What If... LeBron James Had Taken His Talents To Ohio State?

What If... LeBron James Had Taken His Talents To Ohio State?

Mark Russell

What If... LeBron James Had Taken His Talents To Ohio State?


We love to play the “What If” game in sports. What if the Red Sox had never traded Babe Ruth? What if Michal Jordan hadn’t retire to play baseball? What if Chris Webber didn’t call that time out? Oops, sorry Michigan fans. No matter where your allegiance lies, it’s amusing (and sometimes heartbreaking) to think about what might have been.


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What If… LeBron James Had Taken His Talents To Ohio State?

Several years ago, a friend of mine got me into an online game called What If Sports. You could select players or entire teams and match them up against other all-time greats.

Want to see how Cincinnati’s 1975 Big Red Machine would fair against the 1927 Murderers Row Yankees? Put it in the simulator and watch it unfold. Maybe you wondered how Hank Aaron would fair against Clayton Kershaw… select each players best year and have at it.

Of course it’s all speculation, but dreaming of what might have been brings a smile to our face or a tear to our eye.

Which brings the question: What if greatest basketball player on the planet today would’ve put NBA riches on hold to don the Scarlet and Gray?

LeBron James

LeBron James was dubbed “The Chosen One” by Sports Illustrated in February of 2002. We knew there were big things on the horizon for the kid from Akron after leading his high school team to three state championships.

Ahh… What if? What if King James decided to take his talents to Columbus before heading to the NBA? What if the one and done rule was in place then instead of allowing kids to go straight to the NBA? In case you didn’t know, Lebron has his own locker at Ohio State already and has said on multiple occasions that he would have wore the Scarlet and Gray if he wanted (or had) to go the college route.

Well for starters, the Buckeyes were coming off a less-than-stellar year finishing 17-15 with a first round exit in the Big Ten tournament. Things didn’t look much better heading into the 2003 season as OSU had lost seniors and top scoring threats Brent Darby and Sean Connolly.

Entering into the 2003 season, LeBron would’ve been surrounded with some hard workers, but mediocre talent at best. Tony Stockman was the leading scorer at 13.6 points per game. Terence Dials was just a sophomore, and JJ Sullinger (Jared’s older brother) had just transferred in from Arkansas.

James would have instantly been the best player on this team that finished 14-16. But would LeBron have been enough to change the fortunes of an Ohio State team that was about to lose it’s head coach? My guess is no.

LeBron would have no doubt been fun to watch and may have given us some highlight-reel plays, but basketball is a team sport and this Ohio State team just didn’t have much. LeBron’s freshman year: NIT loss in the second round.

What if… LeBron decided to stay for a sophomore year as he heard good things about the new coaching hire from Xavier. Now James is paired up with Terence Dials who is rounding into form as a Junior. The elder Sullinger is now acclimated to his new surroundings, and a team that was 20-12 is now 26-6, earns a No. 2 seed in the NCAA Tournament before bowing out in the elite eight.

What if… LeBron likes what he sees and decides to stay around for his junior year? A team that went 26-6 is now 29-3 and make it all the way to a championship game against Florida. But the Gators still come out on top winning a National Championship for Billy Donavan.

And what if… LeBron has been hearing about the recruiting class Thad is bringing in for his senior year. Here’s where it gets fun. Imagine a lineup featuring James, Greg Oden, Mike Conley Jr., Ron Lewis, Daequan Cook and a supporting cast off the bench.

A seasoned King James leads this team to an undefeated season and National Championship over the defending champion Gators and the team instantly becomes arguably the greatest college basketball team of all time.

What if, What if, What if… one year of LeBron in the Scarlet and Gray would have been fabulous. Four years? Well, that might have ushered Ohio State into a golden-era of Buckeye basketball unlike anything we’ve ever seen.

Until then, we’ll keep asking the question… What if?

 

Contact/Follow @BuckeyeWire for continuing coverage of Ohio State football and basketball.

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