Terence Dials of Boardman credits wise advice, sound planning and diligent preparation for his freshman success so far with the Ohio State University basketball team.
A 6-9 forward-center who is averaging 14.9 minutes off the bench, Dials has evolved into a leader help the Buckeyes to an 18-5 record, including a second-place 9-3 in the Big Ten Conference.
Dials said he believes the care that he received for his injured knee while a senior on the Boardman High team last year, plus his early June start at Ohio State and a concentrated weight-training program there, have enabled him to compete effectively as a rookie.
Dials suffered a dislocated knee cap when he was a junior at Boardman and was restricted to playing only 10 games his senior year by his coach, Dan Gorski, in order to avoid the risk of re-injury.
Wise decision: "If I would have played, I might have injured it. If I hadn't [rested] it, that might have happened. That was a smart thing I did. [My coach and I] in high school decided that," said Dials, who leads OSU in field-goal percentage (64.6 on 53-for-82) among the front-line players, and also blocks (14), and is second in rebounding (4.3 per-game average) and offensive rebounds (35).
"[Gorski] was thinking about the long run instead of the short run. It was a good decision," Dials said.
Dials, who is sixth in scoring (5.9-point average), said the knee "is holding up great. It hasn't hampered me at all. I haven't sat out any practice and games."
Weight training: He also credits his knee's strong recovery to a weight-training program that he began when coming to OSU shortly after graduation.
"Basically my whole body got stronger [working out], and it helped in the process to keep my knee stronger," said Dials, who is grateful for his strength coach at OSU. "My strength coach is doing a great job in keeping my knee stable."
Dials, who also has 13 steals, said he has "added a lot of muscle to every part of my body, and that helped. I think I added 4-5 inches to my vertical jump."
Better prepared: He said starting college in June by taking three courses got him better prepared for academics and college life, and also basketball.
"Coming down here in the summertime was a blessing. It helped me so much," Dials said. "I started school in June. I took summer school.
"Most freshmen come in September. By coming in the summertime, I got more used to college life, school and the campus, and had more time to get prepared for basketball."
But he concedes, "It was an adjustment I had to make. It is a lot different basketball here than in high school in [Boardman]. It is a faster pace, you have to think more and be smarter playing down here."
Role player: Dials has been an effective role player off the bench, and a standout in several games.
Last Saturday, he contributed 10 points in OSU's 67-64 loss to Michigan State, which was the Buckeyes' second straight defeat by a combined five points. They lost to Wisconsin the Wednesday before, 94-92.
"There was a lot of talk why I wasn't starting," Dials said. "My coach [Jim O'Brien] decided that it is best for the team and me in my career [not to start]. I feel a lot more comfortable coming off the bench, and I can get into the flow of the game."
Good feeds: Dials said his shooting accuracy is high because he has been getting good shots on feeds from his teammates, especially guards Brent Darby, Brian Brown and Boban Savovic.
"They [the trio] are getting the ball where I have to have it, and I am being able to finish [the play]," Dials said. "I have been getting a lot easy lay-ups and dunks."
He said he is a better rebounder because of his determination to get the ball.
"I had 13 rebounds against Louisville and the coach noticed that," he said.
Dials considers himself "more of a role player now" for the No. 20-ranked Buckeyes (USA Today/ESPN Poll).
"Being a 6-7 man coming off the bench, I add a spark to the team. I play good defense, and whatever they get on offense [from me is an extra]. They weren't counting on me getting points."
Dials is majoring in sociology and has a 2.6 grade-point average. He is the son of Judith Kimbrough and the Rev. Clifford Kimbrough.