Skull Session: Ohio State Basketball's Youth Hates to Lose, the Bears Shouldn't Trade Justin Fields and Gus Johnson Explains Why He Calls Ohio State "World Famous"

By Chase Brown on February 23, 2023 at 5:00 am
Bruce Thornton

Folks, TreVeyon Henderson may have gotten his swagger back.

He definitely thinks so.

Let's have a good Thursday, shall we?

 "WE'RE GONNA COACH THEM TO THE END." Despite an 11-16 record and a second-to-last ranking in the Big Ten for Ohio State men's basketball this season, the program's director of professional development and former Buckeye basketball player Terence Dials isn't ready to wave the white flag on the team's season.

On a recent episode of the CaXmen's Crew podcast, Dials, the 2006 Big Ten Player of the Year who collected 1,566 points and 867 rebounds in his Ohio State career, offered his take on the current state of the men's basketball team. And despite their hardships to this point, Dials believes the Buckeyes can still finish the season with momentum heading into next year.

At the 15:07 mark of the video, Dials said Ohio State's coaching staff has reminded its players that even without a chance to receive an at-large bid to this year's NCAA Tournament, there's still plenty the Buckeyes have left to play for in its final regular-season contests and the Big Ten Tournament.

"We're encouraging them and trying to be positive and optimistic. The season isn't over. We still feel that we have a team that can win some games. It just takes one. They need to see – it's like shooting a basketball, like, they need to see one go in – they need to see a win. Then it starts to roll. Obviously, we haven't seen one go in for a while, but we're still coaching them to win games. We've seen crazier things happen at the end of the season and at the Big Ten Tournament. We're gonna coach them to the end. Coach Holtmann explicitly told us to coach them to get them better. He's not giving up on them, even if some have given up on themselves. But he's not giving up on them. ... Eventually we'll bust through. I really do believe that. I don't think we will go (winless) the rest of the season."

As Dials continued, he explained that Ohio State's young core of Brice Sensabaugh, Bruce Thornton, Felix Okpara and Roddy Gayle Jr. have been frustrated with the team's losses and record this season. Still, he expects them to remain competitive as they continue their development as Buckeyes.

"These guys have won in the past. They have that winning mentality. They are obviously freshmen and are gonna make mistakes, but we got some guys that are competitive. When you look toward the future, you can feel comfortable knowing that you got some competitive guys who hate losing. ... I like Felix. I like Bruce. I like the rest of our crew. I would go to battle with them every day."

Ohio State has four games left in 2022-23: Penn State (Thursday), Illinois (Sunday), Maryland (March 1) at home and Michigan State (March 4) on the road. The Buckeyes are projected to be the No. 13 seed at the Big Ten Tournament, where they would then face Nebraska in the first round on March 8.

After watching this team for the past few weeks – primarily because it's what I do for work and not for any pleasure – I would be happy if Ohio State looked competitive in any of these games. I would be ecstatic if Ohio State won any of these games. And I would be jubilant if Ohio State won more than one of these games.

Who knows? Maybe they'll win one, and the victories will start to roll. I wouldn't put any money on that to actually happen, but at least one can hope.

 WELL, THAT'S JUST FOOLISH. There's been a lot of smoke surrounding the Chicago Bears and what they plan to do with the No. 1 pick in the draft as of late. Their options include trading down to collect more picks anddddddd... ummmm... trade Justin Fields to draft Alabama's Bryce Young?

Indeed, the Bears have considered an option to trade Fields, their first-round pick from two years ago, with hopes to keep the No. 1 pick so they can select Alabama's Bryce Young first overall. That decision would be, to say the very least, a bold move, Cotton – one that I would not particularly like to see if it works for them.

It would appear Pro Football Talk's Mike Florio shares my opinion. He told Rich Eisen of The Rich Eisen Show and NFL Network earlier this week that "it would be ludicrous" for the Bears to trade Fields rather than build around "the lottery ticket" they received in the former Ohio State quarterback in 2021.

"It would be ludicrous (for the Bears to trade Fields). You've already scratched off a lottery ticket that's a winner. You don't get rid of it. You get the most out of Justin Fields. ... The Bears would be foolish to trade him and take a shot on another quarterback. Look at the top quarterbacks taken over the past five years. It is a coin flip as to whether or not they work out or not. Why would you want to take that chance again? You have a guy who is working out, so work on making him better and work on adjusting your offense to get more out of him like the Eagles did with Jalen Hurts – don't get rid of him. I can't even believe there's even a conversation about moving on from Justin Fields unless he would want to move on and play for another team."

