Andrew Holleran / Photo editor
Forward Jared Sullinger won’t be the only former Buckeye to make an NBA debut in the 2012-13 season if a trio of Ohio State basketball alumni have anything to say about it.
While Sullinger, who was selected 21st in the first round of the NBA Draft by the Boston Celtics, is averaging 14 points per game in NBA Summer League games, former OSU players Dallas Lauderdale, Jon Diebler and David Lighty are also preparing for a chance to prove themselves at basketball’s highest level. The three players converged on St. John Arena Saturday for the Ohio Homecoming Battle for Ohio game, and each confirmed after the game that they will participate in NBA exhibitions this summer.
Lauderdale, who donned scarlet and gray from 2007-2011, started his professional career with Polish club PGE Turow during the 2011-12 season. The 6-foot-8 big man is back in America and heading for the west coast to in hopes of finding an NBA career.
Lauderdale said that he has not been offered a contract by any NBA franchise but will participate in summer exhibitions with the Golden State Warriors.
“Right now, I’m just taking it day by day,” Lauderdale said. “I don’t know what’s happening, my agent’s working on that so I’m just trying to get better every day.”
Lauderdale, who is listed as a member of the Warriors’ summer league squad on the team’s website, won’t be alone in competing in summer exhibitions out west, though.
His former teammate, Diebler, traveled to Portland on Monday where he’ll practice and play with the Portland Trailblazers.
Diebler, who connected on 374 career 3-pointers during his four years with the Buckeyes, began his professional career with Panionios (Greece). While his game developed during his time in Greece, Diebler said he still has some work to do in order to impress the Trailblazers, which spent a second-round pick on him during the 2011 NBA Draft.
“My time in Greece was great. I improved a lot as a player,” Diebler said. “There’s definitely things I need to work on. I need to prove that I can hold my own on defense and just make shots. I think I have a pretty good chance.”
Rounding out the trio of OSU stars hoping to attract attention from NBA teams is Lighty, who is also returning from Europe where he began his career with Vanoli-Braga Cremona of the Italian League.
Lighty will play with the Phoenix Suns this summer and, like Lauderdale and Diebler, he said he’s just trying to do whatever it takes to achieve NBA success.
“I pretty much can do a lot of everything,” Lighty said. “I’m not one-dimensional. If you need me to rebound, I’ll rebound. If you need me to score, I’ll score. If you need me to play defense, I’ll play defense.”
Lighty, a guard, could figure to be involved in a favorable situation in Phoenix considering a recent trade by the Suns that sent former two-time league MVP Steve Nash to the Los Angeles Lakers. Lighty will battle six other guards on Phoenix’s summer roster.
Golden State and Portland open NBA Summer League play Friday while the Phoenix will have its first exhibition game Sunday, according to the teams’ respective websites.
Andrew Holleran contributed to this story.