Notebook: Weatherspoon's Return

No. 1 Ohio State is preparing for fourth-seeded Kentucky, and this week the Buckeyes got a boost with the news that freshman J.D. Weatherspoon would be back in action. Get all the details as well as updates on freshman Lenzelle Smith and weekend plans for Jared Sullinger in this notebook.

The end of Ohio State's bench will be one person deeper when the Buckeyes take the court Friday night in Newark. Freshman forward J.D. Weatherspoon has rejoined the team after spending the past quarter on the academically ineligible list.

Weatherspoon's updated status was announced Wednesday shortly before top-seeded OSU headed to the Sweet 16 and a looming showdown with fourth-seeded Kentucky.

A product of Columbus Northland, Weatherspoon prepped with OSU's Jared Sullinger, who has been voted the nation's freshman of the year by the Sporting News. Wednesday, Sullinger said he is glad to have his former and current teammate back in the fold.

"He brings excitement to the team with his athleticism and everything that he's been through," Sullinger said. "It really shows he worked hard for this situation to come into a situation like this. It's just another guy to have fun with. We always have fun as a team."

Added senior forward David Lighty: "Another part of the family."

The 6-7, 210-pound Weatherspoon has seen action in 10 games of 13 possible games, averaging 1.8 points and 0.8 rebounds in limited action. He was named academically ineligible Dec. 27.

In the meantime, Weatherspoon has been allowed to practice with the team but could not travel with them on the road. He was not on the bench last weekend as the Buckeyes won their first two games in the NCAA Tournament.

He posted career highs of seven points and three rebounds in an 85-60 home win Dec. 12 against Western Carolina. As a senior at Northland, Weatherspoon was rated a three-star prospect and the No. 37 power forward in the nation by

It is unlikely that he would assume any major role with the team this season.

Sullinger Dilemma: A pair of familiar faces will be absent from the OSU cheering section Friday night. Sullinger's parents – Satch and Barbara – will be in Columbus, where his father will lead 25-1 Northland against 20-5 Garfield Heights in the state Division I semifinals.

That game tips on OSU's home court at 8:30 p.m., about one hour before the Buckeyes will tip against the Wildcats. However, Sullinger said his mother hails from Brooklyn and he will still be represented by a contingent of family members.

"My mother is from New York so I have that side of the family coming to the game," he said. "My mom is going to be here for my dad's game and my brother (J.J.) is doing commentary for the state semis and Julian is about to have a baby. Right now it's just my mom's side of the family that's going to be at the game."

Should the Vikings win, they would play one day later in the state title game. As for what his parents will do if both teams advance, Sullinger said, "I don't know. We'll see. We've got to win on Friday first."

In other Sullinger news, the freshman said his life off the court has noticeably changed as the season has gone on and his national profile has increased.

"Off the court has been kind of weird," he said. "It kind of changed. Normally I could walk down the street and get a burger. Now normally I can't. Sometimes I stop and sign autographs. It changed, but that comes along with the territory."

Smith Still Healing: This has not been the freshman season Lenzelle Smith was expecting. After hoping to compete for the point guard position, the freshman was sidelined by wrist surgery during the summer and missed several months of conditioning and practice.

Now more than eight months removed from surgery, Smith said he too is not fully back to health.

"I'm not sure when I'll be 100 percent but I think I'm good enough to get the job done, whatever that may be," he said while in Cleveland. "I've had a little pain early when I first came out of the surgery but I haven't had any pain recently. It affects me a little bit with my passing and my ball-handling ability and my shooting too. Nothing too major."

The injury is to his left (shooting) wrist. When it does bother him, Smith said, "It just locks up from time to time. Sometimes I'm feeling good and everything is normal and everything is loose and then at a sudden moment it clicks and locks up on me."

His hope is to be fully healthy this May. In 20 appearances this season, Smith has averaged 1.2 points in 4.6 minutes.

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