Not so much because he's not Greg Oden, the centerpiece of No. 7 Ohio State's “Thad Five” recruiting class. And certainly not because the freshman swingman won't play a pivotal role as the young Bucks try to live up to outrageously high expectations when the season opens on Friday in the BCA Classic against VMI.
It's because Lighty doesn't have any bling on his fingers - you know, a championship ring.
During October practices, coach Thad Matta presented the four returning players from last year's 26-6 team with their Big Ten championship rings. Most of the other members of the incoming freshman class - the injured but supremely talented Oden, prep teammate Mike Conley Jr., scorer Daequan Cook and junior-college transfer Othello Hunter - won titles in high school.
“It's another motivation for me because everybody down there's got a ring,” Lighty said after Ohio State's first exhibition game. “They've got state championship rings and I lost in the state championship game. I didn't get one yet. Hopefully we can do that this year.”
Lighty's hope for some long-awaited jewelry depends mightily on Oden's right wrist and how fast he and his callow classmates develop.
In case you haven't seen his picture in Esquire, ESPN The Magazine or Sports Illustrated, Oden is a 7-0 tower of power in the middle. The NBA rule change requiring high schoolers to spend at least a year in college prevented him from being the No. 1 draft pick in LAST summer's draft. Now surgery to repair ligament damage in his shooting wrist has him watching from the sidelines, most likely until Jan. 1 - about the time the Buckeyes open Big Ten play.
He must wear a brace while working on his conditioning. He cannot have contact, but he can work on moves with his left hand (which insiders say has made him almost ambidextrous).