Let's get this out of the way: It is sort of hard to tell if
That's not a knock against the current talents of Diebler, a 6-foot-6 marksman whose three-point stroke last weekend repeatedly punctured comeback bids by Georgia Tech (he scored 17 points in the second half) and UC-Santa Barbara (a game-high 23) like darts through a balloon. But is the unassuming junior -- most often quoted in his capacity as would-be National Player of the Year
"We joke about this, but it's true," said Peters, whose father -- former Ohio State assistant and current Akron director of basketball operations
In fact, you don't even need to leave the Buckeyes' locker room. Here is senior forward
And senior forward
And 6-8, 260-pound junior forward
Apparently, the one and only witness who won't add to such testimony -- the enduring dispute between Lauderdale and Diebler, close friends, notwithstanding ("I think I took two charges," the latter affirms, smiling) -- is, well, Jon Diebler.
Press the guard about his vaunted rep back in Upper Sandusky (pop. 6,455), and he'll chuckle even harder than his teammates. While an array of public records and
That genuine Midwestern humility coats his present accomplishments, too. According to Diebler -- who leads the No. 2 Buckeyes (27-4) in postseason scoring heading into Friday's Sweet 16 matchup against No. 6 Tennessee (27-8) -- the most exciting part of his weekend in Milwaukee was the "smorgasbord of Italian food" he ate on Saturday after overcoming the flu. The details of this experience, notably, he will dreamily enumerate: "Pasta, chicken, pizza, salad ..." (To be fair, he did have to sprint out of practice the afternoon before to throw up the ham sandwich he'd eaten for breakfast.)
But whether Diebler is shy -- or simply wise enough to know that the road to basketball mediocrity has long been paved with the
After having to do far more than catch and shoot in high school, Diebler regularly rehearses curling around the wing while a teammate throws him passes behind the arc. How vital is this singular skill? Consider: Diebler has attempted 208 more threes than twos this season, sunk 43 percent of them, and presently carries the single-season record for three-pointers at Ohio State: 115, or seven more than rest of OSU's entire starting lineup combined. No one in this tournament has more.
"Hey, we got probably the National Player of the Year on our team," Diebler said. "He's going to get a lot of attention. I just gotta put the ball in the hole."
Such a sequence, of course, is as much sound strategy as it is modesty. Against the waves of double- and triple-teams sent by UCSB and Georgia Tech, Turner -- the probable second pick in the 2010 NBA Draft -- went just 10-for-32 from the field but still finished with 14 assists in two easy victories. That's in large part because Diebler, whose role is so unique within coach
"A lot of our guys are really good, really athletic," Madsen said. "They drive to the rim, everyone collapses, and Jon is just standing out there, waiting. Almost laughing sometimes."
And then, as usual, he puts the ball in the hole.