On Tuesday Wednesday afternoon, news broke that Ohio State guard D'Angelo Russell would opt to forego his remaining three years of eligibility and enter the 2015 NBA Draft. Russell played just one season for Ohio State and earned both All-American and All-Big Ten honors. He was the Big Ten Freshman of the Year in 2014-15.
Russell announced his decision with ESPN.
"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."
In the discussion with ESPN, Russell also talked about the opportunities in the NBA.
"You never know when this opportunity comes," he told ESPN.com. "I believe I am ready because my approach was to unpack my bags, get committed to winning and listening to the coaches -- as opposed to coming in and saying 'I am a pro' and trying to leave. I wasn't trying to get in and out at Ohio State."
Currently, Russell is projected as the #4 pick by DraftExpress in this year's NBA Draft. They also detailed a full length scouting video of Russell as an NBA prospect.
D'Angelo Russell NBA Draft Scouting Report
For Ohio State, this is huge news. Not only was Russell one of the best players in the country, but he was also clearly the biggest contributor on a team that is now set to lose four of five starters and five of their top eight in minutes from last season.
For any team, those numbers are difficult to lose, but this is a particularly significant for the Buckeyes simply due to Russell's massive contributions. To put it in perspective, Russell led the team in total win shares by 2.8 games and in offensive win shares by 2.4 games. If you drop the same amount (2.8 win shares) from Sam Thompson (2nd in total win shares), you have to go all the way down to Anthony Lee (10th in total win shares) before you reach a player that can match the margin between Russell and any other Ohio State player. Considering that Lee played just 230 minutes last season, that's a pretty remarkable stat.
There were already plenty of questions about Ohio State leading into next season, but the Buckeyes will now be faced with replacing their best player in a year where they were already set to experience a great deal of attrition. They will have to hope Thad Matta's excellent recruiting can overcome these losses.
For Russell, this is clearly a decision that makes sense on paper and he will be making a great deal of money next season as an NBA Lottery pick. With his unique skillset, Big Ten fans could be set to see the emergence of the next NBA superstar in the future.