Why LeBron James has a locker in Ohio State’s new basketball facility

One of the lockers in Ohio State's newly renovated men's basketball facility bears the nameplate of a man who has never attended the university and will never play for the Buckeyes.

It belongs to LeBron James.

Not surprisingly, Ohio State isn't devoting a locker to the Miami Heat star because he's taking his talents to Columbus anytime soon. Ohio State officials told reporters touring the basketball facility Tuesday morning that the purpose of the locker is to display shoes, jerseys and warmups from James' Nike line to potential recruits visiting campus.

Ohio State is one of three basketball programs outfitted by James' Nike line, along with Kentucky and Miami. Whereas James added the Wildcats and Hurricanes in 2011 after he left the Cleveland Cavaliers the previous summer, Ohio State has worn scarlet and gray versions of his shoes and gear since the end of the 2006-07 season.

It comes across a bit strange for Ohio State to have a locker with James' nameplate on it in its basketball facility, but in the Buckeyes' defense, the association is not strictly a business partnership.

The Akron native grew up a Buckeyes fan and likely would have attended Ohio State had he not turned pro out of high school. James also has attended a handful of high-profile Ohio State football and basketball games in recent year decked out in scarlet and gray.

Ohio State coach Thad Matta delivered the one-liner of the day when asked by a writer from the Columbus Post-Dispatch whether James could contribute for the Buckeyes next season.

Quipped Matta, "I think he's going to have to earn his stripes."