FREMONT - Basketball has taken Jon Diebler all over the globe. He spent four years in Columbus playing for Ohio State. He was drafted by the NBA's Portland Trailblazers, played last year in Greece and is set to play in Turkey this year.
However, throughout all his travels, he still considers northwest Ohio his home.
Sunday Diebler returned to the area he refers to as home to speak at Memorial Hospital's leadership recognition banquet in Fremont.
"I'm just really excited. I'm very familiar with this area," The Upper Sandusky graduate said before the event. "My mom teaches right across the street, so I'm excited to be here and be a part of this program."
Forty-four student-athletes from 11 high schools were honored for the leadership qualities they showed in their schools and communities.
Local student-athletes recognized were A.J. Phillimore, Marcus Meyers, Kelly Miller and MacKenzie Gillett of Old Fort; Kody Brewer, Josh Kirkpatrick, Nathan Ray and Collin Timmons of Lakota; and Kennedy Hossler, Tommy Kipps, Brittney Koch and Taylor Traut of Bettsville.
"This is great; this is the future right here," Diebler said. "It's awesome to see kids rewarded for how hard they work, especially in high school and getting ready to go into college. I'm really excited for them. I wish I could hear them speak because I would like to hear what they have to say. I'm excited to talk to them today."
When introducing Diebler, Kevin Yeckley, Memorial Hospital's program director, who helped set up the event, ran through Diebler's many high school and collegiate accomplishments but said the best part was the fact he was a local product.
"Best part is, he has roots in this general area," Yeckley said. " It's always nice to bring back what we call a local guy."
A year ago, another northwest Ohio and Ohio State standout, Aaron Craft, spoke at the event. At the beginning of his speech, Diebler mentioned talking to his former teammate about the event and the type of students being recognized. Diebler then mentioned being grateful to speak in front of the group.
Diebler played along side Craft and Toledo native William Buford at Ohio State, forming what he called "a very good northwest Ohio trio."
"Obviously we feel there's a lot of talent in northwest Ohio," he said. "The basketball is really good, I remember it being very good when I played at Upper Sandusky. "I think it's great for northwest Ohio and Ohio in general (to have all three excelling at Ohio State). I'm excited to say I'm from northwest Ohio."
Diebler spoke at the event roughly 17 hours before he was due to board a plane headed for Turkey, where he will join Pinar Karsiyaka of the Turkish Premier League.
"When I got traded to the Rockets, it was kind of the same situation (as last year with Portland) where there wasn't much roster room," he said. "They recommended I go overseas, so I'm going to Turkey (today) and I'm sneaking this in in the meantime."
Diebler will be one of three Americans on his team, joining Bobby Dixon, who played his college basketball at Troy, and Will Thomas, who was a member of George Mason's 2006 Final Four team.
"The league is going to be very good," Diebler said. "There's a lot of very good American players going over there. It's going to be a lot of fun."
Diebler said another former Buckeye, Ron Lewis, also will be playing in the league.
Having a year on international experience under his built from playing last season in Greece, Diebler feels that will only help as he gets set for the upcoming season.
"It's very good basketball, but sometimes the rules are a little different and how the game is played is different," he said. "It was something that took a little bit to get used to for me last year, but I got a little bit of experience now, so I'm excited to go over there."
Despite being half-a-world away, Diebler still checks in on how his former teams are doing. He mentioned keeping in touch with people in Upper Sandusky and being able to watch his former teammates in Columbus as they made their run to the Final Four.
"I watched the games online," he said. "I watched them on the Internet and made sure I got to see them. It was like four in the morning in Greece, but I still watched them. I was real excited for them this year."
After his playing days are over, Diebler would like to follow the family path and enter the coaching ranks. His dad Keith led Upper Sandusky to a state title and also has coached at Fostoria. His brother Jake is an assistant at Valparaiso.
However, he said he's not yet ready to turn in his uniform for a clipboard.
"Hopefully I'm going to play as long as I can," he said.