Four years of waiting has finally ended for Mullens
~ by Stacey Freyer, Ohio State Athletics Communications
The long awaited road to Ohio State has ended for B.J. Mullens, but the destination was one worth waiting for. The freshman center eagerly waited to put on his scarlet and gray uniform since meeting Thad Matta in Georgia five years ago. With a verbal commitment to become a Buckeye prior to his freshman year of high school, Mullens spent his high school days learning and anticipating the day he would finally become an Ohio State basketball player.
For Mullens, the twists and turns most high school athletes encounter during the recruiting process was more a smooth, straight road. In the summer of 2004, Mullens left for a basketball camp in Atlanta, Ga., but never dreamed of what he would return home with.
At the same time, Thad Matta was beginning his coaching career at Ohio State and made the trip to Georgia to begin the search for his upcoming Ohio State stars and a way to turn Buckeye basketball into excellence. It was here when the two paths first crossed.
Matta kept an eye on Mullens and by the end of the camp had offered him a scholarship – one he would not use for another four years.
“It was shocking and surprising for me,” Mullens said. “I was new to basketball. It was my first year playing and having a top coach talking about coming to play for him was shocking. The moment I was offered the scholarship I took it.”
The Columbus, Ohio, native returned home with a scholarship and a reason to work hard on and off the court for the next four years. He knew Ohio State was what he wanted and staying near his family made the decision even easier. Before entering his high school years, Mullens began preparing for his collegiate career as a Buckeye.
“When I committed to Ohio State, I knew this is where God wanted me to be,” Mullens said. “So, this is what I wanted.”
For the next four years, Mullens attended open gyms with the Buckeyes, prepared himself physically and mentally for what was to come and began to understand Ohio State basketball. On Nov. 16, 2007, Mullens signed his NCAA national letter of intent and the road to becoming a Buckeye was official.
“The first year I committed I was shy coming out because I didn’t know anybody,” Mullens said. “I played with and learned from Terence (Dials), J.J (Sullinger) and (Tony) Stockman. With me getting to know them over the years I felt really comfortable with the surroundings. When I finally got here I felt like a senior because I’ve been up here for four years.”
Mullens not only prepared with the Buckeyes, but was making strides nationally and locally. He led Canal Winchester High School to a district title and two Mid-State League titles. Mullens list of accolades continued to grow as he was named to the USA Today’s 2008 All-USA boys’ basketball team and selected as a McDonald’s and EASports All-American, as well as a first-team Parade All-American and a Jordan Brand All-American Classic selection.
With the stress from worrying about making college visits, impressing recruits and choosing the right university off his shoulders, Mullens enjoyed his high school days and concentrated on improving on basketball in every way he could.
“I definitely had to still work hard,” Mullens said. “I had many people feel like I didn’t earn the scholarship and that pushed me to work harder and show them they were wrong. If I did something wrong, I didn’t have to worry about other coaches. I didn’t have to impress people, just myself.”
All the work paid off as the freshman center has finally put on his scarlet and gray uniform. A moment that seemed like four years ago would take forever to come.
“To put on my uniform for the first time was exciting,” Mullens said. “The four years until coming here felt like a long way, but it went by so fast. Now the time to put on my scarlet and gray is finally here. I finally made it and there is still more to go.”
Now this is home. It is a place where Mullens will continue to work, achieve and do what he loves most – play basketball. And with a roster of primarily freshman and sophomores, Mullens years of Buckeye experience will be essential to the team.
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