As the 2011 NBA draft drew closer to its conclusion, one sign began to feature prominently in the background of ESPN’s broadcast.
“Draft Diebler,” the sign read, a tribute to former Ohio State guard Jon Diebler. With the 51st overall pick in the draft, the Big Ten’s all-time leader in three-pointers was then selected by the Portland Trail Blazers.
“He really can shoot it,” ESPN analyst Jay Bilas said. “If you leave him open and let him get his feet set, he is going to make it. He does a good job of coming off scree3ns. He gets his feet set in a hurry and he’s got a quick trigger. He’s got good size so eh can get his shot off.”
However, former teammate and the program's all-time leader in wins, David Lighty, was not selected. Projected as a second-round pick in most mock drafts, Lighty was viewed as being more likely to be selected than Diebler.
“Diebler’s a specialist, a far superior shooter,” Bilas said. “Lighty is a superior all-around player. Lighty can defend big men and handle the ball. I guess if you’re looking for an all-around player, you would take Lighty before Diebler because Diebler is a specialist.”
Draft night capped a frenetic couple of weeks for Diebler. After suffering a separated shoulder in OSU’s season-ending loss to Kentucky in the Sweet 16, he sat out for a little more than two weeks while the joint healed. In the process, he missed out on playing in the Portsmouth Invitational as well as a few other similar opportunities.
After working out for Memphis, New Jersey, Phoenix and Indiana, Diebler got married June 16 and had a final workout with Chicago on Monday. He then returned to Columbus, celebrated his birthday Wednesday and headed to his family’s house on Lake Erie to watch the draft with his family.
For his career, Diebler hit 374 treys including a program-record 116 during the 2009-10 season. One day before the draft, he told BSB that teams had told him not to try to be anything other than what he is: a shooter.
Bilas said he will have to prove a few things in order to stick in the NBA.
“The challenge for Jon is going to be on the defensive end,” he said. “Is he going to be able to guard NBA (guards)? It’s going to be difficult but on the offensive end eh can certainly space the floor. He’s going to make open shots, no question about it.”
The all-time leader in wins at OSU with 129, Lighty’s name litters the program’s record books. A versatile player, the Cleveland native is one of 22 players in program history to record at least 1,000 points and 500 rebounds.
As the draft ended, Lighty posted a message to his followers on Twitter: “U will see me in the NBA I promise u that.....”
Lighty ended the night as the best available player remaining on ESPN analyst Jay Bilas' draft board.
With the pick, Diebler joins a roster that holds another fellow former Buckeye: Greg Oden, the oft-injured center who was the first overall pick in the 2007 draft. Diebler entered the OSU program after Oden had declared for the league. The Trail Blazers finished sixth in the Western Conference last season with a 48-34 record.
Diebler is the 46th Buckeye to be selected in the NBA draft. Two Buckeyes have made the league without being drafted: Jay Burson and Chris Jent. As a prepster from Upper Sandusky, Ohio, Diebler broke Burson’s all-time state scoring record of 2,958 career points. Diebler finished with 3,208 points while playing for his father, Keith Diebler.
He is also the first Buckeye to be taken in the second round since Ken Johnson was selected by the Miami Heat in 2001.
"I couldn't be happier for Jon," OSU head coach Thad Matta said in a statement. "To see his growth from a freshman to senior has been amazing. Here is a kid who came to Ohio State with so many expectations. He struggled in the beginning but never quit. To see him at this point in his life, he deserves it all because he put in the extra work to reach this level."