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Undrafted Buckeye Lighty to play in Italy

Andy Gottesman / Multimedia Editor

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Former Ohio State forward David Lighty confirmed to the Lantern through a phone call Wednesday evening that he is close to signing a contract with the Italian team Cantu, which next season will play in Europe’s top league, the Euroleague.

The move is not official yet, but Lighty said he expects to sign by the end of the week.

After not being selected in the NBA draft on June 23, Lighty’s chances at an NBA future were put on hold when the NBA entered a lockout on July 1, prohibiting teams from signing or making offers to free agents.

“Talking to my agent (Joel Bell), he gave me three options,” Lighty said. “Overseas in Italy with Cantu, stay here and wait out the lockout and go to training camp with either Atlanta or Phoenix.”

“If this was any other year, I would go to training camp with a team and to Summer League with a team,” Lighty said. “From what I hear, Atlanta and Phoenix would most likely sign me. But they couldn’t guarantee anything because of the lockout.”

The Suns and Hawks were the only two NBA teams that Lighty worked out with following the draft, he said, but that the Cleveland Cavaliers, San Antonio Spurs and New Orleans Hornets were also interested.

Lighty cited the uncertainty of the lockout as his primary reason for selecting to play overseas.

“Basically (the lockout) is what it comes down to,” Lighty said. “It’s all up in the air. So that cuts my chances of being on a (NBA) team.”

“After talking with players who have been through here and people I’ve come in contact with, they told me with this lockout situation no one knows what’s going on. And my best bet is to take the money.”

How much money? Lighty said he has not heard the amount yet.

To get a sense of what playing overseas is like, Lighty said he has talked to new OSU assistant Chris Jent, and other former Buckeyes like Scoonie Penn and Othello Hunter, all of whom have experience playing in Europe.

The 23-year-old Lighty said he expects being away from home to be the hardest part of playing in Italy, a place he said he has never been.

“Basketball is basketball, that comes easy for me and is what I love to do no matter where it’s at,” Lighty said. “But just being away from my family and them not being able to see me play, stuff like that, that’s probably going to be the most difficult thing.”

The Cleveland native does have some experience with the international game, playing in the 2007 U19World Championship in Serbia as a member of the USA U19 National Team. In 23.6 minutes a game, he averaged 8.8 points and 3.9 rebounds for the runner-up American squad.

Buckeye coach Thad Matta and his assistants were unavailable for comment because they are away on recruiting trips, OSU spokesman Dan Wallenberg said in an e-mail.

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