Ohio Talent Plentiful on No. 1 Buckeyes


The unbeaten, nationally No. 1-ranked Buckeye men’s basketball team reminds a lot of seasoned observers, like myself, of the OSU teams of the early 1960s.

That’s when then-OSU coach FRED TAYLOR, a native of Zanesville and former pro baseball player, recruited the best roundball talent in the Buckeye State.

While current OSU pilot THAD MATTA has built his current powerhouse around in-state talent like JARED SULLINGER, DAVID LIGHTY, JON DIEBLER, and WILLIAM BUFFORD, Taylor courted the likes of JERRY LUCAS (Middletown), JOHN HAVLICEK (Bridgeport), MEL NOWELL and JIM DOUGHTY (Columbus), LARRY SIEGFRIED (Cincinnati), DICK REASBECK (Bellaire St. John’s) and BOBBY KNIGHT (Orrville).

When Lucas, Havlicek and fellow sophomores became varsity eligible in 1959-60, Taylor guided the Buckeyes to a 25-3 record and the NCAA national championship.

A year later, OSU got off to the school’s best start by winning its first 27 games but lost the NCAA title game, in overtime, by 70-65 to another budding Ohio power led by the great OSCAR ROBERTSON, the University of Cincinnati.

The Bearcats made it two in a row in 1962 by besting the Buckeyes again in the finals, 71-59. Two OV products were members of the Buckeyes freshman team that season, and not eligible for the varsity – JIM BROWN (Martins Ferry), who later became the long-time Buckeyes golf coach, and CARTER CASTILOW (Magnolia).

The current Buckeyes squad, like the 1960 national title squad, is led by a highly touted prep player in his first college season.

Lucas and Sullinger were both national High School Players of the Year. Lucas led his Middletown team to 76 consecutive victories and two state titles. Sullinger’s four teams lost only four games and they won one state crown.

So, there’s some similarities in the current unbeaten Buckeye squad and the OSU national powers of the early 1960s.

The only difference is the NCAA championship, and three straight title games, for the teams of the 1960s.

But an unbeaten, national championship season would separate the current team from any of the others.

Just remember, however, that the last team to achieve that feat was the 1976 Indiana team which capped a 32-0 season with the brass ring.

Ironically, that team was coached by Knight, a substitute on those Buckeyes powers of the early 1960s.

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Few Ohio Valley natives are as satisfied with the result of last Sunday’s Super Bowl game than this former Martins Ferry and Ohio University football running back.

That’s because he has just completed his first year as a pro scout for the champion Green Bay Packers.

”This is a first-class organization,” Brinker told us in a telephone interview. ”I couldn’t be happier working here and being a part of the organization.”

Brinker’s main responsibility is scouting 6-8 NFL teams for use in the free agency market.

”I have to know the league and the personnel on the teams and how they might be able to fit in with the Packers.”

Besides the travel to such NFL games as the Steelers-Jets playoff showdown, Brinker attended the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Ala., to get a first-hand look at the college seniors who have NFL aspirations.

”After I tried out for the New York Jets,” Brinker said, ”I wanted to remain in the game but didn’t have an NFL job. So, I went to Columbus and coached some high school football and got into sales. But a Columbus resident, and Ohio Valley native and former West Liberty coach JOHN WESTENHAVER helped me with contacts to get my foot in the door. John works with pro agents and scouts.”

Brinker then connected with former Jets general manager TERRY BRADWAY, who steered him to the Packers.

”I’ve always had a goal of becoming an NFL general manager and working with the Packers can only help with that effort,” Brinker noted.

Yes, working for a Super Bowl champion does have its benefits.

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Enjoy the weekend.