What if LeBron James had come to Ohio State?


With the NBA Playoffs in full swing and the Cleveland Cavaliers taking a 3-0 lead over the Atlanta Hawks, it seems like a pretty good time to talk about LeBron James. Everyone knows that James is a native of Ohio, and is passionate about his hometown roots. LeBron has previously told people that if he wasn’t allowed to go straight to the NBA out of high school as he did, he would have come to play for the Ohio State Buckeyes.

King James also has been quoted saying that he would have come to Ohio State if he had chosen to play college football too. He captured the hearts of Buckeye Nation as he made that announcement on ESPN’s College Gameday while the show visited Columbus before a 2008 game versus Penn State. If you happened to miss this or forget (that was like seven years ago), then check out the video below.

Seeing how LeBron ending up going pro in basketball as opposed to football, I tend to dream more about him on the hardwood than the gridiron. But don’t forget that LeBron had also been recruited in football by schools such as Notre Dame (by Urban Meyer when he was there) as well as Ohio State. A stud receiver, James still only played varsity football during his sophomore and junior years of high school, quitting before his senior year to focus on basketball. I think he made a good decision.

Coming out of high school, LeBron had basketball offers from Duke, Florida, Kentucky, Louisville, North Carolina and Ohio State. “The Chosen One” never made official visits to these schools, as he quickly learned that he could play in the NBA immediately and become rich.

If James had come to play hoops in Columbus, he would have been a one-and-done. That being said he would have instantly been placed into Ohio State’s starting line-up. His freshman year would have been during the 2003-04 season, one in which the basketball Buckeyes finished 14-16 under head coach Jim O’Brien. Needless to say, the Bucks could have definitely used someone like LeBron on their roster as they dropped games to schools like San Fransisco, San Diego State and Seton Hall. It was a disappointing year that was Jim O’Brien’s final season as Buckeye head coach before Thad Matta took over a year later.

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  • Taking a look at who was on the Ohio State roster during that time, James would have started at forward. There were a few standout names that Buckeyes fans may remember that would have complimented LeBron. Big man Terence Dials held down the paint for the Buckeyes during his sophomore season. A Sullinger, J.J. was also in his sophomore season along with Matt Sylvester. Ivan Harris, who would later play with the “Thad Five”, was a freshman. Tony Stockman was the leading scorer on the team for the year. Upperclassmen Velimir Radinovic and Brandon Fuss-Cheatham also held positions in the starting lineup.

    During his rookie season in the NBA, LeBron averaged 20.9 points per game against professional athletes, most of which were much older than him. It would have been crazy to see what he would have done against less-talented college basketball players.

    James would have been the biggest recruit in not only the history Ohio State, but arguably also in the history of college basketball. Who knows if it would have been enough to save the job of coach Jim O’Brien, who was fired after the 2003-04 season for allegedly giving $6,000 loan to an international recruit.

    Even without ever officially playing for the Ohio State Buckeyes, LeBron James has made his presence felt at the university. For years, the Buckeye basketball team wore uniforms that were branded by LeBron’s Nike division. He has his own locker in the Ohio State basketball locker room, which is huge for recruiting. King James has been seen cheering court side at the 2011 Duke vs. Ohio State basketball game with his buddy Dwayne Wade, and on the sideline at many big Buckeye football games, most recently the National Championship. A partner in the Beats by Dre headphone company, LeBron gave each player on the Buckeye football team their own pair as a gift before the title game. Don’t worry, he made sure it was not an NCAA violation.

    So as you continue to watch James dominate in the NBA Playoffs, never stop dreaming of what could have been in Columbus.

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