Ohio State fans should make it a point to get out and see D'Angelo Russell play this season while they still can. If Sunday's performance against Walsh was any indication, odds are he won't be in Columbus for more than this year.
The freshman guard from Louisville put on a show at the Schottenstein Center, guiding the Buckeyes to a 77-37 rout of Walsh in an exhibition matchup.
Russeell had a game-high 17 points to go along with eight rebounds and six assists. He shot 5 for 13 from the field and was also 4 for 8 from 3-point range as Ohio State cruised to the easy win over the Division II Cavaliers. Senior Sam Thompson added 13 points, sophomore Marc Loving had 12 and freshman Jae'Sean Tate had 10 to lead the Buckeyes.
“We live in the gym and we practice those shots. Those shots personally that I was making was every day shots," Russell said. "Some days they don’t go in, but fortunately today they were going in. I guess it was in front of a good crowd and it was your first time seeing it, but it’s something that everybody on the team does. Just tonight it happened to be my night so it was cool.”
Russell got things going right from the get-go, scoring 16 of his points in the first half. He connected on his first four tries from downtown as the Buckeyes had a 29-point lead at intermission.
“He’s got a different pace about him. He sees things like a lot of freshman don’t see them and that’s good," Ohio State head coach Thad Matta said of Russell. "I think that even talking to him during dead balls, the things that he sees out there is really unique for a freshman.”
Ohio State, which will open up its regular season Friday night with a game against UMass-Lowell, harassed the Cavaliers with a 2-2-1 press on made baskets, then fell back into a 2-3 zone in the half court.
The Buckeyes held Walsh to just a 2-for-24 showing from 3-point range as it shot a dismal 23 percent from the field against the superior talent of Ohio State.
“We were playing each other for the longest time so it felt good to play somebody else and take all of our anger out on them," redshirt freshman Kam Williams said. "It felt good to get all the cobwebs out because this is what this game is for.”
On Friday, though, the real thing begins. Ohio State will look to improve on its 25-10 record from last year as the Buckeyes were eliminated by Dayton in the second round of the NCAA tournament.
The success of this year's team will depend heavily on the Buckeyes' freshman class and, more importantly, the play of their biggest recruit: Russell.
"Personally, I came in with a chip on my shoulder and whatever Coach needs me to do, I’m gonna do it," Russell said. "If he needs me to score, I’m gonna score. If he needs me to get everybody going, I’m gonna do it. Rebound, defend, I’m gonna do it so I definitely came in with a chip on my shoulder.”