Work Ahead For Weatherspoon

When Ohio State secured a commitment from J.D. Weatherspoon, it landed a player with lots of upside. As he prepares for his freshman season, both Weatherspoon and a former coach discussed with both his potential and what could lie ahead next season.

J.D. Weatherspoon is putting up lots of shots as he prepares to get started at Ohio State, but one former coach said it might be a while before he sees game action for the Buckeyes.

Weatherspoon, a three-star power forward prospect from Columbus Northland, will be 17 years old when he graduates this spring. Viewed as a raw talent who is still growing both as a person and a player, Weatherspoon is viewed as a work in progress with lots of potential upside on the basketball court.

Buckeye fans just might not find out until the 2011-12 season, however.

"If you ask me if I was a betting man if I think they'll redshirt him, probably," Victor Dandridge, who coached Weatherspoon in AAU ball, told "I think that if they do that as long as he sticks with it and does everything that he needs to do, J.D. will be phenomenal when he steps out on the court for the Buckeyes."

As a senior, the 6-7, 190-pound Weatherspoon finished third on his team with an average of 14.2 points per game. He added 7.1 rebounds, 1.3 assists and 1.0 blocks per contest.

Dandridge, who has coached Weatherspoon since the summer before his freshman year, said plenty of those points came from near the basket. However, he described him as a lights-out shooter in certain situations.

"J.D. is an excellent catch-and-shoot shooter," the coach said. "A lot of people don't know that. He's not just OK with it. He's very good with it."

However, he said Weatherspoon needs to learn how to make a move with the basketball before he pulls up for a jumper in order to grow into a true small forward in the OSU offense.

"The piece that he doesn't have, that's what he's working on getting," Dandridge said. "He has to be able to, at his size, pull up off the dribble and shoot the ball. That's the part he needs to work on. As far as passing it to him and catching and shooting in rhythm, he's always been able to hit that out to three-point range. He has to really work at dribbling and being able to shoot off the dribble and hit a shot. That's where he struggles."

Developing that ability would allow Weatherspoon to slide from his customary power forward to a small forward position.

"I think that depending on him and his work ethic and how much effort he puts into it that J.D. can become a 3," Dandridge said. "He's always played practically a 4 his whole life. Let's suppose they do redshirt him and they tell him, ‘Work at this for the next year and give it your all.' If he does that, I don't see why he can't become a 3."

Asked what the OSU coaches told him they would like to see him work at, Weatherspoon said, "Really just ball-handling and keep on shooting. Get a lot of shots up."

Weatherspoon was the last player to join OSU's class of 2010, and he said he is not taking the chance to make an impact on the program lightly.

"I've been in the gym like crazy," he said. "I've been going to Ohio State, getting a lot of shots up and working on my ball-handling. I'm shooting 500 shots a day and doing a lot of ball-handling, coming off screens and working on my game."

Given Weatherspoon's youth, the Buckeyes will see a big upside in his play before his career is done, Dandridge said. To further that point, he drew a comparison to one of Weatherspoon's five-star teammates.

"Look at Jared Sullinger," the coach said. "A year ago when he was 17, he was nowhere near the player that he is now. He was close, but now he's developed in one year's time. You give J.D. that same amount of time and he's going to be great.

"He's already more athletic than Jared – he's not as skillful as Jared, but if he can have a year's time to work on his skills, the sky is the limit for him."

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