The Ohio State University formally announced today that forward Deshaun Thomas will return next year for his junior season for the men’s basketball team. Thomas, a 6-foot-7 starter, blossomed in February and March for the Buckeyes on the team’s path to the Final Four. He is expected to be a key offensive option for head coach Thad Matta next year after sophomore forward Jared Sullinger announced his departure for the NBA earlier this week.
Thomas averaged 15.9 points on 52 percent shooting with 5.4 rebounds in starting all 39 games this past season. He averaged 19.2 and 7.4 during the final 13 games of the season. However, he struggled with just 9 points and 4 rebounds in OSU’s national semifinal loss to Kansas on March 31, his first single-digit scoring game since a Feb. 11 loss to Michigan State.
Senior guard William Buford is the other notable departure from this year’s team. Also returning next season will be two other starters, guards Aaron Craft and Lenzelle Smith Jr. The Buckeyes are expected to begin the season ranked in the top 25, but likely not in the top 5.
Jacob Rosen is a long-time contributor to WaitingForNextYear. He's also a writer online at SportsAnalyticsBlog and Nylon Calculus . An Akron native, Jacob is a current MBA student at the University of Oregon's Warsaw Sports Marketing Center. You can follow him on Twitter @WFNYJacob or e-mail him at udjrosen(at)gmail(dot)com.