Lighty Can Now Focus On Rehab And Being A Buckeye

A terrible knee injury suffered on a dunk kept David Lighty and his VASJ hoop teammates from possibly winning a state title this past season. Before Lighty joins Daequan Cook at Ohio State, he wants one last crack at winning a state title. It's something that the versatile and multi-talented athlete hasn't been able to get yet in football or in basketball in high school.

The mailman at the Lighty household will certainly appreciate the fact that David Lighty of Villa Angela St. Joseph High School in Cleveland finally made his decision to attend Ohio State on a basketball scholarship. Lighty made his official announcement to do just that at a press conference in his school's gymnasium on Monday afternoon.

"Our mail now will be a little lighter," said David's mother Emily Lighty who sat to her son's right at the head table as he articulately addressed those in attendance. David's father sat next to him on his left side along with other administrators from the school. "Our mailman thought five people moved in the house with us because of the mail we get for him. His room is nothing but mail."

Word had leaked out late last week that Lighty had indeed committed to Ohio State and he confirmed that fact within seconds of him being introduced.

"The last two years or so I've been trying to decide on what college that I'm going to go to extend my career at the next level," began Lighty, reaching below the table and pulling out a bright red Ohio State cap that he placed on his head just seconds later, "and I have decided to attend...The Ohio State University."

He said nothing specific really triggered his final decision that came down to Ohio and Syracuse, but a mid-April visit from Thad Matta seemingly provided the impetus for him finally making it.

"I would have to say around two or three weeks ago I started feeling real strong about Ohio State," Lighty said. "When Coach (Matta) came in like the 18th or 19th, the next day I really decided that was the place for me to go."

The thought of possibly teaming with OSU's first high-profile instate commitment, Daequan Cook, was rather compelling but really wasn't a main reason why the 6-5 wingman chose Ohio State.

"It really didn't have much to do with me going there," Lighty said, "but it's good that he's going there too and it will be nice if I was playing right along side with him having, hopefully, one of the best back courts in the nation."

Lighty will actually be in Columbus on an official visit this coming weekend along with Cook and a strong contingent of recruits that play on Cook's AAU team. Greg Oden, Mike Conley and Thad Young are a few guys that Lighty and Cook will be trying to get to join the fold this weekend.

"Hopefully we can be the next North Carolina, have like a new fab five and hopefully win a national championship," he said. "I think there's going to be a good camaraderie and everyone is going to get along I feel, because they already play together. And me, I like to share the ball all the time and get people involved in the game so it's going to work out real good."

But first Lighty has to get back to becoming the player that he was before he injured his knee on a dunk in the district finals this past season.

"I came down on it wrong after a dunk," Lighty said. "I got up and I thought I was fine, my knee just got a little tight. I fell on the ground wrong but I just got up and finished the game and the next morning it was swollen. I finished the game, there was about six minutes left in the third quarter. I played through it. I was happy and I got to cut down the nets. The next morning it was swollen the size of the watermelon."

It was an injury that cost him and his Viking teammates a legitimate shot at winning a state title last year.

"We were going down to the regionals, trying to get to the state championship, and I couldn't play and I couldn't help my team any more," Lighty said. "So it was real devastating to me."

But he's certainly learned from the whole experience.

"I appreciate things a lot more now like walking. You really don't notice it until you can't walk any more. It would take me like 20 minutes to go from my room to the kitchen," Lighty said. "So the little things mean a lot more to me now."

He'll go from walking to jogging to playing basketball again in a matter of a few short months now.

"I start therapy again this week," Lighty said. "I'm doing fine and I'll just keep working hard and I'll be back again in September."

He moved around with one crutch at the press conference.

"It's a little frustrating sometimes walking around with the crutches but I just deal with it. I'll just continue to rehab and get better each day," Lighty said. "I've come a long way. My thigh was about the size of my arm and now I'm getting the strength back in it and I can start at least walking on it again regular sometime."

Surprisingly with the injury, Lighty hasn't completely given up on a future career on the gridiron. As a sophomore, Lighty was a top two-way performer at wide receiver and safety on a team that advanced to the state finals in Massillon. Lighty, who chose not to play football in his junior season, is not ruling out that possibility in his future.

"No not really," said Lighty, who admitted that he still misses it a little bit, especially when he's sitting there watching it. "It would be nice if I could try to play football down there. I'll just talk to the coaches and see what they say about it. It would be nice to play football at Ohio State."

His mother wasn't very happy initially when Lighty gave up the sport.

"I was crushed with the decision from him actually not to play," she said. "I did everything and encouraged other people, our friends and family, to talk him into playing. But he had his reasons and they were probably good reasons, and in hindsight it turned out for the best. But I certainly miss seeing him out there in that uniform."

Ironically, it was in the non-contact sport where Lighty tore his knee up.

"And that was crushing as well, especially where they were in the season," she said. "I just felt in my heart that this was really their time and they were going to go all the way. I felt that in my heart and knew that and believed that, and I felt they were robbed when his injury happened. But God has a master plan and everything happens for a reason. We certainly can't neglect that fact and have to believe that He has better things in store for him."

Like a championship possibly. Lighty will have one more crack at a high school championship on the hardwood before he gives it a try with his new Buckeye teammates at Ohio State. Lighty gives Matta much of the credit for bringing in the guys like himself and Cook to try to win a national title at OSU.

"I don't really know if I would be a Buckeye if he wasn't there because he had a lot to do with it," Lighty said of Matta. "But I like the whole campus, the atmosphere, the fans and the location. Everyone there is about Ohio State and that's what I like the most about it."

There's a lot of buzz being generated these days from both the basketball and football programs at Ohio State now with Matta and Jim Tressel at the helm of their respective sports. Lighty in particular mentioned how exciting it was to see the Ohio State hoop team get a victory over Illinois and spoil their undefeated season at the time.

"I feel very excited when you talk about Ohio State," Lighty said. "I took a couple of visits down there and watched a couple of football games and it's just something that you'll always remember. When you go down there (to Ohio State) you feel like you're a part of it all."

And now Lighty anxiously follows in the path of Clark Kellogg and Treg Lee, two prominent VASJ basketball alums, to Ohio State.

"It occurred to me that Clark went there and I would be doing things that he did and hopefully I could go on to the NBA like he did," Lighty said. "But I just liked it so much and I can stay close to home and have my family come watch me play. My mom hasn't missed a game almost since I was like in the fourth grade so having her see me means a lot to me."

Mom couldn't even get over the fact that her son was having a press conference to announce that he would be going to Ohio State.

"We're extremely blessed," she said. "It's flattering but more importantly it's a blessing that he's been gifted with the talent that he has and will be able to use that to his benefit and to help this school, his future school and hopefully help himself in life."

The early commitment by Lighty allows him to concentrate more on his rehab and his school work now.

"I think it was pretty important because now I can work hard on my rehab and try to get my knee back to 100 percent," he said. "And worry about my school work and everything else I need to do."

Like recruiting Dallas Lauderdale to Ohio State, a sophomore from Solon who's on his AAU team.

"I go to the practices but I haven't been able to go to the tournaments or anything yet because of my injury," Lighty said. "We go to North Carolina around Memorial Day so I'll be traveling with them then. I'll travel with them in the summer."

So despite the injury, it's really an exciting time for Lighty right now.

"It's very exciting knowing that everything is over and that I'm going to Ohio State. I'm a Buckeye now and I'm ready to get things started," Lighty said. "We're ready to really do something serious for the basketball program at Ohio State."

And he's looking forward to rooting on the football Buckeyes when he's there as well.

"Of course and I'll be at the games," Lighty said. "I'll be at all the games."

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