Mr. Clutch came through yet again for Ohio State, after a lackluster first half performance which he saw his squad fall behind by 20 points. Nothing new was shown by the scoring wing in terms of perimeter skills, but it was clear that when Ohio State needed buckets, the ball was going to be in the hands of Lewis, or freshman sensation Mike Conley Jr
In terms of pure scoring ability, there have been very few who have proven to be more consistent throughout the NCAA tourney, posting games of 27 and 25 points respectively in wins over Xavier and Tennessee. He has also proven to be a big-time player late in games, making huge shots with his team trailing, even if he had been cold throughout the entire game. The Columbus natives desire to take and make big shots as the game goes on is an enviable trait that so many players on the collegiate level would love to have. He even stepped it up on the defensive end late in the game, blocking an inside shot that Ivan Harris committed a foul on, despite the inadequacies that hes shown on the defensive end throughout the entire season.
Lewis was absolutely unstoppable for the Buckeyes as the game went on and his squad ran their 3 man weave, allowing each guard who touched the ball to isolate their respective man when the opportunity presented itself. Despite his questionable ball handling skills, he was able to use his superb athleticism to blow by defenders and get to the rim throughout the game. Lewis was noticeably better when star center Greg Oden
was on the floor, as he didnt have to create as much for himself off of the dribble, being able to feed off of the attention that the 7-footer received each time he touched the ball on the low blocks. With Oden on the court, he was able to spot up in open areas and torch defenders on his way to the basket with his explosive first step, as they often came at him with out of control close outs.
If Lewis does find his way into the NBA, it will be as a complementary scoring punch off of the bench, so playing with a possible top draft pick will prove beneficial for him in terms of the style of play he will have to adjust to in the NBA.
While the Buckeye senior was able to score on absolutely anyone who guarded him this evening, his two biggest faults were put on center stage yet again. First, he was absolutely torched defensively against the Volunteers, especially in half one. He just seems to lose focus constantly and completely lacks any defensive fundamentals whatsoever, despite his immense physical attributes. Second, his shaky ball-handling skills were showcased when Mike Conley Jr
. left the game with foul trouble and he was forced to handle the ball a bit more then he would have liked to. Lewis is not the type of guy who is going to beat you with remarkable ball-handling skills, preferring to utilize his outstanding athleticism to get straight to the rim despite his marginal dribbling ability. Defense and ball-handling are the two major areas that Ron will surely look to improve upon before his showings at the pre-draft camps this summer.
In terms of helping their draft stock, there have been very few who have helped themselves more than Lewis has throughout the NCAA tournament. He has consistently shown the ability to score on anyone in the nation, in the most opportune moments too. Only Mike Conley Jr
. has been anywhere near as crucial to the Buckeyes success late in the game as Ron Lewis
has, and he has now proven himself to be one of the more clutch players that the college game has to offer. It is still up in the air whether that will be enough to get him drafted, but with a strong conclusion to the NCAA tournament and good pre-draft workouts, it is certainly not out of the question for Ron to hear his name called on draft night.