Former Buckeye Mike Conley Jr. Continues to Show Flashes of Old Self

Minnesota Timberwolves v Dallas Mavericks

Former Buckeye Mike Conley Jr. Continues to Show Flashes of Old Self

The legendary Ohio State guard is helping the upstart Minnesota Timberwolves on their impressive playoff run.

Mike Conley committed to Ohio State and played his one and only season as a Buckeye during the 2006/2007 college basketball season. The then-Freshman started all 39 games during the season, showing his consistency, toughness, and skill. Conley logged 31.6 minutes per game for Thad Matta’s Buckeyes, averaging 11.3 points, 6.1 assists, 3.4 rebounds, and 2.2 steals per game. He shot 57.9 percent from two-point range, and helped lead the scarlet and gray to one of the best seasons in program history.

Conley finished first-team all-Big Ten, was on the Big Ten all-freshman team, and was a first-team all-Big Ten Tournament member. He also landed spots on the all-region and all-tournament team for the NCAA tournament. Ohio State was the regular season Big Ten champion, and supplemented that by winning the Big Ten tournament. After defeating Georgetown in the Final Four (national semifinal), Conley and the Bucks came up just short in the national championship game at the hands of the Florida Gators.

After one of the best Ohio State seasons in recent memory, Conley decided to be a one-and-done player. He entered the 2007 NBA Draft, and was selected fourth overall by the Memphis Grizzlies.

Conley spent his first 12 seasons in Memphis and was a consistent team leader who provided plenty of clutch plays. He averaged 9.4 points per game his rookie season, but was a double-digit scorer every other season including years where he averaged 21.1 and 20.5 points per game. Conley also added at least 4.1 assists per game or more every season, with many years contributing six plus per game. Conley also rebounded and made plenty of plays on the defensive end, with multiple seasons averaging two plus steals per game.

The 2019/2020 season brought Conley his first change of scenery when he joined the Utah Jazz out west. He spent about three and a half seasons with the Jazz playing in 213 games and starting 206 of them. He had his best season his second year in Utah when he averaged 16.2 points, 6.0 assists, 3.5 rebounds, and 1.4 steals per game.

Late in the 2022/2023 season he was sent to Minnesota to join the Timberwolves, and is currently enjoying his second season with the team. Conley started all 24 games after the deal last season, contributing 14 points and five assists per game.

In his 17th career NBA season Conley is still playing good basketball and is one of the better stories of this year’s playoffs. During the regular season Conley managed to play in 76 games, starting all of them, and being the most hes played/started in since the 2012/2013 season.

Conley’s totals during the 2023-24 regular season were 11.4 points, 5.9 assists, 2.9 rebounds, and 1.2 steals per game. Conley is currently in the middle of the western conference second round after an impressive first round for him and the Timberwolves. Against the Phoenix Suns in the first round of the 2024 western conference playoffs, Conley helped the Timberwolves earn a 4-0 sweep. He had three games in double-figures, including an 18-point game two. He also had seven assists in three of the four games.

Now facing the defending champion Denver Nuggets in the second round, the series is currently tied at two games a piece. Conley has had three double-digit scoring games out of the four played. He has also been getting the whole team involved, with assist numbers of six, six, nine, and 10.

It will be interesting to see what happens next for Conley, as the 36-year-old turns 37 in October. He is currently the 12th oldest active player in the league, with the only “elder statesman” performing better being LeBron James.Conley is a two-time Teammate of the Year Award winner in 2019 and this season, which is impressive as it came on two different teams. He was also named to the all-defensive second team back in 2013.

The Buckeye legend has amassed 1,101 total games played including 1,063 starts, managing career averages of 14.4 points and 5.7 assists per game. He has made Ohio State fans proud, and has been a great example of what being a true Buckeye entails. No matter how the season ends for Conley and whatever happens next, Ohio State has one of their best pros of all time in Conley.

Photo Credit: Glenn James/NBAE via Getty Images