NBA’s free agency period begins on July 1, and some big names might switch teams, whether by choosing to sign elsewhere or getting traded. In the video above, Nate Silver looks at FiveThirtyEight’s player projections for three players — Paul George, Gordon Hayward and Blake Griffin — who might be on the move.
More: Apple Podcasts | ESPN App | RSS | Embed Embed Code FiveThirtyEight This week marks the start of NFL training camps, but a few big names might not take the field. Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott may hold out in the hopes of negotiating a more favorable contract.Elliott would join a list of running backs who have recently held out from practice — or, in Le’Veon Bell’s case, a whole season — in search of more lucrative deals. What do the numbers say about his chances at a raise? On today’s show, we discuss how analytics might play a role in the depreciation of positions and whether these evolutions are for the better.Our Rabbit Hole this week discusses our recent research into the danger of foul balls and what might constitute a baseball VIP experience in Japan.What we’re looking at:Our colleague Josh Hermsmeyer weighs in on the Elliott debate.The Atlantic investigates the disappearance of centers from the NBA.The Washington Post examines the reaction time fans have should they find themselves in foul ball territory.
OSU redshirt junior safety Tyvis Powell celebrates the Buckeyes’ 44-28 win in the Fiesta Bowl on Jan. 1. Credit: Samantha Hollinshead | Photo EditorThe storm of Ohio State underclassmen leaving for the NFL draft continues to pick up steam. On Saturday night, redshirt sophomore linebacker Darron Lee announced his intentions to turn pro, joining Cardale Jones, Joey Bosa and Ezekiel Elliott.Now, just two days after OSU topped Notre Dame 44-28 in the Fiesta Bowl, redshirt junior safety Tyvis Powell is joining them. In a screenshot posted to his personal Twitter account Sunday morning, Powell announced his decision to surrender his final year of eligibility to head to the NFL. “First off,” the Bedford, Ohio, native wrote, “I want to thank God for blessing me with the ability to have a decision on whether or not I should go to the next level.“With that being said, after deep prayer and consulting with my family, I will be forgoing my final year of eligibility at The Ohio State University.”Powell, who has already graduated with a degree in marketing and won a national championship, wrote that he has “accomplished almost every one” of the dreams he had after committing. Initially recruited to Columbus by Jim Tressel, Powell blossomed over his four years as a Buckeye, both on the field and off it. His exuberant, fun-loving personality matched with his football ability made him a favorite amongst members of the team and fans. “I came as a young boy with a dream,” Powell wrote, “but (I‘m) now leaving as a grown man with a dream. I really enjoyed the four seasons I’ve been at OSU. I have built a very special bond with my teammates that I will cherish forever.”Powell registered five tackles and an interception in Friday’s Fiesta Bowl. He nearly had another pick, but a targeting penalty on Bosa in the first quarter negated it. In his three seasons on the turf, the 6-foot-3 Powell accumulated 195 tackles and eight interceptions. The list of OSU underclassmen leaving for the NFL now sits at five, and others, such as wide receiver Michael Thomas and safety Vonn Bell, are widely expected to bolt for the next level. Underclassmen wishing to declare have until Jan. 18 to do so. The 2016 NFL draft is slated to begin April 28 and last through April 30.
