Oct. 24, 2005

Thad Matta enters his second year as head coach knowing what door to enter to get to his office and where to go to find Ohio State logo apparel for the recruiting trail. Such was not the case a year ago when he was hired to coach the Buckeyes and left recruiting before he was formally introduced as the 13th head coach in OSU history July 9, 2004.

With Value City Arena keys in hand and the combination to the equipment room door committed to memory, Matta has settled in Columbus.

With just over a year in the books, the Ohio State coaching staff is somewhat less frazzled but nonetheless relentless in preparations for the 2005-06 season, the 107th in the history of the program.

Year One produced 20 victories for Matta’s squad. One of the most notable triumphs was the 65-64 thriller to end the regular season over undefeated and No. 1-ranked Illinois at Value City Arena.

That victory and the return of five of the top six scorers from a 20-12 squad have expectations on the rise for Ohio State basketball in 2005-06.

Senior center Terence Dials is the top returning scorer for the Buckeyes. He led the team with nearly 16 points and eight rebounds a game a season ago. He was able to post those numbers despite Ohio State setting numerous Top 10 individual and team 3-point shooting records. Dials has improved his scoring and rebounding numbers in each of his seasons at Ohio State. He reached 500 points and 250 rebounds for the season as a junior and eclipsed 1,000 points and 600 boards for his career. He will likely be a candidate for All-Big Ten recognition as one of the league’s top returning post players this year.

Ohio State lost 12.0 points a game with the graduation (sociology) of Tony Stockman. In his roster spot enters Ron Lewis, a transfer from Bowling Green, who lead the Falcons with an average of 17.0 points a contest as a sophomore. He will have two years of eligibility with the Buckeyes. Lewis scored 877 points in two years at BGSU. He was a prolific foul shooter during his tenure at Bowling Green, knocking down 81 percent (340-420) of his free throws in his two-year career. Despite his ability to score, Lewis set up his teammates with 164 assists while recording 60 steals in 60 games as a Falcon.

Ron Lewis is expected to add a threat offensively but he is not the only addition known to put the ball in the cylinder. Sylvester Mayes averaged 19.6 points at Redlands (Okla.) Community College a year ago. The 6-foot-1-inch guard from Fort Wayne, Ind., scored 609 points, 17th nationally in the junior college ranks as a sophomore. His teams won 59 games with just six losses the last two seasons. Mayes also added 88 assists, 96 rebounds and 91 steals (22nd nationally) last year.

Brayden Bell, a freshman from Salt Lake City, Utah, also is expected to give the Buckeyes a lift offensively. Despite his 6-foot-8-inch, 240-pound frame, Bell has demonstrated an ability to step away from the basket to knock down the 3-pointer and mid-range jumper. He averaged 21 points and 10 rebounds as a Brighton High School senior a year ago.

Sylvester Mayes was a National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) First Team All-American for Redlands Community College as a sophomore. He shot 51 percent from the field (201-397), 42 percent from 3-point range (68-164) and 77 percent from the foul line (139-181) in leading Redlands to a 27-4 record in 2004-05. He is one of two first team NJCAA All-Americans on the Ohio State roster. Je’Kel Foster earned the same recognition before joining the Buckeyes a year ago. Foster played at Chipola (Fla.) Junior College. Last year, Foster averaged 7.7 points a game for Ohio State while knocking down 43 percent of his 3-point attempts (62-145) while adding 78 assists and 43 steals. He also grabbed 104 rebounds. His all-around effort earned him a starting spot the final 12 games of the season, helping Ohio State to a 20-12 overall record.

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Though Matta is looking forward to the newcomers and their possible contributions, he has not overlooked the return of five of the top six scorers from last season. Senior Terence Dials, a candidate for first team All-Big Ten honors this year, is the top returning scorer at 15.9 points a game. The 6-9 center also is the team’s top returning rebounder with an average of 7.9 a contest. Also back are senior guard J.J. Sullinger (9.7 ppg./5.4 rpg.), senior wing Matt Sylvester (8.0 ppg.), senior guard Je’Kel Foster (7.7 ppg.) and junior wing Ivan Harris (7.3 ppg.). In all, Ohio State returns 74 percent of its offense and 81 percent of its rebounding.

