David Lighty made a name for himself last season as a high-energy player and hard-nosed defender.
With even higher expectations this season, the sophomore guard spent the summer competing with the USA Under-19 basketball team, improving and expanding his game.
"I think I came back a smarter player, getting to watch guys like Raymar Morgan (Michigan State) Michael Beasley (Kansas State), Pat Beverley (Arkansas) and Johnny Flynn (Syracuse)," Lighty said. "I watch those guys and take things from their game and try to put it into mine. Just going out there and playing the competition that they had overseas, I think that helped me out a lot."
Traveling with the team had Lighty across the country to Dallas and Los Angeles as well as overseas to Germany and Serbia. Given the variety of locations he had the opportunity to visit, the place that topped his list was a little surprising.
"My favorite place was the McDonald's in Serbia," Lighty said. "That was the best food that they had. Some other things were good. We had some steaks and things like that. We went out to some nice restaurants, but we had McDonald's almost every day."
While it is debatable whether the daily stops at the golden arches were a good thing, Lighty said he definitely improved his game.
"I was with a great group of guys," he said. "We had a good time over there, going against talent from all across the world. It was pretty fun. I had a good experience."
Aside from the basketball knowledge Lighty gained, he also learned some interesting facts about foreign cultures.
"They sell beer at all times," he said. "We got off the plane in Germany at like 7 in the morning and people were sitting down eating breakfast with beers. It's just different over there."
Lighty said he was a little homesick during the nearly month-long trip but added that he didn't feel burnt out or worn down and was ready to start the season.
"I came back and had to start up our workouts again," he said, "but that's just what we have to do to get better."
It's a good thing Lighty still has plenty of energy because the Buckeyes are counting on him this year. Despite only being a sophomore, he is one of the more experienced players on the roster, and he knows he has to be a major force this season on both ends of the court.
"My role is a little different," Lighty said. "Defense is still going to be a strong part of my game, but I just have to pick up my offensive game a little more this year. We lost about 70 percent of our offense, so offense is going to have to be a strong point of my game as much as possible."
To prepare for his new role, Lighty said he focused his summer workouts on different aspects of his offensive game.
"I worked creating my own shot and on set shots, three-pointers, free throws and things like that," he said. "It is just repetition. I was a counselor at the Kobe (Bryant) camp, and just watching his workouts and things that he does and talking to him and learning things from him is just a complement to my game."
While Lighty spent a lot of time working on his offense, he also pointed out that he already had a solid scoring ability to work with.
"It's not like I can't score," he said. "Some of my family members and my mom were like, ‘Can you even score again? Do you know how to score?' In high school, I'd score all the time so I guess to them it was a little funny. I'm not worried about any of that at all. I just have to go out and there and play basketball to help us win."
As important as the work of the court is, Lighty said it is equally important to have an idea of what you want to do on the court.
"It's just a whole mentality," he said. "My mentality last year was to be a defensive stopper to help the team win. This year, they're looking for me to be a defensive stopper and contribute more on offense. It's all about how you approach the game."
Lighty has put in the hard work and is mentally and physically ready to take his game to the next level this season. Ohio State fans can rest assured that Lighty wants nothing less than a national title and will do whatever he can to help the Buckeyes win one.
"I'm getting sick of second place right about now, and I can't take it any more," Lighty said. "I lost in the USA game. I lost high school in the state championship game. I don't know what it is with second place and me."
Lighty Eyes Meatier Role, National Title
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