"We have a great team returning next season and I want to be a part of another championship run," Thomas said in a statement. "My family, my coaches and I looked at my future as a professional but I love being a Buckeye and want to continue my education and development as a player and as a person at Ohio State."
"If I do have an opportunity to play basketball professionally, I want to have an immediate impact," Thomas said in a statement. "Working with my teammates and coaches at Ohio State will help me achieve my future goals." (USA Today)
Thomas had a stellar season this year, averaging 15.9 points and 5.4 rebounds. He had an even better showing in the 2012 NCAA Tournament, resulting in many rumors that he would leave Ohio State for the NBA. For Buckeye fans, it's not just that Thomas is returning that makes them happy, it's what he does for the school and the team. With Thomas back in scarlet and grey next year, Ohio State will remain a Top 10 team and have a legitimate shot at the Final Four or better.
And that's really the big question now. What will the Buckeyes' identity be with Thomas back on the court next season? There will be no Sullinger to run the offense through, and no William Buford to quietly average 14.7 points, 4.9 rebounds and 2.9 assists per game. Many were not happy with how Buford played this season, but there were many times when he came through right when the Buckeyes needed him the most. So who will the Buckeyes turn to and how will they run their offense?
The first answer is simple: They will most definitely turn to DeShaun Thomas as their leader. There's no way around it, he will be the best player and second best play maker behind Aaron Craft.
The second answer is not so simple. How will they run their offense? Sure, they'll want to feed the ball through Thomas more than anything, but that will be easy for other teams to pick up on and defend. So the Buckeyes are going to have to rely on some new blood to boost them. Enter JD Weatherspoon, Sam Thompson and Amir Williams.
How does this sound for a starting lineup: Williams, Thomas, Weatherspoon/Thompson, Lenzelle Smith, Jr., Aaron Craft. Feel better? You should. Weatherspoon, Williams and Thompson may not have seen a lot of minutes this season, but they made those minutes count. Each of them came through at various times during the season when they were called on. Weatherspoon hasn't been on the court for awhile, but he played extremely well against Minnesota. Thompson is known for his aeronautical dunks, which we're sure to see more of next season. Williams made some nice plays in the paint during the tournament and will be a huge presence under the basket next season.
So, the loss of Jared Sullinger stings, but that DeShaun Thomas is staying makes it much more bearable. Ohio State has a serious chance of having another stellar season and obtaining its fourth consecutive Big Ten Championship. Don't count us out, the Buckeyes are nowhere near done. Thad Matta will see to it that, with the players he has and the ones he'll recruit, the Ohio State Basketball Buckeyes will remain in prominence next season.
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