All photos Andy Gottesman / Multimedia editor
David Lighty, Jon Diebler and Dallas Lauderdale saw their college careers end abruptly when Ohio State lost to Kentucky, 62-60, in the fourth round of the NCAA Tournament on March 25. While the loss wrapped up their time on the college court, none of them want it to be the final chapter of their basketball career.
In fact, they all have their sights set on the same thing: the NBA.
None of the three former Buckeyes is projected to go very high in the draft, but they all bring something to the table they say they hope can be utilized in the NBA.
Diebler said his shooting ability is what gives him a chance and that he hopes his potency from long range will translate well to the pros. He set the men’s Big Ten record for career 3-pointers, finishing with 374.
“I think every team could use a shooter to stretch the floor,” Diebler said. “Being a specialist is kind of what they’ve labeled me as, someone who can make shots. I think that’s something I could offer a team at the next level.”
At 6-foot-6, Diebler has the prototypical height to play in the NBA, but few mock drafts show Diebler being selected. Draftexpress.com ranks Diebler No. 87 among its Top 100 Prospects.
Diebler said if the NBA doesn’t work out, he’d like to play overseas.
Lauderdale said he has the same mindset. Some saw it as surprising when Lauderdale shared his NBA aspirations, but he said the NBA has always been his dream.
“That’s my goal,” Lauderdale said.
At 6-foot-8, 255 pounds, Lauderdale is undersized for a post player in the NBA, but said he hopes to make up for it with his exceptionally long wingspan.
Lauderdale was mostly a defensive specialist for the Buckeyes throughout his career, but NBA scouts say they worry about his offensive skill set and lack of dominance on the boards.
“The biggest concern when evaluating Lauderdale as a prospect are his underwhelming rebounding numbers,” college basketball scout Walker Beeken said on Draftexpress.com. “As a player with his lack of polish offensively, (Lauderdale) has to be a top-notch rebounder in order to find a niche at the NBA level.”
But Lauderdale has a plan if he doesn’t make it in the NBA.
“I would go to Europe,” he said. “I have no problem seeing the world.”
Lighty probably has the best chance of making it in the NBA. Many mock drafts project Lighty as a second-round selection.
His defense and finishing ability have drawn praise among talent evaluators, and coach Thad Matta said throughout the year that Lighty is exceptional defensively.
“I’ve been saying it for four years: He’s the best defender in college basketball,” Matta said in a press conference before a game against Michigan on Jan. 12. “I think he’s the national defender of the year, and he’s been that way ever since the day he guarded Jeff Green as a freshman in the Final Four.”
Lighty did not return multiple phone calls for comment, but he said on Twitter that he’s ready for the future.
“The next 3 months will be the biggest and craziest months of my life… I’m ready for the challenge tho,” Lighty said Monday on his personal Twitter account.
Lighty, Diebler and Lauderdale are in the preliminary steps of preparing for the draft.
Diebler said the three of them took a week off to rest their bodies following the loss to Kentucky, but now are in the process of picking agents and working out in Columbus.
“We’re starting to work out again and get back in shape,” Diebler said. “We’ll just let the process develop.”