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Former Brandon star Evan Ravenel still chasing dream at OSU

Evan Ravenel of the Ohio State Buckeyes — and a former Brandon star — had to sit out one year due to NCAA transfer rules. He has come off the bench and been a key contributor. “I just try to do whatever this team needs from me,” Ravenel said.

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Evan Ravenel of the Ohio State Buckeyes — and a former Brandon star — had to sit out one year due to NCAA transfer rules. He has come off the bench and been a key contributor. “I just try to do whatever this team needs from me,” Ravenel said.

BRANDON — Evan Ravenel always dreamed of playing in the Final Four with a shot at winning a National Championship.

But the former Brandon High School star envisioned himself under those bright lights wearing a Boston College uniform.

"It was the place I wanted to be," Ravenel said of Boston College. "Things just didn't work out."

Ravenel's departure from the Boston College program came on the heels of longtime Eagles head coach Al Skinner's firing in 2010.

Former Cornell coach Steve Donahue replaced Skinner, but Ravenel decided to ask for his release after playing two years at Boston College.

"I didn't think I would fit his (coaching) style," Ravenel said. "I didn't have anything against him as a person or as a coach, but the main thing for me was I didn't see myself playing his style."

At that point Ravenel, an all-county and honorable mention All-State player at Brandon, wasn't sure about his future. The 6-foot-8 post player even considered hanging up his basketball shoes.

"Honestly, I didn't think I wanted to play anymore," he said. "I thought about being done with it."

Enter Dave Dickerson.

Dickerson, who recruited Ravenel out of high school while coaching at Tulane, made a call to the former Eagle.

"It was kind of funny because at first I was like, 'No, I'm not looking to go to Tulane,' " Ravenel said. "But then he said he got an assistant job at (Ohio State). He said, 'How about coming to play here now?' "

After one trip to Columbus, Ravenel was sold. He had to sit out one year due to NCAA transfer rules, but Ravenel said the time away from the court had its advantages.

"It had its ups and downs at first," he said. "But it also gave me a chance to get used to the city and campus. You can't beat the experience of getting situated in a new place."

Now a junior, Ravenel finds himself surrounded by talent, especially young talent.

The Buckeyes have a tremendous collection of sophomores, including Aaron Craft, Deshaun Thomas and preseason All-American Jared Sullinger.

"I was shocked at how good these young guys are," Ravenel said. "I had a feeling this was going to be a special year for this team."

Ravenel has come off the bench and been a key contributor, backing up Sullinger and Thomas. When Sullinger went down with a back injury in early December, Ravenel got three consecutive starts.

"I just try to do whatever this team needs from me," Ravenel said.

OSU coach Thad Matta said Ravenel has adapted into his role for the 20-3 Buckeyes, currently ranked No. 3 in the Associated Press Top 25.

"Evan understands he has a role to fulfill on this team," Matta told the Columbus Dispatch. "And as long as he continues to embrace that role — get a couple easy buckets, get the rebounds, and even if he doesn't get it, he does a great job blocking out — that's big for us."

Ravenel got to play in one NCAA tournament game with Boston College before the Eagles were beaten in the opening round. But the Buckeyes could make a much make a deeper run this season, and Ravenel may get a shot at the Final Four he's aimed for — just in a OSU uniform.

"I'm very excited to get to March," he said. "It's something every player dreams about, and I like our chances. This team just keeps getting better and better."

Brandon Wright can be reached at hillsnews@tampabay.com.

Former Brandon star Evan Ravenel still chasing dream at OSU 02/11/12 [Last modified: Saturday, February 11, 2012 3:31am]

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