Weatherspoon Regains Eligibility, Will Travel to Newark
By Brandon Castel
COLUMBUS, Ohio — Ohio State’s bench got a little bit deeper Wednesday with the announcement that freshman J.D. Weatherspoon we be allowed to rejoin the team on a full-time basis for the trip to Newark, N.J.
“J.D. did get reinstated, so he’ll travel with us,” OSU Head Coach Thad Matta said during his Wednesday press conference.
A freshman out of Columbus Northland, Weatherspoon has not played in a game since Dec. 27, 2010 because he was ruled academically ineligible after his first quarter at Ohio State. He was allowed to continue practicing with the team, but could not travel on the road trips, including the first two rounds of the NCAA Tournament in Cleveland last weekend.
With the conclusion of winter quarter at Ohio State last week, Weatherspoon was able to regain his eligibility for spring quarter.
“With everything that he’s been through, it really shows that he’s worked hard to come into a situation like this,” said Jared Sullinger, a high school teammate of Weatherspoon’s.
Unlike Sullinger, who came to Ohio State a polished product ready to make an instant impact on the world of college basketball, Weatherspoon is more of a work in progress. He only played in 10 games this season before he became ineligible, averaging just 5.4 minutes a night.
He posted career highs of seven points and three rebounds in an 85-60 win over Western Carolina, but he is unlikely to see any playing time this weekend in Ohio State’s Sweet 16 matchup against Kentucky.
That doesn’t mean his teammates aren’t happy to have him back.
“It’s just another guy to have fun with,” said Sullinger, who also played AAU basketball with Weatherspoon on All-Ohio Red.
“We always have fun as a team.”
Along with Sullinger, Weatherspoon helped guide Northland to the 2009 Ohio state championship. Weatherspoon was actually Northland’s leading scorer in that title game with 18 points. He averaged 13.5 points and 6.0 rebounds last season as a senior for James “Satch” Sullinger’s team.
More than anything else, the 6-foot-7, 210-pound wing is known for his high-flying dunks. He is a more athletic version of Eric Wallace, who Ohio State fans might remember from his one season with the Buckeyes back in 2008.
“He brings excitement to the team with his athleticism,” Sullinger said of Weatherspoon.
More importantly, the Buckeyes are just glad to have him back.
“Another part of the family, that’s all,” senior David Lighty said.
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