Jim O'Brien, Ohio State head coach, announced Wednesday the 2003-04 Ohio State Men's Basketball team awards at the annual banquet, held at the Buckeye Hall of Fame Cafe. Senior Velimir Radinovic was selected as the 2003-04 Jerry Lucas Most Valuable Player. Sophomore Ugo Nwankwo earned the Fred Taylor Award for Academic Excellence, sophomore Terence Dials was selected for the Most Improved Player Award and senior Shaun Smith was presented with the John Havlicek Most Inspirational Award.
Radinovic turned in his most productive season as a Buckeye during the 2003-04 campaign. The 7-foot center from Oakville, Ontario, led the Big Ten in field goal shooting percentage (.653/109-167), tied for the team lead in starts (29), made the most foul shots (92) and made the most trips to the free throw line (132). He finished second in minutes played (824/27.5 mpg.), field goals made (109), total rebounds (181) and rebounding average (6.0 rpg.).
With 22 blocks, the team high for rejections, he finished his career with 61, good for the No. 8 spot all-time in the Ohio State record book. Radinovic was the Big Ten's Player of the Week following games vs. Iowa and Indiana in which he made 17-of-22 (.773) field goals and averaged 19.5 points and 10 rebounds.
Dials, a Youngstown, Ohio, native, finished the season strong with career-high 22-point efforts against Illinois in the final regular-season game and then again vs. Indiana in the Big Ten Conference tournament opener. In those two games combined, Dials connected on 14-of-17 (.824) shots from the field while pulling down nine rebounds in each game. After missing all but six games in 2002-03 with a back injury, Dials rebounded to average 10.4 points and 6.6 rebounds during his redshirt sophomore campaign.
The team leader in rebounds per game (6.6), Dials also was the team's second-leading scorer and second-best foul shooter among regulars (91-127/.717). Dials already has been named team captain for the 2004-05 season.
Nwankwo, a native of Ann Arbor, Mich., has qualified for 2003-04 Academic All-Big Ten honors and Ohio State Scholar-Athlete accolades. Both honors will be given later this spring. Nwankwo, a biology major, joined the Buckeyes following walk-on tryouts in November of 2002. He played in one game as a freshman. This season, the 6-2 guard played a more significant role with 18 appearances and three starts. He scored 32 points and pulled down 20 rebounds while making 83 percent (5-of-6) of his foul shots in just more than seven minutes a game. He has two years of eligibility remaining.
Smith ended his career as a four-year letterwinner for the Buckeyes. What started as a walk-on career in 2000-01 ended with the 5-foot-10-inch guard earning a scholarship for his senior season. A three-time recipient of the Havlicek Award, Smith played in 49 career games with three starts, all this season. He appeared in a career-high 14 games as a senior for an average of 5.4 minutes an outing.
The banquet also was the last for senior Shun Jenkins. Jenkins, a native of Albany, Ga., played two seasons in Columbus following a transfer from Itawamba Community College in Fulton, Miss. The 6-6 forward appeared in 53 games at Ohio State with 16 starts. He played more than 900 minutes for an average of 17.1 a game in an Ohio State uniform. As a junior he averaged 6.1 rebounds in more than 23 minutes a game and finished his career with 227 total boards and 185 points.
Also ending Ohio State careers are four-year managers Brad Smith, Jordan Warfield and Erik Zadrozny.
A Look Ahead
The 2004-05 began in earnest March 30 with the start of offseason conditioning.
Ohio State returns four of five starters and the majority of the team's offensive numbers, including seven of the top eight offensive players. Three returning Buckeyes averaged 10 or more points led by Tony Stockman's 13.6 ppg. He is followed by Terence Dials (10.4 ppg.) and J.J. Sullinger (10.1 ppg.).
The Buckeyes return 80 percent (1,566-of-1,950) of the points scored last season as well as 73 percent of the team's rebounds (735-of-1,009). The lion's share of the team's steals (176-of-197/.893), assists (306-of-350/.874), minutes played (4,749-of-6,000/.792) and blocks (45-of-71/.634) also return. Added to the mix will be at least three freshman newcomers: Jamar Butler, a 6-2 point guard from Lima, Ohio; Matt Terwilliger, a 6-8 forward/center from Troy, Ohio; and Jermyl Jackson-Wilson, a 6-7 forward from Milwaukee, Wis.
The Buckeyes will be playing their seventh season at Value City Arena in 2004-05. The third game of the home schedule will mark the 100th men's basketball game at the facility. Ohio State has compiled a 77-20 (.794) home record at VCA since the venue opened for the 1998-99 season.