What happened in the last week
Ohio State barely gave another school the chance to woo D’Angelo Russell.
After a stop in Columbus Monday, the 2014 guard, originally out of Louisville, Ky., quickly decided to spend his college years only 3 hours away from his hometown. He pleged to the Buckeyes Friday night.
Russell played for the prep school Montverde Academy in Montverde, Fla., and originally planned visits with Kentucky, Michigan State and North Carolina.
In his interview with Chip Miller and Adam Zagoria in May, Russell said he didn’t need to rush the recruiting process.
“I feel like I will commit as late as possible, just so I can wait the class out and just make sure I go to the right school,” Russell told Zagsblog.com
Apparently, things changed when he visited the OSU campus. It wasn’t his first time in Franklin County – his inital visit was met rather unpleasantly by a terrential downpour – but it was enough to convince himself that he was comfortable enough to wear the scarlet and gray.
“It just clicked to me after I came that this is where I should be,” he told the Dispatch’s Bob Baptist, the night he committed.
Analyzing his game
That was Russell from over a year ago. Even as an underclassman, he displayed special ball handling techniques, his length while finishing in traffic and a pull-up jumper, which is the best aspect of his game.
Since then, he has improved his abilities to move off the ball and spot-up, as he showed in one particular game this past season:
He has great instincts, a soft shooting touch and a near complete arsenal on the offensive end of the floor. One thing that will benefit him on both ends is bulking up, considering the physicality of the Big Ten. He’s not unique in that aspect, as most freshmen have trouble with the conference's big men and dealing with aggressive perimeter play.
At 6 feet 4 inches tall and with a 6-foot-9-inch wingspan, Russell has the frame to put on weight, and the potential be a tough matchup at the defensive end. His defense has steadily improved while in high school, particularly since sitting on the bench early in his sophomore year at Montverde.
Overall, Russell is a five-star recruit according to 247Sports’ composite rankings, which averages the rankings across multiple media outlets.
What the buckeyes might look like in 2014
Russell’s pledge means Ohio State has four verbal commits in the class of 2014 already. He joins Keita Bates-Diop (Normal, Ill.), Jae’Sean Tate (Pickerington, Oh.) and Dave Bell (Garfield Heights, Oh.). According to 247Sports’ composite rankings, the class averages out to be 4.25 stars, good enough for the second best class in the nation, behind North Carolina. That class ranking might be on the rise soon.
Don’t expect Thad Matta and his staff to quit here. With three wing players and one power forward in Bell, who might not contribute right away, the Buckeyes will definitely look to add size, and, potentially, a true point guard.
Since committing, Russell has told multiple outlets that he plans on helping his new school in the recruitment of five-star center Jahlil Okafor (Chicago). Eager to borderline over-enthusiastic Buckeye fans – like this one – are making sure he stays true to his word (retweeted by Russell himself):
OSU still has offers out to forwards Elbert Robinson (Garland, Tx.), Okafor’s AAU teammate Cliff Alexander (Chicago), Leron Black (Memphis, Tenn.) and D.J. Foreman (Woodstock, Va.).
As it stands now, here’s the Ohio State roster projection for 2014:
PG – Shannon Scott (Sr.) / Russell (Fr.)
G – Russell / Kameron Williams (So.) / Tate (Fr.) / Amedeo Della Valle (Jr.)
F – Sam Thompson (Sr.) / Bates-Diop (Fr.)
F – Bates-Diop / Marc Loving (So.) / Dave Bell (Fr.)
C – Amir Williams (Sr.) / Trey McDonald (Sr.)
With his versatility, Russell should get big minutes early in his career. The only issue is: what position will he play?