The Ohio State Buckeyes put together a strong season in 2009-2010, winning the Big Ten Tournament and earning a #2 seed in the NCAA tournament, before eventually falling in the Sweet 16. They'll strive for similar results this season, and they'll need a solid season from senior Dallas Lauderdale to make it happen. Lauderdale will need to grow in a few key areas this season to help the Buckeyes' reach their potential, and to establish himself as a legitimate prospect for the 2011 NBA Draft.
At 6'8, 260 pounds, with a freakishly long wingspan, Lauderdale started at the center position for Ohio State last season in a four out, one in system where he was surrounded by perimeter players. As the team's lone big man, he was clearly the fifth option offensively, with his touches limited mainly to dump offs around the basket and offensive rebound opportunities. He made the most of his shot attempts, however, leading all players in our database shooting an incredible 77.3% from the field. Lauderdale's offensive game is still very raw at this point though. He is a horrendous free throw shooter (40.7% last season) and his face up game is nonexistent. His post moves are limited as well, but he has started to develop a basic jump hook with decent touch, which he seems to be comfortable shooting turning to either shoulder and using either hand.
Lauderdale is a much more intriguing prospect on the defensive end. He has a big, strong frame and a tremendous wingspan that allows him to defend players much taller than him in the post. He also blocked 3.5 shots per forty minutes pace adjusted last season, which ranked him 13th of all players in our database. The obstacle Lauderdale will face on this end as a pro is which position he'll be able to defend. Although he does play much taller than his 6'8, it may be a stretch for him to guard some of the bigger centers in the NBA in the paint at times. And while he does have good feet and runs the floor pretty well for a guy his size, he doesn't possess the lateral quickness to cover face up power forwards.
The biggest concern when evaluating Lauderdale as a prospect are his underwhelming rebounding numbers. He averaged a paltry 8.5 rebounds per forty minutes pace adjusted last season, despite having all of the physical tools to be dominant on the glass. This will be the most important area to watch him this season, as a player with his lack of polish offensively has to be a top notch rebounder in order to find a niche at the NBA level. Much of the problem with Lauderdale comes down to simply playing with more energy. He has just an average motor and his conditioning level is also questionable, which prevents him from being as active as he needs to be going after rebounds. Becoming more judicious with when to pursue weak-side blocks and when to stay home could help as well.
This will be Lauderdale's last season to impress NBA scouts, and he'll have to make strides to show that he's a legit NBA player. We've seen there is a place in the NBA for undersized big men with limited offensive skills who can block shots, but those who have succeeded have also been great energy guys and beasts on the glass. More likely than not, Lauderdale is a guy we'll be seeing at Portsmouth this upcoming April.