His next game won't come in scarlet and gray.
Combo guard Duane Washington Jr. has opted to remain in the 2021 NBA draft, which which ends his Ohio State career after three years. He had previously left open the possibility of remaining in school, but Stadium's Jeff Goodman reported on Tuesday night that he plans to remain in the draft pool and go pro.
Washington, who did not come into the pre-draft process with much hype or notoriety, has seen his stock rise over the past couple of weeks. Along with fellow Ohio State draft hopeful E.J. Liddell, who hasn't yet decided whether he's staying in school or not, Washington was invited to the G League Elite Camp. Washington made the most of those three days, especially in the two scrimmages, where he scored 31 points on 12-of-25 shooting. That performance made him one of the four prospects from the 40-man camp to earn a coveted invitation to the NBA Draft Combine.
“I knew I could compete with these guys,” Washington said to Eleven Warriors on Friday. “It's something I've been telling myself before even coming to any of this stuff and making sure I was ready. If you trust your work – Terance Mann said it – trust your work. Eight weeks, I put in a lot, a lot of work and got into the best shape of my life. I feel like I put myself in a good position to make it to the next level and I'm ready – simple as that – I'm ready to attack the challenge ahead of me.”
Whether Washington's year-by-year improvements at Ohio State combined with what he showed in the two showcases in Chicago will be enough to get drafted remains uncertain. Both ESPN's Jonathan Givony and The Athletic's Sam Vecenie – two of the most respected draft analysts – released mock drafts after Tuesday evening's draft lottery and neither included Washington among the 60 picks. He's not on Vecenie's big board of his top-100 prospects, though he does appear as the 82nd-ranked draft prospect on Givony's ranking.
Washington – who measured in at 6-foot-2.25 in socks and 197 pounds with a 6-foot-7.75 wingspan – also had individual workouts for the Boston Celtics, Atlanta Hawks and Minnesota Timberwolves.
Though his decision to stick with the NBA draft process shouldn't come as a shock given how the past week-and-a-half has gone, Washington's exit from the college ranks deals a sizable blow to an Ohio State team primed to rely on him as its primary backcourt scorer and initiator. He's coming off a year in which he led the team with 16.4 points per game while adding career-highs in field-goal percentage (41.0), free-throw percentage (83.5), assists per game (2.9), rebounds per game (3.4) and steals per game (0.4). He also shot 37.4 percent from 3 on 7.7 attempts per game.
Now that he's bound for the pros along with CJ Walker, the Buckeyes will turn to a lineup of guards that includes Jamari Wheeler, a transfer from Penn State; fifth-year senior Jimmy Sotos, who's coming off a shoulder injury; second-year Meechie Johnson who'll be in his first full season of college basketball; and first-year Malaki Branham. Ohio State does have an extra scholarship to use, though it's unclear if filling that roster spot is a realistic option given that it's already near the end of June.