When Chris Holtmann replaced Thad Matta as the Ohio State men's basketball coach, he made it a priority to make Matta's old players feel welcomed in his program. He succeeded, for the most part.
Brooklyn Nets guard D'Angelo Russell, the most prolific recent player of the Matta era, told ESPN NBA insider Adrian Wojnarowski on Wednesday he likely won't return to Columbus—though it has nothing to do with Holtmann and everything to do with Matta's ouster.
Russell: [Matta's firing] hurt me. It hurt a lot, honestly. I didn't really — I didn't really get to go back to Ohio State as much as I could because of just being so far away and my schedule. Being a new kid in this league, you're still trying to figure out your schedule. So on that, I didn't really get to go back. But them firing him or whatever you want to call it, I don't think I'll ever go back now. It just — it messed me up completely. And I talked to him so many times just prior to that. He's not upset or anything, so I guess they didn't really treat him bad. But it just hurt me to see a guy like him go.
Woj: You'd have a hard time going back to campus right now or going back to supporting the basketball team?
Russell: Yeah, man. I mean, if I go [it would be] to see some of my teammates that are still there. But I was there for a short amount of time so I only know the people that were there and a lot of the people that were there when I was there are gone. And then for the head coach to be gone, there's really no point.
Well, if this is the end of the Russell–Ohio State connection, at least Buckeye fans will always have that magical run to the second round of the 2015 NCAA Tournament.