Ohio State’s Dallas Lauderdale could be “League” someday

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By Paul M. Banks

With all the attention on Naismith Award favorite Evan Turner, a few Ohio State Buckeyes often go overlooked. And there are three on the current squad who have a good chance of joining Turner in the NBA in the next couple of years. So I took it upon myself to profile and interview the forgotten Buckeyes. First feature is on the big man, Dallas Lauderdale.

When you say the name Dallas Lauderdale, most people respond with a reaction along the lines of “wasn’t that a character played by Nick Nolte in some movie about gambling?” or “Yeah, the big guy on Ohio State, who looks like he’s 45 years old.”

But we’re not here to talk about that aspect of Dallas Lauderdale: how he takes after former OSU big Greg Oden, in being somebody who will NEVER EVER be carded when buying beer. We’re here to talk hardwood; hard-core hoops. I had an exclusive with Lauderdale last week where I asked him about the influence of former OSU bigs on his development.

“When I came in my freshman year, Matt Twilliger and Othella Hunter, they were basically like my bigger brothers. I always looked to them, always asking questions, what happens here? What do we do now? They were a big help,” the 6-8, 260 Junior from the Cleveland area said.

The off day press conference elicited an interesting quote from Coach Thad Matta about Lauderdale’s potential, as well as his work ethic.

A reporter asked Coach Matta…”Dallas was in here last night he said that you two had had a conversation after last weekend and said something along the lines if he didn’t — I guess if he didn’t play better you were going to step on his neck or something like that. Could you elaborate a little?

Matta responded: “He said it one way; I said it probably another way. In essence, I just said we need him to play better. And the funny thing — I had been on him all week. When we broke film Thursday night, he left a scouting report in there which kind of pushed me over the edge. And so I took it to his room, and I basically said, “I don’t believe that your mind is ready to go if you can’t carry ten pieces of paper upstairs; therefore, we’ll find out tomorrow night at 9:30 whether you’re ready to go or not.” And he was. To his credit, he did a good job responding.”

Just to be clear, Matta did not threaten to step on his neck. “No, I would never ever-ever do that. Let’s get that straight. I would never ever step on a guy’s throat or threaten to,” Matta added.

I asked Lauderdale what he thought his biggest strength was ”

Probably my defense, the way I can help the team out is playing D,” he responded. I also asked what he needs to work on?

“Everything, I haven’t arrived yet. There’s still a lot of work to do, so there’s not one aspect of my game I’m working on, I’m working on everything,” Lauderdale said.

It’s true, Lauderdale has a large wingspan that led to his leading the Big Ten in blocked shots, and his defense has been a tremendous boost to a lineup that consists of four guards around him. But he truly does have a lot of work to do, if he plans on making it in “the league,” like Dwight Howard. Lauderdale admires the big man from Orlando’s game and tenacity. Dallas is not a very good rebounder for his size and his free throw shooting is Ben Wallacesque. You could also say it’s Shaqlike because the form is just as ugly as the percentage. Still, if he adds a couple more post moves he could be a force, because his defense is already there, and he takes smart, high percentage shots. His field goal percentage on the season is 77% and he shot a ridiculous 82% from the floor at Value City Arena this season.

Lauderdale had an uncle who played for the Cleveland Cavaliers, and a cousin who played in the WNBA, so next level talent does run in his family.

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