When you think about The Ohio State Buckeyes in their scarlet and gray, are you picturing them on a field or on a court?
Personally, I picture them on a field. After all, the football program has found much more success than the men’s basketball program. And in the Big 10, it’s hard to think of them as a basketball school, like you do with Indiana, Iowa, Illinois, Michigan State and Purdue, especially when March Madness rolls around.
Now I’m not chirping Ohio State Basketball, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with being a football school. It’s probably financially better than being a basketball school, especially with how successful the Buckeyes have been in football. But you’d be remiss to say they haven’t seen some great players come through their basketball program. They’ve seen numerous NBA-caliber players, with even a No. 1 pick in the NBA Draft. And with momentum like that, it’s hard to say that head coach Chris Holtmann won’t find a higher level of success in the future.
So who makes up the all-time starting lineup for the Ohio State men’s basketball team? A program founded in 1898, has a NCAA Tournament championship trophy in their case, and has been been in the Top 25 rankings many times during this millennia. Here are our picks:
Ohio State Basketball’s All-Time Starting 5
Aaron Craft, Point Guard
This Findlay, Ohio native was a four-year starter for the Buckeyes. He was extremely skilled on both sides of the ball, with the ability to both dish the ball and pick an opponent’s pocket. In fact, Aaron Craft was more known for his passing skills than his shooting. To this day, he is the Buckeyes’ all-time leader in both assists with 579 and steals with 208.
Craft made the Big Ten All-Freshman Team. He made the Big Ten All-Defensive Team all four years at Ohio State and was named Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year in two of those years. In 2014, he was named the NABC Defensive Player of the Year, which is awarded to the top defensive player in college basketball recognized by the National Association of Basketball Coaches.
In 2020, The Big Ten Network named him to the All-Decade Team.
Evan Turner/Jim Jackson, Shooting Guard
This could be cheating but it’s hard to pick one or the other when it comes to Evan Turner and Jim Jackson. After all, both players have their numbers retired by the school.
Turner, hailing from Chicago, had a massive year for the Buckeyes in 2010. He became the first player to finish in the top five in any conference in points, assists and rebounds. After leading Ohio State to a Big Ten Championship, where he was named Big Ten Tournament MVP, he would go on to be named Big Ten Player of the Year, a consensus first-team All-American and the Naismith College Player of the Year. During his time with the Buckeyes, Turner set the record for both career and single-season Player of the Week awards.
Jackson, from Toledo, also found success with the Buckeyes from 1989-92. He made an instant impact as a freshman when he averaged 16.1 points per game and 5.5 rebounds per game. He was a two-time Big Ten Player of the Year, a two-time consensus First-Team All-American, a UPI College Player of the Year and was elected to the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame in 2021.
Dennis Hopson, Small Forward
Also from Toledo, Dennis Hopson was an offensive machine during his time in Columbus. Things began to click his junior year thanks to an up-tempo offense where Hopson scored 20.9 points per game. The next year, he would be the second-leading scorer in all of Division I basketball. He was also named the Big Ten Player of the Year and a consensus Second-Team All-American during his senior year.
Hopson left Ohio State as the school’s all-time leading scorer with 2,096 points. He also holds the single-season scoring record with 958.
Jerry Lucas, Power Forward
This Middletown, Ohio native is arguably the best player to wear the Buckeye jersey. He is definitely the most decorated Ohio State Buckeye.
Despite being recruited in 1958, Jerry Lucas couldn’t play for the Buckeyes until he was a sophomore in the 1959-1960 season. At the time he joined Ohio State, freshmen weren’t allowed to play sports. But boy, did he make an immediate impact on the team. Lucas led an offense that scored 90 points per game. Lucas himself averaged 26 points per game, adding 16 rebounds per game on the stat sheet as well. The Buckeyes won the national championship that year, and Lucas was named Most Outstanding Player of the 1960 Final Four.
With Lucas’ stellar play for the remainder of his career at OSU, the Buckeyes would go on to two more national championships, making it to the big game all three years Lucas was eligible to play. Lucas is the only three-time Big Ten Basketball Player of the Year. He was also named the NCAA Player of Year in both 1961 and 1962. In every year he played at OSU, he was a consensus First-Team All-American.
Jared Sullinger, Center
Keeping the lineup small by having this hometown hero, he is from Columbus, Ohio, at center. But his wide frame and willingness to work underneath the basketball makes it easy to have him in this position.
He only played two years at OSU but was a star for both of those years. In his career, he almost averaged a double-double with 17.3 points per game and 9.7 rebounds. During his sophomore year, his last year as a Buckeye, he helped lead the Ohio State squad to the 2012 Final Four.
Sullinger was a two-time consensus First-Team All-American, the USBWA National Freshman of the Year, a Big-Ten Freshman of the Year and a two-time All-Big Ten selection. Not a bad resume for someone with such a short stint in college hoops.
That’s not a bad starting lineup if I do say so myself. And if any of those players need rest, all you need to do is look to the bench for players like Greg Oden, Jamari Wheeler, John Havlicek, Kyle Young, Malaki Branham, Cedric Russell and E.J. Liddell. Hard to say Ohio State isn’t also a basketball school with a lineup like that.