It’s no secret that the Ohio State men’s basketball team wants to run its offense through Evan Turner.
Coming off a season in which he led the team in nearly every offensive category, the junior will again be the Buckeyes’ focal point, but from a new position.
Turner, who spent the majority of his first two years as a forward, is expected to transition this season into OSU’s point guard position.
However, his move to the point creates a log jam on the Buckeyes’ roster. Both P.J. Hill and Jeremie Simmons played significant time at the position last season and there is debate where each will fit in this year.
Perhaps the easiest and most likely solution for Simmons, a senior, is to move him to shooting guard. The former junior-college transfer is thought to be one of the better outside shooters on the team, and said he expects to see time at both positions.
“[The coaches] still want me to play some point guard because I can handle the ball,” Simmons said, “but I think I’ll play a little more wing this year.”
It is also possible that because the Buckeyes plan to have a faster pace on offense this year, both Turner and another point guard could be on the court simultaneously, Simmons said.
“I like the up-tempo ball,” he said. “We can have two point guards out there at the same time because it’s like the spread offense. Everybody can bring up the ball.”
For Hill, also a former junior-college transfer, competing for play time is nothing new. He entered last season as a third-string point guard, behind both Simmons and Anthony Crater. But when Crater transferred out of the program after just 10 games, Hill found himself in competition for the starting spot.
In the team’s 26th game of the season, and the 49th game of Hill’s career, the senior made his first start. After waiting his turn for nearly two years, he appeared to be ready to take the reins as the Buckeyes’ point guard.
Now Hill might have to take a back seat again. It is inevitable that as Turner takes over the position, Hill will see less playing time than expected, but he said he fully supports the change.
“Evan, he’s real versatile and he can do a lot of stuff for us,” Hill said. “Coach [Matta] believes that, and I believe too, that wherever coach puts him at will be best for the team and will make us successful.”
While some may see the move as a demotion for Hill, he said being designated to a backup role is more positive than negative.
“It definitely doesn’t take away from my game,” Hill said. “It actually adds to it, because it makes me work harder and then be more productive in the time that I’m on the court.”
Even though Turner will start at point guard, Matta said he expects the team to use him at nearly every position on the floor. As Turner moves through the lineup, there will be chances for Hill to make an impact.
If there was an argument to be made for Hill’s playing time, he made it himself during the team’s summer exhibition games in Canada. In the Buckeyes’ 90-39 win over the University of Windsor, Hill shot seven of nine from the field and recorded 18 points in just 20 minutes of play.
Hill’s 18 points were more than he has ever scored in a Buckeye uniform, but just like he has done in the past, Hill has embraced his role on the team, no matter what it is.
“I’m just going to get in where I fit in,” Hill said. “When I come in the game I’ll just be productive as usual. I’ll bring energy and just try to make a big impact.”
Regardless of when and where Hill and Simmons end up playing this season, the Buckeyes will live and die with the play of Turner at the point, and Hill expects Turner to thrive at his new position.
“Evan is such a great player and he can not only create for himself, but he can create for others,” Hill said. “Good things happen when he has the ball. He’s a very special player.”