Thad Matta doesn’t know what it’s like to end a season with fewer than 20 wins during his head coaching career. The second year Ohio State coach came to Ohio State with a streak of four 20+ win seasons at Butler (24 wins in 2001) and Xavier (26 in all three years from 2002-04). With 20 victories a year ago at Ohio State, Matta is one of two coaches nationally to record 20 or more wins in the first five seasons if his coaching career. Mark Few of Gonzaga is the other with 20+ in all six years with the Bulldogs.

For the seventhconsecutive season, all of which played at Value City Arena, Ohio State finished among the Top 18 teams nationally in average attendance. The Buckeyes averaged 13,850 fans last year in 16 home games at VCA. Overall, in 113 games at VCA, a total of 1,853,038 fans, an average of 16,399 per game, have helped the Buckeyes to a record of 91-22 at the facility. Ohio State will exceed the 2 million mark in home attendance at VCA during the 2005-06 season when fan No. 146,962 enters the building. The Buckeyes have won 14 or more home games in five of the seven years at VCA and 11 or more in six of seven.

Seven of the 10 players on the roster this year chose to stay in state, play for the Buckeyes and pursue their education in Columbus. Seniors Terence Dials (Youngstown), Matt Sylvester (Cincinnati), J.J. Sullinger (Columbus); juniors Ron Lewis (Columbus) and Ivan Harris (Springfield); and sophomores Jamar Butler (Lima) and Matt Terwilliger (Troy) all played high school basketball for their hometown teams in Ohio.

Terence Dials, J.J. Sullinger and Matt Sylvester are the Top 3 returning scorers for Ohio State. The three combined have been in Columbus a total of 14 years entering the 2005-06 season. All will be fifth-year seniors when school starts in September. Both Dials and Sylvester have spent all five years at Ohio State with each missing a season with injury. Dials sat out most of the 2002-03 season with a back ailment while Sylvester missed the majority of 2001-02 with leg and back injuries. Sullinger played one year at Arkansas before leaving for Ohio State. He sat out the 2002-03 season to satisfy NCAA transfer rules. In addition to these three, Je’Kel Foster again will be a significant contributor in 2005-06. He too is a senior with three years playing experience, two at the junior college level and one a season ago in Columbus.

With experience throughout the roster this year, Ohio State’s returning underclassmen still will get opportunities to perform. Sophomore Jamar Butler started the final 12 games of the season at the point position and is the early leader to run the Ohio State offense this year. Matt Terwilliger, a reserve post player a year ago, has bulked up in the offseason. He will work with newcomer Brayden Bell to add depth in the post behind Dials.

Sophomore Matt Terwilliger traveled with the summer Big Ten touring team to Spain Aug. 9-19. The squad was coached by Bruce Weber of Illinois. Terwilliger played in 15 games as a freshman a year ago for the Buckeyes. He averaged just more than five minutes of court time a game, contributing 23 points and 12 rebounds on the season. The Big Ten team finished with a 2-3 record in Spain with Terwilliger averaging 5.0 points and 3.2 rebounds in the five games.

A father and son combo head the inaugural class of inductees into the Ohio Basketball Hall of Fame Museum’s (OBHFM) Hall of Fame. The induction banquet will be held May 20, 2006 at the Marriott Inn North in Columbus. Bill Hosket, Sr., and Bill Hosket, Jr., known also as an ESPN Regional Television college basketball color commentator, both will enter the OBHFM together. The senior Hosket led Dayton Stivers High School to state championships in 1928, 1929 and 1930 before becoming an All-Big Ten honoree in 1933 at Ohio State. Hosket Jr., was an All-America center at Ohio State, a member of the 1964 U.S. Olympic Champions and the 1970 NBA champion New York Knickerbockers.

Ohio State University players, coaches and administrators dominate individual honors of the 144-member initial class. They are: Hosket Sr. and Hosket Jr., Clark Kellogg, Jay Burson, Jerry Lucas, Jimmy Jackson, Katie Smith, L.W. St. John, Fred Taylor, Bob Knight, John Havlicek and Gary Bradds.