Last season, the front court of the ultimately NIT-bound Ohio State Buckeyes featured a seven-foot big man by the name of Kosta Koufos. A native of Canton, Ohio, Koufos had a reasonably successful season, averaging 14 points and seven rebounds per game and was actually named the NIT MVP (yes, that exists) after leading the Buckeyes to the “title.”
Koufos, a freshman at the time, then decided that his stay in Columbus was going to come to an end and declared eligibility for the NBA draft. You know that things aren’t all they are cracked up to be when Clevelanders are adamant against drafting players from Ohio State in any sport, but such was the case with Koufos and the Cavaliers having a late pick in the first round. Danny Ferry chose J.J. Hickson and Koufos wound up in the hands of the Utah Jazz. And after 48 games this season, the Jazz have opted to send Koufos to the Utah Flash – the team’s Developmental League franchise.
And after a season of nine points and five rebounds per game, this year’s freshman big man, B.J. Mullens, believes that he too is ready follow his predecessors footsteps and take the leap to the next level. The Columbus Dispatch reports that Mullens will be the latest one-and-done of the Ohio State Buckeyes as he declared his eligibility for the NBA.
When you have a young, seven-foot center that only managed to pull down five rebounds per game, you can understand the concern by those that were around him at Ohio State as well as the fans that were expecting a lot more out of the much-discussed recruit.
“I feel another year in school would have allowed him to develop into the player I know he can be, and an additional season would have been beneficial to him both personally and monetarily in the long run,” [Coach Thad] Matta said.
As one of the top recruits in the country, Mullens has a ton of upside, but is very, very raw. As Rock mentioned in an email yesterday evening, if any player on the current Buckeyes team needs the financial benefit of the NBA sooner than later, it is Mullens. However, one has to wonder how much he could be leaving on the table over the long run by forgoing at least one more season with the Scarlet and Gray.
The Columbus Dispatch reports that such respected NCAA basketball minds like Rick Pitino and Dick Vitale have both publicly urged Mullens to come back for another season, but it was apparently all for naught. With guys like Greg Oden and Mike Conley leaving after their freshman season, and getting drafted early on, you can understand the allure. However, Mullens is currently pegged to be selected in the late ‘teens, possibly falling in to the 20s a la Koufos.
Mullens’ comments on his decision make me raise an eyebrow.
“People on the street don’t really realize how hard it is practicing, getting your body beat up every day,” he said. “They only see the games and the dunks. They don’t really see behind the scenes, the battle you have to go through. It’s something I’ll have to really think deep about.”
If he thinks his freshman year in college was a “battle,” just wait until he gets on an NBA floor.
OSU’s Mullens heads to NBA [Columbus Dispatch]
(AP Photo/Al Behrman)