Diebler No Ordinary Jon

At 6-7 with a slender build, Jon Diebler of Upper Sandusky looks like a stereotypical basketball player. But talentwise, Diebler is no ordinary hoopster. Diebler had another big year on the basketball court this year and continues to pile up huge stats that may place him in the all-time Ohio record books.

Nothing Jon Diebler has ever done has really been ordinary. To accommodate his feats, Webster's should permanently cement his picture next to the word accomplishment.

If his basketball resume could only relate to corporate America, his is the type that needs no follow-up interview.

At 6-7, although slightly generously, the slender but stylish teenager combines a keen wit and a flare for the dramatic engaging on an assault on many of Ohio's gaudy statistical records.

As the numbers pile up, the wins translate over for the Upper Sandusky Rams, a Division II school in North Central Ohio, competing annually in the Northern Ohio League. The title of coach belongs to Diebler's father Keith, a yes-and-no, matter-of-fact kind of leader. But it's his youngest of three sons that has taken a role as leader by both example and voice.

"I don't worry about Jon out there," Diebler once proudly proclaimed after a game this season. "Jon knows what I expect of him and what I expect of the team, and he's smart enough to be where he's supposed to be and have others be there as well."

It hasn't always been that way. Because prior to this season it was another namesake orchestrating those leadership skills as a surrogate coach on the floor.

"Last year it was Jake and Greg (Micheli) and all the seniors out there so I wasn't real vocal," Diebler said of his brother Jake, who is now a freshman at Valparaiso.

Until there has been a need for his leadership, Diebler has just been expected to go out and play hard in his father's up-tempo, 32-minutes-of-hell style of basketball.

Playing hard, playing smart and playing really well. It has led to an impressive checklist for a career, let alone for a junior.

In just three short seasons of high school, consider what Diebler has accomplished.

As a freshman, Diebler averaged 23.6 points a game while his older brother averaged 25 points as a junior. The two also went down for what's believed to be the most points scored by two pairs of brothers in a game in Ohio when Fostoria played Ottawa-Glandorf in March of 2004.

Ottawa-Glandorf defeated Fostoria in the district semifinal game at Bowling Green University 84-72. The real story, however, was that the Pollitz twins, Eric and Tim, both standing about 6-4 combined, scored 47 points while the Diebler brothers countered with 64 points. The four brothers together accounted for 111 points and 30 rebounds in a single game.

Then as a sophomore, Diebler earned Second Team All-Ohio in Division II by scoring 26.3 points and grabbing 6.8 rebounds a game, leading the Rams to an undefeated State Championship run.

Diebler burst to elite status, if he weren't already, by scoring 33 points in the regional finals against Akron St. Vincent St. Mary, 29 points against Dayton Dunbar in the state semifinal and then 32 points and 14 rebounds in the championship game against Wooster Triway. He helped Upper Sandusky to the third-most points scored in a season all-time in Ohio with 2,429 points in 27 games – an average of 90 points a game.

And following a spring and summer where on the AAU circuit critics were disappointed to see poor play in late April and early May, mononucleosis sidelined him for the rest of the summer also keeping him out of the major camps including Ohio State's team camp.

Hoping to answer many of the questions that followed him into his junior campaign, Diebler picked up on his statistical assassination of Ohio record holders.

A younger, more inexperienced Upper Sandusky finished the season 18-6, winning 11 of their final 12 games. Diebler accounted for his share 34.8 points, over 11 rebounds, six assists, four steals and a couple blocked shots a game.

The highlights include a 77-point performance, which is good for No. 7 all-time in the state of Ohio for a single game in a 105-100 victory over Tiffin Columbian. Josh Moore scored 52 points in a losing effort for Columbian. Diebler broke the state record with 27 free throws made in a single game. He missed just one attempt.

In the regional semifinal loss to Willard ending the season, Superman again climbed to the top of a burning building, attempting to save a damsel in distress.

The Rams failed to defeat their conference foes for the third time this season, but Diebler accounted for 55 points and 17 rebounds.

Diebler now sits with 2,106 career points, placing him No. 26 unofficially on Ohio's all-time list. That's 852 points behind Jay Burson.

He will have some competition from O.J. Mayo next season, as Mayo also has an outside shot at breaking Burson's record, but it's believed Diebler will be the one to break it.

Diebler's brother Jake already owns the Ohio records for most assists (835) and most steals (578) in a career, unofficially. For Diebler to break the record for most points in a career, he would need to average roughly 33 points a game assuming Upper Sandusky can make it to the regional semifinals and slightly less should Upper Sandusky make it to the state finals.

"I'm not thinking about any of that, I just want to improve and I think we can win another state championship," Diebler says.

Although the statistics don't lie about his abilities, he is human.

Even the most modest of Diebler's personality understands he can't settle for any less if he hopes for greatness. He hopes to improve this summer playing with the All-Ohio Red AAU basketball club again.

"I need to keep shooting, I really need to get stronger," he hesitated, "and honestly I need to get quicker."

Perhaps that's why his father doesn't need to coach him.

But Diebler knows he has built-in advice when he needs it – with his future coaching staff.

"They ask me how workouts are going and we talk normally about that kind of thing," Diebler notes. "But they answer any questions I have about getting better."

No one in Diebler's family is busy buying into his own legend, however. In fact, Diebler spends more time watching the success of others – his future teammates.

In two seasons, Diebler potentially will be a freshman on the Ohio State basketball roster playing along side Greg Oden. Until then, he's a fan like everyone else.

"The hype that goes into the program right now is really unbelievable," he says, almost mesmerized by the thought. "Sometimes I forget that I'll be there in a year myself playing with Greg, Daequan and those guys."

"It's not that I'm intimidated," he's quick to add, "but it's exciting."

A mythical role that is attached to an early commitment for any program seems to imply a manifestation of sorts into leadership.

It's the first domino theory.

When one talented player chooses a program for his own reasons, he picks up the slack and attempt to convince other players to ultimately join them. Diebler has not assumed the role of 2007 recruiting class recruiter, but he has been thinking of his possible teammates in the future.

Summer basketball and his time outside of Upper Sandusky has led to what he calls some solid friendships.

"I've really gotten to know the guys on our team (All-Ohio)," says the Ohio State commitment. "I've also gotten to know B.J. (Mullens) and Kosta (Koufos) really well and I talk to them quite often."

Diebler is a relationship-oriented person.

He had what has been described as a great relationship with his brother Jake. At one time the two of them planned to continue their basketball together playing in the Valparaiso gymnasium just as they had done on their own playgrounds growing up.

But somewhere along the line last summer, his priorities changed. Maybe the numbers caught up with him. Maybe he started believing he was good enough.

It was a tough decision, but he dismissed himself from the verbal commitment made to Homer Drew's Crusader basketball program. After a brief few months considering Ohio State, Michigan and North Carolina State, Diebler settled on his future.

"I wanted to play on the biggest stage," Diebler once said last fall of his decision to pick the Buckeyes.

Never since has he looked back. Never since has he batted an eye.

The next accomplishment won't be his last. A big feat won't be his biggest.

The Rams are poised to compete next season for a state championship. This season was a rebuilding year, but one that finished with much promise.

"I'm happy with what we did and what I did," Diebler admits, "but I'm really not satisfied."

Maybe that's what's so out of the ordinary.

Perusing the national rankings for the top-rated basketball players, you won't find his name published at the beginning of the list. Maybe he will be next year, maybe he wont.

But being ordinary might be the only thing that will save Burson's 21-year old record. Otherwise, Jon Diebler being Jon Diebler sure won't.


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