Jeff Barnett / Lantern photographer
When Ohio State senior guard Jon Diebler broke the men’s Big Ten record for career 3-pointers Sunday, the only thing that surprised OSU coach Thad Matta was that it took so long to happen.
“It could have happened a year ago if he had shot well as a freshman,” Matta said with a smile.
As Ohio’s all-time leading scorer in high school basketball history, Diebler arrived at OSU in fall 2007 with lofty expectations.
“He was going to come and score 50 points a game,” said fifth-year senior forward David Lighty, who thought Diebler would break the record as a freshman.
Diebler, however, failed to deliver. Struggling to adjust to the college game, he connected on just 29 percent of his 166 3-point attempts, averaging 5.9 points per game.
Despite Diebler’s struggles early in his college career, it’s no surprise to Matta that the guard from Upper Sandusky, Ohio, has now made more 3-point shots than anyone in Big Ten history.
“I’ve always had great faith in Jon, and at times I think I was the only one who had great faith in Jon — including himself,” Matta said. “I watched his work ethic from the day he walked in here. … I knew that if he continued that mindset and continued to work at the level that I knew he was going to work at, that he was going to be the player that he is today.”
Diebler, whose 333rd career 3-pointer on Sunday moved him past Penn State’s Pete Lisicky for first on the all-time conference list, said it took maturity in both his game and his approach to the game to help him overcome his freshman slump.
“I don’t know if it’s so much cockiness, but you have to have a certain confidence about you and I think that’s where I’ve grown the most,” Diebler said. “I’ve become a lot more confident, not only shooting the ball, but in developing my game as an overall player.”
Through all of his accomplishments in his four years at OSU — which includes tying the school record for 3-pointers in a game with nine makes against Florida Gulf Coast on Dec. 15 — Diebler has remained humble, often deferring the credit for his accomplishments to his teammates. Breaking the conference’s 3-point mark was no exception.
“I’ve just always been taught from my mother and father and my brothers just to be humble,” Diebler said. “I’ve been fortunate enough to play with a lot of great players in my four years here and I think that helps a lot because I get a lot of open looks.”
Regardless of his humbleness, Diebler said he remains proud of his accomplishment — even if it’s something he never thought he’d do.
“I honestly had no idea I was close until it was mentioned to me this year sometime. I never even thought of it. I thought it was some crazy number,” Diebler said. “It’s something that I’ve never strived for or really noticed or paid any attention to. It’s kind of cool.”