I don't understand why there is a conversation about moving on from Fields, either, Mr. Florio. Call me biased, a homer or whatever, but I think Fields has the chance to be a special quarterback in the NFL. He has athleticism shared by only a few other quarterbacks in the league, and he broke records held by Michael Vick in only his second season.

Yes, Fields needs to develop as a passer. Still, I believe he can do that should the Bears invest draft or financial capital in another receiver for him to connect with outside. I apologize, but Chase Claypool and Darnell Mooney aren't exactly WR1 and WR2 level players, and Cole Kmet isn't a transcendent tight end. If Chicago can get him some help beyond those players, Fields would be a shoo-in to improve as a passer next year.

I'll hold out hope that the Bears believe that, too, and that the Bears have only floated the idea of trading Fields to make the No. 1 pick they possess more valuable. It stinks Fields' name would be dragged in the mud because of that, but the NFL is a cutthroat business, and Fields needs to have thick skin to make it through this process unscathed.

As for how this all ends, I'm not sure. But I hope to see Fields in a navy blue and burnt orange uniform next season, and I know my friend Garrick Hodge feels the same.

 THE WORLD FAMOUS OHIO STATE BUCKEYES. Have you ever wondered why FOX play-by-play announcer Gus Johnson calls Ohio State "The World Famous Ohio State Buckeyes"?

If you have, Johnson explains why he carefully chose that phrase in a new documentary on FOX called "Back to School with Gus Johnson" that debuted last week. It may come as a surprise, but the "world famous" is all because of the late great Jesse Owens.

"The whole world knew about Jesse and Ohio State," Johnson said at an event on Ohio State's campus in November. "That's why when you see me call the game nowadays and you hear me say, 'The World Famous Ohio State University,' that's an ode to him. And (his legacy) is something we can never forget."

Johnson elaborated further on FOX's Big Noon broadcast of Ohio State's matchup with Indiana later that weekend:

"My father talked about Jesse almost from the time that I could hear. What he did when the world was on the brink of war, how he won those four gold medals in Berlin in front of a bad man who promoted a bad theory of racial superiorities," Johnson said. "We can never forget that. There's a whole world that found out about Jesse and about Ohio State during that time, showing us that we could beat that dude at his house."

Gus Johnson was already one of the most incredible people on the planet, and this story somehow bumped him up about 12 notches.

What a fantastic way to pay homage to one of the greatest athletes in history. Every time I hear "The World Famous Ohio State Buckeyes" from this point forward, it will undoubtedly make me smile. That said, I'm just counting down the days until football season.

 A FUTURE TOP-10 PICK TO COLUMBUS? According to a report from Luca Evans of the Los Angeles Times in January, Ohio State is one of three finalists, along with Oregon and USC, to land four-star guard Bronny James, son of NBA legend LeBron James, in the 2023 recruiting class.

Should the Buckeyes land him, they would secure a future top-10 pick in the 2024 NBA draft. That's what ESPN's draft insider Jonathan Givnoy would tell you, at least. In his most recent mock draft for 2024, Givnoy has the 6-foot-3, 190-pound prospect heading to Orlando as the No. 10 pick.

From Givnoy's article:

Some might be surprised to see James, ranked anywhere from 28 to 43 by the major recruiting services, as a potential top-10 pick. James has earned his spot in lottery conversations with the significant jump he has made at Sierra Canyon in Chatsworth, California, this season, developing into arguably the best perimeter defender in his high school class while making strides in his perimeter shooting and playmaking ability.

As most of his peers have flatlined the past 12 to 18 months, James has grown, filled out his frame, found another gear with his explosiveness and become an absolute terror off the ball defensively thanks to his outstanding intensity and feel for the game. He still has plenty of room to improve his ballhandling and pull-up jumper to become a more prolific and efficient shot creator, but he has already caught the eyes of NBA decision-makers with the way he contributes to winning and likely will continue to grow and fill out his game.

After watching Ohio State men's basketball all season – again, because it's my job and not for any kind of pleasure – I wouldn't mind adding a potential top-10 pick to the roster next season, especially when that pick would play alongside Thornton, Okpara, Gayle and incoming four-stars Scotty Middleton, Devin Royal and Taison Chatman.

And let me say this; don't buy into the narrative that James is only rated highly because his father is LeBron and, therefore, has "LeGenetics." James has developed into an elite college basketball and NBA prospect on his own accord. He also happens to be LeBron James' son.

As Givnoy puts it in the tweet below, he's one of the best perimeter defenders in the class and is making strides with his shooting and playmaking. Wouldn't you want that kind of talent on your team rather than the alternative?

 SONG OF THE DAY. "Graveyard" by Jon Bellion.

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