Senior middle blocker Taylor Sandbothe (left) embraces senior middle blocker Kylie Randall after OSU’s 3-0 win over Northwestern at St. John Arena on Sept. 28, 2016. Credit: Jenna Leinasars | Assistant News DirectorThe Ohio State women’s volleyball team took down the No. 1 team in the country last weekend — but that doesn’t mean its conference schedule will be getting any easier.The No. 14 Buckeyes will play two more teams ranked in the Top 25 this weekend – No. 21 Michigan State on Friday and OSU rival No. 23 Michigan, on Sunday.On Saturday, OSU stunned fans as it took down undefeated, No. 1 Nebraska in four sets. This was the first time that OSU has won against a top-ranked team on the road and the third consecutive time the Buckeyes have been victorious on the Husker home court. Junior outside hitter Ashley Wenz said the team’s performance in Lincoln, Nebraska, was a great opportunity for people to see what Buckeye volleyball is all about.“The Nebraska match really gave us a chance to prove ourselves, and really bring us together as a team and show what we’re capable of,” she said. Wenz feels that if the team can channel its energy from the match against the Huskers into the rest of its play, the team will be able to have repeated success. “I think that bottling up the feeling and the unity we had during that match, (we’re) trying to replicate it against every opponent,” she said.First, the Buckeyes will have to battle the Spartans on Friday. Over the past two seasons, the series is split between the two teams. Currently, Michigan State holds a 13-3 record. OSU coach Geoff Carlston gave credit to the Spartans for being what he considers one of the most physically dominant teams in the nation.He added that his team’s ability to slow down Michigan State hitters will be key to OSU’s success.“They just hit the ball hard,” he said. “So our ability to slow them down with our block is going to be important.”Currently, both Michigan State and Michigan are ranked above the Buckeyes in blocks for the Big Ten conference.A player that will be imperative to the Buckeyes’ blocking game is senior middle blocker Taylor Sandbothe. She is averaging 1.05 blocks per set, and has combined for 61 total blocks this season. Sandbothe ranks second in most career blocks in OSU history with 481. Sandbothe received both conference and national recognition this week: Big Ten Player of the Week and the American Volleyball Coaches’ Association’s National Player of the Week. She was joined by fellow senior, libero Valeria León, who won the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week and sophomore setter Taylor Hughes, who clinched the espnW National Player of the Week. After their bout with the Spartans, the Buckeyes will have a day off before visiting the Michigan Wolverines. Members of OSU’s team noted that this match always comes with a little extra motivation behind it.“The seniors always talk about it. You can feel it. There’s always a little edge to the match, a little more so than all of the other ones,” Carlston said.One of the members of Carlston’s senior leadership, León, added that she loves the environment of playing at Michigan. “We go out there — you have so many fans against you — and it’s all blue and yellow,” she said.The Wolverines are also carrying a 13-3 record this season. In 2015, OSU was able to pull off a 3-1 win while in Ann Arbor, Michigan, but the Scarlet and Gray were swept by the Wolverines at St. John Arena in the next matchup. Wenz, who hails from Springboro, Ohio, is hopeful that her team can keep their victory train rolling with a win over “That Team Up North.”“Being from Ohio, it’s always great to beat them,” she said. “So hopefully we can continue that streak.”The Buckeyes will first play Michigan State at 7 p.m. on Friday in East Lansing, Michigan, followed by the match against Michigan at 1 p.m. on Sunday in Ann Arbor.
Former Ohio State receiver Ray Small was arrested in Meigs County, Ohio Sunday evening by the Ohio State Highway Patrol for allegedly possessing over 200 suspected Oxycontin tablets. According to a report from the Pomeroy Daily Sentinel, Trooper James Trelka of the Gallia-Meigs Post of the Ohio State Highway Patrol arrested Small, 24, Sunday evening at 5:56 p.m. The report said that Small allegedly possessed 243 Oxycontin pills, an undisclosed amount of suspected heroin, hand-rolled marijuana cigarettes and a loaded 25-caliber pistol. The Lantern was able to confirm with the Meigs County Sheriff Office that they had Small in custody until Monday evening. Small was scheduled to report to Meigs County Court Monday where, reportedly, he was charged with the possession of a schedule II narcotic. According to the report, Small has since been released, although further charges are pending. The Ohio State Highway Patrol did not immediately respond to The Lantern‘s request for comment. It’s not the first time Small has been in hot water. Small, who was suspended a number of times throughout his career, told The Lantern last spring that he sold OSU memorabilia for cash, opening the floodgates on the OSU football tattoo scandal that began in December, 2010. The Lantern attempted to contact Small using the phone number he responded to during the May interview, but the number is no longer active. During his controversial career as a Buckeye, Small totaled 61 receptions for 659 yards and three touchdowns from 2006-09.
