Recently I was asked recently by the editor of a publication that will remain nameless (for now) for my All-Big Ten teams for the 2010-2011 season. Four names, which will all be identified in the coming days as this preview rolls along, came to mind immediately.
The fifth, however, required extra thought.
When asked to assemble an all-league team, it’s easy to fall into the trap of making sure all positions, 1-5, are filled. But in this instance I listed the five players I felt would have the biggest impact on the upcoming season. And so we begin with Ohio State junior guard William Buford.
First, a look at his 2009-2010 numbers: 14.4 ppg, 5.6 rpg, 3.1 apg, 38% 3pt, 43% FG, 75% FT. Stellar across the board and also solid at avoiding turnovers (just 26 in 18 Big Ten games).
The departure of Evan Turner, the No. 2 pick in the NBA Draft, leaves Thad Matta without the league’s best playmaker and without a go-to scorer. Buford is unlikely to replicate Turner’s ability to carry the Buckeyes on his back through the Big Ten. But he is capable of assuming the role of being Ohio State’s go-to-guy if he’s able to expand his game beyond knocking down shots from the perimeter.
The challenge, however, will be finding opportunities to score without being set up by Turner. Ohio State is extremely thin at the point guard position and Buford’s bread-and-butter during his first two seasons has been catching and shooting. Super freshman Jared Sullinger should command attention in the paint, helping free up Buford and senior Jon Diebler for open looks.
The next step for Buford is shoring up his midrange game and attacking the rim more often. His talent level indicates he’s capable, but he’s not an exceptional athlete and isn’t particularly great off the dribble, either. A summer to work on his game and a positive experience with the USA Select team in July might be just what he needed, but ready or not, Ohio State will be counting on Buford in order to contend in a loaded Big Ten.
Filed to: William Buford