Sophomore forward Jared Sullinger gets most of the publicity for the Ohio State basketball team, but even the preseason All-American and player of the year candidate needs a break.
That’s when junior forward Evan Ravenel comes off the bench.
Replacing a player like Sullinger is undoubtedly difficult, but Ravenel has made the most of his opportunities, especially during OSU’s first test of the season against No. 7 Florida.
Ravenel logged 14 minutes during the Buckeyes’ 81-74 victory over the Gators and played a key role coming off the bench.
He showed a range of offensive skills, connecting on a long two-point field goal and showing the athleticism to finish an alley-oop from sophomore guard Aaron Craft. In all, Ravenel made all three of his shot attempts and finished with seven points and one rebound.
Sullinger said Ravenel’s performance was nothing surprising.
“The usual,” Sullinger said. “That’s what he does in practice. That’s the way he plays. He played really well today. Going three-for-three, took a big-time charge and a big-time rebound. That’s what he does.”
It hasn’t been an easy journey for Ravenel. The forward from Tampa, Fla., started his career at Boston College but transferred to OSU after his freshman season. Because of NCAA rules, Ravenel was forced to give up a year of eligibility and sit out last year’s season.
Ravenel said he was excited to finally get back on the court.
“I’ve been patiently waiting to get back out there,” Ravenel said. “I feel like I’ve improved a lot over the last year by working with guys like Jared, (former OSU forward Dallas Lauderdale) and (former OSU forward David Lighty). I’ve been real anxious to get in the game.”
Ravenel is not a go-to player for the Buckeyes, but OSU coach Thad Matta said he still has an important part to play on the team.
“I thought Ravenel came in and really gave us great minutes,” Matta said. “Evan understands he has a role to fulfill on this team. As long as he continues to embrace that role and gets easy buckets , gets the rebounds … that’s big for us.”
Ravenel is currently in Matta’s rotation as the first or second player to enter the game off the bench along with sophomore guard Jordan Sibert. He said he doesn’t mind his current role and feels he has a meaningful impact on the game.
“I feel I bring intensity off the bench,” Ravenel said. “I come in and play hard and work on our defensible principles and do everything I need to do … to back up Jared and (sophomore forward Deshaun Thomas).”
The Buckeyes next face Jackson State on Friday at the Schottenstein center at 9 p.m.