Maybe Jared Sullinger isn’t who we thought he was. Maybe Ohio State’s sophomore big man is a square peg we’ve tried to put in a round hole. Sullinger is obviously an exceptional basketball player. He’s proven over his past two years at OSU that he is among the best forwards in all of college basketball and was named a first-team All-American in the 2010-11 season. Because he’s been so productive and his teams have been so successful, he’s been anointed a superstar. But I think that’s a misnomer. I think Sullinger’s reputation has exceeded his ability. He’s playing the part of a superstar in a role player’s body. Let’s look at what makes Sullinger so good. His offensive fundamentals are phenomenal. He has a repertoire of inside post moves to give himself space and top-notch touch around the basket. He has a big sturdy frame and is strong enough to overpower most defenders off the block (although some would argue Sullinger’s weight loss hampered this ability). He has a high motor and passes well out of the post. Those are great attributes, but the typical superstar has a little bit more. In addition to refined skill, superstars have elite athleticism, explosiveness and the ability to make plays when everything else in a game is crumbling. Sullinger doesn’t have those qualities. Before almost every home game, sophomore guard Lenzelle Smith Jr. and sophomore forward J.D. Weatherspoon have a dunk contest. They do windmills, tomahawks, bank balls off the backboard and even come close to converting between-the-legs dunks. Before OSU lost to Wisconsin Feb. 26, Sullinger decided to make a brief cameo in the competition. Sullinger ran in from the 3-point line and attempted a windmill dunk. The 6-foot-9 man unimpressively leapt from the ground and missed the dunk. Badly. The fact is Sullinger just isn’t that athletic and doesn’t have the height to make up for it. During games, when things are crumbling for OSU, the team looks for Sullinger to make plays. OSU feeds him the ball inside, but Sullinger hasn’t been able to convert. He’ll catch the ball and try to make a move, but when a double team or quality defender arrives, he either flops for a foul or forces a bad shot. Sullinger is in no way a bad player. He’s just not what we’ve made him out to be. Monday, Sullinger was named the Big Ten Player of the Week for his performances against Michigan State and Northwestern. He totaled 36 points and 28 rebounds in the two last two Buckeye wins and proved he can be dominant. He was named first team all-conference and as the Buckeyes head into postseason play, Sullinger’s play will dictate OSU’s success. Maybe Sullinger will prove me wrong. Maybe he’ll dominate the Big Ten Tournament and lead OSU on a deep run in the Big Dance. But Sullinger and the Buckeyes need to be realistic. The Buckeye big man is the best and worst thing OSU has going for them. He has more skill than anyone on the team, but if he overextends himself and tries to be what something he’s not, it spells trouble for the Buckeyes. Sullinger is no role player, but he’s no superstar either. To be successful, OSU and Sullinger will have to find the middle ground.
On the final day of the regular season, the Ohio State baseball team (31-25, 11-13 Big Ten) clinched the final spot in the Big Ten Tournament, but the scene was far from picturesque. The Buckeyes were swept in their final three regular-season series against Indiana, but advanced to the conference tournament because they held a tiebreaker advantage after finishing in the three-way tie for the final spot with Illinois and Minnesota. OSU coach Greg Beals said he was unaware of the tie-breaker scenario and thought the season had ended after his team’s Saturday loss against Indiana. “I did think it was over when we lost,” Beals said. “It was a crazy two-minute period of time when you go from trying to figure out how to tie the game up, then we lose and figuring out what I’m going to say to these guys.” Then, Beals got the good news. “I was met by Brett (Rybak), our (sports information director), and he tells us we’re in,” Beals said. Following this past weekend’s conference action, the Buckeyes had the best record of the three teams against common Big Ten opponents and won the tiebreaker. Sophomore first baseman Josh Dezse said it was incredible to find out the team made it in the Big Ten Tournament. “We thank God we got into this tournament,” Dezse said. “When we found out at the end of the game, we thought we were out and it was not pretty. When we found out we were in there, we couldn’t help but smile even though we were just swept. It was kind of weird because we didn’t know what to do, what coach was thinking. Do we smile? Are we happy or are we not happy? We had mixed emotions.” Players said it was tough playing the Indiana series and they didn’t stay loose as they had throughout the season. “All season we’ve played loose and felt that’s when we play our best baseball,” said sophomore outfielder Tim Wetzel. “Lately we haven’t been doing that. We’ve been pressing a little too hard and you can’t do that in this game. You have to play loose and fast and that’s what we’re going to try to do this tournament.” The Buckeyes finished the regular season with the most walks (264), sacrifice flies (31) and stolen bases (84) in the Big Ten. In addition to team accomplishments, Dezse was named to the John Olerud watch list for the best two-way player in the nation. “It’s like having two players in one,” Beals said about Dezse, who is the team’s first baseman and closer. “You have a limited number of scholarships and when you’re putting a team together, it’s really huge.” Dezse hit .305 with five home runs and 32 RBI, all of which were second-best on the team. Dezse led the team in saves with seven and also posted a 3.08 ERA. Sophomore pitcher John Kuchno led the Buckeyes in wins with an 8-3 record. However, sophomore pitcher Jaron Long led the team in ERA among starters with 2.29 and was the Buckeyes’ Friday night starter throughout Big Ten play. “He’s our guy and he’s proven that he’s our guy,” Beals said. “He’s earned the respect and confidence of our team. We knew that he had the ability and that he has a knack for knowing how to pitch.” The Buckeyes came into the season with what Beals said were “ramped-up expectations.” Beals said before the season, the team watched the movie “Miracle” and players drew inspiration from the story and will use it in the Big Ten Tournament. “With the U.S.A. team, I just keep going back to what did they have to lose,” Dezse said. “They had nothing to lose. Same with us, make us the underdog, whatever. We’re here to play and we’re here to win. We have enough talent here that we’ll be just fine.” The Buckeyes’ first game of the tournament is at 3:35 p.m. on Wednesday at Huntington Park in downtown Columbus. The Buckeyes’ second game will be based on the result of their game and the result of the noon game between Nebraska and Michigan State.
