Pro Speak: Summer Leaguers and Point Makers

In the latest edition of Professionally Speaking, we recap the performances of a quintet of former Buckeye cagers in the NBA's summer leagues, and we catch you up on some of the happenings involving former Buckeyes playing on the offensive side of the ball in the NFL.

This edition of Professionally Speaking leads off with news of the former Buckeyes in the NBA's two summer leagues.

Four former Buckeyes took the court for their teams in Las Vegas while one – rookie guard Daequan Cook – plied his trade in Orlando. While playing for the Miami Heat, Cook posted 9.8 points and 2.4 rebounds per game while adding a total of nine steals, six assists and 14 turnovers.

He also continued a trend from late in his solitary season at Ohio State by struggling to find the range from the field (15 of 53 or 28.3 percent), although he did can 8 of 19 three-point attempts (42.1 percent).

The shooting performance did not worry at least one well-respected observer.

Dell Curry, one of the best three-point shooters and sixth-men in NBA history, told the Miami Herald, "'Being an effective shooter in this league is about confidence first. He doesn't worry about his misses and only remembers his makes. "He's just got to get in the gym, perfect the NBA fundamentals and put it all together."

It might turn out that Cook is needed for big minutes sooner than expected as word came over the wire this week that his all-star future teammate, Dwyane Wade, is likely to miss the start of the regular season as he recovers from May surgeries to a shoulder and a knee.

Whether his game is ready for the league or not, Cook has at least one aspect of NBA life under control. The Herald also reported that Cook played the last of five summer league games in new kicks from adidas after sporting Wade's Converse shoes in the first four contests.

Westward in the desert, center Greg Oden's two summer league games were certainly well publicized, but in case you missed it the 7-0, 250-pound center averaged 9.5 points and 9.0 personal fouls in two games for the Portland Trailblazers. He made 9 of 14 shots from the field but just 1 of 8 free throws. Oden blocked six shots and grabbed seven rebounds before his season was cut short by surgery to remove his tonsils.

Perhaps overlooked went the play of three other former Buckeyes in Sin City – rookies Mike Conley Jr. and Ron Lewis and veteran Terence Dials.

Conley, the only one of the trio to have been drafted, averaged 11.4 points and 5.2 assists per contest for the Memphis Grizzlies. He chipped in five steals and 15 rebounds while committing 13 turnovers.

The svelte former Buckeye listed at 6-1 and 180 pounds on his NBA.com page missed all six of his three-point attempts and struggled from the field overall (36.4 percent) but excelled at the foul line. He made 25 of 31 attempts (80.6 percent) from the charity stripe while starting two of five games alongside the likes of Rudy Gay, Mike Nardi, Kyle Lowry and Roger Powell.

Lewis is trying to earn a spot with the Houston Rockets and the 6-4, 200-pounder started two of four games, averaging 6.2 points, 2.0 rebounds and 1.2 assists in 18.2 minutes. He made 9 of 11 free throws but struggled from the field, including a loss to Dallas in which he missed all seven shots he took from the field. In total, Lewis shot 28.0 percent from the field and made just 2 of 12 three-pointers.

Playing on a team with fellow Big Ten alumni Carl Landry and Jeff Horner, Lewis saved his best game for last as he scored nine points on 3-of-6 shooting in a five-point win over the Hornets.

Lastly was Dials, the 6-9, 260-pound center who is the longest shot of the group of former Buckeyes trying to earn a spot. Playing for the Cleveland Cavaliers' summer team, the former Big Ten player of the year averaged less than a point per game while grabbing a total of four rebounds in four games. He played just 3.2 minutes per game and made 1 of his 2 shot attempts from the field.

The Cavs went 2-3 with a roster including such notable names (if not games) as Daniel Gibson, Kevin Pittsnogle, Dijon Thompson, PJ Tucker, Matt Walsh and Romeo Travis, a high school teammate of LeBron James


Turning to the NFL, we take a look across the league at some of the former Buckeyes who play on the offensive side of the ball.

Guard T.J. Downing may face an uphill battle to make the roster of the Arizona Cardinals as an undrafted free agent, but before he headed west for that endeavor he took the time to do what Woody Hayes liked to call "paying forward."

Along with several other current and former college players, Downing helped out at a youth football camp at Lexington High School in his home state July 13.

After working along with a camp staff that included current Ohio State linebacker James Laurinaitis, safety Jamario O'Neal and wideout Brian Hartline along with Michigan linebacker Shawn Crable, Downing addressed the campers, the Bucyrus Telegram reported.

