With the B1G Men’s Basketball Tournament in full swing — already — hoops are on the brain.
Usually, I make a list of the B1G basketball players that I’d love to see on the gridiron. This time, I flipped the script.
These are the B1G football players that I’d love to see dominate on the hardwood (recently graduated and incoming freshmen count):
Point guard — Shaun Wade, Ohio State CB
People might not know that basketball was Wade’s first passion. The 5-star football recruit played AAU ball for an Orlando-based squad called “Each 1 Teach 1” in the famed Nike EYBL. He had mid-major offers to play college hoops, but as a 6-2 cornerback, Wade liked his odds of the NFL better than the NBA.
Wade considered himself a pass-first point guard back in his playing days. If this is what a pass-first point guard can do as a high school junior, there’s no telling what he could’ve done as a full-time hooper:
— The Buckeye Nut (@TheBuckeyeNut) March 27, 2016
Had Wade decided to pursue basketball instead, there’s no doubt those mid-major offers would’ve turned into big-time offers.
Shooting guard — Brandon Peters, Michigan QB
Between Peters and Dylan McCaffrey, Michigan’s quarterback room can hoop. Peters got the nod because he had the more impressive high school career (as an individual). As a junior at Avon High School (Indiana), Peters averaged just shy of 19 points per game. That’s a pretty impressive feat for a high school junior in Indiana. He also made 41 three-pointers in 16 games as a 6-5 junior.
Peters had interest from smaller Division I schools for basketball, but football was where his future was. As a senior, Peters was Mr. Football in Indiana and he enrolled early at Michigan, which prevented him from playing one more year of basketball.
Apparently Jim Harbaugh was a bit more convincing than the basketball coach at UNC-Greensboro.
Forward — L’Christian Smith, Ohio State WR
No, Smith isn’t enrolled at Ohio State yet. Why? The 2018 signee elected to stay in high school for his senior basketball season. That seems to be rare these days.
Smith stayed because he has serious game. As a junior, he averaged 17 points and 10 rebounds for Wayne High School (Ohio). Buckeye fans should be grateful that the 6-6, 205-pound receiver is coming to Columbus at all. Kentucky once gave him an offer for football with the chance to walk-on to the basketball team.
The guy they call “Blue” has explosive athleticism that should help him win many jump balls in the B1G. On the court, Smith can clean up on the glass and he can throw it down.
I mean, he was slamming one-handed dunks in middle school:
No wonder Smith was the No. 5 athlete in the 2018 class.
Forward — Mike Gesicki, Penn State TE
Perhaps the most obvious choice to make this list, Gesicki is basically a power forward playing tight end. The former high school basketball star has been known to win a slam dunk contest or two, the latest was last offseason:
The NBA should put Penn State’s TE Mike Gesicki in the dunk contest next year pic.twitter.com/lAU2vCVkpm
— CFB Nation (@CFBNation_CFP) March 3, 2017
Gesicki left Southern Regional (New Jersey) as the school’s all-time leading scorer. At 6-6, the former volleyball star was born to leap. That’s why he’s considered one of the top tight end prospects in the NFL draft.
One can’t help but think of how many alley-oops Gesicki would’ve had if he went the basketball route. But needless to say, Penn State fans are happy that Gesicki kept the dunking to offseason football practices.
Center — Nate Wozniak, Minnesota TE
Yes, the man in the middle would have to be the 6-10, 280-pound Minnesota tight end. Wozniak was the tallest skill position player in America last year. I don’t know the numbers behind this, but I bet the majority of Wozniak’s interviews had someone asking the obvious question.
“Did you ever think about playing basketball?”
After all, it’s practically a birthright for any 6-footer in the state of Indiana. Wozniak played basketball through his junior season at Center Grove High School (Indiana), but he admittedly always liked football better. Whenever he was asked the basketball question, he either said the sport was “soft” or that he liked the contact in football more.
It’s not surprising that Wozniak was more of a blocker than a receiver at Minnesota. He was a key part of some solid Gopher rushing attacks the last few years, and was even Pro Football Focus’ top-graded run blocking tight end in the country in 2017. The dude could definitely carve out some space on the low block and protect the rim.
Who knows? Maybe he could’ve helped the Gopher basketball team avoid its free fall in 2017-18.