Buckeye fans received a bit of good news, even if it was somewhat expected. Big man Trevor Thompson will withdraw his name from the NBA Draft and is expected to return to Ohio State for his junior season. Thompson's workload ought to increase next season, which will give him opportunities to improve his future draft prospects.
ESPN's Jeff Goodman first reported the news on Twitter:
Ohio State big man Trevor Thompson told ESPN he has withdrawn from the NBA Draft.— Jeff Goodman (@GoodmanESPN) May 17, 2016
Thompson originally committed to Virginia Tech and played his freshman year there. He flashed great potential with the Hokies but opted to transfer to Ohio State, after Indiana, Purdue and Butler all chased him. He requested a waiver to play immediately, reportedly due to his father's illness, but was denied and sat out in 2014-2015. Last season Thompson averaged 6.5 points and 5.1 rebounds in 18 minutes per game for the Buckeyes.
Thompson's draft experience represents what's great about the new NCAA rule and its exact intention when put in place. Any curious player, who has NBA potential, can get feedback and return to school with a focus on improving in certain areas. Thompson even said so himself on Twitter:
I received great feedback which was my ultimate goal when I decided to enter the Draft.— Trevor Thompson (@TrevBallinTrey2) May 17, 2016
It's such a major, life-changing decision and for borderline first round picks, or even second round guys, it can be nerve-wracking to make a decision. Rather than be filled with regret post-draft, guys can see ahead of time where they're projected and where they need to improve. The reality is getting information directly from NBA teams and making an educated decision is always preferable to relying on scant intel or even hearsay.
For Ohio State, this is obviously great news even though his return was somewhat expected. Thompson will figure more prominently as the team's interior anchor. At 6'11", he'll play more at the five (particularly after Daniel Giddens, who played 18 minutes per game, decided to transfer to Alabama).
Added responsibilities mean greater expectations too. And 2016-17 will be a leap year for Thompson. Can he take the next step and become a real inside force? Ohio State still has fire power and size on the perimeter (Jae'Sean Tate and JaQuan Lyle). Those two will be the creators and carry much of the offensive load, but if Thompson can hit the ground running down low it'll be a huge boost for the Buckeyes.
Marc Loving and Keita Bates-Diop, Ohio State's first and second leading scorers, offer size, but Loving's more of a perimeter guy and Bates-Diop lacks true size to play the five all the time. David Bell, a sophomore, played five minutes per game as a freshman and could elevate his role and take some of the minutes left by Giddens' departure. But Thompson will be given the opportunity to collect most of those vacated minutes and he'll be operating without a huge safety net.
The Buckeyes didn't make the NCAA tournament last year and it's a program that's not used to being left out (the fans certainly aren't accustomed to it). Thompson's return makes them better and certainly Thad Matta can breathe a little easier, even if there really wasn't any danger of him staying in the draft.