Breaking Down the D'Angelo Russell Commitment

By Mike Young on June 9, 2013 at 1:00p

What happened in the last week

Ohio State barely gave another school the chance to woo D’Angelo Russell.

"A little lingerie on the deck!" - Bill Raftery, 2014

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

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

The 2014 Buckeyes should have back court depth  

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? 


Comments Show All Comments

Basso Profondo's picture

With the potential 2014 roster we're assuming that Q goes pro?

thatlillefty's picture

Mike, you've been an awesome addition to this site. Over the past few years, I've begun to love this basketball program as much as our fball squad. And it's great to finally get some offseason coverage.
Keep up the good work.

skid21's picture

I agree. Love the fact our hoops program is getting some attention. Thad has made us an elite program but they haven't been getting the love the deserve IMO.

Conroy's picture

Two things
1)  6 feet 4 inches tall and with a 6-foot-9-inch wingspan:  That's insane
2)  PG – Shannon Scott (Sr.) / Russell (Fr.):  Can't believe thiis is the last year with Aaron Craft.

FROMTHE18's picture

if OSU can land a couple more studs in this class... 2014 may be a special year for the team

Buckidelphia's picture

Love this "long" recruiting class. Looks like Matta is changing his recruiting strategy a bit to mirror North Carolina, Syracuse & Georgetown with length & athleticism. 

Hovenaut's picture

Shannon Scott will be a junior this coming year, not a senior....correct?

*EDIT* - Nevermind, reread....the 2014 projected lineup.

2002osubuck's picture

Matta has always likes to have long teams. Look at the past few years almost everyone but craft and Scott are 6'5" with large wingspans. It plays into his D first mentality really makes it difficult for teams to create passing lanes with such length. Makes you wonder why we don't run a zone and play craft man to man. It would be tough to pass against us and would keep us fresh on offense not using so much energy chasing guys around. There were a lot of guys missed switches in man last year which led to wide open 3s and easy layups on pick n rolls. We would be very versatile  if we could just switch from man to zone throughout the game and throw teams out of rhythm, like it did to us several times last season. 

thatlillefty's picture

4 & 1. I think it's a great idea but does anybody run that at the college level?

Jordan Wagner's picture

I'm pretty happy with our guard and SF position for 2014. Center is definitely the biggest concern. is Amir Williams a starter on a NC caliber team? We still haven't seen enough of Trey McDonald to know if he is a legit backup center. I'm high on David Bell (can play some center), but I think we are best off with him redshirting or garbage time minutes. 

If LaQuinton Ross returns, we'll be fine at PF. LaQuinton Ross isn't a PF by any means, but he fits into the role I call 'a Thad Matta 4'. Same could be said for Loving or Bates-Diop. They are all really SF's, but will most likely get major minutes at 4 if Ross leaves. If Ross leaves, Thad will probably be in the market for a PF in the 2014 class. I see him trying to take a center for sure (Okafor and Robinson are the two main names now). 


Buckeye1996's picture

Would love to get a big man that can dominate both ends of the floor or even somewhat dominate. Is Greg Oden our last big man that had those attributes? Seems like it.

Triv's picture

Jared Sullinger disagrees

Sorry Urban, Woody is still my favorite

captain obvious's picture


I'm a friend of thunder is it any wonder lightning strikes me

Squirrel Master's picture

I think Russell will be best at PG. Scott will definitely be the starter but Russell could get some early play at that spot and learn how to be a great, tall and long PG. That would be the most ideal spot.
With Kam Williams, Tate and Della Valle at the 2, I think Russell would either get buried or piss someone off that won't get PT because Russell is better. With Russel at PG, Kam and Tate will be great 2 deep at the SG with Della Valle being a shooter either at the 2 or 3, basically his position will be to sit on the 3 pt line no matter what position he will play. 
Need size. This year is going to be rough because the only size the team has is very raw and not going to be great by any means. Really need to get lucky and find a big player to play this year and hopefully will be decent depth next year. Okafor would be awesome and if Lyle comes with him, that class will be one of those classes people talk about and will take this team to the championship, no doubt. 

I saw a UFO told me to have a goodyear!

tennbuckeye19's picture

Is Tate a small forward or a shooting guard? He's listed as each on different sites.

Smanpoint10's picture

His height makes you think SG, but he plays like he is a forward. He bullies people

OldColumbusTown's picture

And his father was 6'8, so you never know if there is still another inch or two for him to grow.
Tate looks to me like a left-handed David Lighty.  He's strong and physical with a multi-talented game.  I think he can defend some bigger bodies, and then take advantage of them on the offensive end with his versatility.

CentralFloridaBuckeye's picture

Looks like a solid player and the class of 2014 is shaping up to be one of the best in the country!  Love it.
Go Bucks!!

VasanthAnanth's picture

What about Tyus Jones? Does this commitment remove Ohio State from a school he'd be willing to consider?

chowoon97's picture

Huge pickup. Let's get Okafor. 
He can move us to National Championship level team.

zhamilton05's picture

I'm guessing that Marc Loving will have the PF spot sewn up by the time B1G conference play starts in January 2014. That kid can really ball, and he'll be able to ease in this season. Bates-Diop is a great option to have as a do-everything athlete his freshman year - a little SF behind Slam Thompson and a little PF behind Loving.
Very exciting to get Buckeyes CBB news!

Earle's picture

Am I the only one who sees "McLovin" every time I read Marc Loving?

Snarkies gonna snark.