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How will Lighty, former Buckeyes fare in NBA draft?

Andy Gottesman / Multimedia Editor

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For the past four years, Ohio State has had at least one player selected in the NBA Draft. The streak will more than likely extend to five years Thursday night as former Buckeye David Lighty realizes his professional dream.

Lighty, the all-time leader in wins at OSU, is widely projected to be taken in the second round. ESPN analyst Fran Fraschilla told the Cleveland Plain Dealer he feels that Lighty will be valuable to an NBA team.

“I think David Lighty will be on the roster in one way, shape or form,” Fraschilla told the Plain Dealer. “[It wouldn’t be a surprise] if you tell me in a year or two from now he’s having a lot of success because he’s one of those no-mistake guys we talked about. If you put him on the floor he’s probably going to know his role. There is a lot that he offers as an early to mid-second round pick.”

The 6-foot-6, 216-pound Buckeye was a defensive-specialist at OSU, regularly taking on the opposing team’s best scorer. Last season, Lighty averaged slightly more than 12 points per game while shooting a career-best 46.8 percent on three-pointers.

Several teams have hosted Lighty for a workout, including the Cleveland Cavaliers, who hold two selections in the second round.

Another Buckeye who might hear his name called on Thursday night is Jon Diebler. While the general sense is that Diebler has a greater chance of going undrafted than Lighty, ESPN draft analyst Chad Ford told the Plain Dealer he thinks both players will be selected.

“Diebler shot 50 percent from three this year, and he took a lot of threes,” Ford told the paper. “He’s got pretty good size. He’s not a terrible athlete either. I actually think both [Lighty and Diebler] will be drafted.”

Ford has Diebler ranked as the 69th prospect of the draft class. If he is picked, it would cap off a busy and memorable month for the OSU senior. Along with NBA workouts, Diebler recently married.

Fellow senior Dallas Lauderdale will more than likely go undrafted, but the 6-8, 260-pounder has worked out for a few teams and should get an invite to an NBA training camp.

Before the Cavaliers have the chance to consider this trio of Buckeyes in the second round, the team must decide what to do with the No. 1 and No. 4 overall picks of the draft.

The general consensus is that Duke guard Kyrie Irving and Arizona forward Derrick Williams are the two best players in the draft class, both worthy of garnering the top-selection. Ford predicts Cleveland will take Irving.

The Cavaliers could have several options with the fourth pick. Many mock drafts have them deciding between two European big men, 7-foot Jonas Valanciunas from Lithuania and 6-foot-11 Enes Kanter from Turkey. Cleveland has also been rumored to be exploring trade options with the pick, including a bid to secure the second overall selection from Minnesota in hopes of getting both Irving and Williams.

According to Ford’s mock draft analysis, Valanciunas has a buyout with his team in Lithuania that may prevent him from playing in the NBA this season. Ultimately, he projects the Cavaliers will take Kanter.

“The Cavs love Valanciunas, but do they love him enough to draft him even if he won’t be coming to the NBA next season? I doubt it at No. 4. The Cavs have been exploring a number of trade possibilities to move down a few spots in the draft. If they stay here, I think Kanter is their guy,” Ford wrote.

The 2011 NBA Draft is Thursday at 7 p.m. in Newark, N.J.

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