Family Factored In Lauderdale's Choice Of OSU

Solon, Ohio, basketball standout Dallas Lauderdale weighed a number of factors in making his college choice. But the chance to play close to home factored heavily in his decision. We have comments from Lauderdale on his choice as well as words from his coach, Todd Van Reeth, and his future OSU teammate (and former AAU teammate), David Lighty.

It was truly a Friends and Family Plan at Solon (Ohio) High School Thursday as basketball standout Dallas Lauderdale announced his verbal commitment to Ohio State.

The 6-9, 235-pound Lauderdale picked the Buckeyes over the likes of Syracuse, North Carolina, Louisville and Michigan.

He was the center of attention at a press conference in his school's gymnasium. There, he was joined by more than 50 classmates and friends as well as his parents (Dallas and Carol Ann Lauderdale), his uncle (former NBA player Jim Chones) and one of his future OSU teammates (David Lighty).

It is clear that Lauderdale comes from good bloodlines with Chones as an uncle. His cousin, Kayla Chones, is a WNBA player and his sister, Tahja Etalicia Lauderdale, is a senior student at Bowling Green.

In the end, Lauderdale chose Ohio State over Syracuse in part because of proximity.

"The big factor was location," Lauderdale revealed. "People all my life have said I'm a mama's boy. Why did I want to be five hours away at Syracuse when I could be two hours away and still be successful at Ohio State?

"It was very close. It was so close. I had a lot of sleepless nights. I could picture myself in an Ohio State jersey and in a Syracuse jersey. It was a difficult decision. I'm glad it's over.

"It feels good to get that monkey off my back. I feel like a little kid."

Of course, it also helped that Lauderdale's Cleveland Titans AAU teammate David Lighty was already in the fold.

"Every time I saw him, he would whisper in my ear, 'Ohio State, Ohio State,' " Lauderdale said.

Lauderdale praised Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim for staying with him throughout the process. But OSU coach Thad Matta won out in the end.

"(Boeheim) told me the truth," Lauderdale said. "He said he thought I was a good player and I could be a success at Syracuse. He talked about how their past big men had gotten to the league.

"But Coach Matta is an excellent coach, too. I see myself being successful at Ohio State."

Lauderdale joins an OSU class that also includes 6-6 wing Jon Diebler and 7-1 forward/center Kosta Koufos.

"Coach Matta just said we'd work on the match-ups," Lauderdale said. "They have Kosta Koufos committed there. It could be Kosta at the four and me at the five or me at the four and Kosta at the five. We could go either way and it would be good."

And this three-man class will follow behind the star-studded five-man class Matta signed for 2006, led by 7-0 center Greg Oden.

"They are all excellent players," Lauderdale said. "When you put excellent players together, you should get excellent results. Hopefully, we can win the national championship at the college level."

As a junior, Lauderdale averaged 21 points, 10 rebounds and four blocks for a 23-2 team that went all the way to the Division I regional finals before falling to eventual state champion Canton McKinley. That was Lauderdale's third year as a varsity starter and second as an all-district pick. Solon made it to the regional final for the second straight year.

But he knows he is not a finished product just yet.

"I think I am known mostly as a defender," Lauderdale said. "I am not close to the kind of player David Lighty is or Daequan Cook or a Greg Oden. I just want to be the kind of guy who is known as a hard worker. I will get you some baskets, but I will also get you some key rebounds and some key blocks.

"I need to work on every aspect of my game. I want to work on my perimeter game. In Coach Matta's system, I know sometimes I will be on the perimeter. I want to tighten that up. I just want to be versatile.

"I want to be able to step out and shoot the three and also be able to go into the post and dunk on somebody."

Lauderdale shed some light on his plans for this summer. His Cleveland Titans AAU team has all but disbanded because most of the players like Lighty were high school seniors.

Lauderdale said he could slide over and possibly play alongside Koufos and Lakewood St. Edward junior standout Delvon Roe on the King James Shooting Stars team. He also said he plans to attend a pair of national camps – the NBA Players Association camp in late June and the Reebok ABCD Camp in early July.

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Solon coach Todd Van Reeth summed up Lauderdale's decision.

"For our program to have a kid to go Division I – let alone major Division I – it's such a great family and the relationship they have, especially with his mom, it means a lot for Dallas," Van Reeth said. "The turning point for him is to be somewhere that is a little more accessible so his family can see him play.

"All of the schools did a great job of recruiting him. You have to choose one prom date and there are a lot of girls out there. I think he did a good job of making that choice. I'm real happy for him."

Van Reeth said Lauderdale has worked hard to earn his offers.

"Sometimes people look at a player and say, ‘He's 6-8 or 6-9 and he's just going to be good and big,' " Van Reeth said. "But he has put a lot of time in. You see him in here a lot of times before school. Most of the time, you see kids who are successful at that level it's because they have put a lot of time in.

"There aren't a lot of 6-9 genetic freaks who don't spend a lot of time playing basketball who get a chance to play at a place like Ohio State."

Van Reeth summed up what Lauderdale brings to the table.

"He brings some athleticism as a big kid that may be a little bit different than some other people," Van Reeth said. "Offensively, I think his game will develop by leaps and bounds. I've seen it get better from last year. That's something, again, you can work on those skills. He is a great athlete. His best basketball is ahead of him."

Lighty said Lauderdale didn't even tell him which school he would choose.

"We have talked about it a little bit," he said. "I really wasn't sure what he was going to do today. He had left me in the dark a little bit. But I'm really excited that he is coming down to be a Buckeye."

Lighty reflected on their travels with the Titans to discuss what Lauderdale is capable of.

"His mentality is pretty good," Lighty said. "He keeps everything in perspective and he works hard. That's going to make him even better.

"We wanted two big men in this junior class. He is long and athletic and can do a lot of things for us. He just needs to come in and work hard with everybody else and do some good things."

Here is a link to the story from Thursday announcing Lauderdale's verbal commitment:

Lauderdale Selects Ohio State

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