Senior defender Sage Gardner (5) heads the ball during a match against Northwestern Oct. 20 at Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium. The teams tied, 0-0.Credit: Eric Seger / Sports editorOhio State captain, Columbus Crew Soccer Academy captain, Worthington Kilbourne captain. Each experience for Sage Gardner has helped him progress as the leader he is today.Gardner, a senior defender for the men’s soccer team, has been a captain for the last two seasons. He said learning by example is what taught him the most.“Freshman year coming in I saw (former Buckeyes) Matt Gold, Konrad (Warzycha), and (Sam) Scales lead a successful team that went to the sweet sixteen,” Gardner said.Gardner attributed much of his growing up to the fact that he was one of three team captains last season. His ability to watch and learn helped developed his leadership.“Last year I got a learning experience being a tri-captain with two other seniors (Chris Gomez and Austin McAnena),” Gardner said. “I got to lead by example but it wasn’t necessarily my captaincy. I got to learn with the other two captains and it just evolved from there. Each year, I’ve progressed as a leader.”Gardner’s definition of leadership is geared toward inspiring his fellow teammates to achieve success.“I strive to come here and really gear myself towards the next level. Even if that doesn’t happen, I think that helps portray that I’m serious, but I also have fun while playing,” Gardner said. “Just showing a lot of confidence and passion, that’ll trickle down to everybody else.”Coach John Bluem noted Gardner has the qualities to be a good leader and has done well at it.“There is nobody on the team that works harder at his game, tries to get better every day and is consistent in his performance,” Bluem said. “Those traits and qualities are good in a leader.”Gardner was a four year letter winner in high school at Worthington Kilbourne, as well as captain his senior season. He also was captain of his U-18, U-19 and U-20 teams for the Columbus Crew Soccer Academy. He led his academy teams to the playoffs each year and to back to back national championships in his U-19 and U-20 seasons.Gardner said there is no difference between each level’s captaincy and the job does not change.“I would say it’s pretty much the same, same responsibilities,” Gardner said. “I’d say this (season) is a little different because it’s a more adverse situation in terms of our record (2-6-5, 0-2-2).”Bluem said he has noticed Gardner’s progression as a leader.“A year ago, he was a leader on the team, but only through his work,” Bluem said. “He’s been a very steady, calm influence on the team this year. He leads by example certainly more than anything else.”Redshirt-senior defender Ben Killian attributes Gardner’s leadership skills to his passion, ability to care for individuals and his communication.“His passion for the game shows he is always trying to get better,” Killian said. “He cares about each individual on the team – I think that’s huge. It’s easy to over look younger guys on the team, and he does a really good job of talking with them and communicating.”Killian said Gardner’s leadership carries off the field as well.“He communicates with everyone. He talks with you not just about soccer,” Killian said. “If you have any issues, he’s easy to approach and he’ll give you some good advice.”Gardner has started all 71 games of his Ohio State career. In his collegiate career, he has tallied three goals and two assists. He has also been a part of 22 shutouts thus far.One word came to mind when Bluem and Killian spoke about Gardner’s soccer abilities: “consistency.”“He plays hard every single game, trains hard every single practice and he is an intelligent player,” Bluem said.Killian agreed.“It is hard to be consistent at this level, especially since he’s been starting since he was a freshman,” Killian said.Gardner is a finance major, but hopes to continue his soccer career into major league play.OSU has four regular season games remaining until the Big Ten tournament begins in Columbus. The Buckeyes are slated to play Oakland Wednesday at 7 p.m.
