he gone to college, more specifically to Ohio State, it’s very possible that we could’ve seen the Buckeyes go undefeated on the hardcourt.