Most reporters flocked to players like sophomore foward Jared Sullinger and senior guard William Buford during the men’s basketball team’s media day Thursday, Oct. 13.
But some players were left alone, with only the occasional reporter stepping forward to ask questions.
The man behind the Jordan Sibert name tag was one of the loners until finally, one reporter came up.
“Hey Jordan,” the reporter said. “You mind if I ask you a few questions?”
The man smiled.
“Um, I’m actually J.D.,” he said.
The name tag was wrong and the man who was sitting behind it was actually sophomore forward J.D. Weatherspoon, not sophomore guard Jordan Sibert.
Weatherspoon hasn’t been the most recognizable face on the OSU basketball team. He joined the team last year, but was declared academically ineligible for Winter Quarter and missed much of the season. It was an experience Weatherspoon said was difficult to deal with, but his teammates never abandoned him.
“They showed me so much love and they were always there to support me so that really helped,” he said.
Weatherspoon was reinstated for Spring Quarter and was able to travel to OSU’s 62-60 loss to Kentucky in the Sweet 16 of the Men’s NCAA tournament. He’s been a full-time member of the team ever since.
“It feels good being back with the team,” Weatherspoon said. “Just a minor setback for a major comeback. That’s my mindset.”
This year, Weatherspoon hopes his “major comeback” will find him a spot in OSU’s rotation. Although he lost almost a year of game experience, Weatherspoon is confident he can fit in with the chemistry of the team. He’s been playing with some of his teammates since grade school.
“(Sullinger and I have) been playing with each other since we were in fifth grade,” Weatherspoon said. “And then me, (sophomore guard Aaron Craft) and Jordan Sibert played AAU together with Sully, so, I mean, the chemistry was still there.”
Former OSU guard David Lighty, who is now playing professional basketball in Italy, has been talking to Weatherspoon on a regular basis about the role he can play for OSU this season. Weatherspoon tries to model his game after Lighty and said he thinks he can help replace Lighty on the defensive end of the floor.
“I’ve been talking to (Lighty) a lot,” Weatherspoon said. “He’s been a big brother to me as soon as I came here. We are both athletic. We play the same position, built similar. So it really helped out a lot.”
Coach Thad Matta has noticed a change in Weatherspoon. He said Weatherspoon has come a long way in the past year and could definitely play a role for the team.
“I think J.D. has learned maturity,” Matta said. “He’s got a very good work ethic about him. His maturity level has improved. He’s a very, very good athlete and from that perspective, he’s understanding what his role is going to be on this team.
“What he needs to do is defend and rebound for us.”
Who knows, maybe if Weatherspoon fills his role, they’ll give him his own name tag for media day in 2012.