Ohio State freshman running back J.K. Dobbins (2) runs the ball in the third quarter of the game against Michigan on Nov. 25 in Ann Arbor. Ohio State won 31-20. Credit: Jack Westerheide | Photo EditorNo freshman running back has led the Big Ten in rushing yards in over a decade. Wisconsin then-freshman P.J. Hill racked up 1,569 yards in 2006, but every leading rusher since him has been a sophomore or upperclassman. This year, that will change. Badger true freshman running back Jonathan Taylor leads the conference with 1,806 rush yards. Sitting in second place, more than 600 yards behind Wisconsin’s phenom, is Ohio State true freshman running back J.K. Dobbins. Dobbins has 1,190 yards, more than the 1,096 yards last year’s starter, Mike Weber, had as a redshirt freshman. In the Big Ten championship game Saturday, they will face off in the first of many possible battles between the present and future of the conference’s best running backs. In the Big Ten, a storied conference loaded with run-first teams and former highly ranked running back recruits, physically mature veterans nearly always lead in rushing.Ohio State co-offensive coordinator Kevin Wilson, who worked as Oklahoma’s offensive coordinator in 2004 when then-freshman running back Adrian Peterson rushed for 1,925 yards, attributed the success to freshmen entering programs as “young men,” not “little kids.”Ohio State redshirt freshman quarterback Dwayne Haskins (7) hands the ball off to freshman running back J.K. Dobbins (2) in the third quarter of the game against Michigan on Nov. 25 in Ann Arbor. Ohio State won 31-20. Credit: Jack Westerheide | Photo Editor“One, it’s raw talent, but is the kid mature enough to handle the protections and the thought process because there’s some communication where there’s some guys who have the skill-set and they can’t process mentally,” Wilson said Tuesday evening.Dobbins and Taylor are the anomaly. That’s what makes their matchup on Saturday so intriguing. Many believe in the “freshman wall,” a name given to something freshmen who are not used to playing an extended schedule against collegiate competition.When asked about whether he hit the proverbial wall, Dobbins scoffed.“I don’t feel like I’ve hit that wall, I don’t feel like I did,” he said almost incredulously. The proof of his confidence is seen in the numbers. In his first collegiate game, Dobbins picked up 181 yards on 29 carries, an average of 6.2 yards per rush. The next game, against Oklahoma, he added 13 rushes for 72 yards, averaging 5.5 yards per carry. Since then, he has rushed for less than 6.7 yards per carry just once, when he picked up 4.3 yards per carry two weeks ago against Illinois.Wilson said he has been conscious of the freshman’s carry count, spelling him in games and in practice with Weber, who became the third freshman in program history to rush for more than 1,000 yards last season, and sophomore Antonio Williams. “You’ve got to be able to practice hard enough to get them tough, but you can’t over-practice, you can’t burn them out,” Wilson said. “You’ve got to be smart with them.”The return of Weber, who had just seven carries in the first four games due to an injury, takes pressure off Dobbins to be the Buckeyes’ bell cow running back. Weber has even received double-digit carries in each of the past two games.Unlike Dobbins, Taylor has been pushed to the maximum without anyone to sub in for him in most games. Wisconsin’s second-leading rusher, running back Bradrick Shaw, has 96 carries, more than 150 fewer than Taylor. And Shaw has not been nearly as successful as Weber, who has a 6.5 yard per carry average. Shaw averages just 3.7 yards per carry.Ohio State freshman running back J.K. Dobbins (2) runs the ball in for a touchdown in the first half in the game against Illinois on Nov. 18. Ohio State won 52-14. Credit: Jack Westerheide | Photo EditorBut Taylor has continued his stretch of dominance, averaging at least 5.4 yards per carry in each of the past eight games. He has received less than 19 carries just once during the stretch.On a teleconference Monday, redshirt linebacker Chris Worley said Taylor “doesn’t run like a freshman.” It did not take long for him and the rest of Ohio State’s first-team defense to learn the same about Dobbins. During spring practice, the first-team offense was working on getting out of its end zone against the Buckeyes’ starting defense. The coaches put the offense on its own 1-yard line. Redshirt senior quarterback J.T. Barrett took a snap and handed the ball to Dobbins, who took just seconds to leave all the first-team defenders in the dust.“He busted up a 99-yard touchdown run, and that’s when I was like, ‘Oh, this is going to be for real,’” senior left tackle Jamarco Jones said. “He’s for real.”Dobbins knows he’s for real. When asked whether the college game has been easier than he anticipated, he smirked, chuckled and said, “Yeah.” Dobbins said he thought it would be more difficult both physically and mentally. Even still, he was confident he would be OK. “I thought it was going to be really hard, but I knew I was going to do good,” Dobbins said. “I didn’t know it was going to be like this.”On Saturday on the conference’s biggest stage, Dobbins and Taylor will have the opportunity to not just prove who the Big Ten’s future greatest running back will be, but who is already the best.