Diebler On The Road To 2,958

Upper Sandusky guard Jon Diebler led his high school squad into this weekend's Ohio State team camp at Value City Arena and other gyms around campus. Diebler, an OSU verbal, already has over 2,100 points in his high school career and could make a push for Jay Burson's Ohio high school career scoring mark before his career is over. Click here for more.

If Jon Diebler is concerned by the expectations, he's not letting on.

After the 6-7 sophomore burst on the scene with 29 points last year against Dayton Dunbar (and Daequan Cook) in the Division II state semifinals, he may as well have earned the label Superman.

His Herculean effort was enough to prompt Cook to later play the role of recruiter and help entice Diebler to Ohio State by calling him several times and keeping contact. Diebler previously had given a verbal commitment along with his brother Jake to Valparaiso.

As Diebler walked up to the bench after a game Friday night, he smiled at OSU coach Thad Matta sitting nearby and tapped Walter Offutt, a future teammate, gently on the shoulder and said hello as Offutt was having a conversation with his future coach.

Before long, Dallas Lauderdale walked down the row to shake the hands of Matta, Offutt and Diebler. Soon after, B.J. Mullens sat down next to them and eventually Kosta Koufos did the same.

Diebler is to his future teammates as Cook was to Diebler. He has kept in touch with all of the other four verbal commitments through cell phones, text messages, emails and every other form of communication.

But the attraction to Diebler is one that the casual Ohio State fan relates as something like Jay Burson.

Diebler's father and head coach, Keith, probably perpetuates the image.

"We're just a small farm town," he says of the Upper Sandusky community.

If Upper Sandusky is the farm town, Diebler is the farm boy. But he's finding life to be a little glamorous in the big city.

Whether he meant to or not, his 2005 performance against Cook was an eye-opener to those who had yet to see him. His scoring continued at a frantic pace this past season as a junior despite the loss of his older brother.

After a season scoring 34.8 points a game, people are looking to call him the next Mike Dunleavy Jr. or J.J. Redick.

"J.J. Redick I am not," Diebler quips.

He should know. He cringes at the comparison, and he got an up-close look at Redick when his brother and Valparaiso played at Cameron Indoor Stadium this past season.

Since the scoring hasn't stopped, the numbers keep piling up and people continue to notice.

Diebler will enter his senior season with 2,106 points. That's No. 27 on Ohio's all-time scoring list.

He needs 852 points to catch Burson for the all-time Ohio record. Burson had 2,958 points for New Concord John Glenn between 1981-85 before becoming a standout at Ohio State. (Somebody named LeBron James is No. 3 on the list with 2,646 points.)

Diebler will not be alone, it seems, in his pursuit of Burson's record. North College Hill phenom O.J. Mayo, who will also be a senior, has roughly 2,100 points in three varsity seasons.

"It's hard to consider myself in that group because that's a pretty elite group," Diebler admits of being mentioned with Burson, James and possibly Mayo when his career is all said and done. "The main thing is to keep playing hard and keep winning. That's just something on the side. If it happens it happens, if it doesn't it doesn't."

He would trade his cape and his gaudy records in for another state title in Columbus this season.

"As long as we get back to Columbus, I could score zero points and that's fine," he adds. "There's going to be a lot of teams focusing on me but I have a lot of confidence in my teammates to step up and hit shots."

The cozy farm town was missing its superstar farm boy last year for the Ohio State team camp.

Riding high from a state championship but losing three senior starters, the Rams went to Columbus to compete at this time last summer. Superman ran into his kryptonite in the form of mononucleosis, keeping him out of action from the middle of May through July.

"I'm not sure our guys were ready last year," says Diebler, "and we had a really tough schedule. It was tough sitting on the bench. I'm just glad to be down here playing this year."

His current teammates already appreciate his presence. It's no accident that an 11-game win steak for the Rams was fueled by the excellent play of Diebler.

The streak included his record-setting 77-point outburst against Tiffin Columbian on Jan. 13. That outburst stands as the seventh-highest single game scoring output in Ohio high school history. Upper Sandusky rode his hot hand to the district finals before being up-ended by Willard.

One look at Diebler with his future Ohio State teammates, and it's obvious they too will appreciate him. And the feeling is mutual.

"It's just fun watching them," he said. "We all know they're great players and just kind of talking to them you don't get to see them that much, but hanging out with them and seeing them is great."

Upper Sandusky returns three starters but several key returning players, including sophomore Alex Falk who came on strong as a freshman last season.

The Rams continue to play an up-tempo pace pressing and trapping opponents. With any luck and some expected success, Diebler's hope of returning to the state tournament could become a reality.

"We want a state championship again," he said. "We know we could have a pretty good team and we need to keep working hard to get there."

And that's about as close as he may ever come to admitting to the pressure.

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