When David Lighty stepped onto campus in 2006, he was part of a high-profile freshman class. Now, as a fifth-year senior, Lighty sees some similarities between his class and this year’s freshmen.
“With the class they have coming in and the number they have coming in, it’s pretty much just like my freshman year,” Lighty said. “It’s happening all over again.”
Deemed the “Super Six,” this year’s freshman class is drawing comparisons to the class of ‘06. That year, then-freshmen Greg Oden, Mike Conley Jr., Daequan Cook and Lighty helped the Buckeyes to a National Championship appearance.
The hype that surrounded Oden and company is again in Columbus.
Coach Thad Matta compared Oden, Conley Jr. and Cook to this freshman class, because many of them have played more than 200 games together throughout high school and Amateur Athletic Union basketball. That familiarity showed and will likely help this year’s class in the early going.
This class also allows Matta to have more depth than last year’s six- or seven-man rotation.
“One of the coaches said to me the other day, ‘It’s exciting that all 10 guys get along on the court,'” Matta said. “And that’s the exciting thing. I think we can have a deeper bench.”
In the 2006-07 season, the Buckeyes went nine deep, which proved beneficial in both the Big Ten and NCAA tournaments.
There are even more similarities when comparing the individual players of each class. Oden was Indiana’s Mr. Basketball, a McDonald’s All-American and won a state championship his senior year in high school. Freshman Deshaun Thomas earned the same honors playing at Bishop Luers in Fort Wayne, Ind.
But Thomas isn’t the most hyped player in his class. That honor goes to fellow All-American Jared Sullinger. Regarded as one of the premiere freshman in the country, Sullinger is arguably the most high-profile freshmen in Columbus since Oden.
Thomas might be more comparable to Cook in his ability to create instant offense. Lighty said Thomas is a great shooter and has the ability to take the ball into the post and score. Although it’s not clear if Thomas will work more at forward or guard for the Buckeyes, he has demonstrated his ability to light up the scoreboard.
Point guard Aaron Craft was one of Sullinger’s AAU teammates, like Conley Jr. and Oden were. Matta said he likes what he’s seen from the freshman ball handler.
“I don’t think we’ve ever had a freshman come to camp more ready to go physically than he was,” Matta said. “One of the things we’ve asked him to do was work on his ability to knock down shots, and he’s shown his ability to do that. We’ve always liked his defense.”
With the classes showing many similarities, there are expectations to match. But that doesn’t seem to bother Lighty and his teammates.
“I started off with a national championship” appearance, Lighty said. “So hopefully we can end that way.”