What if?It is one of the most popular questions among sports fans. It allows us to ponder certain scenarios or outcomes involving our favorite sports, teams and players.With last week’s game against Purdue, people asked what if the Buckeyes had called a timeout after rebounding the Boilermaker’s missed free throw in the waning seconds?What if calling that timeout would have set up a better chance for Ohio State to tie the game and send it into overtime?This question has led me to think of another scenario that most of Buckeye land wished would have happened.What if Thad Matta’s recruits hadn’t bolted to the NBA after one year on campus?What if they had all stayed at least one more year?Why couldn’t Greg Oden, Mike Conley and Daequan Cook all return for their sophomore campaigns? The year before we saw a highly talented group of sophomores at Florida win a National Championship, only to announce to the country they were coming back to school to do it again.This was an Ohio State team that had just breezed through its Big Ten schedule on its way to a No. 1 seed and an NCAA Championship appearance.Imagine that core of players returning with Jamar Butler, Othello Hunter and then-highly touted incoming freshman Kosta Koufos.There is no doubt that this team would have won the National Championship and possibly finished with an undefeated season.One can wonder how many nights Thad Matta has cried himself to sleep, reflecting on the potential team he could have had if all three elite players decided to stay in school.Let’s break down the following two seasons.With Koufos staying for at least one more year, the Buckeyes would have had another dominant season in the post with BJ Mullens joining the team as the latest five-star recruit under Matta. Koufos would flourish with his outside game as Mullens and Dallas Lauderdale provided depth down low.This squad, which fell in the first round of the NCAA Tournament last year, would at worst make it the Sweet 16 in this “what if” reality.For this current season, OSU would most likely lose Koufos to the draft but would retain Mullens for another season. After showing flashes of potential in his freshman year, Mullens would flourish during his sophomore season by living up to his recruiting hype.This, coupled with the emergence of Evan Turner as a National Player of the Year candidate, would have instantly made Ohio State Big Ten favorites and a major Final Four contender.So if Matta’s major recruits had just stayed one more year, the basketball culture at Ohio State would be dramatically different. They would have produced a National Championship-caliber squad one season and have two other squads make possibly deep tournament runs. With another top-rated recruiting class also coming to Ohio State this fall, Matta would have created a basketball powerhouse that would be among the elites for several years.But as they say, hindsight is always 20/20.So, snapping back to reality, Matta has had to deal with five of his players leaving for the draft after one season. He still had success, winning the NIT in 2007 and reaching the NCAA Tournament in 2008.But even with his squad this season currently fielding a Top 10 ranking, we all sometimes find ourselves asking the same question.What if?
If Mattas recruits would have stayed in school