Make no mistake, I'm a big Duane Washington Jr. fan.
As a fan, sure it's frustrating that he won't be in Ohio State's backcourt next year - starring for a team that if E.J. Liddell returns, had (has?) the talent to finally make a meaningful NCAA tournament run under head coach Chris Holtmann.
But kids go to college - athletes or otherwise - to prepare for their chosen career path. Duane feels like college has prepared him and he's now ready to become a working professional. If you're hating on that, you're probably focusing too much on what this decision means for you instead of what it means for him.
I really hope he can land in a good situation - NBA or not - in which a team will feature his strengths and have the right roster to help minimize his areas of opportunity.
His time in Columbus was certainly polarizing as wild swings in his effectiveness, decision making and overall play saw him carry Ohio State in games while shooting them out of others.
But man the dude was fearless. He relished taking the big shot and sometimes he was faulted for taking questionable ones. While that's undeniable, it's important to remember that as really the one guy who could consistently create his own shot, he was the number one option to "do something" when seemingly nobody else could or would as the shot clock neared zero.
Bottom line, like most star players, his departure leaves some big holes for Holtmann to fill. At the same time, it presents a few opportunities for Ohio State to improve.
With that, here's Five Things looking at the bad news and potentially some good news based on numbers from Duane's 2020-21 production with an eye on what his absence means for Holtmann this upcoming season.
STRUGGLES FROM INSIDE THE 3-POINT LINE
For all his shot-making ability, Duane shot just 41.0% from the field overall last season, influenced by a 45.7% clip from inside the three-point line which ranked below every rotational player on Ohio State's roster (10th overall) with the exception of CJ Walker (45.8%).
That was problematic as he attempted 179 two-point shots, good for more than any teammate not named E.J. Liddell.
Further, Washington's effective field goal percentage of 51.7% (which increased for a second-straight year) ranked just seventh on the squad as did his true shooting percentage (55.1%).
As discussed, his accuracy was no-doubt influenced at times by being forced to bail out the offense and create a shot but he was also prone to settling for bad shots and taking heat checks to the extreme.
Throw that into a pot and you get the team's leading point producer even though that production had a tendency to be inefficient.
Washington was primarily on the floor to score and he did exactly that. However, on a squad that struggled to reach the defensive heights Holtmann's teams typically deliver, Duane's effectiveness as a defender didn't show up well in the metrics.
Allowing 111.3 points per 100 possessions in Big Ten play, Washington's defensive rating was the worst on the team.
He averaged just 0.8 steals per 100 possessions overall, besting only Zed Key's 0.5 steals. For comparison, Justice Sueing averaged 2.0, Walker 1.8, Meechie Johnson 1.8, Justin Ahrens 1.7 and Liddell 1.3.
Look, Washington probably expended more energy on offense than any teammate so it's not a shocker his defensive numbers weren't stellar but his replacement(s) will likely be better defenders by default.
A BETTER DISTRIBUTOR THAN HE GOT CREDIT FOR
The naysayers lamented Washington hogging the ball and for reasons already discussed, he absolutely had the ball in his hands a ton. But he didn't always shoot the thing.
He actually ranked second on the team in assist percentage at 18.8%, trailing only Walker's 26.5%. Duane also ranked third on the team with 3.6 assists per 40 minutes.
Not eye-popping numbers but pretty solid for a shooting guard with a lot of pressure on him to get buckets, paired often with a point guard primarily on the floor to distribute.
Washington's ability to get others involved might actually be a bit difficult for next year's shooting guard(s) to replicate.
BIG TIME ABILITY TO STRETCH A DEFENSE
Particularly when he was rolling, teams had to respect Duane's ability to pull up from well behind the three-point line at any time. He helped stretch the floor, creating room for Liddell to operate up to foul-line extended and enabled windows for slashers like Sueing.
Yep, he was a tad streaky behind the arc but the full body of work produced a respectable 37.4% accuracy rate. Only Ahrens shot it better from distance (42.5%) and again, Washington hoisted plenty where it could be perceived as a bad shot but circumstances not totally in his control created the need to pull the trigger. (And yes, some others were simply bad shots.)
He led the team with 238 three-point attempts with Ahrens second at 127. Nobody else tried more than 80 and since Liddell was hitting on 33.8% of his tries, he wasn't exactly stretching the defense over the balance of the season.
FEARLESS AND WINNING ATTITUDE
I touched on it earlier but man you gotta respect a dude that will not only take the big shot but absolutely wants to take the big shot.
Duane was on the floor to get buckets but my perception is that he never appeared to be a selfish teammate. He willed his team to some victories, even if that same mindset probably shot his team out of a game or two.
But it was never selfish. He was on the floor to win for him and his teammates. I 100% believe that. He played with passion.
And when he got hot it was a joy to watch. The Big Ten tournament run, where he averaged 23 points over four games on 51% shooting highlighted by 24 in a win over Michigan and 32 in a loss to Illinois, man that was good shit. Dude just kept coming and did it with a determined smile on his face.
Sure the 7-for-21 night with three turnovers against Oral Roberts turned out to be a crappy last chapter but the bright spots were electric.
Now, Ohio State must go on without what he brought to the table. Replacing that scoring and killer instinct won't be easy. On the defensive end, hey maybe they get a little better at the 2 spot.
Who knows. Maybe Holtmann is able to attract a home run transfer to fill the void. Or maybe the stars align in a way that Malaki Branham and some of the veterans get to shoulder more of a load. We'll just have to wait and see how the deck shuffles.
But when it comes to Washington, I'm going to remember him for what he was a hell of a lot more than what he wasn't.
No, Wiz, thank you. It was a wild ride, if not a happy ending.