Editor’s note: In June 1917, the Intercollegiate Conference of Faculty Representatives invited Michigan back into the league, increasing membership to 10 and eventually spawning the iconic “Big Ten” nickname. One hundred years later, Land of 10 will spend the summer looking at the history of America’s legendary conference and its teams.
Our Ohio State coverage continues with a countdown of the top 25 basketball players in program history. Next up, Nos. 5-1.
No. 5: Gary Bradds (1961-64)
A 6-foot-8 center, Gary Bradds put together one of the most productive seasons in Ohio State history as he averaged 30.6 points and 13.4 rebounds per game as a senior in the 1963-64 season. That same year, the Jamestown, Ohio, native was named National Player of the Year.
A two-time All-American, Bradds helped to prolong the golden age of Ohio State basketball as the Buckeyes won Big Ten titles in his junior and senior seasons. As a senior, Bradds scored at least 40 points in six consecutive games, including a school-record 49 points against Illinois.
After being selected third overall by the Baltimore Bullets in the 1964 NBA Draft, Bradds played two seasons for the franchise before spending four years in the ABA.
In 2001, Ohio State retired Bradds’ No. 35 jersey.
No. 4: Evan Turner (2008-10)
Arriving at Ohio State a year after the “Thad Five,” Evan Turner helped transform Thad Matta’s strong start in Columbus into one of the most dominant eras of Ohio State basketball.
After averaging 8.5 points and 4.4 rebounds per game as a freshman as Ohio State won the 2008 NIT, the 6-7 guard enjoyed a breakout sophomore season. That season, he led the Buckeyes in points, rebounds, assists and steals en route to being named a unanimous first-team All-Big Ten selection. As a junior, Turner averaged 20.4 points, 9.2 rebounds, 6.0 assists and 1.7 steals per game and was named National Player of the Year, despite missing a month of the season with fractures in his back.
That same season, Ohio State won a share of the Big Ten title and earned a No. 1 seed in the conference tournament. In the Buckeyes’ opening game, Turner sank a 37-foot buzzer beater to avoid an upset against Michigan before leading Ohio State to the tournament title.
The No. 2 overall pick of the 2010 NBA Draft, Turner has averaged 8.8 points, 5.3 rebounds and 2.6 assists per game over the course of his first eight seasons in the league and is currently a member of the Portland Trail Blazers. Ohio State hung his No. 21 in the rafters of the Schottenstein Center in 2016.
No. 3: John Havlicek (1959-62)
Although perhaps overshadowed by one of his more accomplished classmates during his college career, John Havlicek is arguably the most recognizable name in Buckeyes basketball history. But before he was a key member of the Boston Celtics dynasty of the 1960s and ’70s, the Bridgeport, Ohio, native was a two-time All-Big Ten selection who helped lead Ohio State to the 1960 national title.
Over the course of his three-year career in Columbus, the 6-5 swingman averaged 14.6 points and 8.6 rebounds per game, with the Buckeyes winning Big Ten titles and making it to the national championship game in all three seasons. After being selected by the Celtics with the seventh overall pick of the 1962 draft, Havlicek spent 16 seasons with the franchise, earning 13 All-Star selections and winning eight NBA titles.
The Celtics’ all-time leader in scoring and games played, Havlicek is a 1984 inductee into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame and a 2006 inductee into the College Basketball Hall of Fame. In 2005, Ohio State retired his No. 5.
No. 2: Jimmy Jackson (1989-92)
It didn’t take long for Jimmy Jackson, a native of Toledo, Ohio, to make an impact in his Ohio State career. As a true freshman in 1990, the 6-6 shooting guard averaged 16.1 points and 5.5 rebounds per game.
The following year, Jackson took his game to the next level, earning All-America honors while averaging 18.9 points and 5.5 rebounds per game. As a junior, Jackson repeated as an All-American, and he also was named National Player of the Year while leading the Buckeyes to the Elite Eight.
The No. 4 overall pick of the 1992 NBA Draft, Jackson averaged 14.3 points per game over the course of his 14-year career. In 2001, Ohio State retired his No. 22.
No. 1: Jerry Lucas (1959-62)
Despite the program’s storied history, there’s not much debate when it comes to naming the top player in Ohio State basketball history. From the moment he stepped on campus, Jerry Lucas was one of college basketball’s best players.
A three-time All-American, Lucas served as the centerpiece of Ohio State’s only national title team and two national runners-up. In each season of his varsity career, the Middletown, Ohio, native was named the recipient of the Silver Basketball Big Ten MVP.
With two Final Four MVPs (1960, 1961) to his credit, Lucas left Columbus with career averages of 24.3 points and 17.2 rebounds. He still stands as the Buckeyes’ all-time leading rebounder with 1,411 career boards.
Lucas went on to enjoy an 11-year career in the NBA, where he was selected to seven All-Star games and averaged 17.0 points and 15.6 rebounds per game. He is perhaps best remembered professionally for helping to lead the New York Knicks to the 1973 NBA championship.
A 1980 inductee into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame and a charter member of the College Basketball Hall of Fame, Lucas’ No. 11 jersey was retired by Ohio State in 2001.