It took a bit longer than expected, but Ohio State freshman standout D’Angelo Russell finally declared for the 2015 NBA Draft on Wednesday. Russell gave a statement to ESPN’s Paul Biancardi about his decision:
“This was a hard decision because I knew I could come back and play with my teammates who I love, and to be coached by coach Thad Matta again would have been awesome, but at the same time I wanted to pursue my dream of playing in the NBA,” Russell told ESPN.com on Wednesday. “I know what I am capable of and the sky’s the limit with effort. I know I have a lot to work on.”
Russell was superb in his lone season at Columbus, averaging 19.3 points, 5.7 rebounds and 5.0 assists on the year. He shot 44.9 percent overall and an impressive 41.1 percent from three on 6.6 long-range attempts per game. His big season earned him Big Ten Freshman of the Year honors.
Russell had a monster game in the Buckeyes’ second-round NCAA Tournament victory over VCU in overtime, notching 28 points on 10-of-20 shooting in 44 minutes. However, the guard struggled in the next round against Arizona, putting up nine points while shooting just 3-of-19 from the field against the stout Wildcats defense.
That poor showing didn’t hurt Russell’s draft stock, though, as he’s projected to go in the top five. DraftExpress has him going fourth in their mock draft, and he could go higher. At 6’5 with slick handles, excellent passing ability and a smooth shooting stroke, Russell has the ability to play both guard positions at the next level. His athleticism is a bit lacking, but his elite skill level helps make up for that, and he should be a good one in the pros.