"It's our job to pass on what we've learned," Downing told the Telegram. "That's the biggest part of life. None of us would be where we are if someone hadn't passed their knowledge down to us."

This week Downing is headed to Arizona, where the Cardinals open training camp July 27 in Flagstaff.

"It's always been my dream to play in the NFL and now I'm getting my shot," he said. "Whether I make the team or not is up in the air, but I want to be able to look at myself in the mirror and know I did everything I could."

Other former Buckeye linemen around the league fighting for a spot include Adrien Clarke and Tyson Walter.

Clarke did not play in the NFL last year after two seasons (including four starts) with the Philadelphia Eagles, but he is slated to battle for a roster spot on the New York Jets' roster this year.

He may benefit from an impending holdout by veteran starting guard Pete Kendall because the Jets are low on accomplished interior lineman after Kendall and the other 2006 starter, Brandon Moore.

As for Walter, the 29-year-old has five years in the league, giving him the longest tenure of the eight guards currently on the Green Bay Packers' roster, but he probably faces a battle for a roster spot next month. His ability to play both tackle and guard could be an asset, however.

Judging by a recent report in The Sporting News, Walter knows he needs every advantage he can get. Asked to name the biggest suck-up on the team, starting center Scott Wells told TSN, "It has to be Tyson Walter. All through OTAs he's shown up for meetings with Starbucks coffee for (offensive line) coach (James) Campen and (assistant line) coach (Jerry) Fontenot."

Aside from the grunts up front, a handful of Buckeyes who make their living (or at least hope to soon) catching passes also have made news lately.

There could be two former Buckeye receivers on the Tampa Bay Buccaneer roster this season. While veteran Joey Galloway is the team's unquestioned No. 1 receiver, one-time stud David Boston is back for a second try at resurrecting his career. One of the last cuts by the Buccs last training camp, Boston is reportedly back down to 228 pounds after bulking up to as much as 250 in the past.

"Let's be honest: we like Galloway. Galloway's great," Tampa Bay coach Jon Gruden told Florida Today. "David Boston has done some very good things here. We talked about (Maurice) Stovall, Michael Clayton's coming back, and Ike Hilliard has been very solid. We have a nucleus of receivers and a tight end group that appears deeper and appears a little bit better. We'll see what happens."

Boston last caught a pass in an NFL game in October 2005 while playing for the Miami Dolphins.

Speaking of the Dolphins, Sports Illustrated's Peter King earlier this week ranked them No. 19 in his "pre-preseaon power rankings" on SI.com and included a note about the former OSU speedster. "We picked Ted because we're so close on defense, and he could make the difference in a few games with his playmaking ability,'' new Dolphins coach Cam Cameron told King in spring.

One of Ginn's former teammates may not be the biggest name at his position to be drafted by the Indianapolis Colts this past April (that would be Anthony Gonzalez), but Roy Hall is hoping to carve out his own niche on the roster of the defending Super Bowl champs.

"Things are going really well," Hall told the Dayton Daily News after he completed the team's OTA's. "I'm just trying to adjust to a new system which is the hardest part. Football is always going to be football no matter where you go. Coming from Ohio State, the speed of the game isn't as fast as I thought it would be here. Athletes are athletes, but the mental game slows you down a little bit. Once you conquer that you'll be all right."

A check of the Colts' roster finds 13 wide receivers, but only three have any appreciable experience: future hall of famer Marvin Harrison, Pro Bowler Reggie Wayne and fifth-year man Aaron Moorhead.

To finish up NFL news, we look to our partners on the Scout Network for an update on Drew Carter.

PantherInsider reports Carter has the inside track to become the No. 2 receiver in Carolina, meaning he would be charged with the duty of taking pressure away from superstar Steve Smith.

"And I think Smitty is a possession receiver just as much as he is a speed receiver," Carter told PantherInsider, referring to Smith's 100-plus catch season two years ago. "So I'm out there trying to help him out. He gets a lot of double coverage and I'm trying to take the pressure off his back.

Speaking of himself, Carter said, "It is a huge year, but I can't take it as that. I have to go out and work hard. Hopefully things will work out and I will be here. I love being here. But we'll see. But right now I hope to make a big year out of it and hope for the best."...


Finally, we leave you this week with a hearty congratulation to Christian Snavely, a former Ohio State baseball star who nearly gave up professional baseball earlier this year.

After being released by the Toronto, Snavely landed in the independent Northern League. There the outfielder put together an all-star first half before starring in the all-star game where his triple and home run helped lead a South 7-5 victory.

In 52 games through July 17, Snavely is batting .288 seven home runs and a team-high 37 RBI.


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