A glue guy who has held down a number of different positions for the Buckeyes, the fifth-year senior will close his career among program leaders in a number of different categories. And while he has quietly been a steadying force for the past four seasons, Lighty has never quite proven himself particularly adept at any one specific facet of the game.
Aside from winning, that is. With a win today against Minnesota (2 p.m., Big Ten Network), Lighty would become the all-time winningest player in OSU history. He currently sits tied with former walk-ons Danny Peters and Mark Titus, who accumulated 110 victories from the 2007-10 seasons.
Head coach Thad Matta said it will be fitting for Lighty to hold the title.
"I've said this: I think David Lighty may go down as the most underrated player to play at Ohio State," the coach said. "The things that he has brought to this program, all the intangibles he brings to the program, he's definitely one of my all-time favorites I've coached anywhere."
That does not mean that Lighty's name does not dot the record books in a number of other categories, however. If he adds 10 more rebounds, he will become the third recorded Buckeye to put up at least 1,000 points, 500 rebounds and 300 assists during his career.
Entering the game against the Gophers, Lighty is second on the team in assists with 57, third on the team in scoring with an average of 12.7 points per contest and fifth in rebounds per game (4.1) but leads the team in assists. He is unlikely to crack the top 15 in scoring or the top 10 in rebounding or assists.
Senior guard Jon Diebler said Lighty's contributions typically come away from the stat sheet.
"When you watch film, the ground that he covers on defense is impressive," he said. "It didn't show a rebound or a steal but what he does to disrupt other players on the defensive end is unbelievable. He may not average the most points or the most rebounds or the most assists or steals, but he is a guy we have to have on the court just because of all the intangibles that he brings."
Soon, he will be classified as a winner. Lighty's totals are boosted by the fact that he took a medical redshirt two seasons ago after suffering a fractured foot, but even without the seven wins credited to him that season he would almost certainly eclipse the record this season.
The senior has benefitted from being part of the program's last team to advance to the national championship game. Lighty scored four points in the 2007 title game loss to Florida, a year that saw the Buckeyes capture 35 wins as a freshman. He followed up that campaign with 24 wins the following year and 29 last season.
"You stick around for 20 years, you're going to win enough games," he said. "It's been great teams that I've played on. Great teammates. We're just going out and getting the job done every game. My freshman year gave me a head start."
It continues a pattern that Lighty said has followed him throughout his earliest days of playing basketball.
"For some reason I was always on a good team," he said. "There were maybe one or two seasons growing up where I was on a bad team and it was all downhill."
Matta said Lighty's attitude has been largely the same following each victory.
"Dave is an energetic, hyper type of kid," the coach said. "I love his energy, but he's pretty low-key. Being here for five years he understands the process of we won, we'll look at the tape and then we're onto the next one. He doesn't have a countdown or anything in his locker."
Looking back, Lighty singled out two victories that stick with him the most: a home win against Wisconsin as a freshman that clinched a Big Ten title and last year's home victory against Illinois that also clinched a share of the league crown.
He has jokingly received at least one message from Peters on Twitter about breaking the record but another former player has come out in support of Lighty. Evan Turner, now with the NBA's Philadelphia 76ers, is apparently pulling for Lighty to surpass the record shared by Titus. On his blog "Club Trillion," Titus nicknamed Turner "The Villain" and often encouraged his fans to give the reigning national player of the year a hard time.
"Evan really wants me to break the record," Lighty said with a laugh. "Hopefully it will be a sellout crowd. We can get all his Club Trillion fans to come and watch me break the record. I'm sure they won't be rooting for me for that, though."