LeBron James led the Ohio State football team into the pep rally on Saturday and Urban Meyer introduced the Miami Heat's star to mostly cheers.
Speaking to students at the rally, James said he would have played at Ohio State University if he decided to play one season of college basketball instead of entering the NBA straight out of high school in 2003.
"I promise, I say this all the time -- if I had one year of college, I would have ended up here," James said. "No matter where I go in the world, no matter where it is, I will always rock Ohio State colors."
Earlier this month, Ohio State unveiled a special locker dedicated to James inside the Schottenstein Center, where the basketball team plays its home games.
LeBron James was given a locker at Ohio State’s new practice facility.
James agreed to outfit the team with his Nike line of apparel in 2007.
“We always want to pay our respects to him for what he did for us in '07 in terms of we were the first LeBron school,” Thad Matta said. “And obviously we get tremendous product from him, and I know he's very proud of what he does for us.”
Matta admitted to the recruiting benefits of being associated with James.
“There's no question about it,” Matta said. “I've always said if I could have coached him I would have been a lot better coach early on. He's very proud of what we've done and just in terms of his name and being from Ohio and the fact we wear his gear, that's important for us.”
Jahlil Okafor and Tyus Jones are widely expected to choose the same school.
Both players have included Baylor, Duke, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan State and Ohio State on their lists.
Okafor and Jones will make official visits together to Baylor on Aug. 30, Kansas on Oct. 18 and Duke on Oct. 25. Okafor will visit Kentucky on Sept. 9 and Arizona on Oct. 11 without Jones. Okafor will also make unofficial visits to Illinois, Michigan State and Ohio State.
Okafor would like to make a decision in November, but his father said that is not set in stone.
Duke is rumored to be the frontrunner, which Okafor's father says his unfortunate.
"It's disappointing. It's taking the fun out of the process for the two boys," Okafor's father, Chukwudi Okafor, said by phone. "That's a shame. Let the kids go through the process. I just want them to enjoy it, not the media, not Twitter, not the coaches, not the AAU coaches. Those kids are highly intelligent. They know what to do. Let it play out, and I think the world is in for something special."
The 2013 NBA Draft has 77 early entry candidates, with 46 players from United States' colleges and 31 internatinoal players.
Players have the right to withdraw no later than June 17 ahead of the June 27 draft in Brooklyn.
College Players Steven Adams, Pitt C.J. Aiken, St. Joseph's Anthony Bennett, UNLV Vander Blue, Marquette, Lorenzo Brown, N.C. State Reggie Bullock, North Carolina Trey Burke, Michigan Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Georgia Michael Carter-Williams, Syracuse Adrien Coleman, Bethune-Cookman Allen Crabbe, Cal Deweyne Dedmon, USC Gorgui Dieng, Louisville Jamaal Franklin, San Diego State Archie Goodwin, Kentucky Tim Hardaway Jr., Michigan Grant Jerrett, Arizona Christian Kabongo, New Mexico State Myck Kabongo, Texas Shane Larkin, Miami Ricky Ledo, Providence Alex Len, Maryland C.J. Leslie, N.C. State Nurideen Lindsey, Rider Amath M'Baye, Oklahoma Ray McCallum, Detroit Ben McLemore, Kansas Tony Mitchell, North Texas Shabazz Muhammad, UCLA Nerlens Noel, Kentucky Victor Oladipo, Indiana Kelly Olynyk, Gonzaga Norvel Pelle, Los Angeles College Prep Otto Porter Jr., Georgetown Marshawn Powell, Arkansas Phil Pressey, Missouri Andre Robertson, Colorado Joshua Simmons, Spartanburg Methodist (JC) Trevis Simpson, UNC-Greensboro Tony Snell, New Mexico Tahj Tate, Delaware State John Taylor, Fresno Pacific Adonis Thompson, Memphis Deshaun Thomas, Ohio State B.J. Young, Arkansas Cody Zeller, Indiana
International Players Alejandro Abrines, Barcelona Giannis Adetokunbo, Filathlitikos Francois Affia Ambadiang, Geoplin Slovan Nemanja Besovic, Partizan Bogdan Bogdanovic, Partizan Matias Bortolin, Arkadia, Linos Chrysikopoulos, PAOK Laszlo Dobos, Zaragoza Dorde Drenovac, Biancoblu Viktor Gaddefors, Oknoplast Bologna Rudy Gobert, Cholet Mouhammadou Jaiteh, Boulogne Livio Jean-Charles, ASVEL Sergey Karasev, Triumph Louis Laveyrie, Paris-Levallois Raul Neto, Lagun Aro GBC Philipp Neumann, Brose Baskets Lucas Riva Nogueira, Estudiantes Alexandre Paranhos, Flamengo Artem Pustovyi, Khimik Bogdan Radosavljevic, Bayern Munich Marko Ramljak, Zadar Dario Saric, Cibona Dennis Schroder, New York Phantoms Strahinja Stojacic, Smederevo Walter Tavares, Gran Canaria Daniel Theis, Ratiopharm Janis Timma, Ventspils Marko Todorovic, Barcelona Axel Toupane, Strasbourg Adin Vrabac, Spars Sarajevo
Deshaun Thomas will forego his senior season of eligibility and enter the NBA draft.
"My three years at Ohio State have been the best years of my life,” Thomas said in a statement released by the school. “I have grown tremendously as an individual and as a basketball player. I intend to return to finish my degree, but I believe that now is the best opportunity to pursue my dream and begin my career as a professional basketball player.”
Thomas, a 6-foot-7 forward, is projected as a late-first to early-second round pick.
Thomas led the Buckeyes while scoring 19.8 points per game this season, and finished ninth on Ohio State's all-time scoring list with 1,630 points.